The Ideal Sweet Potato Casserole

The leaves are falling from the trees, the days are getting shorter, and because we live in the Midwest, it’s still 85 degrees for some reason. It must be decorative gourd season autumn!

Thanksgiving is a month and a half away, but this arbitrary demarcation of seasons means it’s already the perfect time for sweet potato casserole. Now, I eat sweet potato casserole year-round—Rosh Hashanah, Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, Passover, really all the major holidays. But because this has nutmeg, it’s a fall classic.

My contribution to the holiday potluck adds pecans for a happy crunch, and the spices are balanced to keep the casserole away from being overly sweet. Oh yeah, and a shot of Fireball for good luck. In practice, that means I eat the leftovers for breakfast and lunch—and dessert too (I mean, there are toasted marshmallows).

It’s totally optional, but if you ask me, the secret to sweet potato casserole is that it’s always better after spending some time in the refrigerator.


Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 4 lbs whole sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 oz Fireball cinnamon whiskey
  • 2 cups marshmallows

Preheat oven to 400.

Scrub sweet potatoes but leave them whole. Toss in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of canola oil and a few pinches of salt.

Place potatoes on a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and bake for 60 minutes. They’ll be done when a fork or cake tester can easily pierce the skin.

Let potatoes cool down, then take the peels off. (You can do this by slicing them in half length-wise. The peels should slip right out.)

While the potatoes are cooling, toast the nuts in a nonstick pan over medium-low heat, with a sprinkle of salt, until just brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Place potatoes in large bowl, add sugar butter and spices. Mash mixture with a potato masher. Fold in half of pecans.

Scrape into 11×7 baking dish, coated with cooking spray. (If you want to prep ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days.)

Just before baking, sprinkle with pecans and top with marshmallows. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes or until golden.

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