This Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Streusel Topping is a classic Thanksgiving and holiday side dish that’s made super easy by using canned sweet potatoes!
You save time by skipping the steps of peeling, chopping, boiling and cooling sweet potatoes, which means this casserole is ready to go in the oven in about 10 minutes or less. So you get all that incredible flavor with a lot less effort!
The sweet potatoes are already nice and soft right out of the can, so all you have to do is drain them and give them a quick mash before mixing with the other ingredients.
And if you’re at all iffy about or feel like you’re cheating by using canned sweet potatoes, don’t be. Just give it a try!
I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical at first, but one taste of this casserole immediately changed my mind. It’s absolutely delicious. In fact, if I didn’t make it myself, I probably never would have guessed that the sweet potatoes were canned.
The filling is light, fluffy and just-sweet-enough with a hint of vanilla. And the pecan streusel topping adds a wonderful buttery, brown-sugary crunch that’s the perfect contrast to the soft sweet potatoes.
Of course, you can always cook up and mash some sweet potatoes instead if that’s your preference.
So, if you’re looking for a simple way to make cooking your big feast a little easier, give this sweet potato casserole with canned sweet potatoes a try. You can even assemble it up to a day ahead of time.
It’s sure to become a Thanksgiving and holiday tradition that everyone will look forward to for years to come!
Ingredients You Need
- Cooking spray
- Canned cut sweet potatoes (they might be labeled as canned yams, even though they’re really sweet potatoes; they will likely be in a light syrup)
- White granulated sugar
- Butter (salted)
- Evaporated milk (it is canned and usually found in the baking aisle of the grocery store)
- Vanilla extract
- Pecans (chopped)
- Dark brown sugar (or light brown sugar)
- All-purpose flour
Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Streusel Topping
1: Mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl.
2: Add the white granulated sugar, melted butter, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt; mix until well-combined.
3: Transfer the sweet potato mixture to a sprayed 8x8x2-inch baking dish.
4: Place the pecans, dark brown sugar, flour, and cold butter in a medium bowl; work the ingredients together with your hands until the butter is incorporated and the streusel mixture is crumbly.
5: Evenly sprinkle the streusel topping over the sweet potato mixture in the baking dish.
6: Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown, the edges of the casserole are set, and the very center of the casserole is mostly set.
7: Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow the casserole to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving (it will set up more as it cools).
Note: This is just a brief overview of the steps. For the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Recipe Tips & Tidbits
- You’ll often find canned sweet potatoes labeled as canned yams (even though they’re not really true yams). See my post on Oven-Roasted Candied Sweet Potatoes if you want to know a little more about the difference between the two.
- The canned cut sweet potatoes most often come in light syrup (I usually can’t find any that don’t). But this is totally fine since we just drain it off.
- I don’t find it necessary to rinse the sweet potatoes after draining off the syrup, but you can if you’d like.
- Make sure the sweet potatoes are well-drained so that your casserole doesn’t end up too watery.
- To check for doneness: carefully give the baking dish a gentle shake back and forth. The edges should be completely set, and the very middle should be mostly set with just a slight jiggle. It will finish setting up as the casserole rests.
- Don’t skip the step of letting the casserole rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. It will be much too loose if you were to serve it immediately. It will continue to set up during this time.
- This recipe should give you 10 small servings of about ½ cup each. This should be plenty if you’re serving it with several other side dishes along with the main dish.
- You can easily double the recipe and use a 9x13x2-inch baking dish if you need more. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time.
- Since we only use a portion of the canned evaporated milk, if you don’t have another recipe to use the rest in, transfer it to a covered jar or pitcher and put it in the refrigerator. It’s great in coffee and tea!
Substitutions & Variations
- If you’d rather make your own sweet potatoes instead of using canned: peel the sweet potatoes, cut them into large chunks, and cook them in boiling water until tender. Drain well and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before mashing. You’ll need 3 cups of mashed sweet potatoes.
- Regular milk or half-and-half (half whole milk, half heavy cream) can be used instead of evaporated milk.
- Try adding some spices to the sweet potato mixture, such as cinnamon, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice.
- If you’d rather a marshmallow topping, omit the pecan streusel, bake the sweet potato mixture for 20 minutes, then top with mini marshmallows (be sure to completely cover the filling) and continue baking for the remaining baking time. The marshmallows should be mostly melted and lightly browned on top.
Make Ahead, Storing Leftovers, Freezing & Reheating
This sweet potato casserole is best when freshly assembled and baked. But you can assemble it, cover tightly, and refrigerate it up to a day ahead of time.
When ready to bake, first remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes to take the chill off (some glass/ceramic baking dishes can crack or shatter if exposed to extreme temperature changes, so this step helps prevent that).
Then bake according to the recipe instructions. You may need to add a few extra minutes since it will be colder than if you made it fresh.
Note: To prevent the streusel topping from becoming a bit soggy, you may want to consider waiting to make it and add it to the casserole until right before baking…but this is optional. Try it and see which way you like best.
Store leftover sweet potato casserole, once cooled, covered tightly or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days. Freeze for longer-term storage (see below).
Reheat leftovers in a baking dish in a 350°F oven until heated through (time needed will depend on how many servings you are reheating).
To keep the topping from getting too brown, you can initially cover the dish with foil and then remove the foil for several minutes at the end of the cooking time to help the topping crisp up a bit.
Or you can reheat it in the microwave oven in a microwave-safe dish (the topping won’t be crisp).
To freeze leftover sweet potato casserole, allow it to cool completely and then place it in an airtight freezer container, remove as much air as possible, and freeze for up to 2 months (the sooner you use it, the better). Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Just keep in mind that the topping will get soggy in the freezer. There’s really no way to prevent that, but it will still taste delicious.
How to Serve Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Streusel Topping
This casserole is perfect served with a Thanksgiving or other holiday dinner alongside roasted turkey or chicken, prime rib of beef, lamb, or pork and all of your other favorite side dishes. But you can serve it any day of the year with any meal.
And, since the sweetness of this casserole kind of pushes the boundaries between side dish and dessert…you could absolutely enjoy it as a sweet treat, either cold or warmed, with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Highly recommended!
Finally, a big shout-out of thanks to my sister for originally giving me the recipe from her mother-in-law that I adapted to make this one.
I hope you try this Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Streusel Topping recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!
More Sweet Potato Recipes To Try
- Oven-Roasted Candied Sweet Potatoes
- Easy Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potatoes
- Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup
- Sweet Potato Hash With Bacon
Looking For More Holiday Side Dish Recipes?
Check out my Side Dishes page for lots of great ideas or my round-ups of 10 Simple and Delicious Holiday Side Dish Recipes and 10 (More) Simple and Delicious Holiday Side Dish Recipes for some of my all-time favorites!
If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!
Sweet Potato Casserole With Pecan Streusel Topping
For the Sweet Potato Casserole
- cooking spray
- 1 (40-ounce) can cut sweet potatoes in light syrup, well-drained
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- ½ cup melted butter, (I use salted butter)
- ⅓ cup evaporated milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
For the Pecan Streusel Topping
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed (or light brown sugar)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into large pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Lightly spray an 8x8x2-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, mash the sweet potatoes until smooth.
- Add the white granulated sugar, melted butter, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla extract and salt until well-combined.
- Transfer the sweet potato mixture to the prepared baking dish; set aside.
- To make the streusel topping, place the pecans, dark brown sugar, flour, and cold butter in a medium bowl; work the ingredients together with your hands until the butter is incorporated and the mixture is well-combined and crumbly.
- Evenly sprinkle the streusel topping over the sweet potato mixture in the baking dish.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the topping is golden brown, the edges of the casserole are set and the very center of the casserole is mostly set.To check: carefully give the baking dish a gentle shake back and forth. The center of the casserole should have just a slight jiggle while the edges should have none.
- Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.Don't skip this step. The casserole will continue to set up during this time. If you serve it too soon, it will be much too loose and won't hold together.
- You’ll often find canned cut sweet potatoes labeled as canned yams (even though they’re not really true yams).
- Make sure the sweet potatoes are well-drained so that your casserole doesn’t end up too watery.
- You can easily double the recipe and use a 9x13x2-inch baking dish if you need more servings. You may need to add a few extra minutes to the baking time.
- Please refer to the post for additional recipe tips, substitutions and variations, serving suggestions, and information on making ahead, storing leftovers, reheating and freezing.