Sweet Potato Casserole

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Classic homestyle sweet potato casserole is a beloved American dish, especially as a side dish during Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner!

This comfort food typically features sweet potatoes, brown sugar, and butter as the base ingredients, and can be customized with a variety of different toppings.

sweet potato with pecans and marshmallows on a plate
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Marshmallow Sweet Potato Casserole

Marshmallow sweet potato casserole is a quintessential American side dish served during Thanksgiving. This dish combines the earthy sweetness of the sweet potatoes with the fluffy, caramelized texture of marshmallows, creating a unique contrast of flavors that has made it a beloved part of many holiday traditions.

The tradition of serving sweet potato casserole during Thanksgiving dates back to the early 20th century. The inclusion of marshmallows is believed to be a result of clever marketing by marshmallow manufacturers. In the 1917, the Angelus Marshmallows company published a recipe booklet featuring a dish of sweet potatoes baked with marshmallows. This creative application of marshmallows grew in popularity and became a staple during the holiday season.

When it comes to taste, marshmallow sweet potato casserole offers an enticing mix of flavors and textures. The base is typically made of mashed sweet potatoes combined with ingredients like butter, brown sugar, and spices, resulting in a creamy, sweet, and slightly spiced flavor. The marshmallow topping, when baked, becomes beautifully toasted and gooey, adding a layer of decadent sweetness that contrasts nicely with the smooth and rich sweet potato base.

This dish represents more than just a combination of sweet potatoes and marshmallows. It’s a symbol of American holiday tradition, evoking nostalgia and marking the beginning of the festive season. Each family may have their own version of the recipe, passed down through generations, further enriching the history and significance of this classic Thanksgiving dish.

sweet potato with pecans and marshmallows with a scoop out of it

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Canned yams or sweet potatoes: These are the base of your casserole. They provide the primary flavor, a sweet, earthy taste that is the hallmark of the dish. Using canned yams or sweet potatoes simplifies preparation as they are already cooked and soft, ready to be mashed and mixed with the other ingredients.
  • Half and half: This adds creaminess to your dish, making your mashed sweet potatoes richer and smoother.
  • Salted butter: It enhances the flavors and adds a bit of savory richness that nicely balances the sweetness of the yams or sweet potatoes and maple syrup. The fat in the butter also helps carry the flavors of the spices.
  • Maple syrup: This sweetener adds a touch of classic fall flavor and extra sweetness to the dish. It complements the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes and gives a depth of flavor with its unique, rich tones.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg: These spices are warm and fragrant, contributing to the traditional fall flavors associated with sweet potato casserole. Cinnamon adds a sweet-spicy taste, while nutmeg offers a slightly nutty and sweet warmth.
  • Salt: This helps balance the sweetness and enhances the overall flavors of the dish.
  • Pecans: These provide a crunchy texture that contrasts with the creaminess of the mashed sweet potatoes. Their nutty flavor complements the sweetness of the dish.
  • Miniature marshmallows: These are a traditional topping for sweet potato casserole, providing a sweet, fluffy contrast to the other ingredients. When baked, they melt and slightly caramelize, adding a delightful toasted flavor.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, you will use the following process:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a small casserole dish.
  • After draining, mash yams in a large mixing bowl and mix together with half and half, butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread this into the greased casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle on pecans and marshmallows.
  • Bake the casserole on the lower rack uncovered for 25 minutes. 
sweet potato with pecans and marshmallows on a spoon

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole

Choose the right potatoes: When using fresh sweet potatoes, go for the ones that are firm with no discoloration. They should be a similar size for consistent cooking.

Cook the potatoes properly: Whether you’re boiling or baking your sweet potatoes, make sure they are fully cooked and soft. This will ensure that they mash well and incorporate nicely with the other ingredients.

Adjust sweetness as per your liking: The level of sweetness can be adjusted according to personal preference. Some people like their casserole very sweet, while others prefer a more balanced flavor. You can adjust the amount of sugar or maple syrup based on your preference.

Spices are important: Don’t skimp on spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. They add depth of flavor and give the casserole that classic fall taste.

Get creative with toppings: While the traditional topping for sweet potato casserole is marshmallows, consider adding other elements for extra texture and flavor. You can add a streusel topping, use different types of nuts, or even add some crumbled bacon for a salty twist.

My Pro Tip

Recipe Tip

Don’t underbake! Make sure to bake the casserole until the marshmallows are nicely browned and toasty. This will give the casserole a nice caramelized flavor.

Allow it to rest: Let the casserole sit for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven. This allows the flavors to meld together and makes it easier to serve.

Make ahead: To save time on the day of your meal, you can make the sweet potato mixture a day in advance, refrigerate it, and add the toppings just before baking.

sweet potato creamy with pecans and marshmallows, pecans, flour, and marshmallows around it

FAQs

Can I make sweet potato casserole ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the sweet potato mixture a day in advance. Just cover and refrigerate it. Add the toppings just before baking.

Can I freeze sweet potato casserole?

Yes, sweet potato casserole freezes well. You can freeze it before or after baking. However, if you’re going to freeze it with the marshmallows, it’s better to freeze before baking as the marshmallows can become tough when frozen and reheated.

Can I use fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned?

Absolutely. Fresh sweet potatoes might even give a richer flavor. Just remember to cook them until they’re very soft for easy mashing.

What can I use instead of marshmallows?

If you don’t have marshmallows or prefer not to use them, you can use a streusel topping made of butter, flour, and brown sugar. Some people also like to use a meringue topping.

What can I do if my casserole is too sweet?

If your casserole ends up too sweet, you can add a bit of acid, like lemon juice, to balance the sweetness. In future, remember to adjust the amount of sugar or sweeteners to your liking.

Can I use yams instead of sweet potatoes?

Yes, you can use yams, but keep in mind they are usually a bit sweeter and more moist than sweet potatoes.

What can I serve with sweet potato casserole?

Sweet potato casserole pairs well with savory dishes. It’s traditionally served with turkey for Thanksgiving, but it can also accompany roast chicken, ham, or pork. It also goes well with other traditional sides like green beans or stuffing.

How long does sweet potato casserole last in the fridge?

Properly stored, sweet potato casserole should last 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to cover it tightly or store in airtight containers.

Can I use milk instead of half and half?

Yes, you can substitute milk for the half and half, but the casserole may not be as rich and creamy.

casserole dish with pecans and mashmallows on it

What to Serve With Sweet Potato Casserole

Roast Turkey: This is a classic pairing for Thanksgiving. The sweetness of the casserole complements the savory flavors of the turkey.

Ham: A glazed ham, with its salty and sweet flavor profile, works well with sweet potato casserole.

Roast Chicken: A simple roast chicken is another great option. The chicken’s mild flavors make it a good match.

Pork Loin or Pork Chops: The sweet and savory combination of the casserole pairs excellently with pork.

Beef Brisket or Pot Roast: The robust flavors of these beef dishes contrast nicely with the sweetness of the casserole.

Side Dishes:

Green Beans: Whether simply steamed or prepared as a green bean casserole, green beans provide a nice color and flavor contrast.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts: The slight bitterness of the Brussels sprouts balances the sweetness of the casserole.

Cranberry Sauce: The tartness of cranberry sauce provides a good contrast to the sweet and creamy casserole.

Cornbread: Cornbread is another traditional side that complements the flavors in the sweet potato casserole.

Salad: A simple, refreshing salad can help balance the richness of the casserole.

Stuffing or Dressing: Whether it’s a classic bread stuffing or something more adventurous, stuffing is a traditional pairing with sweet potato casserole.

Also try these other Sweet C’s favorites:

sweet potato with pecans and marshmallows on a spoon

Sweet Potato Casserole

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Sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows and pecans on a plate.
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Sweet Potato Casserole

This super simple sweet potato casserole will give you that taste of Thanksgiving any time of year!
Course Side dishes
Cuisine American
Keyword casserole, marshmallow, side dish, sweet potato, yams
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 521kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 3 15 ounce canned yams or sweet potatoes drained (about 5 cups)
  • 4 Tablespoons half and half
  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter melted
  • 2 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease a small casserole dish.
  • After draining, mash yams in a large mixing bowl and mix together with half and half, butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Spread this into the greased casserole dish.  
  • Sprinkle on pecans and marshmallows.
  • Bake the casserole on the lower rack uncovered for 25 minutes. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 521kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 442mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 17g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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