Gluten-free Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

Sweet potato casserole is my favorite holiday side dish.  This recipe was created during one holiday season when I signed up to bring sweet potatoes to our family Thanksgiving, and I realized my family was divided between team marshmallow and team pecan topping. After polling family members about their desired topping, I was determined to find a way to deliver team marshmallow with a perfectly toasted golden brown topping and team pecan crumble with a crunchy pecan topping.  No Thanksgiving table is complete without a sweet potato casserole, and by diagonally striping in the marshmallows and pecan crumble across the top of the sweet potato casserole, everyone wins and it’s absolutely beautiful.  Whether they are team marshmallow or team pecan crumble, your guests will be sure to find that indulgent bite they crave around the holidays. Be sure to add this side on your holiday table this year!

Thanksgiving Day

This is my twist on traditional sweet potato casserole and it’s perfect to serve at your next holiday dinner.  While I typically steer clear of refined sugar, I do make this with brown sugar.  Sweet potato casserole is one of my favorite dishes and it’s nice to fully indulge in this classic comfort food once a year.  Because this recipe is still gluten free and dairy free, many would say that it is a healthy sweet potato casserole recipe.  Whatever your standards are for a healthy recipe or a delicious recipe, nobody will guess that this is a dairy free and gluten free sweet potato casserole.  It’s a total crowd pleaser.

Prepare Ahead

One of the great things about this sweet potato casserole is that it can be prepared 1 day in advance with no loss of quality or flavor. Due to the raw eggs, I would not recommend preparing more that one day in advance.  Prepare the casserole up until baking, cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 350°F bring the prepared casserole to room temperature before baking.

What You Need to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

  • Sweet Potatoes – The star ingredient! Choose sweet, creamy orange-fleshed sweet potatoes. Yams can work too but may be starchier. You will need to get about 5 medium sweet potatoes for the sweet potato mash.
  • Sweetened condensed coconut milk – The sweetened condensed coconut milk really does add a unique texture and taste to this dish.  If you are not dairy sensitive, regular sweetened condensed milk works great too.  If you are aiming for a healthier spin you could try replacing with approximately one to one-and-a-half cups of dairy free milk (coconut cream, almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk, soy milk or any other non-dairy milk based on your preferences).
  • Cinnamon – Cinnamon adds warmth and gives the casserole a signature fall/holiday flavor.
  • Orange Juice – The acidity of the orange juice helps further brighten and enhance the natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes. In addition, incorporating some liquid helps ensure the casserole bakes up creamy and moist, while the small amount of natural sugar in orange juice boosts flavor. Orange zest could also be used instead of orange juice to provide bright citrus flavor without adding more liquid, if desired. But the orange juice adds moisture and enhances the sweet potato flavor in a special way in this particular recipe.
  • Salt – Brings out the sweet potato flavor.  Any type of salt works – sea salt, Himalayan salt or kosher salt.
  • Brown sugar – Adds sweetness, moisture and the signature brown sugar flavor. White sugar can be subbed in same amount but won’t have the same flavor as brown sugar, which is basically sugar mixed with molasses. For a healthier option, coconut sugar or pure maple syrup would make great substitutes.
  • Eggs – The eggs act as a binder to help hold the casserole together. Since three eggs are needed for this recipe, I do not recommend using a flax egg as a vegan substitute.
  • Vanilla extract – Vanilla enhances the sweet potato flavor. 
  • Butter – You can use coconut oil to make this dairy free. Or you can use vegan butter to make this recipe vegan friendly! 
  • All Purpose Flour – King Arthur is my family’s favorite gluten free flour brand. I have not tried this recipe with any alternative flours, but almond flour or oat flour would be good substitutes to consider.
  • Light Brown Sugar – Coconut sugar could be substituted for a healthier option.  However, I go all out on this recipe as I only make it once a year and use regular brown sugar.
  • Pecans – For the pecan topping you will need to chop these into smaller pieces. Or you can buy pre-chopped nuts.
  • Mini marshmallows – You can also use regular or vegan marshmallows to meet your dietary needs.  However, I don’t recommend using homemade marshmallows.  While I absolutely love these, they do have a lower melting point that store-bought marshmallows and will result in runny marshmallow cream instead of toasted marshmallows.

How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

  • Cook – Using a large put, fill with cold water and add sweet potato chunks.  Cook the sweet potatoes until soft. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix – To the sweet potatoes add, sweetened condensed coconut milk, cinnamon, orange juice, salt and brown sugar. Mix together using a hand mixer or potato masher.  Allow the sweet potato puree to cool slightly before adding the eggs.  After adding the eggs, stir to combine fully and pour the sweet potato filling into a greased 9×13 pan.
  • Toppings – While this creamy sweet potato mixture is cooling, prepare the pecan topping.  In a medium bowl, add butter and flour to a bowl using a fork to combine.  The mixture will be crumbly.  Add in brown sugar and combine again with the fork.  The mixture will still be crumbly.  Add in chopped pecans and salt and stir to combine.  Using diagonal lines and in a rotating fashion, spoon the brown sugar topping on top of the sweet potatoes and alternate with marshmallows. 
  • Bake – Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes. Cover with foil at the end if needed to prevent the marshmallows and pecan crumble from burning.

Storage

After baking, allow the sweet potato casserole to cool completely before covering. Place a piece of parchment paper, plastic wrap or aluminum foil directly on the surface of the casserole to prevent it from drying out. Then cover the entire baking dish tightly with more foil or place in an airtight container. Properly stored, the baked sweet potato casserole will keep fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

pan of sweet potato casserole

Gluten-free Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping

Whether you are team marshmallow or team pecan topping, this sweet potato casserole is for you and makes the best side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas or even Easter!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 5 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 can sweetened condensed coconut milk
  • 1 TBS cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp salt divided
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs whisked
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Pecan Crumble Topping

  • 3 TBS butter softened
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour gluten free
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt

2 cups mini marshmallows

    Instructions
     

    • Cook sweet potatoes: Place peeled and cubed sweet potatoes in large pot and cover with water. Add 1 tsp of salt. Bring water to a boil and boil sweet potatoes until fork tender (approximately 20 minutes or longer, depending on the size of your dice).
    • Drain water from sweet potatoes and add sweet potatoes back to your pot.
    • Add in sweetened condensed coconut milk, cinnamon, orange juice, salt, vanilla extract and brown sugar. Use a hand mixer to combine. Allow the mixture to cool slightly before adding in the eggs. (If you add the eggs while the mixture is still hot, you would have little pieces of scrambled eggs in your casserole). Add to a greased 9×13 pan.
    • While the mixture is cooling, make the pecan crumble. Add butter and flour to a bowl using a fork to combine. The mixture will be crumbly. Add in brown sugar and combine again with the fork. The mixture will still be crumbly. Add in pecans and salt and stir to combine.
    • Finally, use a spoon to add the pecan crumble to the sweet potato casserole and sprinkle on the marshmallows in your desired pattern. I personally like the diagonal pattern of the alternating pecan crumble and mini marshmallows.
    • Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35-40 minutes. Check at about 25 minutes. If the marshmallows or pecans are starting to brown too quickly, loosely cover with foil.
    Keyword christmas, easter, holiday, marshmallows, pecan topping, side dish, sweet potato, sweet potato casserole, thanksgiving

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