by Olena

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

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Olena Osipov
5 from 3 votes

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Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with crunchy pecan sugar topping is melt in your mouth, delicious and comforting casserole for your Holiday table without the guilt. Bonus – you can make it ahead and even freeze.

This gluten free and vegan sweet potato casserole is always at our Thanksgiving table along with other side dishes like healthy green bean casserole and healthy mashed potatoes.

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with spoon

This healthy sweet potato casserole is airy, creamy, fluffy and with the best crunchy pecan topping on top! Sweet potatoes are mashed with maple syrup, milk, butter with a hint of cinnamon and vanilla. The crunchy pecan topping is absolutely irresistible made with only wholesome ingredients.

Got electric pressure cooker? I converted this recipe into Instant Pot sweet potato casserole to save precious stovetop time.

Sweet potato casserole is not something I grew up with – I barely even knew what sweet potato mash is. However, at last Friendsgiving this healthy sweet potato casserole recipe was declared “a delicious, sweet, with interesting topping” dish. I feel like I nailed this Southern classic after making my Ukrainian lighter version for 20 years now!

What Makes This Sweet Potato Casserole Healthy and Yet Tasty?

  • Less fat: Instead of sticks of butter we combine just a few tablespoons, 1/2 cup whole milk and cooked mashed potatoes for super creamy casserole texture. With crumb topping it’s a total of 4 tablespoons.
  • Naturally sweetened: A total of 3 tablespoons of maple syrup go into entire dish. We let natural sweetness of sweet potatoes shine.
  • No marshmallows in the topping: Instead we combine pecans, almond flour, coconut oil (can be butter) and just 1 tbsp of sugar; and it becomes the most irresistible crunchy roasted crumble topping in the history of the Internet. No refined all-purpose flour either.

Ingredients for Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

All you really need is sweet potato, milk, butter, sweetener and staple spices. This incredible healthy sweet potato casserole recipe is extremely easy and delicious your holiday healthy sides!

  • Sweet potatoes: Look for firm, dry sweet potatoes or “yams” 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 works. Use almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk (from a carton) or any plant-based milk for dairy-free version.
  • Egg: Learn how to make a flax egg to make this vegan sweet potato casserole. Don’t forget to use maple syrup and not honey. Or skip all together, if allergic. Egg helps with texture but not critical.
  • Maple syrup: You can use honey, organic cane, coconut or brown sugar. I like to use sugar (not liquid sweetener) in a pecan topping. It makes it taste like candied pecans and crunchy.

Sugar free sweeteners: You can use equal amount of natural sugar-free sweeteners like erythritol or monk fruit sweetener. Both are naturally derived and have virtually zero after taste (unlike stevia). In both, mixture and topping.

  • Almond flour: Substitute with almond meal or coconut flour. All of them are naturally gluten-free.
  • Pecans: For the topping. I do not recommend to use other nuts as pecan streusel topping takes this dish to the next level. Use your leftover pecans to make pecan pie bars, another holiday favorite!
  • Cinnamon, salt and pepper.
sweet potato casserole healthy ingredients

How to Make Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

Please note this sweet potato casserole recipe serves 6. I know many of you serve large crowds on Thanksgiving. Feel free to double or triple the recipe along with using large and deep 9 x 13 baking dish.

  • Cook sweet potatoes: Boil peeled and cubed sweet potatoes until soft. Drain very well to avoid watery sweet potato casserole.
  • Mash sweet potatoes: Mash yams with a potato masher 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 with cold milk and other ingredients.

  • Make pecan crumb topping: Combine dry ingredients like pecans, almond flour and sugar first. Then add butter or coconut oil in pieces and incorporate with a fork. You should end up with very crumbly topping.

My personal preference in the topping is sugar and coconut oil. Sugar (not liquid maple syrup) make pecans taste like candied pecans, and coconut oil adds extra sweetness.

  • Assemble and bake: Spread sweet potato mixture in a baking dish and sprinkle with topping. Bake for 45 minutes in preheated 350 degrees F oven.
how to make Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole collage

Tips for Best Results

  • Bake sweet potatoes: For richer flavor bake sweet potatoes. It also saves you a peeling step, as after yams are baked you can simply scoop the inside out (make sure to cool off a bit first).
  • To make vegan sweet potato casserole: Use coconut oil or vegan butter instead of regular butter in the topping. For the sweet potato mixture, skip the egg or use a flax egg or chia egg, and maple syrup (not honey), and any plant-based milk. It will be delicious!
  • To make gluten-free sweet potato casserole: Good news are that this dish is naturally gluten-free. No changes to original recipe are necessary.

Common FAQs

Can I substitute yams for sweet potato casserole?

So, yams and sweet potato are having a bit of an identity crisis in North America. Truth is there are really no real yams sold in our grocery stores. Yams are grown in Africa and Asia, are starchy and dry, and look like giant brown turmeric root but rounded. If you Google term “yams” and look under Images you will see it.

The answer is yes then. Yams and sweet potatoes sold in North America are very closely related, can be different color – white, orange, purple and Japanese; and are quite interchangeable for all sweet potato dishes including sweet potato breakfast casserole, sweet potato and eggs, and even roasted sweet potatoes.

Can I substitute canned yams for sweet potatoes?

Yes. At least, this answer is true for North America where yams and sweet potatoes are practically the same thing.

Canned yams contain added sugar, and it’s hard to tell how much because sweet potatoes are naturally sweet. Drain, mash and omit sugar for the mash. You will need approximately 2 x 28 oz cans.

What is a good substitute for sweet potatoes?

If you are out of sweet potatoes or are looking to use up your harvest bounty, parsnip, carrots, golden beets, cassava, celery root, or any squash like kabocha, butternut and acorn squash make great substitute for yams in this healthy sweet potato casserole.

Can you freeze sweet potato casserole?

Yes.

Freeze uncooked: 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.

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.

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with spoon

Making Sweet Potato Casserole in Advance

There are quite a few ways to make this healthy sweet potato casserole ahead of time before chaotic Thanksgiving day.

Prepare sweet potato mixture and pecan crumb topping, place in separate bowls or containers and cover. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. And what is nice about the pecan topping is that you don’t have to worry about it becoming soggy (as nuts absorb moisture quickly in the fridge) because it will go in the oven after anyways.

On Thanksgiving day, spread sweet potato mixture in a baking dish, sprinkle with pecan topping 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.

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. Then may I suggest a dollop of whipped cream or vegan vanilla ice cream on top?!

More Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with pecan crumb topping
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with crunchy pecan sugar topping is melt in your mouth, delicious and comforting casserole for your Holiday table without the guilt.
5 from 3 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Casserole
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 357kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

Pecan Topping:

Instructions

  • In a large pot, add sweet potatoes, 1/2 tsp 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. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • 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, honey, cinnamon, vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp salt. Using same masher or spatula stir well to mix.
  • Transfer sweet potato mixture to square 8 x 8 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.

Make ahead: Prepare sweet potato mixture and pecan crumb topping, place in separate bowls or containers and cover. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours. On Thanksgiving day, spread sweet potato mixture in a baking dish, sprinkle with pecan topping and bake as per recipe.

    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 uncooked: 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.

        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.

          Notes

          • Sugar free sweeteners: You can use equal amount of natural sugar-free sweeteners like erythritol or monk fruit sweetener. Both are naturally derived and have virtually zero after taste (unlike stevia). In both, mixture and topping.
          • Topping: My personal preference in the topping is sugar and coconut oil. Sugar (not liquid maple syrup) make pecans taste like candied pecans, and coconut oil adds extra sweetness.
          • Bake sweet potatoes: For richer flavor bake sweet potatoes. It also saves you a peeling step, as after yams are baked you can simply scoop the inside out (make sure to cool off a bit first).
          • To make vegan sweet potato casserole: Use coconut oil or vegan butter instead of regular butter in the topping. For the sweet potato mixture, skip the egg or use a flax egg or chia egg, maple syrup (not honey), and any plant-based milk. It will be delicious!
          See recipe post for more Tips and FAQs.

          Nutrition

          Serving: 1cup | Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 465mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 13g

          Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes without permission. Nutritional info is approximate.