Thanksgiving isn't complete without this sweet potato casserole recipe! The golden marshmallow and pecan topping is the crunchy and sweet crown jewel on top of the velvety sweet potatoes.
Try my Mashed Sweet Potatoes for another winning side dish.
Why you'll love it
While I stuck pretty closely to traditional methods and ingredients, this easy sweet potato casserole with marshmallows is next-level tasty because it's perfectly balanced between savory and sweet and has the addition of nutmeg and cinnamon! These warm spices are just what you need to impress everyone while still staying true to the classic. You'll agree mine is the best sweet potato casserole around, and it's anything but one-dimensional.
Why are there marshmallows on sweet potato casserole?
- For the uninitiated, sweet potato casserole is a side dish (not dessert) that's beloved at Thanksgiving feasts. Adding marshmallows on top actually goes all the way back to the early 1900s, so it really shouldn't be controversial!
- Marshmallows used to be reserved exclusively for the wealthy, so when they began to be mass produced, they were still considered special and put on dishes everyone could now make at home. The origins of this tasty casserole are pretty neat.
What you'll need
- Sweet potatoes - they're a naturally sweet orange root vegetable that you'll often see incorrectly labeled as "yams". Select firm ones that are blemish free. Smaller ones are easier to work with and cook faster.
- Brown sugar - since sweet potatoes are sweet all on their own, we're not adding as much brown sugar as some other recipes call for
- Butter - for richness
- Heavy cream - it's the better choice rather than milk since it will greatly improve the texture and taste and adds moisture and luxuriousness without being watery
- Eggs - they're very important as a binder in sweet potato casserole to stiffen it up while still remaining light and not dense. They also make the whole thing more structured rather than a mash.
- Vanilla extract - it adds another subtly sweet flavor dimension
- Cinnamon and nutmeg - these warm spices give an irresistibly seasonal touch and set mine apart from others!
- Salt - to bring out the flavors
- Pecans - they're the savory, nutty component that makes up half the delicious topping
- Marshmallows - delicately browned, gooey goodness to tie it all together. We're using the mini ones.
- In this recipe you can choose which method to cook the sweet potatoes prior to mashing. Baking concentrates the rich sweet potato flavor and is fairly hands off whereas boiling them is a great option if your oven is otherwise occupied. Boiled whole with their skins on ensures they aren't watery compared to peeling and cutting them up first, and they're easy to peel as well. Either way will be delicious.
How to make sweet potato casserole
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cook the sweet potatoes using either method outlined above. Preheat the oven to 375F. Once cooled, add the peeled sweet potatoes to a prep bowl along with the remaining ingredients apart from the pecans and marshmallows.
Mash with a handheld potato masher until smooth and all the ingredients are distributed evenly in the mixture. You can purée with an immersion blender if desired. Pour into a greased 9x13 baking dish and spread in a uniform layer.
Evenly top with the chopped pecans and marshmallows. Pop it in the oven, and bake until the marshmallows are nicely browned, about 20 minutes, watching carefully near the end of the cooking time.
Tools for this recipe
- I like using a 9x13 baking dish, but I've also successfully made it in a 2-quart oval baking dish.
- Mash the sweet potatoes with an old-fashioned handheld masher.
- If you prefer an extra smooth consistency for the sweet potato purée, feel free to use an immersion blender as well after mashing by hand.
Can I make sweet potato casserole ahead of time?
- Absolutely! Make the mashed sweet potato mixture, add it to your baking dish, let it cool, make sure it's covered tightly, and then refrigerate it for up to 2 days. Let it come to room temperature, and then add the toppings and bake as directed.
- You can also freeze the recipe the same way for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, and then let it come to room temperature. Top it with the pecans and marshmallows, and bake it as directed.
What to serve with it
- It's a must-have on your Thanksgiving table along with favorites like my Easy Roast Turkey and Sausage Stuffing.
- It's equally as good for other holidays like Christmas and even Easter or any special occasion.
- Check out my entire Holiday Collection with plenty of main courses and side dishes for more holiday entertaining inspiration.
Leftovers and storage
- We'd be surprised if there are any leftovers, but you can store them in the fridge for 3-5 days in a covered container.
- Reheat in the oven at 300F for about 15 minutes or until warmed through. Make sure to cover the baking dish with foil so the marshmallows don't brown further.
- I don't suggest freezing leftovers.
Is this your new go-to sweet potato casserole recipe? Let me know in the comments if you tried it or have any questions! You can also tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram.
Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1/4 cup butter (half stick) softened
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup pecans chopped
- 1-2 cups mini marshmallows or more, to taste
- Rinse and scrub the sweet potatoes (leave them whole and unpeeled) and then either 1) Boil: Pierce them each a couple of times with a fork or sharp knife, then add them to a large pot of water. Boil until very tender, then drain them. Or, 2) Bake: Pierce them all over, microwave for 6 minutes, and then roast them at 425F for 20 minutes or until tender.
- Preheat the oven to 375F and move the rack to the middle position. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
- Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them and mash them in a large bowl with the brown sugar, butter, cream, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Ensure that they're well mashed and that the other ingredients are distributed evenly (e.g. no clumps of cinnamon). If the potatoes aren't mashing as smoothly as you like or you want them super smooth, you can use an immersion blender to purée them once you've manually mashed them as much as you can.
- Pour the sweet potato mixture into the greased baking dish. Spread it in an even layer.
- Top the sweet potatoes with the chopped pecans and the mini marshmallows.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the marshmallows are nice and golden. Watch it carefully towards the end so they don't burn (some ovens are hotter than others).
- I prefer to boil the sweet potatoes in their skins for 2 reasons - it's less work than peeling and chopping raw sweet potatoes, and they are less likely to end up watery. So, look for smaller sweet potatoes to make this process easier and faster. For the sweet potatoes in the photos, I used 4 medium sweet potatoes totaling 3 pounds and they took about 50 minutes to boil. You can buy pre-cut diced sweet potatoes to save time, just be sure to drain them thoroughly after boiling them.
- See the blog post for tips on how to make this recipe ahead.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on November 7, 2017. It's been tweaked to be even easier, tastier, and has new photos!
Delicious! I added a bit more brown sugar because I like it sweet. Highly recommend making this one.
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
That's awesome!! Thanks so much for your review, Jennifer. 🙂
I going to make sweet potato casserole for the first time, ever, and I plan to use this recipe after viewing many recipes out there.! I have recently purchased a ricer. Do you feel I could use the ricer for this recipe?
Hi! I think you could use the ricer, but I haven't tried one with sweet potatoes. I would probably do a little research to see if others use it with sweet potatoes. I hope you love the recipe!! 🙂 Let me know how it goes!
I’ve made this multiple times for dinner get togethers and it’s always a hit! Just the perfect amount of flavor and sweetness! Everyone goes in for 2nds! This is the 3rd Thanksgiving I’ve made it and it’s still a hit!
That makes me so happy!! I appreciate your kind review, Erika! Happy Thanksgiving!! XO
Vanessa Moorgen says
My 12 yr old daughter made these tonight, easy to make and so yummy. A new family favorite!
I'm so happy it was a hit, Vanessa!! 😀
I was excited to find a sweet potato casserole that fit the traditional flavor profile but wasn’t packed full of as much sugar. I usually avoid the marshmallow yams at most holiday stuff because it’s either too sweet or watery.
I made this recipe for my family this Thanksgiving and even people who normally don’t like sweet potato casserole liked it a lot and gave me compliments on it. Next time I might go slightly heavier on the cinnamon.
Your comment makes me so happy!! Thank you ❤️❤️