This healthy sweet potato casserole with maple pecan topping is a lightened up version of the classic Thanksgiving side dish. It’s naturally sweetened, grain-free, dairy-free with a vegan option.
For the Potatoes:
3 lbs sweet potatoes, (about 4 large)
½ cup unsweetened full-fat plant-based milk
2 eggs, whisked (omit for vegan, see notes)
2-4 tablespoons maple syrup (see notes)
3 tablespoons vegan butter or coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
For the Topping:
1 ½ cups pecans, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons maple syrup
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
Roast the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Wash the potatoes and piece with a fork or knife; about 4-5 pokes per potato. Arrange the sweet potatoes on the baking sweet. Place in the oven for 50 min to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Large potatoes take longer to cook. The potatoes are done when you see sugars bubbling from the holes and they are easily pierced with a knife.
Make the casserole. Heat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease an 11 x 7-inch or a 2 quart glass or ceramic baking dish with oil; set aside.
When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half, scoop out flesh. You should have about 4 cups. Place the sweet potatoes in a food processor (you can also mash by hand or use an electric mixer). Add the milk, vegan butter/coconut oil (if using), cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Taste and add 2-4 maple syrup. Taste and adjust sweetness if necessary. Mix in the eggs (if using) until fully combined. Pour into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.
For the maple pecans. In a small bowl, combine the pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Optional but recommend: candy the pecans on the stove-top. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. add the pecan mixture; stir continuously for about 3-5 minutes. The pecans are done when the maple syrup starts to harden and nuts are fragrant. Spread the candied nuts on parchment paper to let cool or immediately top the casserole. You can also simply sprinkle the maple pecan mixture over the top of the sweet potato mixture, skipping the stove-top step.
Bake the casserole. Place the sweet potato casserole uncovered in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165F. The top will be slightly golden brown and the edges start to puff. If making the egg-free vegan version, the casserole just needs to be warmed through; about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Vegan option: Simply omit the egg. The casserole won’t bind together as much but it will still taste delicious. Since eggs contain fat make sure to use a plant-based milk with a higher fat content, coconut milk and 1-2 tablespoons more of vegan butter or coconut oil to the sweet potato filling.
Plant-based milk: I recommend a full-fat plant-based milk as this provides the fat and creaminess in this recipe. I like oat milk, homemade cashew cream but any full-fat plant-based milk (ex. Malk) or plant-based creamer will work.
Maple syrup: I’ve made this with and without the maple syrup in the casserole. The maple syrup does add flavor and extra sweetness. However, feel free to make it without since sweet potatoes have a natural sweetness to them. You can also add more maple syrup to taste. Just make sure to taste before adding the eggs.