The minute you taste this Savoury Sweet Potato Casserole it will be on your short list of Thanksgiving and Christmas sides. Not only does it taste marvelous but it also makes a beautiful presentation. And leftovers reheated in the oven until warm and fluffy, are only better ~ a real winner!
I’ll admit I absolutely love sweet potatoes no matter how they are prepared. But this savoury sweet potato casserole has become a new favourite. Honestly, t should be in the Hall of Fame for sweet potato casseroles. With US Thanksgiving, and Christmas approaching, this is a simple, elegant, and outstanding casserole that is truly meant for your holiday table.
You may already be devoted to your aunt’s green bean casserole, or your dad’s stuffing, or your grandmother’s marshmallow sweet potato casserole (shudder). But I urge you to switch things up a little this year, and give this one a try. Creamy-soft baked sweet potatoes are blended up with brown butter, shallots, garlic, sage, eggs, milk, and salty parmesan cheese. A blizzardy topping of sage-y breadcrumbs brings more savoury flavour and texture to the dish. The whole lot bakes until fluffy, creamy, and melty on the inside with a golden, crispy top. It’s so good you just may want to pass this one on to your children and grandchildren, to your best friends and even your enemies (why not?).
Inspiration for this savoury sweet potato casserole
Recently, I was going through my folder of saved Thanksgiving recipes. I found this one I had printed from Bon Appetit but had somehow forgotten to test out for years — big regret, but fixed now. I changed a few things that I think make the flow of preparing the dish a little easier. Here is the original recipe, if you’re interested.
The amount of sweet potatoes in this casserole make it a nutrient-dense, feel-good dish for the holidays. Feel free to switch out some of the ingredients to accommodate dietary restrictions, or personal taste.
Here’s what you need to put this dish together:
- Sweet potatoes: I used regular sweet potatoes here but I have also made it with white or purple sweet potatoes and with yams – all good.
- Butter: The browned butter adds a ton of flavour and creaminess to the sweet potatoes. If avoiding dairy, you could use a dairy-free butter or olive oil.
- Olive oil: I add only a bit to the melted butter to prevent it from browning too much.
- Shallots: I like to make this casserole with a lot of shallots which I find so tasty and delicious. But you could use a regular yellow onion if you prefer.
- Garlic: The sharp flavours of garlic make this dish even more savoury and delicious.
- Sage: Sweet potatoes and sage have an unquestionable affinity and I just love them together. You can add other herbs like rosemary or thyme, if you like.
- Milk: Milk, heavy cream, or half and half will help make this dish extra smooth and creamy. I like to use 2% milk but any unsweetened dairy-free milk will also work. That said, I might avoid coconut milk which could be a bit too strong-flavoured for this dish.
- Eggs: The eggs help give structure to the sweet potato mixture. You could probably get away with adding only one egg, but I haven’t tried it. If you do, add a 1/4 cup less milk.
- Parmesan: The parmesan cheese adds loads of salty-umami flavour to this sweet potato casserole. I would go as far as to say this is the one ingredient you really can’t leave out. You could, however, substitute with Pecorino, or any other hard, salty cheese.
- Fresh Breadcrumbs: You could use Panko breadcrumbs in a pinch, but fresh breadcrumbs are absolutely so much more fabulous for topping this dish. I just toss a few small chunks of artisanal bread into a food processor and pulse a few times. SO easy and so worth it.
How to make savoury sweet potato casserole
This savoury sweet potato recipe serves a large crowd and leftovers are fantastic for days. However, you can cut the recipe in half and bake it in smaller dish.
Here is the step-by-step:
- Bake the sweet potatoes. Using a fork, poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes so steam can escape. Place them on a sheet pan and roast for about 60-75 minutes at 400ºF.
- Prepare the browned butter mixture. Meanwhile, place a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 Tablespoons of butter until the butter foams. Add the sliced shallots and sauté until soft and butter has browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chopped sage and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Puree the sweet potato mixture: When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and place potatoes in a large bowl or in the bowl of a food processor. Add the eggs and most of the browned butter-shallot-herb mixture to the sweet potatoes, reserving a few tablespoons for the breadcrumbs. If using a a food processor, puree the sweet potato mixture until smooth and fluffy. If your food processor is small, do this in two batches. You can also mash the potato mixture in a large bowl using a potato masher or with an immersion blender.
- Prepare the breadcrumb topping: Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Add the reserved browned butter-shallot-herb mixture and toss to coat.
- Add the milk and cheese: Pour the pureed sweet potato mixture into a large bowl and add the parmesan cheese, milk, salt, and pepper. Using a spatula, mix until well combined and smooth. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until crumbs are golden and crisp, about 20-25 minutes.
What to serve with savoury sweet potato casserole
This savoury sweet potato casserole is quite honestly best served alongside a Thanksgiving roasted turkey but we also love it with this turkey meatloaf or with any other roasted meat. For a delicious and satisfying vegetarian dinner, serve the casserole with this hearty panzanella salad – so good.
Make it gluten-free. You can omit the breadcrumbs or use certified gluten-free bread.
Make it vegan. This a great vegetarian casserole. To make it vegan, use a plant-based milk, vegan butter (don’t brown it) and flaxseed eggs.
Use a variety of herbs. I love this casserole with just sage but feel free to mix in chopped fresh rosemary and/or thyme.
This savoury sweet potato casserole is perfect for making ahead. I highly recommend making it a day ahead, particularly if making it for a Thanksgiving dinner where you have a lot of other dishes to prepare. The casserole doesn’t take too long to bake so this can be done right before serving, once the turkey (or any other roast) is out of the oven and resting.
To make one day ahead, assemble the casserole with topping, and place covered in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator one hour before placing in the oven, and bake until heated through and the crumb topping is a nice golden-brown colour.
TIP: Bake the sweet potatoes up to 3 days ahead and store in the refrigerator, covered with foil. Heat them slightly in the oven or microwave when ready to assemble the casserole, which will make mashing them easier.
Other Thanksgiving sides you might enjoy
Savoury Sweet Potato Casserole
- 5 pounds sweet potatoes
- 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter plus more for greasing baking dish
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh sage leaves, or a 1/2 cup mix of rosemary and sage
- 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs pulse fresh artisanl bread in a food processor (or use panko breadcrumbs)
- 3-4 large shallots thinly sliced, or ½ onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 3/4 cup 2% milk (or unsweetened non-dairy)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups finely grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
- 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Using a fork, poke a few holes in the sweet potatoes so steam can escape. Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until very tender, 60 - 75 minutes, depending on size. You can also peel, cube, and boil the sweet potatoes for 15 - 20 minutes, or until tender when poked with a fork, then drain.
- Butter a 13 x 9 inch (or 8x11) baking dish. If baking the casserole right away, leave the oven on without changing the temperature.
- While the sweet potatoes are baking, place a medium skillet or saucepan over medium heat and melt 6 Tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil. When butter foams, add the sliced shallots and sauté until softened and the butter has started to brown, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and add the garlic and chopped sage (and any other herbs you may be using) and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Set aside to cool slightly.
- When the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skin and place potatoes in the bowl of a food processor along with the eggs and most of the browned butter-shallot-herb mixture to the sweet potatoes, reserving a few tablespoons for the breadcrumbs. Puree the mixture until smooth. (*See notes if you aren't using a food processor.)
- Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl and add the remaing browned butter-shallot-herb mixture on top. Toss so that all the breadcrumbs are nicely coated.
- Pour the pureed sweet potato mixture into a large bowl and add the parmesan cheese, milk, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Using a spatula, mix until well combined and smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Pour into the prepared baking dish and top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until crumbs are golden and crisp, about 20-25 minutes.