Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
Published Nov 08, 2022, Updated Aug 28, 2023
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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. Creamy sweet potatoes topped with a crunchy pecan and brown sugar topping… it’s literally the best thing ever.
Growing up my mom made sweet potato casserole three times a year (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) and I was always so pumped to have it. Using my mom’s sweet potato casserole recipe as a guide I was able to make a healthy version that’s filled with better-for-you ingredients.
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, EBF-approved version that still has all the flavor and texture of the classic version I grew up with. And let me tell ya, we might even prefer this version a tiny bit more than my mom’s, but we’ll keep that a secret!
I know some folks prefer a marshmallow topping instead of the brown sugar topping. If you’re team marshmallow, feel free to try my classic sweet potato casserole instead.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The combo of creamy sweet potatoes with a crunchy pecan sugar topping = chef’s kiss!
- It’s made with healthy, real-food ingredients ingredients.
- It’s the perfect side dish for the holidays that everyone will love!
- Gluten-free and vegan! No butter, eggs or white flour needed.
- fresh sweet potatoes – we’re using fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned to make a sweet potato puree. When shopping for sweet potatoes, look for firm, unwrinkled skins with deep orange flesh.
- flaxseed – this is a replacement for the egg in a regular sweet potato casserole.
- coconut oil – I like using this as a replacement for butter. You can sub this for vegan butter or even regular butter if you don’t need the recipe to be vegan.
- maple syrup – this is added to the sweet potato puree for an extra hint of natural sweetness.
- coconut milk – I prefer to use canned coconut milk because it’s rich and creamy, but if needed you can sub it for almond milk, oat milk or regular milk if you don’t need this dish to be vegan.
- vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt – key flavor enhancers.
- brown sugar – this adds sweetness to the topping and makes it perfectly crunchy. Feel free to use coconut sugar, if desired.
- pecans – pecans add a nutty flavor and crunch to the topping. I personally love the combo of sweet potato and pecans but if needed you can sub walnuts for the pecans or use more oats for a nut-free version.
- rolled oats – for the topping. Use gluten-free rolled oats if needed. I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free rolled oats.
- almond flour or oat flour – this helps bind the topping together. Oat flour and almond flour both work great. Feel free to use whichever you have on hand.
How to Make Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
Cook sweet potatoes: 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.
Make topping: In a medium 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.
Make sweet potato mixture: Add sweet potato chunks to a large mixing bowl and mash using a fork or potato masher. Alternatively you can use the flesh from four baked sweet potatoes. Then add the coconut milk, maple syrup, oil, flaxseed, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt to the bowl. Mix until everything is combined.
Bake: Spoon the sweet potato mixture into a prepared 9×13 or 9×9 baking dish and sprinkle pecan crumble topping over sweet potatoes. Bake at 350°F uncovered for 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the sweet potatoes are warm throughout.
Prepare This Casserole Ahead of Time
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.
What to Serve with Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potato casserole is a fabulous holiday side dish and a personal favorite for Thanksgiving dinner. Here’s what I typically like to serve alongside sweet potato casserole:
- Main entree: lentil loaf or turkey
- Other sides: green bean casserole, mashed cauliflower, vegan cornbread, butternut squash quinoa stuffing, wild rice stuffing or cranberry sauce
- Salads: roasted butternut squash salad or kale and brussels sprout salad
- Roasted vegetables: maple roasted kabocha squash, roasted carrots or roasted root vegetables
- Dessert: healthy apple crisp, pecan pie brownies, vegan chocolate pie or vegan pumpkin pie
How to Store Leftovers
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can reheat the sweet potato casserole on the stovetop, in the oven or microwave.
More Sweet Potato Recipes
- Sweet Potato Bites
- Sweet Potato Soup
- Sweet Potato Baked Oatmeal
- Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
- Sweet Potato Cupcakes
- Sweet Potato Hummus
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
- Sweet Potato Smoothie
- Sweet Potato Brownies
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Healthy Green Bean Casserole
- Roasted Root Vegetables
- Thanksgiving Veggie Tray
- Kale Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash
- Wild Rice Stuffing
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Healthy Mashed Potatoes
- Healthy Cranberry Sauce
- Sourdough Stuffing
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
- ½ cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ⅓ cup gluten-free old-fashioned oats
- ⅓ cup oat flour or almond flour
- 3-4 Tablespoons coconut oil, in solid form
- 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.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F and spray a little cooking spray on a 9×13 or 9×9 inch casserole dish.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the pecans, oats, oat 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.
- Place sweet potatoes into a large bowl and mash them with fork 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 bubbling.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.