This healthy sweet potato casserole is lower in sugar, dairy-free and made with a crunchy oatmeal pecan topping. Vegan + gluten-free.
Sweet potato casserole has always been my favorite holiday side dish. Growing up my mom made it three times a year (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) and I was always so pumped to have it. Creamy sweet potatoes topped with a crunchy pecan and brown sugar topping… it’s literally the best thing ever.
Using my mom’s classic sweet potato casserole recipe as a guide I decided to make a healthy sweet potato casserole that’s filled with better-for-you ingredients. While creating it, I made sure that it doesn’t taste “too healthy.” I want it to be a dish you’re excited to share with friends and family at a holiday meal!
You know what I mean here, right? There are certain healthy recipes that I make for myself and Isaac and I love them but I wouldn’t bring them to a party or a holiday dinner. This sweet potato casserole isn’t one of those recipes. It’s meant to be shared. We love this healthy version of sweet potato casserole so much… maybe even a tiny bit more than mom’s, but we’ll keep that a secret.
My mom’s recipe uses canned yams, white sugar, white flour, eggs and butter. With a few small tweaks I was able to make a healthier version that still has all the flavor and texture of the classic version I grew up with.
I know some folks prefer a marshmallow topping instead of the brown sugar topping. If this is you, feel free to try my classic sweet potato casserole instead.
The first step is to cook the sweet potatoes. You’ll peel and chop the sweet potatoes into large chunks. Place the chunks in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, about 15-20 minutes. Once done, drain well and let cool. Alternatively you can use the flesh from four baked sweet potatoes.
Meanwhile, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 350°F and spray a little cooking spray on your baking dish. I recommend a 9×13 or 9×9 casserole dish.
Next, you’ll want to make the topping. In a mixing bowl, combine the pecans, oats, flour, and brown sugar. Cut in coconut oil with a fork or knife until the mixture is sandy with pea-sized chunks of oil. Set aside.
For the sweet potato mixture you’ll place sweet potatoes into a large bowl and mash them with a fork or potato masher to make a thick puree before adding coconut milk, maple syrup, oil, flaxseed, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to the bowl. Mix until everything is combined.
Spoon the sweet potato mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle on the brown sugar and pecan mixture. Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sweet potatoes are warm throughout.
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or don’t want to spend your holiday morning making your dish to share, you can prep this casserole ahead of time! I prefer to prep the sweet potato base, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and then prep the topping separately.
On the morning you serve it, simply place the sweet potato mixture in a casserole dish, add the topping and bake as the instructions suggest! If you want it to be fully cooked, you can bake the entire casserole ahead of time and keep it in the fridge for 3-5 days. To reheat, heat the oven to 350°F and heat for about 20 minutes, or until the casserole is warm.
I don’t recommend freezing it because the consistency would likely change.
Sweet potato casserole is a fabulous holiday side dish and it pairs wonderfully with just about any protein. Of course, turkey and ham are the classics for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this casserole is amazing served with vegetarian mains like my lentil loaf or this marinated tempeh.