This classic sweet potato casserole is made with a splash of orange juice for extra flavor. Top with marshmallows that are perfectly toasted and gooey, or keep it healthier by topping with pecans.
I love, love, love sweet potatoes! I use this awesome vegetable as a side dish for at least one meal a week. (Sweet potatoes are a constant on my weekly grocery list.)
I enjoy my weekly sweet potato simply topped with a little butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon… yum! I’ve never really understood why people add sugar on top of a sweet potato because it’s already sweet! (It’s in the name!) I prefer to savor the natural flavor of this root vegetable on its own. Plus I don’t want to cancel out all the nutritional benefits by topping it with sugar. Sweet Potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamins and minerals (such as Vitamin A and Niacin), as well as antioxidants (such as beta carotene).
However, when the holidays come around, you bet I’m indulging a little and taking my sweet potatoes to the next level! Although my recipe for classic Sweet Potato Casserole uses very little sugar (only 1 tbsp) compared to other recipes. Who needs it… there will be plenty of natural sweetness plus there’s that perfectly toasted, gooey, marshmallow topping!
Serve this scrumptious casserole at your next family gathering and watch it disappear fast! My picky daughter normally won’t eat a sweet potato, but she will eat this casserole!
Just 6 simple ingredients! I usually only have to pick up the sweet potatoes, orange juice, and mini marshmallows at the grocery store, since the other 3 ingredients are kitchen staples.
- Sweet Potatoes: You need about 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, ideally all around the same size for even cooking. I’m all about shortcuts, but don’t be tempted to use canned potatoes. Although, peeled and chopped fresh sweet potatoes may be a nice time-saving option. For a special meal, I don’t mind the extra effort to prep the potatoes myself… it’s worth it!
- Orange Juice with No Pulp: This recipe came from my Mom and it calls for orange juice, which is a little different. The o.j. adds a little extra sweetness and I love the hint of citrus that comes through in the finished dish.
- Milk: You only need about 1/4 cup. Any type of milk beverage will do. I always have Unsweetened Almond Milk in the fridge.
- Sugar: Like I expressed earlier… really not necessary. Originally this recipe called for a 1/3 cup of sugar, but I decreased it to 1 tbsp. Honestly, you could probably skip it altogether!
- Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract is key to giving this casserole it’s classic, warm, comforting scent and taste.
- Mini Marshmallows or Pecans: Mini marshmallows are the “icing on the cake” when it comes to this casserole! But, if you’d like, replace the sugary marshmallows with about 1 cup of pecans instead. The pecans will get wonderfully roasted as the casserole bakes!
The prep is easy, however, there is a little bit of hands-on effort… it’s worth it! Bonus… you can prepare this casserole ahead, refrigerate, and then bake when you’re ready to serve.
Equipment: Gather a large plate or baking sheet, a large mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a hand masher, a hand mixer (affiliate link), and a 2-quart baking dish.
1. Scrub sweet potatoes clean. Poke potatoes with a fork several times. Cook potatoes in the microwave or oven until tender.
To save time, I like to cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave. I place them on a microwave-safe plate and cook on the “potato” setting, which takes about 15-20 minutes. When done, I carefully flip them over (they’re hot) and cook on high for 1 more minute.
You could also choose to roast the sweet potatoes in the oven (undoubtedly, the best way to cook ’em, but more time consuming). Place potatoes on a foil-lined baking dish or sheet pan and roast at 400 F for about 1 hour.
If you’re using peeled, cut-up, fresh sweet potatoes, simply toss them in a large pot, cover with water, boil about 15-20 minutes until tender, and then drain.
*By the way, poking holes in the potatoes allows steam to escape so they don’t explode while cooking. (But would that really happen? I don’t know… but I don’t want to find out!!)
2. Allow sweet potatoes to cool, remove skins, place in a bowl, and mash.
Once the tender sweet potatoes are cool to touch, I cut the ends off, cut them down the middle, and scoop/ scrape all the goodness into a bowl. Yeah, it may be easier to peel the potatoes first, cut-up, boil on the stove-top, and then mash. But, don’t ask me why… this is how I always do it! I find it’s just as easy, plus I despise peeling raw potatoes. You either do a little work in the beginning or at the end… pick your poison!!
3. Add the orange juice, milk, sugar, and vanilla to the sweet potatoes. With a hand mixer, beat at high speed until the mixture is smooth.
This only takes a few minutes and the aroma of the orange juice and vanilla is wonderful. If you don’t have a hand mixer, just mix vigorously with a wooden spoon.
4. Spoon Sweet Potato Mixture into a baking dish. Top with mini marshmallows (or pecans). Bake, uncovered, at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.
I prefer to use a round, glass, 2-quart baking dish (affiliate link), but a square or small rectangular pan would work fine too.
If you plan to make this dish ahead, skip the marshmallows, cover the dish, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Just before baking, add the marshmallows or pecans.
If you’d like to use pecans instead of marshmallows, mix about 1 cup of pecan halves with 1 tsp of melted butter and 1 tbsp of brown sugar, then evenly distribute on top of the sweet potatoes. Crunchy and sweet, and a bit healthier!
5. Perfect Marshmallow Topping!
As the sweet potatoes bake in the oven, the marshmallows heat up, spread out a little bit, and become perfectly toasted, while staying soft and gooey in the center! Keep an eye on the marshmallows after 20 minutes and bake until you’re satisfied with the toastiness! If you’d like, you can finish by placing the dish under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to toast the tops of the marshmallows even more (watch carefully… don’t burn them).
Oh man… these sweet potatoes are soooo good! That spoonful pictured above tastes as good as it looks (I devoured it after the picture!) Just the right amount of sweetness with a hint of orange and vanilla. The marshmallows give it that “extra” touch of indulgence for a special occasion. Enjoy without any guilt because sweet potatoes are good for you and (minus the marshmallows) this is a healthy dish!
I serve this version of Sweet Potato Casserole every year as part of my family’s traditional Christmas Eve meal. It’s my favorite meal of the year to prepare and eat! I keep it simple with a nice balance of homemade and store-bought items. If you’re wondering, here’s what our Christmas Eve menu looks like…
- Roasted Turkey Breast (simply brushed with olive oil)
- Gravy (store-bought)
- Stuffing (Stove-Top, from the box… that’s right!)
- Fresh Green Beans (boiled on the stove-top, finished with butter and dried cranberries)
- Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallow Topping
- Pumpkin Bread (Whole Food’s 365 boxed bread and muffin mix)
- Cranberry Relish (store-bought)
- Homemade Chocolate Truffle Pie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Fresh Blackberries
*I promise to share all of these recipes in the near future!
My mom serves this Sweet Potato Casserole recipe Topped with Pecans at Thanksgiving. For Easter, I serve another version of Sweet Potato Casserole that is just as amazing, bigger, and the best of both worlds (it’s topped with rows of pecans and marshmallows)!
Maybe this healthier version of Sweet Potato Casserole will end up on your next holiday table! Give it a try and let me know what you think…
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE WITH MARSHMALLOW TOPPING
- 3 lbs sweet potatoes
- 1/4 cup orange juice, pulp-free, not from concentrate
- 1/4 cup milk or non-dairy beverage (such as almond milk)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup mini marshmallows (or pecan halves)
- Prep and Cook Sweet Potatoes: Scrub sweet potatoes clean. Poke sweet potatoes with a fork several times. Cook sweet potatoes in the microwave or oven until tender. (See Notes Below.)
- Allow the sweet potatoes to cool. Slice sweet potatoes in half and scoop or scrape the potato away from the skins. Place the sweet potato in a large bowl and mash.
- Add the orange juice, milk, sugar, and vanilla to the sweet potatoes. With a hand mixer, beat at high speed until smooth (about 3-5 minutes).
- Spoon the sweet potato mixture into a 2-quart baking dish. Top evenly with mini marshmallows (leaving some space for expansion). Bake, uncovered, at 350 F for 20-25 minutes. If desired, place casserole under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to toast the tops of the marshmallows, keeping a very close watch.
- Allow casserole to cool for 5-10 minutes and serve. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator.