This classic sweet potato casserole is based on my grandmother’s recipe, which was sweet but not make-your-teeth-fall-out sweet, the latter of which is how many of my friends and family members like it. So whenever I cook some newfangled version—one that (gasp!) omits the marshmallows and adds weird stuff like brandy or cranberries—my dinner guests don’t argue about it, but snipes do arise. One friend, aiming to put an end to the foolishness, once said in all seriousness, “They don’t call ’em sweet potatoes for nothin’.”–Denise Gee
LC The Thing About Sweet Potato Casserole Note
You know the thing about sweet potato casserole? Whichever recipe you grew up plopping on your plate and demolishing before you’d even touched your turkey is probably the recipe that you’re going to use as a measuring stick for all others. And that’s fair enough. It’s a familiarity thing. We get it. That said, if grandma’s recipe isn’t available to you, or if after all these years you’re maybe thinking it’s time you try something a little different, this is the recipe you gotta try. It’s an easy and reliable starting point for recreating the classic sweet potato casserole of your childhood—and perhaps even usurping and replacing it. As reassurance, our recipe testers are raving about this casserole in their comments, which you’ll find beneath the recipe. They’re saying stuff like, “This one is a keeper.” “My new go-to sweet potato casserole.” And, our favorite, “To my utter astonishment, I liked it.” Got something of your own to say about this classic sweet potato casserole recipe? Let us know in a comment below.
Classic Sweet Potato Casserole
- 5 pounds sweet potatoes peeled (about 4 sweet potatoes) or five 16-ounce (454-g) cans unseasoned mashed sweet potatoes
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for the baking dish
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons ground sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 large eggs lightly beaten
- 4 cups mini marshmallows
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). Lightly butter a 13-by-9-inch or 3-quart casserole dish.
- If using canned mashed sweet potatoes, dump them in a bowl.
If using whole sweet potatoes, cut them into 1-inch cubes, place them in a large pot, add enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, until very tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them cool slightly. Turn the sweet potatoes into a large bowl and mash until smooth with the back of a spoon, a hand mixer, or a food processor.
- Add both sugars, the half-and-half, butter, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to the mashed sweet potatoes and stir well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Add the eggs and mix well. Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared casserole dish. (You can cover and refrigerate the casserole at this point for up to 24 hours. You may need to allow a few more minutes in the oven to rewarm.) Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and gently stir the mixture to ensure it’s warmed evenly throughout, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the marshmallows over the top and return it to the oven, uncovered, until the marshmallows are golden brown, up to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I’ve had several different types of sweet potato casserole in the past and disliked it time and again for being dessert-like sweet. My family convinced me to give this recipe a try and, to my utter astonishment, I liked it. This classic sweet potato casserole was creamy and savory with a little sweetness. I liked the combination of spices. After peeling, I steamed them until tender and then mashed them by hand with the other ingredients except for the marshmallows. I found that mashing by hand made the potatoes very smooth, so a mixer wan’t necessary. They were then put into a large oval casserole and baked for 30 minutes using a convection oven. I did go a little wrong here in that we had a 15-minute drive to my daughter’s home and I mistakenly put the marshmallows on the top before we left thinking I’d brown them at her home. They melted completely into the dish, and no trace was left but a few white fluffs on the sides. The dish was delicious, with many people taking seconds. I remade the dish a second time, browning the marshmallows as directed, and there was no difference in taste between the two, but the browned marshmallow did look very pretty on top. I can see this pretty dish gracing many future holiday tables, although I might forgo or at least decrease the amount of regular sugar, as I don’t know that it added much to the overall flavor of the dish other than more sweetness.
I am someone who likes sweet potatoes straight out of the oven, so that is how we started this recipe—by baking the beautiful orange potatoes. I was intrigued by the addition of sugars, eggs, and spices. I was thinking it would be too sweet. We cooked the sweet potato casserole for 25 minutes and then added the marshmallows and cooked for 15 minutes. The marshmallows swelled up, and the entire casserole was beautiful. We also made this sweet potato casserole recipe on Christmas and parbaked the casserole for 20 minutes and finished it off in the oven the next day. We ended up using jumbo marshmallows, and the topping still browned beautifully. My kids loved it. I will use this recipe again.
Well, this was just about perfect. It’s my new go-to sweet potato casserole recipe. The author mentioned that this recipe is based on her grandmother’s recipe, which makes complete sense as the ingredients, preparation, and instructions are impeccable. After I boiled and mashed my sweet potatoes, I was overwhelmed by the amount of fluffy potato nearly overflowing out of my largest mixing bowl. I was sure that the mixture would not fit into a standard 13-by-9-inch casserole dish. However, when I poured the stuff in, it filled my dish perfectly, leaving a bit of space at the top for the mini marshmallows. The finished product was lovely, and we ate it alongside meatloaf for an entirely delicious and unhealthy winter treat. This casserole is sweet, folks. True to the author’s words, it’s not overly sweet, but it’s still borderline dessert. In any case, it’s sure to please a crowd.
I started to make this classic sweet potato casserole recipe when I realized, late in the day, that I needed to bring something to a New Year’s Eve party. It was quite amusing to me that the rest of the party food was small plates or tapas, so the Thanksgiving theme didn’t quite fit, but as a true testament to this recipe’s flavor, this was the only dish that was entirely consumed—and early in the evening! The directions were quite easy to follow. This also feels like a recipe that is easy to “wing,” i.e. take out a bit of the sugar if you feel like it, add whole milk instead of half-and-half, omit one of the spices if it’s not your favorite flavor. I actually omitted the ginger, and it was fine. My one quibble is that the casserole didn’t need 15 minutes to finish heating and brown the marshmallows. This only took about 5 minutes. A real winner!
This classic sweet potato casserole is very good as an accompaniment to any weeknight meal or as an alternative to the usual mashed potatoes. While this is a sweet dish, it also has a savory side, so don’t let the sugar and marshmallows be a deterrent. The spices blend nicely during cooking, and the end result is not so sweet as to make your teeth fall out, although I found the amount of marshmallows called for was too much for my taste, so I just sprinkled some evenly over the top. (I used minis but jumbos could also be used by cutting them into quarters.) Adjust to your personal taste. My somewhat fussy tasters loved it as is. This would be a great recipe for entertaining or a covered dish event. This one is a keeper in my rotation. (I prepared half the recipe for the 3 of us in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. It pairs well with turkey, chicken, or pork.)
Originally published November 08, 2015