A Sweet Potato Casserole Made for the Holidays


This down-home-comfort fall dish is just sweet enough and topped with a seasonally appropriate partner of chopped pecans.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet potatoes are good, and good for you. Most comfort-food recipes absolutely drown them in butter and sugar. I haven’t always been fond of sweet potatoes.

Then, I realized it wasn’t the sweet potato I didn’t like; it was the insane amounts of granulated sugar, brown sugar, marshmallows, maple syrup, vanilla extract and butter Southerners traditionally heap on top of them. With all that added flavor, it’s impossible to taste the naturally sweet and earthy essence of the actual sweet potato!

In regard to marshmallows, frankly, I prefer them in a steaming cup of cocoa or sandwiched with a piece of chocolate between two graham crackers! This down-home-comfort fall dish is certainly sweet enough and is topped with a seasonally appropriate partner of chopped pecans.

Sweet Potato Casserole

There are many colors, sizes, shapes and flavors of sweet potatoes. What are often sold as yams are actually sweet potatoes. Botanically speaking, yams are tubers and members of the lily family. A tuber is essentially an underground stem. Sweet potatoes are roots and members of the morning glory family. Yams originated in Africa, and sweet potatoes are a New World plant.

Get the Recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole

In this recipe the potatoes are first roasted. You can use the microwave if you are pressed for time, but roasting brings out the complex flavors. I prefer using fresh sweet potatoes instead of the canned variety. This dish can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight without the topping. The next day, simply remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Then, sprinkle the pecan-sugar topping over it and bake. It’s a down-home comfort dish and absolutely perfect for the holidays.

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.

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