At our house, no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without this irresistible sweet potato casserole topped with crunchy pecan praline sauce.
5 from 2 votes

By Christie Vanover | Published November 21, 2022 | Last Updated November 21, 2022

Home | Recipes | Irresistible Sweet Potato Casserole

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.

large spoonful of sweet potato casserole.

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.

Ingredients

sweet potato casserole ingredients: sugar, brown sugar, pecans, butter, eggs, vanilla, egg nog, sweet potatoes.
  • Sweet Potatoes: The recipe works best with fresh sweet potatoes. Each large sweet potato weighs about 1 pound, so 2 large sweet potatoes is all you’ll need.
  • Eggnog: The secret to this recipe is the eggnog. It a combination of cream and eggs that adds the perfect rich flavor.
  • Eggs: In addition to the eggnog, a couple eggs help hold the casserole together.
  • Sugars: You’ll need both white sugar and brown sugar.
  • Butter: Use real butter. Either salted or unsalted butter is fine.
  • Pecans: Chopped pecans are mixed in the praline topping at the end to make this indulgent.
  • Vanilla: Vanilla always rounds out the flavor. You can use vanilla extract, but I use vanilla bean paste for every recipe that calls for vanilla.

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.

bottles of BBQ rubs on black background

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
mashing sweet potatoes with a potato masher.

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.

  1. STEP THREE: To the bowl of mashed sweet potatoes, add eggnog, eggs, butter, white sugar and vanilla. Stir to combine.
bowl of sweet potato casserole ingredients.
  1. STEP FOUR: Spoon everything into a 13×9 casserole dish. Use a spatula to spread the sweet potato mixture out evenly.
mashed sweet potatoes spread in pan.
  1. 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.
syrup in bowl of cold water that formed into a soft ball.

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.

  1. STEP SIX: Remove the pot from the heat and stir in some melted butter and pecans. The pecan praline sauce should coat the spoon.
spoon lifting thickened pecan sauce out of pot.
  1. STEP SEVEN: Pour the sauce over the pan of sweet potatoes and spread it evenly.
spoon spreading pecan mixture on sweet potatoes.

This praline sauce with eggnog is the magic that makes these sweet potatoes so perfect as a side dish to holiday meals.

spoon spreading pecan mixture on sweet potatoes.

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.

large spoonful of sweet potato casserole.

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.

serving of sweet potato casserole on plate with turkey and brussels sprouts.

Storage

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.

GCG Pro Pitmaster Tips

  • Use fresh sweet potatoes for the best results
  • Eggnog provides a richness that makes these sweet potatoes irresistible
  • Make sure the pecan praline topping is cooked to softball stage, so it’s ooey and gooey

Frequently Asked Questions

Can sweet potato casserole be made ahead of time?

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.

Can you freeze sweet potato casserole?

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.

Are canned yams and sweet potatoes the same?

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.

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large spoonful of sweet potato casserole.

Irresistible Sweet Potato Casserole

At our house, no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without this irresistible sweet potato casserole topped with crunchy pecan praline sauce.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 12

Ingredients
 

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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.

Notes

Each large sweet potato weighs about 1 pound, so you should only need 2 large sweet potatoes for this recipe. 
You can use canned sweet potatoes in place of the fresh ones, but reduce the sugar in the recipe to 1/4 cup, because the canned sweet potatoes are preserved in sugar.
If you can’t find eggnog, you can use heavy cream. 

Nutrition

Calories: 370kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 4gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 168mgPotassium: 360mgFiber: 3gSugar: 31gVitamin A: 11200IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 75mgIron: 1mg

This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator

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