This Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans is my new favorite way to serve sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. It’s lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup, has a crunchy topping, and features dried cranberries for an extra pop of flavor. The combination is addictive!
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans
This healthy Sweet Potato Casserole starts with tender roasted sweet potatoes, which you can prepare ahead of time if you’d like to. You’ll need to roast the sweet potatoes until they are very tender, about 60 minutes at 400ºF, but the time will vary based on their size. (Smaller potatoes will cook faster, and larger ones may take longer than 1 hour.)
You can tell the sweet potatoes are tender by pressing on the outside with a fork. A very tender potato will easily give under the pressure, guaranteeing that the inside is naturally sweet and ready to be mashed!
Once the sweet potatoes are tender, you’ll puree them together with your favorite milk (I use almond milk), vanilla, and ginger, then top them with an easy oatmeal pecan crumble. I don’t add sugar to the sweet potatoes, as I think they are plenty sweet as-is, but you can taste this mixture as you go and add maple syrup or sugar, to taste.
Just remember that the crumble topping, and the added cranberries, will add sweetness to the final dish, too!
How to Make the Best Oatmeal Pecan Topping
The key to this unique sweet potato casserole is its crunchy crumble topping. It comes together quickly in a food processor, and stands out thanks to the combination of oatmeal, pecans, fresh rosemary (trust me on this one!), salt, and a touch of maple syrup. No added oil is needed!
Before you add the topping to the mashed sweet potatoes, scatter a layer of dried cranberries over the top. The cranberries will plump up as they cook, and the crumble topping will protect them from drying out the oven.
Having a surprise bite of cranberry, contrasted by the creamy sweet potatoes and the crunchy topping is such a treat, and will have all of your holiday guests coming back for second helpings.
Is Sweet Potato Casserole a Dessert or a Side Dish?
Since many traditional recipes are topped with marshmallows, it’s no wonder why some people might consider it a dessert, but I believe this healthy sweet potato casserole is more of a side dish. It’s topped with a crunchy pecan and oatmeal crumble, along with sweet cranberries, and pairs well with all of your other favorite Thanksgiving sides.
You can roast the sweet potatoes for this casserole up to 3 days in advance, and you can even prepare the puree and topping, if you’d like to have it all assembled a few days before a busy holiday meal. Just make sure to keep it tightly covered in the fridge.
To reheat, thaw on the counter for 1 hour to help bring it to room temperature, then bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly golden.
You can even freeze this assembled casserole for up to 3 months when stored in an airtight dish. You’ll want to thaw it in the fridge overnight, before baking it the next day.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans
Crunchy Pecan Oat Topping
Sweet Potato Filling
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (look for juice-sweetened, if possible)
- 1/4 cup pecan halves , for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large food processor fitted with an "S" blade, add in the oats, pecans, rosemary, and salt, and process briefly to create a flour-like texture. Add in the maple syrup, and process again until crumbly.
- Pour the crumble into a small bowl and set aside. In the same food processor (no need to rinse it), add in the roasted & peeled sweet potatoes, milk, vanilla, ginger, and salt, and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the mixture to your liking. You can add maple syrup for sweetness, if you like, or extra milk to make them creamier.
- In the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish, spread the sweet potato puree into a relatively smooth layer. Scatter the dried cranberries over the top, then sprinkle the crumble evenly over the top. Add the remaining pecans over the top, for decoration and added crunch. Bake at 350ºF until the topping is golden, about 30 minutes.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes, then serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- The great thing about sweet potato casserole is that you can taste each individual component and adjust the seasoning as you go. I like to keep this dish relatively low in sugar, but you can sweeten the potato puree with maple syrup or granulated sugar, if you’d rather. The overall taste is totally in your hands!
- If the crumble isn’t sweet enough for you, I recommend adding 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar to the topping, rather than adding any more maple syrup. (I tested this with 3 tablespoons of maple syrup, and it became almost too sticky to work with.) Just keep in mind that the cranberries will add sweetness, too!
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too! We can all benefit from your experience.
Reader Feedback: What’s your favorite way to prepare sweet potato casserole? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!