I think sweet potatoes are one of nature's ultimate culinary creations, and pretty much perfect just as they are. Roasted, mashed, baked, pan-fried, steamed, whatever. So I saw little need to improve on nature's perfection and was, shall we say, more than a little resistant to adulterate the orange glories with things like brown sugar and cinnamon. But, back in the early days of my marriage, when we were hosting Thanksgiving for the first time, I was informed in no uncertain terms that sweet potato casserole was mandatory, in particular, the varietal with gooey marshmallows on top. That was an abomination the likes of which I couldn't fathom, so instead I offered up this one, with a crunchy pecan topping. Well, I've since relented on the marshmallows exactly once a year on Thanksgiving (hashtag shalombayit), but this is the version I'm open to liking, and the one happily greeted at our table all winter long. This sweet potato casserole is effortlessly dairy-free, mildly spiced and sweeted, and featured a nicely crunchy, contrasting topping made with pecans.
Making sweet potato casserole
Essentially a sweet potato casserole is just mashed sweet potatoes with some added flavoring, with a beaten egg mixed in for binding, and baked in the oven. Usually sweet potato casseroles have butter in them, but this one just leaves it out and is plenty rich and creamy; we don't miss it (and butter, well, is hard not to miss). It's a forgiving bake that you can probably cook along with whatever else you're preparing. The bake time isn't crucial, so this is a good dish to make when you're busy in the kitchen keeping track of lots of different dishes.
Sweet potatoes vary a lot in size, but what you want here are 5 average-joe type orange sweet potatoes. If you've got big ones on your hands, I'd use 3; little guys, use 8 to 10. Bigger potatoes should be chopped into big cubes after peeling; smaller ones can be boiled whole.
As for the flavorings, cinnamon is the main note here, along with a little nutmeg and powdered ginger. You could use pumpkin pie spice instead, about 1 ½ teaspoons. You can also drop the sweeteners down some if you like.
Looking for more dairy-free Thanksgiving sides?
- Dairy-Free Cornbread Stuffing with Wild Mushrooms (parve) - also great if you make it with all regular mushrooms
- Dairy-Free Creamy Mashed Potatoes (parve)
- Apple Noodle Kugel with Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs (parve) - because kugel is always a good idea, plus this one is apple-y
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Crunch Topping (parve)
- 5 medium sweet potatoes - peeled and chopped
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup - 30 ml - reduce by half for less sweet
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar - 25 g - reduce by half for less sweet
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp powdered ginger
Pecan streusel topping:
- ½ cup pecans
- 1 Tbs brown sugar
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and grease a small baking pan with cooking spray.
- Set a medium-sized pot of water to boil while you peel and chop your sweet potatoes. (Small potatoes can be boiled whole.) Boil sweet potatoes in water until tender, about 20 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, pulse the pecans with the brown sugar and cinnamon in a food processor until coarsely chopped, 2-3 short pulses.
- Drain the sweet potatoes and return them to the cooking pot. Add in the maple syrup, brown sugar, and spices. Break the egg into a small bowl, beat well with a whisk or fork, and add to the pot. Mash everything together with potato masher.
- Transfer the sweet potato to greased medium-sized casserole dish. Smooth the top with a spatula. Scatter the pecan streusel over the top.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes.