This scrumptious sweet potato crunch casserole recipe is everything great about the Fall season in one dish. Chocked full of the season's best flavors, fluffy sweet potatoes, naturally-sweetened, and a crunchy pecan topping. Did we mention no marshmallows?
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If you follow us on Instagram (which you should be… you can find us here) you know that we had been struggling to turn an old family sweet potato crunch recipe into a less sweet version. Well after FIVE failed attempts to make the perfect crunch topping, we finally present it to you… healthy sweet potato crunch!
This easy sweet potato dish can be best described as a cross between sweet potato casserole and crustless sweet potato pie. It is one of those dishes that pleases everyone. It can be a side dish or a healthy dessert depending on your menu.
Why This Recipe Works
This is not just a Thanksgiving splurge kind of recipe. It is gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free making it healthy enough for every day kind of recipe. While we used eggs in it, an egg replacer, like a flax egg, would absolutely work if you wanted to make a vegan version.
Did we mention it also tastes amazing? Less sweet than a traditional sweet potato casserole, this sweet potato crunch can be served as a side dish or a dessert.
I know people are very passionate about their sweet potato casserole, no worries if that isn’t your thing. To serve as a dessert (aka a crustless sweet potato pie), I would top with coconut whipped cream or even non-dairy ice cream.
Finally, texture-texture-texture! The bottom layer is essentially a custard without the dairy. It is almost like a sweet potato souffle (without the risk of it falling).
While the top is a cinnamon-pecan crunch that provides great contrast. Unlike most gluten-free desserts this sweet potato dish holds up well over a couple of days. It can be served piping hot or at room temp, the texture really does hold up that well.
There may have been some eating it cold for breakfast too. May have been. You can’t prove anything…
But really this sweet potato recipe feels light and healthy plus decadent all at the same time. And you can't beat that!
This recipe is fairly basic, no fancy ingredients which is perfect around the holidays. Nice to know you won't be out of something!
Sweet Potato Filling
- Sweet Potatoes- This recipe uses one 15 ounce can of sweet potato puree. You can also substitute canned pumpkin puree or mash up canned yams. Fresh sweet potatoes are also an option, see our tips section for details.
- Sugar- I prefer to bake with coconut sugar so that is what I used in this recipe. You can use granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup. The recipe is very flexible.
- Coconut Oil- We need to add some fat to get the proper texture. Coconut oil is the perfect addition. If not worried about this recipe being dairy-free you can substitute melted butter or use a dairy-free vegan butter, like Earth Balance.
- Seasonings- We kept it simple with vanilla extract and salt. Don't skip the salt, all baked goods and sweets need salt.
- Pecans- Pecans are the base of the topping. Simple and Autumn perfect. But you can also use walnuts, hazelnuts, or almonds.
- Flour- I use a basic gluten-free flour blend. However, if not GF then any all-purpose flour will due.
- Maple Syrup- We used maple syrup for three reasons; gooey texture, natural sweetness, and flavor. Honey is also an option here.
- More Coconut Oil- Our choice of fat (again!).
- Seasonings- We kept it simple with vanilla and a bit of cinnamon.
This recipe can be made up to two days ahead of time and reheated in the oven. You can serve it hot or even served just slightly warm. Perfect for a holiday meal. And it is just so easy to make!
Step 1: Prep Sweet Potato Mixture
In your medium-sized mixing bowl whisk your eggs. Add the sweet potato puree, oil, sugar of choice, vanilla, and salt.
Mix all the filling ingredients together until well combined. There should be no lumps, you want the filling to look creamy. Pour into a casserole dish. No need to grease the dish.
Step 2: Prep the Nut Topping
Mix all the crumble ingredients together in a small bowl. Next, dot over the filling. The filling will not be fully covered. It will spread a bit and the orange of the sweet potato custard will show through.
Step 3: Bake
This sweet potato recipe only needs to bake for about 30 minutes at 350 F degrees. I find that with this sweet potato recipe, along with any type of custard, bake times vary based on humidity.
I really noticed it because we made it so many times over the course of a few weeks. Don't be alarmed if the bake time is off by a few minutes. Just keep an eye on it and when the center barely jiggles, it is done.
The top will be crunchy (almost like the crispy sugar on top of creme brulee).
Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole
If you want to make a truly paleo sweet potato crunch you can use an equal amount of almond flour plus 1 teaspoon arrowroot or tapioca starch. Can't get much healthier than that!
This paleo version is also entirely grain-free making it allergy friendly.
Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
Fresh eggs should be substituted with a flax egg. To make a flax egg, mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water. Let sit in the fridge for 15 minutes to thicken. You will need 1.5 flax eggs.
Tip #1: When serving as a side dish I like to reduce the cinnamon by half and add a dash of cayenne just to make it a bit more savory.
Tip #2: If you want to use fresh sweet potatoes rather than canned I recommend baking rather than boiling to control the moisture content.
Simply prick the sweet potatoes with a fork and bake at 425 F degrees for 45 minutes. Cool, then scrape out the centers. Mash with a little bit of almond milk or regular milk until smooth.
Tip #3: For a richer flavor add 1 teaspoon of molasses to the filling.
Leftovers will last 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Simply cover well with wrap or place in an airtight container and store. Serve cold, room temperature, or reheat and serve.
Make-Ahead Sweet Potato Crunch
This casserole makes a great make-ahead side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas since you can easily prep it ahead.
Prepare sweet potato mixture and spread into casserole dish. Wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Prepare the crunchy topping and store it in a separate container in the refrigerator.
Bring the sweet potato custard to room temperature then drop on the crunchy topping. Bake fresh for serving or baked ahead of time to simply serve at room temperature.
💬FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
I don't recommend freezing this type of sweet potato casserole once it has fully baked. If you want to get a jump on meal prep you can make the sweet potato filling and store it in a container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Fully thaw and spread in your casserole dish. Make the streusel topping and bake.
The crunch version has a smooth puree of sweet potatoes and has a praline like crunch topping. Sweet potato casseroles have a rougher mash or have cubed sweet potatoes. Casseroles are topped with a looser topping that may or may not have marshmallows.
We hope this healthy sweet potato crunch earns a place at your Thanksgiving table. We know it will definitely be at ours!
Be sure to check out our full Thanksgiving menu for more recipe ideas.
Sweet Potato Crunch
Sweet Potato Filling
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix all the filling ingredients together until well combined. Pour into 9-inch baking dish.1 can sweet potato puree, 2 eggs, ½ cup sugar, ¼ cup coconut oil, 2 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Mix together crumble ingredients in a small bowl. Dot the topping over the filling.2 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped, ⅓ cup gluten free flour blend, ⅓ cup maple syrup, ¼ cup coconut oil, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Bake for 25-35 minutes until the center is just set.
- Allow the casserole to cool, serve slightly warm or chilled.