The BEST Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet and perfectly spiced with an addictive crunchy topping, this sweet potato casserole will be your new favorite Thanksgiving side dish! And, the best part is that this casserole is super easy to make ahead of time, which means less prep work on Thanksgiving morning!

Can you believe that Thanksgiving is next week? Autumn has flown by and the bustle of the holiday season will soon be upon us. Along with some amazing holiday treats, of course. 😉 But, before we jump into Christmas, I want to celebrate Thanksgiving by presenting you with a delicious side dish that will wow your guests this year.

While many recipes for sweet potato casserole have a marshmallow topping, this recipe has a crunchy, sweet and salty topping that complements the smooth texture of the sweet potatoes perfectly. This sweet potato casserole recipe has been in our family for decades, and, after making some modifications, I deemed the recipe fit to share with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does! Take a look at the ingredients below:

Sweet Potato Filling Ingredients

Sweet Potatoes~ Although this recipe is not necessarily a health food, the sweet potatoes still add a punch of nutrition! Considered a super-food, sweet potatoes are especially rich in fiber and vitamin A. You can boil your potatoes, bake them or even cook them in a slow cooker. I opted to bake them; more details on that below.

Brown Sugar~ Brown sugar adds a deep flavor that pairs well with the sweet potatoes and cinnamon. You could use white sugar instead if you wish. Although I have not tried it, I think that maple syrup or honey would work as well. The flavor of maple may actually complement the sweet potatoes and cinnamon.

Butter~ I used unsalted butter, but salted butter would work as well. Although the flavor will not be quite as rich and buttery, you could substitute margarine or vegan plant-based butter.

Milk~ Any percentage of milk will work here. For a richer flavor, you could even use half-and-half or heavy cream. Or, for a dairy-free option, you can use any type of plant-based milk you wish.

Ground Cinnamon~ Cinnamon is mandatory for achieving a perfect balance of spices and sweetness.

Vanilla Extract~ Vanilla adds an extra note of flavor that complements the cinnamon and sweet potatoes well.

Crunch Topping Ingredients

Cornflakes Cereal~ Yes, I know this is a strange ingredient, but trust me, cornflakes give the topping an extra crunchy texture which pairs perfectly with the smooth sweet potato filling.

Sweetened Shredded Coconut~ The texture and flavor of coconut is absolutely delicious in the topping. I used the shredded coconut found in the baking aisle at the grocery store, but you can also use frozen shredded coconut. If you use frozen coconut, thaw it before using and then place the coconut in the center of a large dish towel. Squeeze out excess water with the towel before adding the coconut to the rest of the topping ingredients.

Chopped Pecans~ Pecans are my favorite in this recipe, but walnuts are a close second. Either one works well.

Brown Sugar and Salt~ Both contribute to a sweet-and-salty flavor.

Melted Butter~ If you prefer to use salted butter, reduce the salt to 1/2 tsp.

Make-Ahead Prep Instructions

Sweet potato casserole is a great recipe to prep ahead of time so that there is minimal prep work on Thanksgiving morning. You can cook the sweet potatoes up to 2 days ahead of time and store them in the fridge until you are ready to make the filling. Boiling, baking or cooking potatoes in the crock pot are all great methods. Personally, I prefer to bake my potatoes because the potatoes taste almost caramelized. First, I wash my sweet potatoes and then slash both sides of the potatoes several times with a knife. Then, I place them on a parchment lined baking pan and bake them at 450 degrees fahrenheit for about an hour.

Make the filling the day before Thanksgiving by peeling the cooled sweet potatoes and adding them to a large bowl along with the rest of the filling ingredients. Using either an electric hand mixer or immersion blender, blend the sweet potatoes until they are smooth and creamy. Spread the filling into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish and cover before refrigerating overnight.

After making the filling, you can mix together all of the topping ingredients except for the melted butter in a medium size bowl. Cover the bowl and store at room temperature overnight.

On Thanksgiving, take your prepared sweet potato filling out of the fridge and add the melted butter to your prepared topping. Stir to evenly coat the topping with butter before covering the sweet potato filling with the crunch topping. Bake the casserole at 350 degrees fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Garnish with pecan halves if desired and serve warm at Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy this sweet potato casserole along with all of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes or as a dessert. Happy Thanksgiving!

The BEST Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet and perfectly spiced with an addictive crunchy topping, this sweet potato casserole will be your new favorite Thanksgiving side dish! And, the best part is that this casserole is super easy to make ahead of time, which means less prep work on Thanksgiving morning!
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 18 servings
Calories 200 kcal


Sweet Potato Filling Ingredients

  • 8 medium size sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Crunch Topping Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cornflakes cereal slightly crushed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp melted unsalted butter*


  • Preheat oven to 450 °F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. With a knife, slash sweet potatoes several times on both sides before placing them on the pan and baking for about an hour. When a knife can be easily inserted into the potatoes, they are done baking. Allow sweet potatoes to cool before peeling them.
  • Lower oven heat to 375 °F and grease a 9×13 inch dish with cooking spray. Add the peeled sweet potatoes to a large bowl and puree with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender for 1-2 minutes. To the bowl, add the rest of the filling ingredients: brown sugar, butter, milk, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Puree all of the ingredients together until the filing is smooth and creamy.
  • Spread the filling into your prepared baking dish before making the topping. For the topping, mix together the cornflakes, pecans, coconut, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and toss together the topping until everything is coated with butter. Generously cover the sweet potato filling with the topping.
  • Bake the casserole about 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown. Allow the casserole to cool 10-15 minutes before serving.


*If you wish to use salted butter in the topping, reduce the salt to 1/2 tsp.
**Want to make this casserole ahead of time? Follow step by step instructions in above post!
***Casserole will keep in the fridge 3-5 days, but the topping will lose its crunchiness, so it is best to eat soon after baking.
Keyword autumn, sweet potato, Thanksgiving

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