This southern sweet potato casserole with pecans is an easy sweet potato dessert perfect for family gatherings, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Whipped butter and brown sugar sweet potatoes are topped with crushed pecans (or walnuts), shredded coconut, brown sugar, and butter. Everything is baked to perfection in the oven for the best sweet potato dessert ever!
Granny Eva was my American grandmother on my mother's side, and she was known for her desserts. Granny's sweet potato casserole with pecans doesn't disappoint and has been in the family for five decades.
What I Love About This Recipe
This is THE recipe I wait for when Thanksgiving rolls around. My plate is mostly half sweet potato souffle, and I'm warming up leftovers (if there are any) for days after. This recipe is so delicious and easy to reheat.
- Sweet Potatoes: This recipe uses orange sweet potatoes as opposed to white sweet potatoes (those exist). I tried making this recipe with white sweet potatoes, and it didn't turn out well.
- Sweetened Shredded Coconut: This is found in the baking section of the grocery store. If you are outside the US, you might find it in an international grocery store. I've run into issues getting this ingredient in Abu Dhabi.
- Butter: My favorite butter is Kerrygold, and I recommend you use salted butter.
- Pecans or walnuts: Use chopped pecans or chopped walnuts interchangeably.
- Brown sugar: I highly recommend using brown sugar instead of regular sugar, because it gives more depth to the dish. The brown sugar mixed with the butter makes a really nice flavor.
- Milk: Use any cow's milk, preferably whole milk.
- Eggs: Use whole eggs.
- Vanilla extract: I recommend actual vanilla extract and not imitation vanilla.
How To Make Sweet Potato Casserole
Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into similar-sized pieces. Boil on the stovetop until very tender. Drain the sweet potatoes and set them aside to cool down.
Hint: Make sure the sweet potatoes are cooled down before adding the eggs.
Add the brown sugar, melted butter, milk, vanilla, and eggs to the cooled sweet potatoes.
Beat with a handheld mixer until fluffy.
Set the oven to 350 ℉ (177 ℃). Next, prepare the nut and shredded coconut topping in a separate bowl. Melt the butter. Mix the chopped walnuts (or pecans), shredded coconut, and brown sugar with the melted butter. Mix well together.
Layer the whipped sweet potato in a 9" x 13" dish. This dish can get split into two smaller baking dishes if needed as well, but the ideal baking pan is the 9" x 13" dish.
Add the nut topping to the whipped sweet potatoes and spread evenly.
Bake the sweet potato souffle at 350 ℉ (177 ℃) for about 30 minutes. Cut the sweet potato souffle after it's done baking in the oven.
Tips and Tricks
- Make sure the sweet potatoes are completely tender. You don't want the sweet potato base lumpy with uncooked bits of sweet potatoes. If a fork can easily pierce the sweet potatoes, then they are done. I recommend chopping the sweet potatoes into smaller chunks so they can cook faster.
- Allow the sweet potatoes to cool off before mixing in the eggs. If the sweet potatoes are too hot, they will cook the eggs, and you will end up with lumpy egg bits in your sweet potato casserole- yuck!
- Whip the sweet potato mixture. There is no way around using a hand mixer for this recipe. The sweet potato souffle base is light and fluffy, with the eggs, butter, and brown sugar all whipped together. I whip the sweet potatoes in the same stovetop pot I used to cook the sweet potatoes to save me some time cleaning another bowl.
- Don't skimp on the butter. I made this recipe with half the butter to "test things out," which was not as good.
Variations and Substitutions
- If you are short on time, make this whipped sweet potato casserole with walnuts the night before. I recommend waiting to bake the sweet potato casserole with pecans until you are ready to eat it. However, this also heats up really well. Serve warm or cold, but my preference is warm.
- Use yams instead of sweet potatoes.
- You can add some nutmeg and cinnamon if you want to give it a little extra kick. Personally, I stick to the original recipe.
- Instead of boiling, bake sweet potato wedges with the skins on. Remove the skins and carry on with this recipe.
Store this sweet potato dessert in the fridge because it uses milk and eggs. It will last for about five days in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Hand mixer
- 9" x 13" baking dish (or 2 smaller baking dishes)
- Stovetop pot
- Mixing bowls
Sweet potato souffle has a lighter and fluffier sweet potato base.
Yes, this can be frozen after it has been cooked and cooled to room temperature. Put the sweet potato souffle in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 4 months. Thaw in the fridge the night before. Once completely thawed, reheat in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 ℉ (177 ℃).
This sweet potato dessert is gluten-free because it does not use any flour or grain in the recipe. The nut topping is made from walnuts, shredded coconut, brown sugar, and butter. This is an excellent sweet potato dessert for family gatherings with someone who has a gluten intolerance.
Yes, you can use walnuts for sweet potato casserole. Substitute equal parts of walnuts for equal parts pecans.
Yes, sweet potato casserole is a dessert. Even though the base of sweet potato casserole is made from sweet potatoes, there are generous amounts of butter and sugar. This dessert is sweet, filling, and delicious.
More Thanksgiving Recipes
Sweet Potato Recipes
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Southern Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecans
Whipped Sweet Potato Base
- 3 lbs sweet potatoes
- 4 ounces salted butter
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Walnut or Pecan Topping
- 1 ½ cups chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 ½ cups shredded sweetened coconut flakes
- 4 ounces salted butter
- ½ cup brown sugar
Whipped Sweet Potato Base
- Peel and chop sweet potatoes. Boil on the stovetop until compltely tender.
- Drain sweet potatoes and add to a mixing bowl. Allow sweet potatoes to cool so the eggs don't curdle when mixed in.
- Add the melted butter, eggs, brown sugar, milk, and vanilla extract to the cooled sweet potatoes. Mix with a hand mixer until smooth. If needed, you can add more milk depending on the consistency of the sweet potato mixture.
- Pour the whipped sweet potato mixture into a 9" x 13" baking dish.
Sugar and Nut Topping
- Add melted butter, brown sugar, shredded coconut flakes, chopped pecans or walnuts to a bowl. Mix completely. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the sweet potato layer.
- Bake at 350 ℉ (177 ℃) for about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Cut and serve.
- Pecan can be used in place of walnuts.
- Cook the potatoes until completely tender so you avoid having sweet potato lumps.
Best sweet potato recipe I've ever had!!!!! Wow thank you!
Made this for iftar and it was great.