This Sweet Potato Casserole recipe is easy to make ahead of time up to three days! It’s topped with the most deliciously crunchy almond streusel topping, with NO marshmallows. And it’s not too sweet – this recipe uses only a little bit of maple syrup and brown sugar, and plenty of butter, with vanilla and cinnamon for extra flavor.
It may be an unpopular opinion, but I DON’T like marshmallows on sweet potato casserole. I mean, is this dinner or dessert? You have a gorgeous roast turkey, creamy homemade mashed potatoes, gravy, and then… marshmallows? Really? It just doesn’t make sense to me.
Instead of marshmallows, this recipe tops the sweet potato filling with a toasty almond streusel topping. (Of course, no judgement. Do what makes you happy.)
Along the same lines, I prefer a sweet potato casserole that isn’t overly sweet. Sweet potatoes, as their name would indicate, are already pretty sweet. Why is why they’re great in sweet potato pie – an ACTUAL dessert.
This sweet potato casserole recipe uses just a little pure maple syrup in the filling, with some brown sugar in the crunchy streusel topping. It has just the right amount of added sweetness, without being too dessert-like. And the flavors are well-balanced by using salted butter, a little cream, pure vanilla extract, and cinnamon, so you don’t NEED a ton of sugar.
In addition to using less sugar, steaming the sweet potatoes rather than boiling them results in more nutrients overall, for a healthier result than other recipes.
How to make sweet potato casserole with a streusel topping
Just make the sweet potato filling, spread it in a baking dish, top with the streusel, and bake! Here are the details.
- Steam the sweet potatoes until they are tender. Make sure to peel them, since you want the filling to be pretty smooth. This takes about 20 minutes, so you can multi-task and prep everything else while they cook.
- Whisk some eggs, heavy cream, melted butter, vanilla extract, salt, and maple syrup together in a large bowl. Sweet potato casserole is similar to a custard in its ingredients, which is why you need things like eggs.
- Make the streusel topping by mixing together some flour, brown sugar, melted butter, and cinnamon. Then, use your hands to mix in some sliced almonds. The base of the streusel topping is quite thick, so it’s hard to mix with a spoon. You could also use a pastry cutter.
- Once the sweet potatoes are cooked, add them to the egg and cream mixture and use a potato masher to mash them with the other ingredients. You could also use an electric mixer to make it super smooth, but I like there to be small chunks of sweet potatoes for a more rustic texture.
- Spread the potato mixture in a buttered baking dish, then top evenly with the streusel. Then, bake!
Can I use another nut, or make it nut-free?
YES! You can use any kind of nut you want really- chopped pecans or walnuts, or another kind of almond like slivered or chopped whole almonds.
If you want to make a nut-free streusel topping, simply sub out the nuts for sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds. Or (sigh) use marshmallows.
Do I have to steam the sweet potatoes?
Nope! You can bake them and scoop out the flesh, you can boil them, microwave them… however you want to cook them, go for it!
The reason why I steam them is because it’s really easy and a little healthier than boiling. Why? Because when you boil sweet potatoes (or any vegetable), some of their nutrients are lost in the water. When you steam them, more nutrients stay intact.
Can I make sweet potato casserole ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can prepare this up to three days in advance.
Just make the filling and spread in a prepared baking dish, and mix up the streusel topping separately and store in your fridge. Just before baking, sprinkle the streusel on top. You may need to bake for a few more minutes, since you’re starting out cold.
Alternatively, you can make this sweet potato casserole the morning of Thanksgiving and let it sit out on your counter for a few hours before serving. It’s delicious warm or at room temperature, so no need to warm it back up or anything!
Can you freeze sweet potato casserole?
If you want to prep sweet potato casserole a month or so in advance, you definitely can! Here’s the one rule for freezing sweet potato casserole: leave the toppings off.
Make the filling and spread it in a prepared baking dish. Then, cover it tightly. You may want to use an airtight lid that fits the baking dish, or line it with foil or plastic wrap spread across the surface. I recommend writing a note with the topping amounts and instructions and the baking time, so you can just get right to it when you want to bake instead of hunting for a recipe.
Thaw the casserole overnight in the fridge, remove any wrapping or covering, top with the topping, and bake as directed!
Other sweet potato recipes
- Maple and Rosemary Glazed Sweet Potatoes
- Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans
- Green Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
- Smoky Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Blue Cheese
- Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus
If you’re serving this for Thanksgiving, make sure you’ve got your menu set with some easy Thanksgiving recipes, such as slow cooker boneless turkey breast, Greek green beans (fasolakia), and creamy mashed potatoes or low-carb mashed cauliflower!
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Sweet Potato Casserole with Streusel Topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, melt the butter (4 tablespoons). Spread a little bit of the melted butter on the bottom and sides of a baking dish, roughly 8" x 10" (or up to 9x13).
- Steam the cubed sweet potatoes until tender in a steamer basket in a large pot with 1-2" of water (for about 20 minutes).
- While the potatoes are cooking, add the heavy cream (1/4 cup), 2 eggs, maple syrup (1/4 cup), vanilla extract (1 teaspoon), and kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon) to the bowl with the melted butter. Whisk together until smooth.
- To make the streusel topping, mix together the melted butter (4 tablespoons), flour (1/2 cup), brown sugar (1/4 cup), and ground cinnamon (1 teaspoon) until a smooth, dough-like consistency forms (it will be quite thick). Add the sliced almonds (1 cup) and combine well- it's easiest to use your hands to do this, crumbling up the mixture as you go.
- Add the cooked sweet potatoes to the large bowl with the egg mixture and mash with a potato masher until relatively smooth and well combined with the other ingredients (leave a few chunks). Spread in prepared baking dish. Spread the streusel mixture evenly on top of the sweet potato mixture.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until mixture is almost set in the middle and golden brown across the top. Serve hot or at room temperature.
- To make ahead of time, spread the sweet potato mixture in prepared baking dish and cover. Mix the streusel topping and store separately in your fridge. Store for up to 3 days. Just before baking, sprinkle the topping on and bake as directed. It may need a few more minutes, since you're starting out cold.
- Make ahead on Thanksgiving morning: because this casserole can be served at room temperature, you can treat it kind of like a pie. Bake it the morning of Thanksgiving and keep it on your counter for a few hours until you're ready to serve- no need to reheat.
- Instead of sliced almonds, you can use slivered or chopped almonds, or another nut such as chopped pecans or walnuts. For a nut-free version, use sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds.
- You can cook the sweet potatoes any way you like- bake them and scoop out the flesh, use an instant pot, microwave them, or boil them. As long as you have cooked sweet potatoes, you're good to go!
- If you are using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon more kosher salt to both the filling and the topping.
- Time saving tip: The thinner the casserole, the less time it will take to cook, so if you are using a 9x13 pan it may only take 25 minutes.