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!
The first time we faced a Thanksgiving after going gluten and dairy free was really daunting. In addition to avoiding gluten and dairy, we also tried to avoid as much refined sugar as possible. 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 of holiday feasting.
This naturally-sweetened 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). And if you’re thinking, “well, does it even taste good?” I invite you to make it and taste it for yourself.
It’s the real deal.
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 topping is as good as ever. Sweet candied pecans stud the surface like little cinnamon-dusted jewels and make every bite taste close-your-eyes good. Plus, since the sugar is so much lower, you’ll have plenty of room for pie later!
I’ve tested this 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.
Michael can be a tough crowd when it comes to comparing new recipes to old favorites and he LOVED this. The first bite had barely gone in his mouth before he exclaimed how good it was. I’d feel confident bringing this to a family dinner where there’d be all kinds of different diets included.
It’s another recipe in my Thanksgiving arsenal I’m so glad to have sorted out. This Thanksgiving will be our best (gluten and dairy free one) yet! And whether you make this a paleo sweet potato casserole or a vegan sweet potato casserole, I hope it will be yours, too!
Notes on the Recipe:
Make it ahead! The beauty of sweet potato casserole is that you can assemble the ingredients ahead of time. This puree can be made the day before, then you can mix up the topping right before you bake it. One fewer thing to do on Thanksgiving Day!
If you’re going egg-free… I tried this recipe using eggs or Ener-G egg replacer. Another one that has worked well for me is The Neat Egg. 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’d rather omit the egg/egg sub, you won’t miss anything in flavor, but the texture will be a bit looser and more like a puree than a cohesive mash. You can use a little less milk for a thicker mash to compensate for this.
If you want to skip the topping…If you’re allergic to nuts or simply don’t care for them, you can absolutely serve this 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).
Looking for a good old-fashioned sweet potato recipe? 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.
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- 2lbs sweet potatoes (about 3 medium potatoes), peeled and diced
- ⅓c milk (I use unsweetened almond, cashew, or coconut milk)
- 3 Tbsp butter, ghee, vegan butter, or coconut oil (melted)
- ¼c pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 eggs or 2 Tbsp egg substitute (such as Ener-G egg replacer or The Neat Egg)
- 1½ cups pecans, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp butter, ghee, vegan butter, or coconut oil (melted)
- 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 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.
- Transfer potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add milk, butter/oil, syrup, salt, vanilla, and egg/egg sub. Mash until no lumps remain. If needed, add 2-3 Tbsp additional milk if your mixture seems too thick.
- Pour mash into an 8x8 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)
- When ready to bake the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make the topping. In a medium bowl, combine pecans, butter/oil, syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mash.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
- Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes. If pecans begin to brown too quickly, simply cover with foil again.
- **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).