Creamy and comforting Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with crunchy pecan topping is Thanksgiving classic side dish! It’s melt in your mouth delicious plus naturally gluten free and can be made vegan.
It is an absolute must make for Thanksgiving dinner! You have to try!
Table of contents
This healthy sweet potato casserole is creamy, fluffy and full of natural sweetness!
Sweet potato casserole is not something I grew up with in Ukraine but now I love it! Creamy mashed sweet potatoes are combined with maple syrup, a hint of cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Then topped with pecan crumble topping to create the best crunchy topping!
This is the best sweet potato casserole recipe! It’s lighter, healthier and so delicious.
During a recent Friendsgiving holiday meal, this healthy sweet potato casserole recipe was declared “a delicious, sweet, with interesting topping” dish.
Ingredients and Notes
Healthy sweet potato casserole recipe is easy to make with just sweet potatoes, milk, butter, sweetener, and simple pantry staples.
- Fresh sweet potatoes: Instead of canned sweet potatoes we are using fresh ones to make sweet potato puree. Look for firm, dry fresh sweet potatoes with red, brown or light skin and no discoloration.
- Butter: You can use coconut oil, ghee, or vegan butter.
- Milk: I used whole milk but any milk works. Use almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk (from a carton), oat milk, or any plant based milk for dairy free version.
- Egg: To make this recipe a vegan sweet potato casserole you can use a flax egg. Or skip all together, if allergic. Egg helps with texture but not critical.
- Maple syrup: Pure maple syrup is best for taste. You can use honey, organic cane, coconut sugar or brown sugar.
- Sweet potato casserole topping: You will need pecans, granulated white sugar, almond flour or almond meal, and coconut oil.
- Cinnamon, vanilla, salt and pepper: To season and flavor. Can also add a pinch of nutmeg.
How to Make Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
This sweet potato casserole recipe serves 16, making it perfect for large crowds. You will need a large, deep 13×9 inch baking dish to fit in all the yumminess.
Cook sweet potatoes: Boil peeled and cut into large chunks sweet potatoes until fork tender. Drain very well to avoid watery sweet potato casserole.
Mash sweet potatoes: Using a potato masher mash with butter, milk, egg and spices.
Add butter while sweet potatoes are still hot after draining. This ensures butter melts and incorporates into casserole better than if you added it with cold milk and other ingredients.
Make pecan crumb topping: Combine topping ingredients pecans, almond flour and white sugar in a medium bowl. Then add softened butter or coconut oil in pieces and incorporate with a fork.
You should end up with very crumbly topping. That’s why I recommend to use sugar and not maple syrup in the topping!
Assemble and bake: Spread sweet potato filling mixture in a casserole dish and sprinkle with the topping. Bake for 45 minutes in preheated 350 degrees F oven.
Can You Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead?
Yes. Make it ahead of time before chaotic Thanksgiving day, it will save you some time in the kitchen! That’s why it is called an easy sweet potato casserole recipe.
Prepare sweet potato mixture and crunchy topping, place in separate bowls, and cover. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
On a big day, spread potato mixture in a baking dish, sprinkle with the pecan topping for sweet potato casserole and bake as per recipe.
I do not recommend to make ahead and store assembled casserole in the fridge because nuts will become soggy overnight and baking will not help.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Store: Store leftovers covered in the baking dish or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days.
Reheat: Pop entire baking dish in 350 degrees F oven and bake until warmed through about 15 minutes. Or place a portion on a plate into a microwave.
Freeze: Freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw on a counter or in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Reheat in a microwave or oven.
Yes. Assemble, cover with a few layers of plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake your frozen sweet potato casserole, let dish warm up on a counter for 30-60 minutes to prevent shattering. Then bake by following the recipe plus 20 minutes.
This casserole makes a fabulous Thanksgiving side dish served with boneless turkey breast roast, arugula beet salad, and healthy pumpkin pie.
Traditional sweet potato casserole is loaded with milk or cream, butter, and marshmallows! Compared to that this yummy casserole is healthier, uses whole food ingredients and the end result is a dish that is lower in sugar, calories and fat.
Yet no one will know, it’s just as good as classic sweet potato casserole!
The best way to cook your sweet potatoes is to boil them. The moisture from boiling them creates the creamiest texture, perfect for mashing!
More Healthy Sweet Potato Recipes
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You may also like this list of over 50 healthy Thanksgiving recipes!
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
- 4 lbs sweet potato peeled & cubed
- 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs large
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
- 1 cup pecans roughly chopped
- 1 cup almond flour or almond meal
- 2 tablespoon cane sugar or coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup butter or coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray large 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large pot, add sweet potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt and enough cold water to cover. Place lid on top, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes or until fork tender.
- In the meanwhile, prepare pecan topping. In a medium shallow bowl, add pecans, almond flour and sugar. Stir well to mix. Add butter or coconut oil in pieces and using a fork incorporate into the topping. Set aside.
- Drain sweet potatoes very well. Add butter and mash until smooth. Add milk, egg, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla extract and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Using same masher or spatula stir well to mix.
- Transfer sweet potato mixture to previously prepared baking dish, level with spatula and sprinkle pecan topping on top. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, let stand for 10 minutes and serve warm.
- Store: Store in the refrigerator for a few days. To reheat leftovers pop entire baking dish in 350 degrees F oven and bake until warmed through about 15 minutes. Or place a portion on a plate into a microwave.
- Freeze: In an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw on a counter or in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
- Make ahead: Assemble, cover with a few layers of plastic and freeze for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake, let dish warm up on a counter for 30-60 minutes to prevent shattering. Then bake by following the recipe plus 20 minutes.
Obviously it would be less healthy, but could all-purpose flour be substituted for the almond flour 1:1?
I think so…There is enough butter for the crumb to form. And don’t worry about not so healthy. I won’t judge haha. I myself started to use it sometimes as it’s nice. Balance.
I also noticed that you didn’t mention how long to bake it even though we cook the sweet potatoes beforehand. I usually bake it at 350° for about 20 minutes then add on the marshmallows and broil them till lightly brown then let the whole recipe cool.
There is full recipe card below with detailed instructions. Enjoy!
Recipe sounds really healthy and that’s the way I wanna keep it. I would also like to add pineapple. Can I do that and leave out the milk. I never added milk before and it’s always come out fine. I also never added an egg do I need to add the egg also thank you.
Yes, you can do that. It should be totally fine. Milk and egg make it creamier but there are many variations of a sweet potato casserole.
This was so yummy! A winner recipe for Thanksgiving that I will probably do again every year. I made it fully vegan – flax egg and all. Thank you!
So glad to hear Melinda! Thanks for sharing!
Love. this recipe, will be making it for Thanksgiving dinner 🥰Can I use walnuts instead of pecans?
That would work find! Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy!
can I use almond milk instead of whole milk?
The best sweet potato casserole ever!! I’m an avid cook and have tried many. Everyone wanted the recipe
I baked the sweet potatoes for richer flavor. Used canned full fat coconut milk and it was outstanding.
Also, heated the second time and still was great.
Thank you so much for sharing your amazing feedback Cindy!
Should this be cooked if making ahead or can it sit in frig for a few days before baking
Hi Jeanne! I wouldn’t recommend baking the whole casserole ahead of time. If you are making this ahead of time, prepare the mashed sweet potatoes and topping. But refrigerate them separately. You can even spread the sweet potatoes into a baking dish and store covered with plastic. When you are ready, assemble the casserole and then bake as per recipe. Hope that helps!
If I wanted to add more protein to the meal, could I add shredded cooked chicken or ground turkey?
This healthy sweet potato casserole was outstanding. I make one every Fall way before Thanksgiving.
Yay, so happy to hear, Joni!
Between step 2-3, you don’t mention how long to bake sweet potatoes in oven. Please elaborate!
We boil them in step 1. Hope this helps.