Sweet Potato Casserole

I’m dying to know – are you a sweet potato casserole lover or not? (Asking from the avenue of whether you look forward to it at the Thanksgiving table or whether you could live without and be happy.)

My husband and I have not always been sweet potato casserole lovers, I have to admit, but I’m realizing as my taste buds mature that I actually do enjoy just a bit of the orange, sweet goodness to compliment the rest of Thanksgiving dinner.

I adore this particular sweet potato casserole and let me tell you why (I know you are sitting at the edge of your seat wanting to know) – it’s simple, for one. But secondly, it has such wonderfully complimentary flavors that I found myself scooping just another little helping onto my plate, and then another teensy tiny one, and then another itty bitty one, and then…well, you get the picture. I basically ate the whole thing single-handedly. A touch of orange zest and fresh orange juice really kick this sweet potato casserole up a notch and give it a bit of light freshness that is missing from so many other recipes, in my opinion. Additionally, the spices are so perfectly balanced with a hint of cinnamon and just a bare touch of cayenne to offset the sweetness. The casserole itself is pureed until it is silky smooth and undeniably delicious – decadent without being overly so. But please don’t be like me…and let the casserole broil properly until the sugar really is all cooked and golden on top (uh, my drastic problem with impatience impeded me from allowing that to happen but it was still mighty tasty).

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting excited for Thanksgiving! I have some other great Thanksgiving recipes to share in the next week or so along with a helpful Thanksgiving collage, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, because if you know me, you know I love a good collage.

Sweet Potato Casserole

One Year Ago: Lasagna Soup
Two Years Ago: Baked Brown Spanish Rice
Three Years Ago: Thanksgiving Dinner 101: The Rolls

Sweet Potato Casserole

Yield: Serves 6-8

Sweet Potato Casserole

Note: For those inquiring minds that want to know if this can be made ahead - I don't know! I haven't tried it, but I'm guessing you could make it and place it in the baking dish and refrigerate it covered (reserving the sugar/zest topping to use later). Then top the casserole with the sugar/zest topping before you want to bake it and instead of broiling, bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or so to heat through, then pop it under the broiler to take care of the yummy topping.


  • 4 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest plus 2 tablespoons orange juice (from 1 orange)
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. F. Mix 3 tablespoons of the brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the orange zest together in a small bowl until thoroughly combined (reserve the other 1/2 teaspoon orange zest for later). Set aside.
  2. Lay out 4 pieces of aluminum foil, each about 18 inches in length. Take two of the sheets and lay them perpendicular to each other (so it forms a thick cross) and do the same with the other two sheets of foil. Divide the sweet potatoes in half and put one half on one set of foil and the remaining potatoes on the other set of foil. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon sugar over all the potatoes in both packets. Fold the opposite edges of the foil toward each other and crimp the edges to seal tightly. Place the packets inside a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the potatoes are tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and preheat the broiler.
  3. Carefully open one end from each pouch, careful to avoid escaping steam, and pour the potatoes and any remaining liquid into a blender or food processor. Add the butter, cream, orange juice, salt, cinnamon and remaining 1/2 teaspoon orange zest, pepper and cayenne. Process until the mixture is completely smooth. Transfer the potatoes to a 2- or 3-quart baking dish (that is broiler safe) and sprinkle evenly with the reserved brown sugar/zest mixture. Broil the sweet potatoes until the topping is lightly browned and bubbly, 2 to 4 minute. Serve warm.

Recipe Source: adapted from Cook’s Country Oct/Nov 2012

39 Responses to Sweet Potato Casserole

  1. Juliana says:

    can you make this ahead of time. If so do you have instructions?

  2. Pam says:

    I love this recipe. I make it for Thanksgiving and other occasions. I do make it a day in advance, refrigerate it and then warm it up and broil it right before serving it.

  3. Vanessa says:

    I didn’t go through all of the comments too see if this has been tried and posted but do you think that I could make this dairy free by subbing coconut oil for the butter and full fat coconut milk for the cream?
    Thanks a bunch!

  4. Cearrow Sillman says:

    I NEED HELP! My family traditionally makes this with marshmallow topping. You bake the potatoes, butter, sugar etc then add marshmallow on top and brown it. I wanted to make a more complex and sweeter version like this, but I’m not sure how to include marshmallows. Should I bake your topping in, then add marshmallow and bake again? Or mix your topping into the potatoes and add marshmallow on top to begin with? But then the sugar topping won’t be really crisp like I imagine this will be. Help!!

    • Mel says:

      I’m not really sure what to tell you, Cearrow – especially since I specifically like this recipe because it doesn’t have the really sweet marshmallow topping. I’d probably just scrap the topping in this recipe and add the marshmallow topping you want and make it that way but like I said, I’m probably not the best one to give advice. Good luck if you try it!

  5. gina says:

    We had an abundance of squash this year and zero luck with the sweet potatoes. Can I substitute squash in this recipe?

  6. Tiffiny says:

    So like many of the posters here, I don’t generally like sweet potatoes. And I think it’s because people just make them too sweet for my tastes. But a few months ago I had whipped sweet potatoes at a local restaurant, and I could not stop eating them. They were prepared more savory, like a mashed potato, instead of lots of brown sugar or marshmallows. So, I decided to give them a try again and I made this casserole for our church Thanksgiving dinner. I absolutely loved it! And it was a huge hit. It’s not too sweet. The orange flavor go perfectly with the sweet potatoes, and the cayenne adds an amazing kick! Thank you for another great recipe! I would encourage anyone who hasn’t liked sweet potatoes in the past to try them this way.

  7. Rachel says:

    I have made this several times now and I just love it! Not too sweet, and a little kick. I actually make this up and store in the refrigerator and eat a little when I am craving something sweet! I also love to add a couple of tablespoons to my steel cut oats for breakfast! Thanks for another awesome recipe!

  8. Alisha says:

    I don’t like sweet potatoes. At all. But I do like a challenge. So I took it upon myself a few years ago to be in charge of the sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving so I could try to find a recipe I liked. I’ve tried the basics, I’ve tried the one with tons of butter, sugar & pecans, last year I even made my own recipe up & it included marshmallow creme. The S.P. lovers in the family enjoyed them all. But not me. Until this year… Mel, you’ve done it again. I really liked this dish! So did everyone else! Its a keeper– except I might add chopped pecans in the topping next year… THANKS!!!!

  9. […] Sweet Potato Casserole from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe […]

  10. Lea says:

    I’m going to make this! Thank you so much! 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Jennifer says:

    This recipe looks heavenly! I can’t wait to try it. Maybe because I like lumps in my potatoes (or maybe because I’m lazy and don’t feel like hauling out the food processor) I may skip the pureeing step and mash by hand instead… Yeah, it’s totally because I’m lazy. 🙂

    (Also, what’s up with all of the comments saying “I don’t like sweet sweet potato dishes. I prefer ____”? You’re HERE, commenting on THIS recipe. You wanna blog? Go get your own!)

  12. Totally sweet potato lover, in all sorts of forms and fashions, especially the casserole variety! I have made several versions of sweet potato casserole from the simple to the ones covered in marshmallows, to some with maple and bacon. I really can’t.get.enough!

  13. Curly Girl Foodie says:

    I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a super food. They are rich in nutrients. My favorite way to enjoy them is simply baked or microwaved like a regular potato. Topped off with a little butter they are so yummy. Thanksgiving is my favorite food holiday and I look forward to all the wonderful recipes you have to offer Mel.

  14. grace says:

    i’m guessing just about everyone has their own version of sweet potato casserole, and mine involves pineapple, coconut, and a whole lot of streusel topping. 🙂

  15. Michelle R says:

    I like sweet potatoes, but I’m not a fan of the super sweet dessert masquerading as a casserole that ends up on so many holiday tables. It’s never been a regular on our family table as a result. Sugary sweet and pureed smooth – no thanks, but savory and with some texture and I’m game!

  16. This sounds very yummy! I bet it would also be fun in small individual ramekins.

  17. heather bell says:

    I very much love sweet potatoes!! They are so warm and happy.=) I am sure your recipe is great (as all of them are!) but you have to try mine too. This is the only one my husband likes and all my kids will eat! (they are very picky) http://bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com/2011/07/sweet-potatoes-yall.html

  18. Valerie A. H. says:

    Hi Mel, I love sweet pototo casserole! What is Thanksgiving without it? I like this Paula Deen recipe (below). Sometimes I don’t put them back in the potato jackets
    but make a casserole with these ingredients. The pumpkin pie spice is very good in it.
    I even add a little exta. I don’t add pecans on mine.

    Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Surprise

    The perfect “do ahead” side dish for the season – silky and delicious with a sweet surprise inside.
    Serves: 8
    Cook Time: 80 Minutes

    ◦ 4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
    ◦ 1/2 cuo heavy cream
    ◦ 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
    ◦ 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    ◦ 1/4 teaspoon salt
    ◦ Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    ◦ 1 cup miniature marshmallows
    ◦ 1/2 cup brown sugar
    ◦ 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake until fork tender, about 45 to 60 minutes. Let rest 5 min. Handling the potatoes with a pot holder, slice each in half lengthwise and carefully scoop out the flesh into the bowl of a food processor leaving a 1/4″ rim of flesh to support the potato skin. To the food processor, add the heavy cream, butter, pumpkin pie spice and salt and pepper. Process until potatoes are silky smooth. (Can also be done by hand with a potato masher.) Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place sweet potato shells on the baking sheet and add a a few miniature marshmallows to each shell. Spoon or pipe the puree mixture back into each shell. Sprinkle brown sugar and pecans on top. Bake at 400 degrees until potatoes are hot, about 10 to 12 minutes.

  19. I am not a fan of marshmallows, so it was years before I found a sweet potato casserole that I wanted to try. Once I did, it became a mainstay on my family’s Thanksgiving table. I must say, though, that I am intrigued enough to try your recipe because I love the idea of the orange flavor and the little bit of cayenne. I’m not brave enough to preempt our traditional sweet potato and apple casserole, but I’ll squeeze it in before the big day. You never know! If you’re in the mood, I highly recommend you try our family favorite: http://www.fransfavs.com/2011/12/sweet-potatoes-with-baked-apples/

  20. Jen T says:

    love sweet potatoes. We are huge family on the casserole with the marshmallows on top, but this looks great! Thanks!

  21. Tristan K. says:

    These look fabulous and will be making an entrance onto our dinner table this week! That way we can have a little “preview” before the Turkey Day. Thanks Mel for what looks like a delicious recipe and a cut down on the sugar!

  22. StephenC says:

    I am in the “don’t care much for sweet potatoes” camp. Also, as my blog will soon reflect, I’m embarking on a diet, a necessary and annoying eventuality. Give me a nice potato gratin any day. I must say though, your dish does look lovely.

  23. Sheila H. says:

    I think your version shaves off hundreds of calories from the Praline Topping that we use -question is, will my family still love them? I will try this one and then use any leftovers in pancake batter! Looking forward to more Thanksgiving recipes.

  24. Mona says:

    Sweet Potatoes….YUM…sweet (not too, tho) or savory. Love ’em!

  25. Ooh this looks so good! Sweet potato casserole is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. My grandma always makes one with marshmallows on top.

  26. Danielle says:

    Now that Halloween is over I’m getting SO excited for Thanksgiving too! Sweet potatoes are a favorite in our house. They are so good for you too, which is a bonus! I have never tried them in a casserole before but have always wanted to. This recipe looks delicious! I am looking forward to trying it!

    Danielle xo

  27. Pam says:

    yeah… not a huge of sweet potato casserole, but thats just because my Thanksgiving isn’t complete without the Butterscotch Sweet Potatoes my family has made for the many years I have been alive. The butterscotch sauce is SO fabulous, and (I know this sounds weird, but) this sauce tastes AWESOME on the turkey… Oh MAN! Now I want my sweet potatoes… Here’s a link to my recipe: http://acookbookblog.blogspot.com/search/label/sweet%20potatoes

  28. Vicki says:

    This dish can be frozen without the topping. I make mine about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving, freeze the sweet potatoes and the topping separately. The day before Thanksgiving, I thaw in the refrigerator. The day of I add the topping to the sweet potatoes and bake.

  29. Ashley says:

    I am southern, this is a must at any true southern Thanksgiving table. I put marshmallows and a pecan topping on mine though. I always just use canned yams though to cut down on time. Never made it the day before though, always just do it morning of.

  30. Kellie says:

    I don’t like sweet potato casserole. I prefer just a baked sweet potato or some yummy sweet potato fries. Like the previous poster I think I prefer them a little more savory. I make sweet potato casserole every year for my family. They LOVE it. Mine is totally different than yours. It is whipped smooth with eggs, sugar and cinnamon and then has a crispy crust of crushed corn flakes, coconut, pecans, brown sugar and butter.

  31. Kelly says:

    A few years ago, I figured out why I never liked sweet potatoes- they were always cooked way too sweet! I actually prefer sweet potatoes in savory forms, rather than doused with cinnamon and sugar. And they’re better (to me, anyways) when they aren’t mushy. Hubby and I can polish off a huge pile of sweet potato fries, or roasted sweet potatoes, or sweet potato home fries… but the sugary casserole versions? Eh, I’ll pass. (Yours does look delicious, just not my favorite!)

  32. Stacey says:

    This looks good to me! I don’t like sweet potato recipes that are loaded with sugar and/or marshmallows — as the potatoes themselves are fairly sweet.

  33. Kim in MD says:

    I am getting SO excited for Thanksgiving…it’s only two weeks from Thursday! I love sweet potatoes, but have never really like them in casserole form. I love them candied and baked whole, though. If this recipe has converted you, then I will give it a try. It looks delicious, Mel! The bonus is it’s a CC recipe, so I “double” trust that it will be amazing! 🙂

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