Every Thanksgiving, I call dibs on bringing the sweet potatoes. It’s not out of the kindness of my heart, though I will always willingly and enthusiastically contribute to a meal, nor is it because sweet potato casserole is showiest. It’s because sweet potatoes are my favorite, and I am rather, erm, particular about them. This Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole recipe is the one! It’s the ideal balance of sweet and savory, the oatmeal topping maintains a traditional feel but is refreshingly unexpected, and it’s both vegan and gluten free, meaning everyone at the table can have a giant scoop.

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Topping. This will be your new favorite sweet potato recipe! Creamy, decadent, vegan, and gluten free!

Truth be told, when I first made this healthy sweet potato casserole, I was not in the market for a new sweet potato recipe.

For years, I’d made and loved my mom’s Glazed Sweet Potatoes with Whiskey Pecans. It, Butternut Squash Casserole, and Rosemary Bacon Mushroom Stuffing are my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes to the extent that after the meal, I hide a container of them in an undisclosed location for my own personal consumption.

I really am selfish when it comes to the sweet potatoes, it seems!

Fortunately, this healthy sweet potato casserole can easily serve a crowd, so there’s plenty to go around and fill a secret container or two. You will love it just as much at the feast itself as you will leftover the next day.

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole. The best vegan, gluten free holiday side dish!

About This Next-Level Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

My two tricks to setting this healthy sweet potato dish apart from others you’ve tried are vanilla beans and a crunchy pecan oatmeal topping. The vanilla flavor is subtle but surprising. Guests might not be able to guess what it is, but they will absolutely go back for more.

In the topping department, marshmallows are not my thing at dinner (sorry if you were hoping for a healthy sweet potato casserole with marshmallows!), but I do solemnly believe that every good casserole deserves a special topping, and this pecan oatmeal one is superb.

The savory crunch of the oats and pecans is an ideal counterpoint to the velvety vanilla sweet potatoes. It vaults this healthy sweet potato casserole straight into the holiday side dish stratosphere.

Creamy Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole. Vegan and gluten free, but still decadent!

As I mentioned, in addition to being gluten free (just make sure you used certified gluten free oats like these in the oatmeal topping), this healthy sweet potato casserole is vegan. Instead of using butter and heavy cream, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk and coconut oil, along with a light touch of maple syrup for extra flavor.

With the additional flavor dimension from the vanilla and maple, I didn’t miss the butter. The filling is still plenty creamy and decadent.

(If making the recipe vegan isn’t a priority, you could try this healthy sweet potato casserole with honey instead, and yes, it works with butter too.)

Vegan Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole. Flavored with vanilla beans and topped with a delicious oatmeal crumble!

I’ll be hosting Friendsgiving again this year, our first “official” party in our new home! In addition to the turkey, I’ll be continuing my tradition of making this sweet potato casserole. Now you know why.

Last year’s record: I ate two servings of the casserole at dinner and one the next morning (if you’re looking for a healthy sweet potato breakfast casserole, try this one with a extra maple syrup and vanilla Greek yogurt). In a final act of self preservation, I moved what little remained to our garage refrigerator, hoping the distance would encourage me to eat something besides sweet potato casserole for a meal. It didn’t work.

Since our move, we no longer have a garage refrigerator, so guess who’s eating this healthy sweet potato casserole for dinner, breakfast, and lunch? She’s pretty excited about it. Try this recipe, and you will be too!

If you’re looking for other holiday side dishes, this dish is just one of the many healthy Thanksgiving sides on my site (like this Mashed Butternut Squash recipe!).

How to Make Your Own Almond Meal

  • Making your own almond meal is quick and easy! To make your own almond meal, pulse whole, raw almonds in the food processor until they form fine crumbs.
  • Be careful to not over process the almond, or you will end up with almond butter instead.
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole. Your new favorite vegan, gluten free side for the holidays.

Recommended Tools to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Topping. This will be your new favorite sweet potato recipe! Creamy, decadent, vegan, and gluten free!

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

5 from 12 votes
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with Oatmeal Topping. This will be your new favorite sweet potato recipe! Creamy, decadent, vegan, and gluten free!

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 1 hr 20 mins
Total: 1 hr 30 mins

Servings: 10 servings (1 9×13-inch casserole)

Ingredients
  

For the Sweet Potatoes:

For the Pecan Oat Topping:


Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish or other 3-quart casserole dish and set aside.
  • Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, then place them on a baking sheet lined with foil or a silpat mat. Bake until the potatoes are fork tender, about 1 hour or so, depending upon the size of your potatoes. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Peel and discard the skins (they should come off easily with your fingers), break the potatoes in large chunks with a fork, then place the chunks into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a large mixing bowl.
  • While the potatoes bake, pour the almond milk in a small saucepan. Split the vanilla beans, scrape the seeds into the pan, then add the empty pods to the pan too. Bring to a very gentle simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the almond milk boil. Remove from heat and let the vanilla steep while the potatoes continue baking.
  • Remove the vanilla bean pods from the saucepan, then pour the almond milk and vanilla bean specs into the bowl with the sweet potato chunks. Add the melted coconut oil, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and white pepper.
  • Mash the potatoes together with the milk and spices (or beat gently with a mixer or your paddle attachment or run though a food mill) until fairly smooth with some texture remaining. Taste and add additional salt/pepper as desired. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. With the back of a rubber spatula, press and smooth into a single layer.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients—oats, pecans, almond meal, cinnamon, salt, coconut oil, and maple syrup—until moist and evenly mixed. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes.
  • Bake until the topping is toasted and fragrant and casserole is warmed through, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Notes

*You can substitute 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract for the vanilla beans, but the flavor will not be as rich and you lose the pretty specks.
**To make your own almond meal, pulse whole, raw almonds in the food processor until they form fine crumbs. Do not over process, or you will have almond butter instead.
Make it ahead: Casserole can be prepared up through Step 5 one day in advance. Store refrigerated with plastic wrap over the top of the dish. Let come to room temperature prior to baking.
Pecan oat topping adapted from my Cherry Blackberry Crisp

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 386kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 7gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 9gSodium: 242mgFiber: 9gSugar: 10g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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74 Comments

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  1. This looks absolutely delightful, and is so wonderful to see a sweet potato dish without horrid marshmallows!

    At the risk of sounding like the Recipe Police, the correct word is healthful, not healthy. ✒️ It is a very common mistake, much like overzealous apostrophe use!

    1. Lindsay, you’ll see this in the recipe notes too, but I suggest 2 tablespoon vanilla extract. Make sure it’s the real (pure) kind. I hope you enjoy it!

        1. No worries at all Lindsay! I just wanted to let you know that I add them to my recipes as a resource (and they are often the fastest way to get your question answered!)

  2. This looks incredible! I’ve never had sweet potato casserole because a) not a tradition in my family and b) it looks unappealing… until now:) I want to sub soy milk in for the almond milk since it’s naturally sweeter; do you recommend I should still add the maple syrup or will it be sweet without? If you’re not sure I’ll just try it anyways. Thank you for your time and amazing recipes!5 stars

    1. Elly, soy milk will be fine! You can always reduce the maple syrup by a teaspoon or two if you are concerned. I hope you enjoy it!

  3. Hi Erin,
     Question: The recipe I have used for years calls for 3 eggs and yours does not. What is the purpose of the eggs? I’m just curious. I’m making your recipe later today. I already know it will be great!!!

    1. Hi Gwen! I suspect the eggs are used to add extra protein and give the casserole a more custard-like texture. I hope you enjoyed this recipe!

  4. I made this for Christmas dinner as an alternative to a much sweeter sweet potato casserole my family usually has for holidays. Everyone liked this and my immediate family–including my elementary and preschool-aged kiddos–definitely preferred it to the sweeter casserole we’ve made in the past. I’ve served it with turkey and ham now and at both dinners it was among the most popular dishes on the table.5 stars

  5. Erin, I made the sweet potato casserole but with the vanilla extract and it turned out really good! I plan to make it again for Thanksgiving and use the real vanilla beans!!5 stars

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