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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. Hi Emily! Can I make this without the egg yolk and just egg whites? If so, should I use any extra egg whites?

    Thank you!

    Jamie

    1. Laura – I add 4 eggs when I double the recipe. It has never tasted or felt “eggy” for me. It just helps bind the mixture together and helps it set up. 🙂

  2. Thanks! I am using a 9×13 pan, which is 3 qrts. I made it in an 8×8 (2qrts). It was outstanding but for thanksgiving I need a bigger pan. So 3 or 4 eggs?

  3. For the egg replacer, do you know if banana or applesauce would work instead? I’m making this for a dinner and will have a vegan friend there. I don’t have the powder and am wondering if I can use something I have here already!

    1. Jenny – If you don’t want to go the egg replacer route, I’d actually recommend you use a little less milk (1/4 cup instead of 1/3) so the sweet potato mash is thicker or use 1 Tbsp. of cornstarch in the filling to help it set up and thicken.

  4. I followed this recipe exactly. I’ve never used egg replacmt before.
    I used an 8×8, but a little higher sides than a typical pyrex casserole.
    I don’t know what happened, but it wasn’t cooked thru. Too wet (similar to when i make gluten free breads,
    muffins. never seems to fully cook). So i put in for another 25 min, turned up to 385. Was busy
    in kitchen, burned the pecans. I wish i had seen that comment above recipe, u can skip altogether or
    use cornstarch. The sweet potato mixture was excellent consistency going into oven. I guess there’s something I didn’t get right. So many ppl here happy w results. With the extra cooking time, was edible, but still a bit too moist.
    Thank you

    1. I’m so sorry Donna! It’s always such a bummer when a recipe doesn’t turn out the way you hope it will. I hope you’ll get to try it again in the future with the other adjustments. So sorry it wasn’t a win for you this year. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. I’ve actually been making this recipe for a few years. It is our favorite! I usually double it so we have extra leftovers.

  6. I love this recipe! I made this on a chance around Thanksgiving. My family likd it so much, we have made it 3 other times. I’m currently making it for Easter.

  7. My sis isn’t a big fan of sweet potatoes but loved this! I used 2/3rds ghee & 1/3rd refined coconut oil, no eggs, just 1/4 light coconut milk. Also, half the maple syrup in batter and almonds due to nut allergies! Did a ghee/coconut oil refined combo too n the topping! Awesome recipe. Thanks

    1. Shawn – I’m SO glad that you loved it!!! THANK YOU for taking the time to leave a star review and your comments–they’re so helpful to me and to other readers with allergies. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Is the cooking time the same if I double the recipe? Anything else to keep in mind when doubling? Thank you!

  9. I just made this for thanksgiving and my entire family loved it, I will be making this recipe again it was delicious.

  10. Thank you, Emily! This recipe is wonderful! I’ve made it with chia egg. It turned out well: firm on the plate and delicious. I could not even imagine that it can be so good vegan. Thank you so much!

  11. I just made this for Thanksgiving yesterday (November 2021). The organic sweet potatoes I get at my CSA are HUGE (about 2 pounds each), moist and very sweet! I made a double recipe & used 4 eggs (fresh from the farm so I used 2 smaller ones and 2 larger ones). I actually cooked the sweet potatoes in my instant pot 2 days before (cut into larger pieces and the skins came right off) and put in a container in the fridge. On Thanksgiving day, I added the ingredients for the mash into the same container I had in the fridge with my cooked sweet potatoes and used my potato masher to mix it up. I know my potatoes are already moist, so I only added 1/2 of the almond milk and only 1/2 of the syrup for the mash. I spread it into 2 8×8 pans. In a bowl, I melted Spectrum organic palm oil shortening in place of butter in the microwave and mixed the rest of the topping ingredients and topped the pans. I had my oven on 375 (with my stuffings) and cooked it about 5 minutes less and they were perfect! My daughter asked for left overs to take home. I will definitely make this again. So some people may need less milk depending on your potatoes. I knew mine were already moist and very sweet. I used to bake sweet potatoes wrapped in foil in my oven until I can squeeze them and now use my Instant pot. Delish!!!! This recipe is perfect way to let the sweet potatoes shine!

  12. This is the best sweet potato casserole I have ever had! It was a HUGE hit for Thanksgiving even for people who do not like sweet potatoes. Thank you!

    1. Donna – You completely made my day! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such a kind, thoughtful review. It’s one of my FAVORITE holiday recipes–so glad you loved it too 🙂

  13. Wonderful recipe! I have made it two Thanksgivings in a row and people like it better than the typical sweet potato casserole. I added some coconut sugar to the nut topping and it was delicious.

    1. That’s SO WONDERFUL to hear!!! I’m so glad you loved it. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review Kaylee! I appreciate you!

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