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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 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. 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. 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 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 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:

  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 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 milk (I use unsweetened almond, cashew, or coconut milk)
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, ghee, vegan butter, or coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 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 Tbsp butter, ghee, vegan butter, or coconut oil (melted)
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch 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 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.
  3. 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 and make the topping. In a medium bowl, combine pecans, butter/oil, syrup, cinnamon, and salt. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mash.
  2. Cover the dish with foil and bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
  3. Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes. If pecans begin to brown too quickly, simply cover with foil again.
  4. **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).
  • 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.

136 Comments

  1. This recipe looks amazing Emily, I can’t wait to try it this Thanksgiving. If I were to double the recipe and use a 9×13 pan would I need to keep it in the oven longer? (sorry, I’m a beginner)

    1. Breanne – Oh, don’t apologize! It’s a great question! You may want to add 5-8 minutes or so, but it really shouldn’t need much longer than that. Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. This is about the third time I have made this and I have to say this is my absolute favorite sweet potato dish I have ever made..paleo or not!!! Everyone who tries it loves it!!! Thank you so much for sharing and have a great Thanksgiving!!

    1. Did you see the directions for that in the notes section? “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.”

  3. Wonderful recipe! Made this for Thanksgiving instead of the regular family recipe and everyone raved about how good it was. Only after I received multiple compliments, I revealed that is was healthy. Gasp! Even the non-paelo/vegans took seconds. This WILL be the new (holiday) staple recipe!

  4. I love this recipe! I used neat egg and it was delicious. I may try it without next time, just to see :). We will definitely be making this again! Thank you!

  5. Hello! I’m excited about making this recipe for a late family thanksgiving tonight! I have honey pecans I bought from the store that I wanted to just chop up a bit and put on the top (they’re already cooked/glazed and ready to go. I got them from the organic section at my grocery store) so I was wondering, most importantly, how long do I cook the sweet potato mash without the topping and do I add the ready pecans 5 minutes or so before it’s all done just to get them nice and warm? Or do I not cook with them at all and just put them on after I take the mash out of the oven? Sorry for all the questions! Novice cook! 🙂

    1. Sonia – I apologize for not getting back to you sooner! I’ve been with family all day. I think you can add them as usual, and then just un-cover the pan for the last 5-10 minutes or so. I think they’d be fine! Hope you LOVE it!

  6. I’ve made this for Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts where no one suspected how much better it was for them than the original – perfect texture, not too sweet and I’ve been asked for the recipe every time. Delish 🙂

  7. This is the only way (to date) that I have been able to get my 5-year old son to eat sweet potatoes (he even cleans his plate of them).
    I’ve made this dish twice now; my first preparation was made exactly as the instructions call for (this preparation I give a 4-star rating).
    Tonight I’ve made it again; this time I’d brushed the sweet potatoes with olive oil (after washing and drying the skin) and baked for 1 hour on 350 (the oil causes the skin to separate from the potato during baking). By this preparation, I found the mash has far less water content, and causes the pecan topping to turn out so much better (a *5-star* rating)!

    1. You can totally make it ahead. My first recommendation is to make each part (the filling + the topping) and store separately overnight, then sprinkle the topping on and baking right before serving. If you don’t have time, you can bake it the day before, then re-heat it on Easter. Hope you all love it!

  8. I made this last year for Thanksgiving. My family totally loved it. My question is will this freeze well? I need to make it in advance now.

    1. Lu – You can freeze it. I recommend freezing the filling in the pan unbaked and covering with foil, then just adding the pecan topping right before baking, if you can.

      If you’re going to re-heat it directly from the oven, you’ll need to put it in a cold oven (to avoid glass/ceramic bursting with the temperature change) or freeze it in a flexible aluminum baking pan to allow for temperature changes. I hope that helps!

  9. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ve made it with eggs and love it, but I’m going to try it with Ener-G this year. Have you done the “night before” method with Ener-G? For some reason, I’m wary of trying that. I don’t really know why. 🙂 Thanks in advance for your feedback.

    1. Ecfinn – I haven’t actually. I’m making mine with Bob’s Red Mill this year and plan to do it the night before. That one’s made with potato starch, tapioca flour, baking soda, and psyllium husk. Ener-G is made with potato starch, tapioca flour, cream of tartar, cellulose gum & modified cellulose, so the ingredients are pretty similar. I think you shouldn’t have any trouble if you mix it well with the other liquids and into the sweet potatoes. That way, you shouldn’t get any lumps. I’d LOVE to know how it goes if you give it a try!

  10. Question for you…my sweet potatoes are white, will that work or do I need yams (orange color)? Do they cook differently? Thanks for any info/advice! Looking forward to making this for Thanksgiving 😀 Happy Holidays

    1. Maris – Great question! For the most part, white and orange sweet potatoes will behave similarly. Sometimes white ones can run on the drier side, so if you find your mash doesn’t seem really smooth and wet, you may want to add a bit more milk to the mixture. I hope you LOVE this!

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