Sweet Potato Crunch Casserole has been a southern Thanksgiving tradition in many families for years! This recipe has perfectly sweetened, creamy sweet potatoes topped with a scrumptious brown sugar and pecan crumble.
It is full of fall flavor and one of the best sweet potato recipes you will find!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Crunchy Topping - The brown sugar and butter caramelize and turn this into a pecan praline-like topping.
Souffle-Like Filling - Beating the eggs with the sweet potatoes turns this into a fluffy filling. Don't worry, you can't taste the eggs! But the light texture is the perfect contrast to the crunchy topping.
Can be made ahead - Get a head start on your Thanksgiving dinner prep by making the filling up to 3 days in advance!
Versatile - It is tradition to serve sweet potato crunch as a side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. But you don't have to wait for a holiday meal to enjoy this recipe! It is also delicious with pork chops or roasted chicken year-round! This is also sweet enough to enjoy as a dessert! Especially when topped with a little whipped cream.
A few of my other favorite recipes for the Thanksgiving table include:
And if you will be enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with just a few people, consider making a one-pan Thanksgiving meal!
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements.
Sweet Potatoes - Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and free from major blemishes.
Milk - Half and half or heavy cream can be used for a creamier texture. Evaporated milk also makes a great substitute! Or leave out the added white sugar and replace the milk with sweetened condensed milk. For a lactose-free dish substitute almond milk.
Eggs - The eggs create a fluffy texture and rich flavor.
Butter - Set your butter out to come to room temperature. The filling uses melted butter and the topping uses soft butter.
Vanilla Extract - Adds warm flavor.
Ground Cinnamon - Just a little cinnamon adds depth and warmth.
Pecans - Chopped pecans provide a nice texture. For a finer crumble use pecan chips.
What's the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?
In the United States, most of what we call yams are actually sweet potatoes. So how do you know the difference?
Sweet Potatoes have smooth skin that is brown or red, and the ends are usually pointed. Inside, the flesh is bright orange or yellow.
Yams have rough, scaly skin that looks similar to bark. The ends are rounded and the flesh can be white, purple, or red.
True yams are grown in Africa and are not very common here in America. The next time you see a sign that says "yams" look closely. The words "sweet potatoes" are sure to follow.
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes
Bake (Top Choice): I prefer to bake sweet potatoes in the oven, just like when making sweet potato pie. The flavor and texture and perfect for the casserole! Scrub the skin clean, then use a fork to poke holes into the potato. Place in a baking dish or directly on your oven rack with aluminum foil on the rack below. Bake in the oven at 425°F (220°C) for 40-50 minutes, or until they are fork tender.
Microwave: Scrub the potatoes and poke holes in them with a fork. Place on a microwave-safe plate and heat on high for 6 minutes. Turn them and cook for an additional 5 minutes. If they are still firm, continue cooking in 1-minute increments.
Boil (Not Recommended): Peel the potatoes and cut them into 2-inch cubes. Place them in a large stock pan with water and boil for 20-30 minutes, or until soft. This method will have less flavor than baking or microwaving and may also make a more watery filling, so I do not recommend it. But it can be done.
Canned: I think fresh is best, but many Sweet Potato Crunch recipes call for canned sweet potatoes and it is just fine to use them if that is what you prefer. They are usually already sweetened so drain them, rinse them well, and pat them dry before mixing them with the other recipe ingredients.
Step One: Prepare Filling
- For smooth filling, put all of the ingredients in a large bowl and beat it with an electric stand or hand mixer on medium speed for several minutes.
- For a more rustic, chunky filling, scoop the sweet potato flesh into a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork. In a separate bowl, whisk the remaining filling ingredients. Then fold the mashed sweet potatoes in with the rest of the filling until it is mixed in completely.
Step Two: Prepare Topping
- Combine the brown sugar, flour, and pecans in a medium bowl, then mix in softened butter until the mixture is crumbly.
- I like to use my hands, but you can also mix with a fork or spoon.
Step Three: Assemble
- Spread the mashed sweet potato mixture into a prepared baking dish.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar and pecan topping evenly over the sweet potato layer.
Step Four: Bake
- Bake for 350°F for 40-45 minutes.
- Cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- Add Marshmallows: Cover half of the pan with marshmallows instead of streusel topping, add marshmallows around the edge, or scatter some marshmallows on top of the pecan crumble. There are so many ways to do it!
For large parties, I make one recipe standard and for the other, I just put marshmallows on top.
Just wait to put the marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes until the last 10 minutes of baking so that they do not burn.
- Oats: Replace the pecans with old-fashioned oats (not quick oats) for a nut-free crumble topping.
- Pie Flavored: Add a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice, ½ teaspoon of nutmeg, or ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves for added flavor.
- Spice it up even more: Put a pinch of cayenne pepper in the topping for a subtle spicy-sweet flavor.
- Orange Juice: Replace the milk with orange juice, and add the zest of one orange to the filling mixture.
- Bourbon: Add ¼ cup of your favorite bourbon to the sweet potatoes for more warmth and depth of flavor.
Yes, make this recipe can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Store the casserole in the refrigerator and the pecan streusel at room temperature.
When you are ready to bake, set the dish on the counter while the oven heats up, then bake as directed.
Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Yes! Prepare the filling and place it in your casserole dish without the topping. Do not bake it.
Press a layer of plastic wrap tightly against the filling, then wrap the dish with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
When ready to use, thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight, then set it on the counter for 30 minutes while preheating the oven. Prepare the topping, remove and discard the plastic wrap, and sprinkle the topping over the sweet potatoes. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 40-50 minutes.
This Sweet Potato Crunch recipe can be doubled, but I recommend putting it in a larger baking dish or splitting it into two separate 9x13 pans rather than putting it all in one. If you do bake in one dish the cooking time will be longer.
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Sweet Potato Crunch CasseroleRecipe by:
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4 medium, 4 cups mashed)
- ½ cup whole milk (120 ml)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar (100 grams)
- ¼ cup salted butter melted (28 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pecan Streusel Topping
- 1 cup brown sugar (220 grams)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (65 grams)
- 1 cup chopped pecans (120 grams)
- ½ cup salted butter softened (56 grams)
- Scrub the sweet potatoes and prick each one several times with a fork. Place them in a baking dish or line your oven rack with aluminum foil. Bake at 425°F (220°C) for 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool enough to handle easily. Remove the skin.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick baking spray or grease with butter.
- Place the sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the filling ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the filling into the baking dish and spread it smooth.
- Mix 1 cup of brown sugar in a medium bowl with flour and the chopped pecans. Work the softened butter into the mixture until it forms crumbs. Sprinkle the pecan streusel topping evenly over the sweet potato base.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the filling is set and the topping is caramelized. Remove from the oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.