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 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 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…
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!
How To Make Vegan or Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole, Step-By-Step:
First, Make The Sweet Potato Mash/Filling:
- Cook Your Sweet Potatoes. 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.
- Add The Other Goodies. Transfer cooked, drained potatoes to a large mixing bowl. Add milk, butter/oil, syrup, salt, vanilla, and egg/egg sub.
- Mash It Up! Mash until no lumps remain. If needed, add 2-3 Tbsp additional milk if your mixture seems too thick.
- Add To Your Baking Dish. Transfer the sweet potato filling 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:
- Preheat The Oven. When ready to bake the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and make the topping.
- 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.
- 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.
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).
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.