Side Dish

Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

My grandma’s Southern Classic Sweet Potato Casserole has been a family favorite for over 70 years! This recipe has stood the test of time and has been a staple at every single Thanksgiving celebration my entire life. The pecan topping is crisp and sweet while the sweet potato filling is smooth and creamy!


October 31, 2018 (Last Updated: September 3, 2019)
Overhead shot of sweet potato casserole in a white baking dish on a white counter.

This Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Sweet Pecan Topping recipe has been in my family for my entire life. The sweet potato casserole recipe came from my Great Grandma Merritt, my grandma’s mother. While she was living in Georgia she needed a tasty recipe to take to her husband’s dinner party. Her neighbor at the time shared this southern casserole recipe with her and it was a hit! Ever since then this sweet potato casserole with pecans recipe has been made every single Thanksgiving with little deviation. My Great Grandma passed away many years ago, but a piece of her lives on through this dish. My great grandma taught it to her daughter, who then taught her daughter who then taught me. I love that I get to carry on the tradition and share it with my family.

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What Do You Need To Make Southern Sweet Potato Casserole?

To make this southern sweet potato casserole with pecans recipe you will need:

  1. Sweet Potatoes
  2. Butter
  3. Brown Sugar
  4. Pecans
  5. Crushed Pineapple
  6. Eggs
  7. Vanilla Extract

There are no special kitchen tools that you need for this southern sweet potato casserole recipe. This is perfect, because Thanksgiving is already stressful enough you do not want to worry about buying a bunch of fancy gizmos.

For this Thanksgiving southern sweet potato casserole recipe you will need:

Some nice extras to have:

  • A potato peeler (you can use a knife)
  • A potato masher (you can use a fork)
  • A strainer (you can use a spoon to just scoop the potatoes out of the boiling water)

A perfect stress-free sweet potato casserole recipe to include in your Thanksgiving side dish rotation! While this southern sweet potato casserole is simple you will want to follow a few steps to nail it every time.

Prep image showing step by step sweet potato casserole prep.

How Do You Make Southern Sweet Potato Casserole?

Preparing and Cooking the Sweet Potatoes

  1. First, you will want to peel and chop you sweet potatoes. Try and remove all of the skin you possibly can, this recipe is best with a smooth texture and the peels ruin that.
  2. Once you have peeled all your potatoes slice them into 4-6 large chunks each. The chunks do not need to be perfect, just make sure they are sliced so they will cook faster.
  3. Once they are sliced add your potatoes to a large pot of boiling water and cook covered until super done. I say super down because they should be extremely soft. I’m talking to the point where you barely touch them with a fork and it slides through. Once soft, drain the water from the cooked sweet potatoes.

Assembling the Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

  1. Now you will need to combine your classic sweet potato casserole ingredients. You can combine everything in a large bowl, or just toss everything into the baking dish to save you some clean-up. Let’s face it, it is Thanksgiving and the dirty dishes are insane. Whichever you choose, combine everything together and mash and stir using fork or potato masher. You want the consistency to look smooth and velvety.
  2. Smooth out the sweet potato mixture until you have an even layer throughout the baking dish.

Preparing the Pecan Topping for Classic Sweet Potato Casserole

  1. Next, you will need to make the sweet pecan topping for the sweet potato casserole. To do this combine crushed pecans, melted butter, brown sugar and flour in a bowl and stir until everything is evenly coated.
  2. Place on top of the sweet potato mixture in an even layer and you are done! This pecan topping is my family’s favorite part! So don’t skimp on it! Yes it is a bunch of sugar and butter but, that is what makes it wonderful!
  3. Now the southern sweet potato casserole is ready to go into the oven! You will then bake the sweet potato casserole for about 20 minutes until you can see the sides bubbling.

Check out the Southern Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe Video for a more detailed look at prep!

Prep image for sweet potato pecan topping.

Tips From Grammy for the Perfect Sweet Potato Casserole

My grandma has been making this southern sweet potato casserole since she was a little girl with her mom. Therefore, she has gotten really, really good at it. Every year my family and I look forward to having her classic sweet potato casserole while gathered around the Thanksgiving table. Although my grandma has passed the recipe down to my mom and I, we never can make the sweet potato casserole as perfect as my grandma does. She has that special touch that we will never have. Here are some things that my grandma does every time she makes this southern casserole recipe.

Tip 1: Overcook the Sweet Potatoes

First, my grandma really cooks her sweet potatoes. The first time I tried to make this southern sweet potato casserole recipe I was boiling the potatoes. I made a comment to my grandma that I thought they were done and for her to tell me the next step. She came over and put the lid back on and said, “No, those aren’t soft enough yet.”

Since then I always make sure that my sweet potatoes are super soft. This makes the potatoes smooth, creamy and perfect. My grandma also likes to combine the cooked sweet potatoes and other ingredients while the potatoes are still hot. This makes the butter melt and the texture even creamier. If you wait until the potatoes have cooled the mix will not combine as smoothly.

Tip 2: Don’t Skimp on the Pecan Topping

Second, my grandma does not skimp on the sweet pecan topping. The pecan topping is my family’s favorite part of this casserole recipe. It fact my mom will steal pecan topping from other pieces and plop it on her own! It is super sweet, buttery and crunchy and the perfect compliment to the creamy sweet potato filling. My grandma uses extra topping on her sweet potatoes every year. So when you make this recipe don’t skip on the topping, it is delicious. Also, do not add marshmallows. It is weird and we do not do that here.

Sweet potato casserole in a white baking dish on a white counter.

Can you make Sweet Potato Casserole ahead of time?

YES! Another bonus to this classic sweet potato casserole dish is that you can make it ahead of time! Thanksgiving can be stressful and crazy. One main reason for this is the shuffle of different dishes in and out of the oven and the endless amount of dishes. Making this southern sweet potato casserole ahead of time saves you time and stress on the big day.

If you make it ahead of time cook the potatoes, mix the filling and add everything to your baking dish. Next, make your pecan topping and store it in a separate container. On Thanksgiving just add the pecan topping over top of the sweet potato filling in the baking dish and pop the southern sweet potato casserole in the oven for about 20 minuets and you are done! My grandma makes this southern sweet potato casserole the night before every year and they turn out perfect.

How should leftover Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Casserole be stored?

For Thanksgiving my family always makes a ton of this southern sweet potato casserole to bring to enjoy ourselves and to bring to other friends and family. It is inevitable that we always have some leftover. Store leftover sweet potato casserole in the fridge covered for up to 4 days. Make sure the casserole is completely cool before storing it.

To re-heat the sweet potato casserole, place desired amount in the microwave for 30-45 seconds or until heated through. Alternatively, you can place the entire sweet potato casserole in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F. 

Wooden spoon scooping out sweet potato casserole in a white dish.

Looking for More Thanksgiving Recipes? Try the Next!

Herb Roasted Turkey with Classic Gravy

Ritz Bites with Ham, Brie and Cranberries

Blackberry Brie Pastry Bites

Prosciutto Wrapped Breadsticks

Classic Baked Mostaccioli

Sweet potato casserole in a white dish with a large scoop out showing the center.

Storytime: A Recipe That Spans Generations

This Southern Sweet Potato Casserole recipe is extra special to me because it came from my Great Grandma Merritt. It is very special in my family and every year we talk about her when we celebrate Thanksgiving and eat her sweet potato casserole. When I told my grandma I was planning to share this recipe she was so excited. We chatted about her mom, how she got the sweet potato casserole recipe, the first time they had it and some small additions that have been made.

After we chatted she decided to go and look through some of her old recipes. When she was going through them she found her mom’s original recipe in the mix. My grandma had no idea she still had this and may have never found it. I like that I can always have it and look back at it when I feel sentimental

Single piece of sweet potato casserole on a blue plate with a silver fork and knife.

From my family to yours I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy this Southern Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans!

Happy Eating!

"Caitlyn" signature in black cursive.




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The BEST Southern Sweet Potato Casserole recipe with Candied Pecans topping. This dish is the ultimate classic Thanksgiving side dish made with pineapple, pecans and love. This dish can also be made ahead to save on prep time. #Thanksgiving #sidedish #SweetPotatoCasserole
Print Recipe
5 from 7 votes

Southern Sweet Potato Casserole

The perfect Thanksgiving side dish! An amazing combo of creamy sweet potatoes, and crunchy sweet pecan topping.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: casserole, classic, pecans, southern, sweet potatoes, Thanksgiving
Servings: 12 Servings
Calories: 245kcal
Author: Caitlyn Erhardt


  • 6 Large Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 8 Oz Crushed Pineapple
  • 2 Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp Unsalted Butter Room Temperature
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 Cup White Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Pecan Topping

  • 2 Cups Chopped Pecans
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter Melted


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven in preheating, bring a large pot of water to a boil. 
  • Remove skin then chop sweet potatoes into large chunks and add to pot of boiling water. Cover and simmer until sweet potatoes are very soft and cooked through. About 15 minutes.
  • Drain cooked sweet potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mash and stir together until smooth. Add to a 13x9 baking dish and prepare pecan topping. 
  • Sprinkle Pecan Topping over the sweet potato mix. Place in oven on the center rack and cook for 20 minutes. Serve Warm and Enjoy!

Pecan Topping

  • Add all ingredients to a small bowl and stir to combine. Make sure the pecans are thoroughly coated with the brown sugar. Place on top of prepared sweet potato mix.
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Make Ahead Instructions: If making this dish ahead of time cook the sweet potatoes and combine with the rest of the ingredients. Then smooth into baking dish and cover in the fridge. You can also make the pecan topping ahead of time. Just store everything together and store in a small airtight container in the fridge. Remove from fridge, add pecan topping and bake for 20 minutes. My grandma makes this dish the night before every year and it comes out perfect.
Leftover Storage: Store leftovers in the fridge covered for up to 4 days.


Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 31.7g | Protein: 3.6g | Fat: 12.8g | Saturated Fat: 5.8g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 118mg | Potassium: 381mg | Fiber: 2.5g | Sugar: 14.8g | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 0.9mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @erhardtseat or tag #erhardteat!

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  • Reply
    June 7, 2019 at 1:27 am

    5 stars
    I love the family history behind this recipe.

    • Reply
      June 8, 2019 at 10:47 pm

      Thank you Beth!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2019 at 2:43 am

    5 stars
    I love this recipe during the holidays.

  • Reply
    November 1, 2018 at 1:35 am

    5 stars
    The pecans must add a wonderful finishing touch!

    • Reply
      Caitlyn Erhardt
      November 2, 2018 at 9:47 am

      They are!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2018 at 12:17 am

    5 stars
    Love your family story behind this recipe, so great! It’s a recipe that’s not familiar to me here in Canada, but still sounds delicious, and the pecans are what make me want to make it!

    • Reply
      Caitlyn Erhardt
      November 2, 2018 at 9:46 am

      Thank you! We love the topping!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    5 stars
    I never heard of any dish like this, but it looks sooooo delicious and comforting! I love the added pecans on top!

    • Reply
      Caitlyn Erhardt
      November 2, 2018 at 9:46 am

      The pecans are the best part!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    5 stars
    This looks like the perfect sweet potato casserole! Definitely going on my menu this year!

    • Reply
      Caitlyn Erhardt
      November 2, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Yay! We have it every year!

  • Reply
    October 31, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    5 stars
    This is the best Thanksgiving side dish! I love the history behind the recipe.

    • Reply
      Caitlyn Erhardt
      November 2, 2018 at 9:45 am

      We love it!

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