I grew up on the sort of sweet potato casserole that is topped with marshmallows, and I love the stuff.
One Thanksgiving in California is vividly stamped in my mind — the year we visited my grandparents and I realized for the first time that my grandma cooked almost every dish for Thanksgiving dinner in the microwave. IN THE MICROWAVE! Coming from rather culinary parents, it was a bit of a shock, and I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed in previous years (I don’t even remember other Thanksgiving dinners at their house; maybe this was a first).
Anyways… this sweet potato casserole is not made in the microwave (do I even need to say that?) and so it’s off to a far superior start already! But it’s also been revised in other ways, calling for less sugar and being topped with crumbly, crispy pecans and oats instead of marshmallows. Because, sugar and marshmallows just don’t leave me feeling my best.
Sweet potatoes are quite sweet as they are, so adding sugar to the filling feels unnecessary (most recipes call for 1/4 to 1/2 cup of added sugar). In this version the filling is “natural,” meaning all the sweetness comes from the sweet potatoes, and the topping is made with maple syrup and cinnamon (which has sweet notes of it’s own!).
As Oliver would say, this dish comes out of the oven “smelling sweeter than a plate of yams with extra syrup.”
Tip: Cook the sweet potatoes ahead of time! You can cook the potatoes up to three days before you’re going to make this casserole. Here are a couple of ways to cook them (affiliate links ahead!):
In an Instant Pot: Place whole sweet potatoes in your Instant Pot with 1 cup of water (use a steamer basket if you have one). Use manual mode and set to high for 15 minutes (vent in sealed position). Allow pressure to release naturally, then open pot. Allow potatoes to cool, and then remove skins, which should easily pull off at this point.
In an oven: Preheat oven to 425°F. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and rub with oil (such as coconut oil). Place potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or a sil-pat and bake for 45 minutes.
In both of these methods, the natural sugars in the sweet potatoes will caramelize so that your sweet potato casserole tastes sweet without the added sugar.
Thanksgiving is THIS WEEK. What else are you making? What’s your favorite thing once you sit down at the table?
Serves: 4 | Active Time: 4 hours
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until well incorporated.
- Spread sweet potato mixture in an even layer in a 9x9 baking dish.
- In a separate bowl, combine ingredients for crumble topping. Spread crumble topping in an even layer over the sweet potatoes.
- Place baking dish in the middle rack of the oven and bake 25-30 minutes. Sweet potatoes should be warmed through and pecans on top should be lightly toasted. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.