Looking for a Sweet Potato Casserole that isn't so loaded with sugar it belongs on the dessert table? This one is the perfect balance of sweetness, lightened up while still being rich and indulgent enough for your holiday table! Sweet potatoes are mashed with butter and maple syrup then baked with a quick maple pecan topping your guests will love! Gluten-free and can be made ahead and baked on the busy day!
Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecan Topping is an extension of my basic Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe. It's a sweet yet not too sweet holiday side dish that won't feel like an extra slice of pumpkin pie!
I've seen sweet potato casseroles with literally cups of sugar! This one is lightly sweetened with less than ¼ cup of real maple syrup. The sweet potatoes are the star of the show with less overall topping than most recipes and no marshmallows!
The Maple Pecan Topping uses almond flour to make the dish gluten-free, handy when feeding a holiday crowd. The best part, you can make this dish ahead! Mash up your sweet potatoes and add the raw pecan topping, ready to bake on the busy holiday!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Healthy sweet potatoes are mashed with just the right amount of sweetness and topped with a buttery maple pecan topping!
- Sweet Potatoes - Use 4 large orangey flesh, red skin sweet potatoes, also called yams. I like to peel them to remove any black spots. If you're a sweet potato fan, try my Sweet Potato Corn Chowder.
- Butter, Maple Syrup, Cream and Salt - You'll mash up your boiled sweet potatoes with rich and decadent heavy cream and butter. A hint of maple syrup enhances the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes. The sweet potato base is lightened up, no eggs or unnecessary cups of sugar!
- Topping - The topping is made with pecans or walnut combination. You can give them a rough chop or leave them whole. Butter, maple syrup, cinnamon and almond flour give it a streusel type coating. Almond flour keeps the dish gluten-free, but you can use regular flour if you don't need it to be. The topping is of course optional, you can just serve the plain and simple Mashed Sweet Potatoes dotted with butter!
See recipe card for quantities.
Gorgeous looking but really very easy, just boil and mash your sweet potatoes, mix up the pecan topping and bake!
Step 1 - Wash and peel your sweet potatoes, peeling away any black or bad spots. Cut them in 1 inch slices and then in quarters. Add them to a large pot of cold water as you chop.
Step 2 - Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until soft, about 30 minutes. If they break apart with a fork in the water, they're done! Drain very well in a colander.
Step 3 - Add the drained potatoes back to the hot pot and use a potato masher to mash with the butter, cream, maple syrup and salt.
Step 4 - Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes to a baking dish and smooth the top with a spoon.
Step 5 - Mix together all ingredients for the maple pecan topping. You can use pecans or both pecans and walnuts.
Step 6 - Pour the topping over the casserole and bake at 375° F for 20 minutes until the topping is toasted.
- Drain the Sweet Potatoes Well - Really make sure you drain your potatoes well to avoid watery mashed sweet potatoes! Give the colander a good few shakes and let it sit over the pot for a bit, making sure to dump that water out before you add them back to the pot.
- Mashing the Sweet Potatoes - A potato masher is simple and perfectly fine for the task, but you can use a stand mixer, a hand mixer or a food processor for ultra creamy texture.
- Make Ahead Instructions - This casserole can be made a day in advance, topped with the raw pecan topping, covered and refrigerated. Then just bake it the next day! The sweet potatoes are already cooked, and there are no eggs in the casserole that you need to worry about. Just make sure the sweet potatoes are heated through! If they aren't, you can cover with foil to protect the topping from burning and keep baking.
- Freezing and Leftovers - Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 4 months. You can even repurpose your leftovers into baked goods in place of canned pumpkin! Freeze leftovers in 1 cup portions, ready to thaw for baking. Try it in these Pumpkin Protein Waffles or these Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins, the extra nuts in the topping are delicious in both!
- The Right Size Baking Dish - You can really use any size dish here, deeper with the topping condensed, or shallow with the topping spread out. This sweet potato bake uses less topping that most recipes, just a crunchy hint of sweetness in each bite instead of a full on dessert sugar crisp!
- Use Raw Baking Nuts - The nuts will bake with the topping, so it's best to use raw pecans, or a combination of walnuts and pecans. Don't use roasted and salted nuts.
What to Serve With
This gluten-free Sweet Potato Casserole is perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or any holiday! It goes well with any main course including ham, beef or the Thanksgiving turkey alongside the Rosemary Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Cranberry Herb Bread Stuffing!
Yes! Almond flour is used in the pecan topping to make this dish completely gluten-free, perfect for a large holiday crowd!
Sweet potato peels are edible, but I would recommend peeling them for a sweet potato casserole. There are often bad or black spots under the peel that you can remove when peeling. The texture of the finished dish is creamier if peeled.
Yes, if this isn't enough topping for you, feel free to use 2 cups of nuts and bump up the butter and syrup a little, or just double the topping.
Yes, you can absolutely adjust the amount of maple syrup up or down in this recipe to suit your taste. This Sweet Potato Casserole uses no refined sugar, far less than most recipes, and is lightly sweet without being too sweet. However, it's easy to taste the sweet potatoes as you mash them and adjust the sweetness as you go.
Brown sugar is the best substitute for the maple syrup, but you could also use white sugar or honey.
Yes! You can make this entire dish ahead of time, topped with the nuts but don't bake it. Then wrap it well, I recommend covering with foil and then tying it tightly in a reused bread or bun bag and freeze. Thaw overnight 1 to 2 days in the fridge and then let it sit on the counter an hour before baking to take the chill off. Then bake at 375°F until the topping is toasted and the sweet potatoes are heated through. You can cover with foil to keep the nuts from burning if you need to continue baking.
More Holiday Side Dishes!
If you made this recipe, I'd love to hear how you liked it! Be sure to leave a star rating by clicking the stars in the recipe card, or leave a comment below!
Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecan Topping
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- 4 sweet potatoes
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Topping
- 2 Tablespoons butter melted
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons almond flour
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1½ cup pecans or in combination with walnuts
- Wash and peel the sweet potatoes, removing any black or bad spots. Cut into 1 inch slices and then into quarters. Add the large chunks to a pot of cold water as you go. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until soft, about 30 minutes.
- Drain well and return to the hot pot. Add butter, heavy cream, maple syrup and salt, and mash well with a potato masher. Transfer to a casserole dish and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.
- For the Topping, mix together all ingredients and pour the topping over the sweet potatoes. Spread it out evenly. Bake at 375℉ for 20 minutes, until the topping is toasted.
- Make Ahead - The sweet potatoes can be boiled, mashed, and put in the casserole dish with the raw topping a day in advance. Just cover and refrigerate. Then bake for 20 minutes the day of. Make sure the sweet potatoes are heated through, if they aren't, cover with foil and continue baking.
- Gluten-Free - This sweet potato casserole is gluten-free. You can substitute the almond flour for regular flour if you don't need it to be gluten-free.
- The Topping is Optional - You can serve just the mashed sweet potatoes as is for a simple side dish, dotted with extra butter.
- Pecans can be substituted with walnuts or a combination of the two. Use raw nuts, chopped or left whole.
- Freezing - Extra sweet potato casserole with the nut topping can be frozen and used in baking in place of canned pumpkin. Try it in Pumpkin Waffles or Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins!