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I’ve been making this recipe for nearly 30 years, and it’s still the best sweet potato casserole recipe I have and a family favorite.
What Is Sweet Potato Casserole
There are several types and colors of sweet potatoes.
Around Thanksgiving, Americans are most familiar with the orange variety. But in many other parts of the world, you can find sweeter potatoes that are white or even purple.
I have a recipe for Savory Rainbow Sweet Potatoes Au Gratin that uses these beautiful varieties.
And while many other nations eat their sweet potatoes as a savory dish, growing up in Kentucky, I learned to enjoy my sweet potatoes mixed with butter and sugar and sometimes topped with mini marshmallows.
But this Southern sweet potato casserole is a little different in the best way possible. It’s not overly sweet.
I’ve grown to appreciate the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes, so it only calls for 1/2 cup of sugar. In fact, you could reduce that amount if you want to.
What makes it irresistible though is the crunchy pecan praline topping made with eggnog and brown sugar.
Substitutions: You can also use canned sweet potatoes, but they have a softer consistency and sometimes contain added sweeteners. Eggnog can be hard to find in the spring and summer, so you can substitute heavy cream.
How to cook the sweet potato casserole
This dish is prepared in a few phases. First, you’ll cook the potatoes and mash them. Then, you’ll make the praline topping. Finally, the casserole will bake on a grill or in the oven.
- STEP ONE: Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into one-inch cubes. Then, boil them in a large pot of water until they are fork tender. This will take about 15 minutes.
- STEP TWO: Drain the potatoes, discarding the liquid, and place the cooked sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. It’s okay if you have a few chunks.
PRO TIP: If you prefer your sweet potatoes to be extra smooth, you can mash them with a potato ricer. I don’t recommend using a food processor or hand mixer, because potatoes can get gummy if they’re worked too much.
- STEP THREE: To the bowl of mashed sweet potatoes, add eggnog, eggs, butter, white sugar and vanilla. Stir to combine.
- STEP FOUR: Spoon everything into a 13×9 casserole dish. Use a spatula to spread the sweet potato mixture out evenly.
- STEP FIVE: To make the pecan topping, in a sauce pot, bring some eggnog to a simmer over medium heat. Just before it begins to boil, stir in the brown sugar. Cook it until it reaches soft ball stage or 235F degrees. This will take about 10 minutes.
PRO TIP: If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, you can determine if the mixture is at the soft ball stage by placing a few drops in a bowl of cold water. Once the mixture starts to harden into a soft ball, it’s ready.
- STEP SIX: Remove the pot from the heat and stir in some melted butter and pecans. The pecan praline sauce should coat the spoon.
- STEP SEVEN: Pour the sauce over the pan of sweet potatoes and spread it evenly.
This praline sauce with eggnog is the magic that makes these sweet potatoes so perfect as a side dish to holiday meals.
Next, you’ll bake it in a 350F-degree oven or on a grill over indirect heat for about 45 minutes. You want the praline mixture to be bubbly.
How to serve sweet potato casserole
Once the sweet potato casserole is baked, serve it by the spoonful with your favorite holiday meal or main dish. Be sure to get that crunchy topping with each helping.
You’ll be amazed with how good this is. People are surprised that it’s not overly sweet, so they always go back for seconds.
I made this for a holiday potluck and I caught someone scraping up every bit from the pan. That’s how good these sweet potatoes are.
Sweet potato casserole can be covered with plastic wrap or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. You can also store it in the freezer for up to six months, but it loses its richness after a while.
You can reheat sweet potato casserole in the microwave, or if you saved the sweet potato casserole in the 13×9 pan, you can place it back in a 350F-degree oven and reheat it.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. If you want to get a head start on the holiday menu, once you get everything in the baking dish, you can refrigerate it and then bake it the next day at 350F degrees when you’re ready. If the ingredients are cold, you may need to bake it a little longer than 45 minutes.
Yes. Technically, it can be frozen for six months, but the flavor will start to lose its richness and intensity over time. So if you want to freeze it, it’s best to eat it within one month.
Most of the time, canned yams aren’t actually yams at all. The front of the label may say yams, but the ingredient list will say sweet potatoes. Yams aren’t orange. They’re the same color as an Idaho baking potato. But for the sake of this recipe, you could use canned “yams.” Reduce the sugar in the recipe though, because the canned variety is usually preserved in a sweet syrup.
Other Holiday Side Dishes
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Irresistible Sweet Potato Casserole
- 2 lbs fresh sweet potatoes
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup eggnog
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
Pecan Praline Topping
- 1/2 cup eggnog
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- Heat Oven or Grill: Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. If you're baking these on a grill, heat the grill to 350F degrees with an indirect heat zone.
- Cook Potatoes: Peel the potatoes. Discard the peels and cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes. Boil in a large pot of water on the stove and cook the potatoes until they are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- Combine: Drain the potatoes and discard the water. Place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash. Stir in the eggs, 1/3 cup eggnog, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla. Spread the mixture into a 13×9 baking dish.
- Make Topping: In a small sauce pot, bring 1/2 cup eggnog to a simmer over medium heat. Just before it begins to boil, stir in 1 cup brown sugar. Cook until it reaches soft ball stage or 235F degrees, about 10 minutes. (See post above for details). Remove from the heat. Stir in the melted butter and pecans.
- Bake: Bake uncovered in a 350F-degree oven or grill for 45 minutes, or until the topping begins to bubble.
- Serve: Remove from the heat and serve by the spoonful with your favorite holiday meal.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.