Butter Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole ~ this amazing side dish has a souffle-like base of fluffy yellow sweet potatoes topped with a pecan streusel, don’t save this luscious recipe just for the holidays!
I feel so deprived! Growing up I can’t ever remember having any of those dessert masquerading as a side dish casseroles during the holidays, it just wasn’t on our family’s radar, I guess. We always had a big bowl of BUTTERED RUTABAGAS on the table, and my German great-grandmother’s BRAISED RED CABBAGE. But never sweet potatoes, yams, or anything topped with anything remotely sweet. And up until now I had no idea what I was missing!
This year I got hip to the joys of this sweet-ish (but not too sweet) casserole. There are no marshmallows or canned yams involved here~ this is real food that just happens to have a sweet side. It starts with fresh yellow sweet potatoes that I boil, drain, and puree with eggs, a little half and half, and a touch of brown sugar. The topping is pretty much exactly like I’d make for a streusel dessert, and the whole thing bakes up in the oven like a glorious souffle.
Once and for all, the difference between sweet potatoes and yams…
fact #1 ~ you will not find actual yams in your local supermarket. Yams are a starchy white root from Africa and Latin America.
fact #2 ~ there are several different varieties of sweet potatoes, including orange fleshed ones, and pale yellow fleshed ones like I used in this casserole. Both are in your grocery store, although yellow sweet potatoes are a little less common, especially outside of holiday season.
fact #3 ~ orange fleshed sweet potatoes were mislabeled as ‘yams’ many years ago by importers who introduced them to the US. The false name has stuck ever since.
fact #4 ~ yellow fleshed sweet potatoes are drier and a little less sweet than the orange variety. Both are delicious and very healthy and you can use them interchangeably in recipes. I happen to love the more subtle flavor and fluffier texture of the yellow variety.
What I love about this casserole is that it isn’t cloyingly sweet at all. It has a light and fluffy texture…be sure to cook it long enough so that you see it puffing up around the edges. The pecan streusel topping gets nice and crisp. It’s really delicious and I think this casserole has life way beyond holiday meals. Buy a nice plump rotisserie chicken, add something green, and you’ll have quite a special mid- winter meal. The kids will love this one, trust me.
TIP: If the topping is getting too browned too quickly, loosely cover with foil or parchment for the last half of cooking.
I try to save my highest praise for those recipes that I think are really special, and I highly recommend this one, I think your whole family will love it. And like I said up top, please don’t save it just for your holiday meals, this would make such a fun (and popular!) side dish for any night.
*This recipe is adapted from Pinch of Yum
- 3 large yellow sweet potatoes (approximately 1 1/2 pounds) peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup half and half
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, more if you love it
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup brown sugar (don't pack it down)
- 5 Tbsp melted butter
- Set the oven to 350F
- Put the potato chunks in a large pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, approximately 15-20 minutes or so. Check with the tip of a sharp knife. Drain.
- Put the potatoes in the bowl of a food processor and add the eggs, brown sugar, half and half, and melted butter. Pulse about 25 times, and then run the machine for an additional few seconds to completely puree the mixture. A little texture is ok, don't over-process. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Turn the potato puree into a gratin dish and spread out evenly.
- Blend the topping ingredients together in a bowl, tossing with a fork until crumbly. Make sure to break up any clumps of brown sugar. Crumble the mixture evenly over the potatoes.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until the top is browned and the sweet potatoes have puffed up slightly. If the topping browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil.
Make it your own ~
- MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Switch out the all purpose flour with almond flour, or a good gluten free baking mix.
- REDUCE THE SUGAR: leave out the sugar in the mashed sweet potatoes and halve the topping recipe.
- MAKE IT AHEAD: the casserole will keep in the fridge, unbaked and covered, for up to 2 days. Bring it to room temperature before baking.
- Yes, this will work equally well with orange sweet potatoes. But don’t try it with yams ;)
Don’t forget to pin this butter pecan sweet potato casserole!