My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner is the sweet potato casserole. My husband is cringing right now because he passes it up all together. What can I say? Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods and that doesn’t change on Thanksgiving Day.
But the question is: Does the Internet need another sweet potato casserole recipe? Surely there are plenty out there, why clog up the interwebs with another? Well, it turns out there aren’t quite as many recipes out there that don’t include a truckload of sugar, butter, and the dreaded marshmallow top. I’ll save my marshmallows for dessert, thankyouverymuch.
The sugar is another story. Whenever we have Thanksgiving with my brother, we get treated to my sister-in-law’s mother’s delicious cooking. Her sweet potato casserole, which has no marshmallows, by the way, is heavenly. When I asked for the recipe, I was astounded to see it had 1 cup of sugar added to the spuds. 1 cup! Plus more in the brown sugar and butter streusel topping. Yikes.
It turns out that it is totally possible to have a flavorful and healthy sweet potato casserole. The sweet potatoes are sweetened with just a touch of maple syrup. It’s all you need, really. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet! Coconut milk adds a creamy texture that is out of this world. The coconut flavor is mild and compliments the sweet potatoes well, but you can totally use cow’s milk if coconut milk isn’t your thing. A few spices balance out the flavors and some orange juice and a little orange zest add an unexpected punch. I list the zest as optional–if you want a more subtle orange flavor leave it out.
The other thing I do differently to prepare this healthy sweet potato casserole is bake the sweet potatoes instead of boiling them. It takes a little longer to cook them this way, but it also eliminates the need to peel and cut them up. There are two reasons I prefer baking them in the oven to boiling them. First, when you boil vegetables, some of the nutrients leak out into the water and then you pour them down the drain. With baking, the nutrients stay in the potato. Second, you also lose flavor when you boil vegetables. Baking these only intensifies the flavor.
I love the pecan topping on this casserole. I left them whole because I think it makes a beautiful presentation. You can also chop them if you prefer.
3 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium)
1 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional)
for the pecan topping
1 generous cup whole raw pecans
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake them in the oven until they are very soft, 60-90 minutes, depending on their size. Turn the potatoes over once during the baking time.
When the sweet potatoes are finished cooking, allow them to cool. Once they are cool, use a knife to cut open the skin and peel it out. Discard. Put the sweet potato flesh into a large bowl and mash well. Add the next 8 ingredients (through orange zest, if using) and mix well. Place the sweet potato mixture in a 2-quart baking dish.
In a small bowl, mix together the pecans, coconut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Place the pecans on top of the casserole as shown in the pictures.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top is lightly browned. Enjoy!