Serving healthy recipes at Thanksgiving dinner might give some pause before accepting your invite, but our Healthy-ish Sweet Potato Casserole hits all the right sweet spots without going overboard. We promise – no regrets come with a second helping of this fluffy sweet potato mash topped with nutty pecan streusel.
Is there such a thing as a healthy sweet potato casserole recipe? Perhaps the better question is, could you actually like such a thing? The answer to both questions is a resounding YES!
I know I’m not going to dissuade the folks who keep frozen sweet potato casserole on deck year-round for when they need a hit of the “good stuff.” And those people exist.
I have a friend who regularly drove over 20 miles to a Boston Market for a family-sized vat of the “best sweet potato casserole ever” when she was going through her divorce. (That being said, I’m pretty sure it’s now more trigger than treat, and she hasn’t taken that sad little road trip since…)
Based on the comments I’ve gotten on some of my other root vegetable offerings, there’s clearly a taste for something a bit more subtle. Be it maple roasted root vegetables or maple cinnamon sweet potatoes, the power of syrup compels us to balance out a savory plate with a little something sweet. And whether you’re roasting your carrots with honey, or air frying your apples with a hint of brown sugar and cinnamon, there’s just something warm and cozy about a sticky side dish at the holidays.
But none of those are even remotely cloying, much less will they induce a diabetic coma. And I am NOT sweet tooth shaming, but y’all know your 5 aunts brought 12 pies for dessert. You don’t need one with dinner.
Balance is the key to a sweet side enhancing – not overwhelming – your holiday season meals. This healthier variation on sweet potato casserole with pecans definitely hits that “sweet” spot without going overboard.
What Makes this Sweet Potato Casserole Healthy?
Let’s call it “healthy-ish.” Or rather, healthier. Old fashioned sweet potato casserole is normally (a) loaded with added sugar, tons of butter, and heavy cream and (b) topped with marshmallows. Cause, you know, one form of sugar wasn’t enough. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing! But I prefer to save my sweets for double desserts.
With a few simple swaps, and some flat out eliminations, our sweet potato casserole is definitely on the sweet side, but you won’t feel the cavities coming on at first bite.
- Maple Syrup. We use real maple syrup instead of brown sugar to sweeten the sweet potato mash and elevate the flavor.
- Brown Sugar. There’s no getting around sugar in your streusel – I just use a lot less. Coconut sugar is also a terrific option here!
- Marshmallows. This version does just fine without marshmallows. If you’re serving this at the holidays, I’m sure you have plenty of desserts on standby for sugar shock after dinner.
- Nut milk. A splash of a richer nut milk, like cashew milk, is a terrific substitution for heavy cream.
- Butter. I just can’t quit it! But a whole stick isn’t necessary. Just a touch of melted butter in the pecan streusel topping binds everything together, but a little goes a long way. If you’re dairy free, swap for melted coconut oil or vegan butter.
Is Sweet Potato Casserole Gluten Free?
Yes! Check the label on your oats to ensure they’re certified gluten free. Otherwise, the remaining ingredients in our healthy sweet potato casserole are 100% gluten free. The crunchy topping features almond flour – not wheat flour – to give it a toastier, nuttier flavor.
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping
Save the sugar for dessert! Our healthy sweet potato casserole is nutty, creamy, sweet and crunchy without heavy cream, marshmallows, or gluten. Creamy sweet potato mash is topped with a pecan streusel, then baked until bubbling and golden brown. Use any nut milk you like, but we prefer a creamier one like cashew milk. And make sure you’re using real maple syrup – it makes the difference!
- Boil peeled and diced sweet potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes, until very tender. Drain the potatoes and return to the hot pot; toss well to evaporate any remaining water.
- Add the eggs, maple syrup and spices, then blend with a hand mixer until very smooth.
- Scrape the sweet potato mash into a lightly greased casserole dish and smooth into an even layer.
- Combine the streusel topping ingredients in a mixing bowl, then stir until it comes together and starts to clump.
- Crumble the pecan topping evenly over the potatoes.
- Bake uncovered in a 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the potatoes are slightly puffed.
- Boiled sweet potatoes make for a creamier texture; if you prefer roasted sweet potatoes, over-bake a few minutes to ensure the insides are extra tender and creamy.
- Test your potatoes for doneness after 10 minutes in boiling water – you should be able to easily mash a piece with the tines of a fork.
- Toss the boiled sweet potatoes in the hot pot to help any clinging water droplets evaporate – dry potatoes will be fluffier!
- Pecans, walnuts, or a combination of both can be used to make the streusel topping.
Can You Make Sweet Potato Casserole Ahead of Time?
You can, indeed! To make this casserole in advance, prepare the mashed sweet potato layer – including all the ingredients – and seal it up tight for 1-2 days before baking. I recommend refrigerating in Tupperware instead of storing in the greased casserole dish.
Prepare the streusel topping separately and store it in the refrigerator in a separate container as well. The topping will still easily crumble after being chilled, even though it’s initially prepared with melted butter.
When you’re ready to bake, transfer the mash to a casserole dish, sprinkle with the topping, and bake as directed.
Did you make this healthy spin on sweet potato casserole? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan StreuselPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 9×13 Casserole Dish
- Large Pot
- Medium Mixing Bowl
- 4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ½ c cashew milk, almond milk, or other milk of choice
- ¼ c maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ tsp allspice
- 1 c pecans, chopped
- ½ c almond flour
- ½ c old fashioned oats
- ¼ c brown sugar, or coconut sugar
- ¼ c melted butter
- Heat the oven to 350°F. Lightly mist a casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Place the chopped sweet potatoes into a large pot (at least 6 quarts), the cover with cold water. Season with salt, then bring the water to a boil. Cook 10 minutes from the time the water starts to boil, or until the potatoes are very tender and can be easily mashed with the tines of a fork. Drain the potatoes, then return to the hot pot. Give them a toss around the pot to evaporate any remaining water droplets.
- Add the milk, maple syrup, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and allspice. Blend with a hand mixer set to medium speed until the potatoes are smooth and the mixture is well combined.
- Scrape the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and smooth into an even layer.
- Combine the pecans, almond flour, oats, sugar, and melted butter in a mixing bowl. Stir until the streusel topping comes together and starts to stick just a bit.
- Crumble the topping evenly over the sweet potatoes. Transfer to the oven and bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes, or until the streusel topping is golden brown and the sweet potatoes are slightly puffed. Rest five minutes, then serve warm. Enjoy!