Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Topping Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Topping

62 reviews / 4.8 average

Sweet Potato Casserole with a crunchy brown sugar topping that will give you life. A Thanksgiving recipe classic!

Sweet potato casserole! ♡ And let me tell you, friends: this crunchy brown sugar topping will give you life.

You didn’t think I would, but oh yes, in fact, I did.

I am tossing you a Thanksgiving recipe today. THANKSGIVING! And I want you to catch it and love it, okay? It is a deep, rich, sweet potato casserole from scratch with a crunchy brown sugar topping, and it’s comforting and cozy and it’s coming for you right now – ready?

I see two options for you right now. You can fall into a state of shock and awe that it is already borderline time for Thanksgiving (admittedly, this would be my default since usually I don’t even think about Thanksgiving until three days before – WHO AM I RIGHT NOW), OR you can realize the true fact that something this good doesn’t need to just be reserved for Thanksgiving and you can go right on ahead with your best kitchen self and make this happen even BEFORE the clock strikes dinnertime on Thanksgiving Day.

Those are the two options. You can choose.

In This Post: Everything You Need For Sweet Potato Casserole

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Sweet Potato Casserole with a crunchy brown sugar topping with a wooden spoon
Sweet Potato Casserole with a crunchy brown sugar topping in a bowl with a fork

The Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish (Or, Dessert?)

You guys, the strange thing about this sweet potato casserole is that it is very much a dessert, but never once in my Thanksgiving career have I experienced this being served as anything other than a completely luscious side dish to accompany the mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, green bean casserole, and soft white dinner rolls. The flavor just works. It’s that one little pre-dessert side that you might even like more than your real dessert.

This is a recipe that my mom has been making for years, and she got it from one of her friends who has been making it for years before that, and there is a reason is has become a mainstay at Thanksgiving.

First, let’s talk toppings. 👇🏼

Topping For Sweet Potato Casserole

I like to Easy Button my life whenever possible, so I just toss all the topping ingredients in my food processor and give it a go-round till it makes that crumbly, streusel-like topping that we know and love.

We’re talking just four easy ingredients:

  • Pecans
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Brown sugar

Now, we know some love the sweet fluffy topping of marshmallows, but the texture of this sweet, nutty, crumbly topping just CANNOT BE BEAT. The crunchy topping perfect balances the fluffiness of the mashed sweet potatoes, and just… wow. Trust us, we’ll make a convert of you.

Brown Sugar Topping for Sweet Potato Casserole in a food processor
Brown Sugar Topping for Sweet Potato Casserole in a food processor

Okay, we’ve got the topping.

Now the base.

Ingredients In The Sweet Potato Casserole Base

The sweet potato mixture is as easy as mixing up a muffin batter.

All you need to do is mix all this together:

  • Sweet potatoes (CANNED, which I know seems so retro and perfect and that’s because it is – I’ve made this with non-canned sweet potatoes, and the weight of baked or boiled sweet potatoes is just too heavy, trust me on this one)
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla

That’s it! Now let’s get this in the oven and on the table.

Sweet Potato Casserole with a crunchy brown sugar topping
Sweet Potato Casserole with a crunchy brown sugar topping in a dish with a spoon

How To Make This Easy Sweet Potato Casserole

We’ve got our topping, we’ve got our base, and now it’s time to bring it all together.

It’s this easy:

  1. Mix and pour your sweet potato mixture into a pan.
  2. Top it with your beloved crumble.
  3. Bake for 30-45 minutes to get that topping nice and crispy.

And then? The moment of Thanksgiving sweet potato casserole truth.

Sweet Potato Casserole with a crunchy brown sugar topping in a wooden spoon


The soft and sweet bottom layer + the crunchy and nutty top layer work their magic together to make the best sweet potato casserole that you could ever want for your Thanksgiving side-dish domination.

I can’t wait for you to love this one.

Sweet Potato Casserole with a crunchy brown sugar topping in a dish with a wooden spoon

Frequently Asked Questions: Sweet Potato Casserole

Can I use fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned sweet potatoes?

Yes! We actually enjoy the texture of the canned sweet potatoes here, but fresh would work as well. Would recommend that you bake them instead of boil if you go the fresh route as to not add more moisture.

Why are there eggs in this?

The eggs in the sweet potato casserole are what binds it all together without making the base too heavy. Without them, the casserole wouldn’t be quite as fluffy and scoopable!

What’s the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

We couldn’t have explained it better than The Spruce Eats. In this recipe, we’re technically using orange sweet potatoes.

Can I prep this ahead of time?

Yep, that should work just fine! Prep it all as listed, and you can refrigerate for 1-2 days before baking. If you want to make it even better, you could also wait to sprinkle on the topping until it’s time to bake.

How can I make this a vegan sweet potato casserole?

To make this vegan, you can sub the butter for vegan butter, the milk for your favorite plant-based unsweetened/unflavored milk, and omit the eggs.

How can I make this sweet potato casserole gluten-free?

Sub in a gluten-free flour (like almond flour) for the all-purpose flour in the topping.

How long can this sweet potato casserole sit out?

Like most foods being served, this should not sit out for more than 2 hours according to the USDA. After that it should either head to the fridge or be tossed!

How should I store and reheat leftovers?

Store in the fridge in a covered container (either the dish it was baked in or a new container). It will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, but best sooner than later! To reheat, you can cover it and pop it in the oven again, uncovering it for the last few minutes to crisp it up, or you can hit the easy button and just reheat in the microwave. It won’t be quite as crispy but still delicious!

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Sweet Potato Casserole on pan with serving spoon.

Sweet Potato Casserole with Brown Sugar Topping

  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 as a side 1x


Sweet Potato Casserole from scratch with a crunchy brown sugar topping that will give you life. A Thanksgiving recipe classic!



For the sweet potatoes

  • 3 cups (1 29-ounce can) sweet potatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • salt to taste

For the topping

  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup pecan pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mash the sweet potatoes and add the melted butter, milk, sugar, vanilla, beaten eggs, and a pinch of salt. Stir until incorporated. Pour into a shallow baking dish or a cast iron skillet.
  2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, flour, and pecan pieces in a small bowl, using your fingers to create moist crumbs. Sprinkle generously over the casserole. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the top is golden brown. Let stand for the mixture to cool and solidify a little bit before serving.


  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: sweet potato casserole, sweet potato recipe, sweet potatoes and brown sugar, brown sugar casserole, thanksgiving casserole

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    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      How many whole sweet potatoes is that? I’m not sure how to measure them out since I’m not using canned

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Most recipes call for 3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes. I like it better with fresh sweet potatoes rather than canned.

      2. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Great question. We haven’t tested this recipe using whole sweet potatoes. You could try cooking 4 medium sweet potatoes and then weighing them after they’re mashed to ensure they’re around 29 ounces!

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I think my mom uses this same recipe! LOL! Obviously, the measurements are a little (Like just a tad!) different, but some idea! Love it!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      This page keeps jumping around and all I want to find is the print button. I know these websites are for money making purposes but the ads can be too much at some point.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    That looks so amazing! I use canned pumpkin all the time, so I’m not freaked out by the idea of canned sweet potato. It must make things WAY easier, and is probably smoother! Good luck with your move! Moving is kind of the worst, but setting up the new place will be fun. Do you have a great window for food photos? Can’t wait to see the pics!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Haven’t tried any of the windows yet but I’m just happy to have TWO in the kitchen after having none for so long! They’re small but they’re windows!! 🙂

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Do you use the plain yams in a can or the sweet potatoes in light syrup? Also, if i double do i adjust the cooking time?

          1. Pinch of Yum Logo

            Yes, if you double it I’d bake it a bit longer. Just check it periodically – it is going to be mushy even when fully baked, but judge it based on the topping (should be pretty deep brown and crisped up a little bit when done). Any yams will work! We use the Nature’s Pride old-school looking can with sweet potatoes in it. I believe there might be some syrup in there.

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    You just took me to my happy place! My mom’s sweet potatoes are my favorite Thanksgiving side (if you threatened to take away my pie and forced me to choose just one that is), but now I want to add this recipe to the mix as well. I mean, pecan crumble? Oh yes.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I literally just texted my Mom asking if I can be in charge of the sweet potatoes- we have to claim things we want to cook ahead of time for Thanksgiving in our family- and she said yes 🙂 Crumbly, yummy goodness here I come!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Ho-lee crap. I’m not normally a fan of overly sweet casseroles at Thanksgiving (ugh, with the mini marshmallows) but I could 100% get behind this dish. I night even bring myself to buy canned sweet potatoes! (this exists? really?) But that crumble topping…. that’s the nail in the coffin right there. Yes, please!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    We have done something similar for close to 40 yrs. I really think the apple pie spice makes it yummy! Although sometimes difficult to find, you can substitute some cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamom, etc. I also make a double batch of the topping because it is crazy good. We often bake the casserole the day(s) before, let it cool, and refrigerate. I usually pull it out of the oven a bit early just so it won’t burn the next day when I re-heat it. So, you re-heat it for a few minutes in the oven, then make the topping, sprinkle on top and toss it into the broiler. This frees up your oven for some of the other holiday dishes. Whichever MAGICAL recipe you make, you will LOVE it. I usually have half a bite of regular mashed potatoes on my fork with half a spoonful of the sweet potatoes. (Mouth watering ~ NOW!) Oh, and the leftovers (if there are any) can be heated in the microwave. DO IT! You will be the hit of the party even with people who normally don’t like (*gasp) sweet potatoes. I use a 13×9 dish…I like having more surface area for the topping!
    Sweet Potato “Soufflé”
    3 eggs
    2 ½ c. canned sweet potatoes, drained & mashed
    ½ stick butter
    1 1/2 c. sugar
    ¾ c. evaporated milk
    1/3 c. water
    1 t. apple pie spice
    1 t. vanilla extract
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Mix ingredients together until almost smooth. Bake 1 ½ hours or until inserted knife comes out clean. Broil 1 min. with topping (I double the topping recipe. This is a single recipe below):
    2 T. sugar
    2 T. flour
    1 t. apple pie spice
    ½ c. chopped nuts
    2 T. margarine or butter, softened

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Hi Donna! That’s what we call it too but I changed the name here just for search purposes. I think in general people are more familiar with sweet potato casserole than souffle. The recipe looks really similar! I doubled the topping too as you can see in this recipe. 🙂

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Thank you so much for sharing these recipes…and for the work you put in to the blog/site and giving the little details to ensure we have a successful turnout on our recipe attempts. I’m always so grateful for these resources we have available
      to us thanks to other people’s time and efforts.
      Ihave to confess…kind of drives me a little tiny bit or a lot crazy when someone comes to the reply section and uses it as their platform to indirectly critique someone else’s efforts by elevating their own agenda and “knowledge” about how they already know all you’ve shared, have a better way of doing it, a better name to call it, and suggest so many substitutions or exchanges, that it completely changes the recipe. It’s confusing to the followers and just seems a little…or a lot, out of place. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind helpful additional thoughts or ideas that stem from an original post such as helpful tips, or minimal substitutions that might be useful in place of an ingredient harder
      to find or a “crunchier” option for those who have more organic items on hand. But all of that can be done with tact, class, social ediquette, while keeping the writer’s recipe at the center of the post, without using the reply section as a whole new platform for their own recipes and opinions. Changing your recipe completely, comes across as an attempt to “one-up or belittle” the writers efforts and tends to give the impression That they feel their ideas or recipe, are in some way, superior and deserve a “place” on your blog. I have no doubt that other people have similar recipes with some great ideas. But, they fortunately, also have the same opportunity and resources available to start and write their own food blog, without having to take the easy way out of the work and instead, trolling others sites to promote or brag on themselves.
      Just my two cents..You guys don’t always get the appreciation you deserve. Thank you for this and I will be trying it just as shared…without 13 other spices and alterations. Would it even be the same recipe if I did that? LOL.
      Thanks again. -a lot of time and work goes into what you do.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Came Across this recipe (was actually looking for THIS recipe specifically and THANK GOODNESS it happened to be the VERY 1st thing that popped up on the search engine page! 🙂
        BUT, I did notice while scrolling through the comments (just seeing what everyone else might’ve said regarding THIS recipe specifically and actually trying to find out which brand of canned sweet potatos to use, which indeed had already been asked and answered, THANKS BTW 🙂 ), when I noticed a “comment” that was PRETTY MUCH almost a complete BLOG POST within itself with an entirely different RECIPE listed with a completely DIFFERENT list of ingredients, along with allll of THEIR little different “tips & tricks” SPECIFICALLY FOR THE RECIPE THEY POSTED ONLY! Which was a completely different recipe than the recipe and blog post here!! I ALSO FOUND THAT QUITE DISRESPECTFUL MYSELF!!
        This comment/reply will probably NEVER be seen considering its 2018 almost 2019 and this a pretty old post from several years ago, but I HOPE IT DOES AND I HAVE TO AGREE WITH THE COMMENT ABOVE!! It is different to comment or add little tweaks or suggestions regarding this original blog post/recipe but to comment “YOUR OWN” entirely different recipe made different with a whole list of different types of ingredients etc is just so disrespectful in my opinion.

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    That looks absolutely amazing! I only love sweet potatoes around thanksgiving. I don’t know why. Next week I’ll be whipping up some sweet potato yumminess.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Thanksgiving is the one time of year we don’t have to apologize for using ingredients that may otherwise be shameful (I still use canned green beans for green bean casserole, and I’m never going to stop!). I love that Thanksgiving evokes those traditions from all of us. I love love love this, I can’t even imagine how amazing it tastes if it’s as good as it looks! Heaven.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This is one of my favorite ways to make sweet potatoes….but we usually save it for special occasions. And I agree…you have it as part of the meal and then go back for seconds…and then thirds. Hmmm…how about the leftovers (rarely) for breakfast????

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I have been making this dish for the last 25 years. I never heard it referred to as a crumble ,as my recipe was called Sweet Potato Souffle. It is delicious! So glad others are finding out about it! I have to make two casserole dishes of it because guests always want some to take home and then I never have any leftover!!! Enjoy!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Miss Lady thank you is all i can say……I’m a cook not a baker but this is a must try…..Yippie Skipping to the store……..????????????????

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    My very favorite Thanksgiving dish is my mom’s candied sweet potatoes. Just something about the way mom’s make them, right? Or maybe it’s the sugar too. 😉

    I’d love to try your mom’s signature sweet potato casserole! And you definitely can’t beat 8 minutes.

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Anything with sweet potatoes is a win and anything with a buttery brown sugar crumble is a win so the two put together are a major win! The classic passed-around recipes are often the best! This looks so delicious!

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I love old family recipes – thanks for sharing your story behind this recipe, I could almost smell the pine trees! What an awesome experience that must have been at Christmastime!

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I love that you made this in a cast iron skillet!! Great idea. I finally purchased one a few months ago and am still experimenting with it. Can’t wait to make this. Have a great weekend!

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks really good, thanks for sharing your mum’s recipe! One question though, is the 3 cup measurement for the already mashed potato or for the potato pieces before they are mashed? We don’t have canned sweet potato in Greece so I’ll be making it from scratch. Many thanks!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Good question. I think it would be three cups mashed, which was how I did it when I made them with non-canned sweet potatoes. The cans come in the perfect size, so I just know my mom always uses that same size which was why I didn’t specify that in the recipe. I’ll clarify that.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        I’m on my way to buy a cast iron pan and cans of sweet potato !!!!! It just looks so earthy and rustic oh and not to mention really yummi thanku …..

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo

          I have made something similar for many years, but using regular sweet potatoes. The secret is that you need to put the sweet potatoes through a ricer after they are cooked. This gets rid of all the fibrous part of the potato and makes for a much creamier dish than if you just use them whole.

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Wow Lindsay, this looks amazing! I’m a huge fan of anything sweet on the diner table, especially when it’s a treasured family recipe. Those are always the best!

    By the way, I don’t think I can get my hands on canned sweet potatoes. You know, because of the whole living in Europe thing… Do you think I can still make this with homemade sweet potato mash? Maybe add something extra or drain the puree or something to make them taste like the canned stuff?


    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Yes, I would just bake them instead of boiling (which was how I did it when I tried using fresh). The boiled ones held too much moisture and they didn’t really fluff up, but I think baked potatoes with the flesh scooped out and mashed would be great.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Going to try this for first time. Prefer not to use canned sweet potatoes. How
        many sweet potatoes will I need to make 3 cups mashed. Knowing that Size of potatoes vary, would you be able help with this?….Please reply
        Thank you

      2. Pinch of Yum Logo

        This is bombtastic! I added pie spice to the topping and cayenne to the sweet potatoes! I bringing this to the FEAST of TABERNACLES! I am quite positive that Brothers and Sisters are going to love it!