Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
Maple sweetened and crowned with a decadently crispy topping, this healthy sweet potato casserole is naturally gluten-free & dairy-free, and is bound to become your new favorite side dish!
5 star review
“I made this last night for dinner, and it is AMAZING! My family has made the full-of-sugar kind of sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving my whole life, but this one tasted even better! Thank you for this! It’s definitely going in our go-to recipe list! 🙂”– Melissa
About This Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
What’s your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal?
Are you a main person, or all about the sides?
Me? I’m a sides girl. Just give me all.the.carbs.
Sweet potato casserole is a particular favorite of mine, and of my family’s as well.
I mean, who doesn’t love creamy, sweet potatoes topped with a caramelized, crunchy topping?
The only downside to traditional sweet potato casserole is that it can be a little heavy (hello butter, cream, flour and refined sugar!).
Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics, and I’m always a little hesitant to mess too much with traditional holiday recipes.
However, since several people in my family are dairy-free, and others are gluten-free, I created this sweet potato casserole to be completely delicious without gluten and dairy.
I’m pretty excited about how this recipe turned out because it has all the flavor of a traditional sweet potato casserole, but is completely grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free.
Despite all the things that it doesn’t have in it, it’s still a decadent, rich, holiday treat that everyone will absolutely love, and I hope you enjoy!
Process & Make-Ahead Tips
This healthy sweet potato casserole comes together easily in three simple steps: preparing the sweet potatoes, preparing the pecan topping, then assembling and cooking.
The casserole can also be prepared up to three days ahead, by preparing the sweet potatoes and pecan topping per the instructions in the recipe card, and then assembling and bake on the day you’d like to serve.
Make Ahead Tip: Store the prepared sweet potatoes in the baking dish you plan to serve the sweet potato casserole in, while storing the pecan topping in a separate container, both covered in the fridge. When ready to serve, bring to room temperature, then assemble and bake according to the instructions below.
Key Ingredients & Substitution Suggestions
Sweet potatoes: “Yam” and “sweet potato” are often used interchangeably, but they are actually from completely different botanical families (source). For this recipe look for orange-fleshed sweet potatoes with dark orange-brown skin. I have not tested this recipe with canned sweet potatoes, but if you give it a try, let me know how it turns out in the comments!
Coconut milk: I use full-fat coconut milk in a can to add richness while keeping this recipe dairy-free and vegan. I don’t think the final result tastes too “coconutty,” but if you’re sensitive to the flavor or don’t want to use it, heavy cream can be used in its place. Of course, if you use cream this recipe will no longer be vegan or dairy-free.
Maple syrup: Adds a deep, rich, sweet flavor without any refined sugar. Honey can also be used (not vegan).
Coconut oil: Adds richness to the topping, but melted butter would also work.
Unsweetened coconut flakes: Look for them on the bulk aisle or in the baking section. For coconut-free, use gluten-free whole rolled oats.
Pecans: Add a lovely toasty nutty flavor to the topping. Walnuts or hazelnuts will also work. For nut-free, use pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
Note: This post was originally titled Sweet Potato Casserole (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free). We’ve updated the title, but the recipe remains the same!
5 star review
“After 4+ decades of a family favorite bourbon sweet potato casserole recipe I tried this for Thanksgiving 2020 and LOVED IT! Repeated it for Christmas 2020 and Easter 2021. It is so delicious!”– Michelle
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
For the Sweet Potatoes
- 4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup coconut milk, from a can
- ¼ cup apple cider
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Pecan Topping
- ½ cup melted coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan
- ⅔ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Prepare the Sweet Potatoes
- Heat the oven to 350F.
- Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water so that the sweet potatoes are covered by several inches of water.
- Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Simmer, covered, until the potatoes are cooked through and tender when pierced with a knife, about 20-25 minutes.
- Drain the sweet potatoes, then place back into the same pot. Add the coconut milk, apple cider, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Mash with a potato masher until smooth.
- Add the mashed sweet potatoes to a greased 4-quart baking dish. Set aside.
Prepare the Pecan Topping
- In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut oil, shredded coconut, maple syrup, pecans, cinnamon and salt.
Assemble the Sweet Potato Casserole
- Sprinkle the pecan topping over the sweet potatoes in an even layer.
- Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20-25 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned and the potatoes are bubbling around the edges.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.