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Paleo (or Vegan!) Sweet Potato Casserole

Paleo (or Vegan!) Sweet Potato Casserole – You never need to miss out during the holidays because of dietary restrictions. This naturally sweetened, gluten-free, dairy-free sweet potato casserole is the real deal!  

Overhead view of paleo sweet potato casserole with a spoon in it.

The first time we faced a Thanksgiving after going gluten and dairy-free was really daunting. In addition to avoiding gluten and dairy, we were also trying to avoid as much refined sugar as possible based on some medical needs at the time. And what is the holiday season without gluten, dairy, and sugar?!?

I remember the feeling of “we won’t be able to eat anything!” so profoundly. Thankfully, we’ve gotten better and better at going into the holiday season with confidence. I’ve learned that while there are definitely some swaps to be made, we don’t ever need to miss out on the joy and tradition of holiday feasting.

This naturally-sweetened vegan or paleo sweet potato casserole is a perfect example. It’s gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, refined sugar free, and can be made either paleo (with eggs) or vegan (with an egg substitute/swap). And if you’re thinking, “well, does it even taste good?” I invite you to make it and taste it for yourself.

Because our vegan/paleo sweet potato casserole recipe is the real deal.

It’s been the family favorite year after year with my extended family, and with so many of your families over the years. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of your holiday favorites, too.

Here’s why I know you’re going to love our healthy sweet potato casserole recipe…

Overhead view of paleo sweet potato casserole with pecan topping.

What Makes This Healthy Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe Amazing:

THE FILLING! Velvety smooth sweet potato puree is dressed up with a little bit of milk (almond or cashew are my favorites), some pure maple syrup to enhance the sweet potatoes’ natural sweetness, a little healthy fat for a touch of decadence, and a little salt and vanilla to round things out. The flavors are spot on!

A GORGEOUS, CRUNCHY PECAN TOPPING. The topping on this vegan sweet potato casserole is as good as ever. Sweet candied pecans stud the surface like little cinnamon-dusted jewels and make every bite taste incredible. Plus, since the sugar is so much lower, you’ll have plenty of room for pie later! (Maybe this one?)

THIS RECIPE IS EASY! Maybe you’re a long-time gluten-free, paleo, or vegan eater. Or, maybe you’re a total newbie. Maybe you don’t have any dietary restrictions, but you’re cooking for someone who does. It won’t matter–this recipe for paleo sweet potato casserole is DELICIOUS and doesn’t require any fancy flours or hard-to-find ingredients. It’s straightforward and absolutely delicious.

IT WORKS FOR PALEO OR VEGAN DIETS *AND* IT’LL FOOL ANYONE. I’ve tested this healthy sweet potato casserole recipe with eggs and with powdered egg substitute for my egg-free and vegan friends. I love it both ways! The eggs/egg sub bind everything together and give it a little structure so it doesn’t fall apart on your plate. And EVERYONE will love it, no matter what their dietary needs are. It’s always one of the fastest side dishes to go on Thanksgiving!

Close up overhead view of paleo sweet potato casserole with pecan topping.

How To Make Vegan or Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole, Step-By-Step:

First, Make The Sweet Potato Mash/Filling:

  1. Cook Your Sweet Potatoes. Peel sweet potatoes and place in a large pot and cover by at least 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until completely tender (potatoes will pierce easily with a fork). Drain sweet potatoes.
  2. Add The Other Goodies. Transfer cooked, drained potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add milk, butter/oil, syrup, salt, vanilla, and egg/egg sub.
  3. Mash It Up! Mash with a potato masher or fork until no lumps remain. If needed, add 2-3 Tbsp additional milk if your mixture seems too thick.
  4. Add To Your Baking Dish. Transfer the sweet potato mixture into an 8×8, 9×9, or 2-quart baking dish and smooth the surface. (You can make the sweet potato casserole up to this point the day before Thanksgiving, if desired. Simple cover the baking dish and refrigerate)

Next, Make The Pecan Topping:

  1. Preheat The Oven. When ready to bake the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make the topping.
  2. Combine The Ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine pecans, butter/oil, syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Stir until the pecans are well coated and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  3. Sprinkle the pecan crumble over the sweet potato mash.
  4. Cover the dish with foil and bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
  5. Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes. If pecans begin to brown too quickly, simply cover with foil again.

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’ve got multiple things in the oven (like on Thanksgiving!), allow yourself some extra time. If your oven is set to a lower temperature or full of other dishes, you’ll need to bake this closer to an hour. Be sure to watch your pecans (I only remove the foil when there’s about 20 minutes to go).

Overhead view of Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping. Spoon scooping out a serving.

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Paleo or Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole:

CAN I MAKE SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE AHEAD OF TIME? Yes! Absolutely! The beauty of this healthy paleo sweet potato casserole is that you can assemble the ingredients ahead of time. You can make the sweet potato mash and put it in the baking dish, then mix up the pecan topping right before you bake it. It’s One fewer thing to do on Thanksgiving Day, which is always a win!

HOW TO MAKE THIS AS VEGAN SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE (EGG FREE). I tried this sweet potato casserole recipe using eggs or Ener-G egg replacer and it worked beautifully. Another one that has worked well for me is The Neat Egg. If you’d rather omit the egg/egg substitute, you can also omit it entirely. If you don’t use an egg substitute, you can use a little less milk so the sweet potato mash is thicker or add 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch to the filling. I haven’t tried this yet with a flax or chia egg, so I can’t speak to how well it would turn out using those.

IF YOU WANT TO SKIP THE PECAN TOPPING…If you’re allergic to nuts or simply don’t care for them, you can absolutely serve this paleo sweet potato casserole as a mash on its own. You’ll want to reduce the milk to about 1/4 cup and you’ll probably want to add the cinnamon to the mash (since you won’t be adding it to the topping). (Several folks have also made this with marshmallows instead and LOVED it!)

LOOKING FOR A GOOD OLD-FASHIONED SWEET POTATO RECIPE? Like the kind with butter and brown sugar? I’ve got you! This is my all-time favorite before we switched to a GF/DF diet. The topping is mind-blowing. It’s super sweet (almost like a sweet potato pie), and it was always my favorite Thanksgiving indulgence.

CAN I MAKE THIS WITH MARSHMALLOW TOPPING INSTEAD? If you prefer your sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, you can try this paleo marshmallow fluff or this vegan marshmallow fluff topping!

Overhead view of a spoon scooping paleo sweet potato casserole.

LOOKING FOR MORE HEALTHY HOLIDAY RECIPES? YOU’D PROBABLY LOVE…

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Overhead view of paleo sweet potato casserole with a spoon in it.

Paleo (or Vegan!) Sweet Potato Casserole


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 70 minutes
  • Yield: 89 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

If you’re using egg replacer – follow the directions on your package. Most call for about 1 Tbsp of water per 1 Tbsp of powder.


Ingredients

Scale

For the sweet potato mash:

  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes), peeled and diced
  • 1/3 cup non-dairy milk (I use unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, ghee, vegan butter, or coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, 2 Tbsp egg substitute (such as Ener-G egg replacer or The Neat Egg), or 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

For the pecan topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, ghee, vegan butter, or coconut oil (melted)
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch kosher salt or sea salt

Instructions

For the sweet potato mash:

  1. Place sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover by at least 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until completely tender (potatoes will pierce easily with a fork). Drain sweet potatoes.
  2. Transfer cooked sweet potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add milk, butter/oil, syrup, salt, vanilla, and egg/egg sub.
  3. Mash with a potato masher or fork until no lumps remain. If needed, add 2-3 Tbsp additional milk if your mixture seems too thick.
  4. Pour mash into an 8×8 or 2 quart baking dish and smooth the surface. (You can make the sweet potato casserole up to this point the day before Thanksgiving, if desired. Simple cover the baking dish and refrigerate)

For the topping:

  1. When ready to bake the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and make the topping. In a medium bowl, combine pecans, butter/oil, syrup, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Sprinkle pecan streusel topping over the sweet potato mash.
  3. Cover the dish with foil and bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
  4. Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes. If pecans begin to brown too quickly, simply cover with foil again.
  5. **If you’ve got multiple things in the oven (like on Thanksgiving), allow yourself some extra time. If your oven is set to a lower temperature or full of other dishes, you’ll need to bake this closer to an hour. Be sure to watch your pecans (I only remove the foil when there’s about 20 minutes to go).

Notes

*Feel free to double the recipe to fit a 9×13 casserole dish!

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: paleo sweet potato casserole, paleo sweet potato casserole recipe, sweet potato casserole, vegan, paleo, vegan sweet potato casserole, sweet potato casserole, gluten free

Originally shared Nov 2016. Updated Nov 2021.

146 Comments

  1. I just made this for my family for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit! Everyone was going back for leftovers for days. I like that it’s not at all too sweet–it is not a dessert. I used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer and the finished dish was very cohesive, good texture. Love the pecan topping as well, it’s the main event. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  2. So happy to try your recipes,I appreciate your kind thoughts and generosity.Thank you for sharing.Healthy and delicious

  3. Absolutely delicious! My whole family liked it. I used eggs, almond milk, and coconut oil and made it ahead as the recipe mentions. I ended up baking it for an additional 20 minutes at 400 beyond what the recipe calls for. ( Perhaps that was from prepping in and refrigerating it ahead of time). Thank you for the recipe!

  4. Hi! This sounds delicious! My husband is recently dairy and gluten-free, so this sounds perfect for Thanksgiving. Do you have to use maple syrup? Sugars tend to make him break out, so trying to avoid if possible/

    1. It does impact the flavor to make it sweeter, but structurally, you’ll be able to get by without it in the filling. The topping won’t be quite the same flavor-wise, but again, if you’re used to eating things unsweetened, it’ll probably be ok!

    1. When you make it in advance, I recommend making the filling and topping separate & adding the filling and baking the whole casserole the day of. If you need to bake the whole thing in advance (I get it!), you’ll want to cover the dish with foil so the pecans don’t burn as you reheat. Then just pop it in the oven for 20-30 minutes or so to heat through.

  5. This was a big hit! I was kind of sad there were no leftovers, at all! No other dish had that honor, and I received a text after saying that the sweet potato casserole was the best dish there. Can’t wait to make it again at Christmas!

    1. Liz – THIS REVIEW IS EVERYTHING! Yes! It was like that for my family this year, too! Always the first dish to go and always gets rave reviews! Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks again!

  6. We typically serve a savory sweet potato dish at Thanksgiving, but this year we served this one as well since it’s dairy-free. To my surprise, THIS recipe won the raves from everyone. I was even told that this one could replace the savory stand-by recipe in future years!! I felt like it was a HUGE success – so yummy. I’ll definitely make it again.

  7. I made a double batch of this sweet potato casserole (in a 9×13 pan) for our big family Thanksgiving and had a conversation with one of my brothers before dinner about his loathing for stuffing & sweet potato casserole. During dinner he looked at me with wide eyes after trying my sweet potatoes and said, “this is SO good! This is the first time I have ever enjoyed sweet potato casserole.” It was a huge hit and several people wanted to take the leftovers home with them. Thanks, Emily, for being a great source for “the perfect recipe” everytime!

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