Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble Topping

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble Topping

This is a hard post for me to write. As an American living behind a closed Canadian boarder, traveling home to be with my family and friends for Thanksgiving is not possible. In my whole life, I’ve never missed a Thanksgiving with my family. It’s breaking my heart to not have all our traditions–the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, holding hands as we walk through Central Park to access our secret viewing spot, post parade hot chocolate to warm our cold bodies, tense Monopoly games, multiple celebrations with family, Black Friday shopping, Saturday sleep-ins and, the worst loss, leaving my parents alone. The only thing I can hang on to is the food.

Photo by Ashley van der Laan

There are a few dishes my mother has produced my whole life for the holiday and I (and my whole family) always count on seeing them on the table–sausage stuffing and this sweet potato casserole. We only eat these dishes on Thanksgiving, and it’s definitely not the third Thursday in November unless they are alongside our turkey. Scarlett and I have often in the last few months and weeks have ticked off all the things we will miss and eating her nana’s sweet potato casserole has been on the list each time. It made my heart smile to hear my childhood favourites are also equally important to her. It made me realize she’ll always remember her nana’s food.

Photo by Ashely van der Laan

Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crumble Topping

Makes: 8 servings


  • 4 tbsps unsalted butter, melted, plus more for baking dish
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of one orange


  • 1 cup pecans, chopped or smashed into bits
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsps unsalted butter, melted


  • Preheat the oven to 400. Bake the sweet potatoes for 40-45 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool and remove skin.
  • Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
  • In a food processor, add 2 1/2 of the sweet potatoes leaving 1/2 to the side. Add the butter, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt, and eggs and process until smooth. Hand mash the remaing 1/2 of sweet potato and mix in along with the zest. (This gives the smooth mix a few lumps of texture.)
  • Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  • In a medium size mixing bowl, combine pecans, flour, brown sugar, and salt. Pour the butter over top and stir until the entire mixture is moist and clumps together.
  • Sprinkle topping over top of sweet potato and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until sweet potato is set in the center and topping intensifies in color. Serve.


You can make this recipe in advance and definitely should because it’s still perfect. 
Bake your sweet potatoes in advance. Put your casserole together but don’t top with the pecan crumble and then refrigerate or  freeze. 
Mix your crumble in advance in a plastic storage bag but don’t add the butter. Add the butter, mix and add to the casserole when you’re ready to bake
If your baking from the refrigerator, add the crumble and then bake.
If you’re baking from frozen, double the baking time. Add the crumble to the top half way through the baking process.

This is my take on my mother’s casserole. Her normal topping is a blanket of marshmallows that toast to an oozy, gold brown perfection. However, I adopted a pecan crumble she experimented with one year much to the horror of my family. I’m not saying it’s better than marshmallows, and it’s definitely not healthier. If you want the marshmallow experience, then just set rows of them atop the sweet potato. If you want to make this dish next level, set rows of them over top the pecan crumble. I just have to warn you about making this dish: It will likely weave its way into your family’s traditional table and, once that happens, it will forever be hard to do without.

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