Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock's Sweet Potato Casserole

October 28, 2015
13 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

This casserole is a proper Deep South jolt of sweetness from the two cooks who wrote the book on Southern cooking, but with an elegance in textures that the marshmallowy version (all due respect) lacks: a thick layer of craggy pecans and brown sugar on top of smooth, whipped sweet potatoes. Adapted slightly from The Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock. —Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Our Best Thanksgiving Side Dishes. —The Editors

  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Serves 8
  • Sweet potatoes
  • 5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 10)
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups hot milk
  • Topping
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and chilled
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes, then peel.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the hot sweet potatoes on low speed. Beat in the butter. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, vanilla, salt and nutmeg and beat until blended. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the hot milk.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking dish and pour in the sweet potatoes; spread in an even layer.
  4. In a bowl, rub together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the butter and rub or cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the pecans.
  5. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the potatoes and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until the topping is golden brown and crisp. If the topping browns too quickly around the edges before the center is crisped, cut a large hole in the center of a sheet of foil and rest it on the dish while it finishes baking. Serve hot.
  6. MAKE AHEAD: The puréed sweet potato mixture and the topping can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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23 Reviews

Trust_A_Cook November 26, 2020
I became aware of this from a Food Network show that visited the co-author’s restaurant. I wanted the recipe so badly that I emailed the restaurant and was pointed to the book. I’ve made this every Thanksgiving and Christmas ever since!

The original recipe uses 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/3 each of honey and brown sugar. The only alternation I make is using half a stick of butter and sometimes foregoing the topping. I can definitely understand cutting the sweetness, but a watered-down version would not be the same for me! It’s supposed to be sweet. That said, I made a vegan version for a work party.
Lauren D. November 23, 2020
Like many others, I greatly reduced the sugar in the filling, only using the brown sugar and not packing it in tightly. I added a smidge more salt to the filling and topping to give it more sweet/salty taste and help balance out the whole dish. The family cleans the casserole dish but when they don’t, the leftovers heat up great.
Cay G. December 24, 2019
Only used brown sugar called for in the filling and it was really good. Doesn’t need honey or white sugar. Cooked fast in my oven, would recommend covering with foil for the first 30 minutes. Amazing flavor though!
lois E. October 17, 2019
I am eager to make this version of the sweet potato casserole. I make a similar receipt and also cut back on sugar however.... this is the most delicious replacement for pumpkin pie! Just add a swirl of whipped cream...heaven!
Kelly W. November 24, 2018
Based on reading all these reviews I omitted the brown and white sugar in the sweet potato base and cut the honey in half. Otherwise I made the recipe to the description and it turned out great. I love sweet potatoes and this is quite different than any dish I've made before. Much better than marshmallow topic of tradition.
Bex November 21, 2018
This is similar to my moms recipe but we add about a cup and a half of shredded coconut to the purée and I have cut back on the amount of sugar. My topping is only pecans flour and butter and no cinnamon in the recipe. It’s delicious!
Lewinski T. November 18, 2018
I’m quite confused, the Australian palate being so different, is this a sweet or a savoury dish?
cpc November 18, 2018
It's sort of in between. It's supposed to be savory but the recipe has a nauseating amount of sugar. I cut it in half when I made it and that was still way too much. Maybe try it with 1/4 the amount of sugar the recipe calls for.
dave1101 August 25, 2018
I have Edna Lewis' Sweet Potato Casserole recipe from her book The Taste of Country Cooking. For those commenting about it being too sweet, the amount of sugar called for in this recipe is 3/4 cup granulated sugar; and 3 tbsp crushed cube sugar, which serves as the topping along with dotting it with butter, FWIW.
Stephanie B. March 3, 2018
Wow! I can bet that none of y'all are from the South. Seet potato casserole is aupposed to be sweet! I made this tonight for a black history month celebration and it was a hit, a perfect accompaniment to the smokey greens and curry chicken that was served. And a much better recipe than the traditional one I normally make.
LKC March 3, 2018
I am from the south. And the south is plagued with heavily sugar laden foods, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Once you are forced to stop eating huge amounts of sugar (in otherwise healthy vegetables even), when you go back to a dish that is sugared up like the 1960s, it sort of hits you smack in the face. There are now lots of great ways to eat southern food, without having it cut your life short.
Cathy K. November 24, 2017
Based on other comments, I used only 1/4 C brown sugar and 1 Tbsp maple syrup in the purée. I didn’t use any white sugar or honey and used only 1 cup of milk. I followed the recipe for the topping with no alterations. It was delicious!
rosinav November 19, 2017
I believe there was an error made when copying this recipe from it's original source...the number of potatoes called for should read 10.5 instead of 5!
cpc November 19, 2017
It says 5 lbs or 10 potatoes. Maybe it's been fixed since you read it.
cpc November 25, 2016
I made this with half the sugar and found it STILL much too sweet. I love sweets but this was just nauseating. I even tried someone's suggestions for coconut sugar but it still needs some work to make it palatable.
LuAnn R. November 25, 2016
oh boy, I hate to give a bad review (and I have never had a Food52 recipe that I didn't like before this one) but this recipe was a waste of ingredients. It was sickeningly sweet. Over the top sweet. It would be better as a dessert! I am going to try to salvage it by scraping off the topping. I don't know what I was thinking because I think sweet potatoes are so sweet and delicious just on their own. I even left out all of the white sugar and the honey. I thought with the eggs and milk that it would be light and was the only bad dish this Thanksgiving. I liked the pecans/sweet potato combination and might try just pecans sprinkled on top next time.
Nicole November 23, 2016
The first time I made this it was too sweet and oddly watery. I cut the sugar in half, as well as the amount of milk. Half the eggs. Add a couple of table spoons of dark rum for good measure! This is a holiday staple at my house.
jessica November 28, 2015
This recipe was so great for Thanksgiving. I did use 1/3 cup sugar instead of 2/3 in the potatoes - was plenty sweet.
Naomi M. November 26, 2015
I left out ALL of the white sugar, replaced brown sugar with coconut date sugar, and omitted flour, using 3/4 cup of gluten free flour mix. In future I would cut down the milk by 1/4 cup as well.
Debra W. November 25, 2015
I agree, too much sugar, so I just kept it to 1/4 cup of brown sugar and few tablespoons of maple syrup. I also added some cayenne pepper and it was quite good.
linda November 20, 2015
After I saw the amounts of sugar and honey, I knew I'd never try the recipe.
cpc November 18, 2015
i wonder if anyone has made this with half the sweeteners called for in this recipe. I like my sugar but this amount seems like it's better suited for a hummingbird. Overall it sounds good but I'm a little worried about that much sugar.
Peggy November 8, 2015
I've made a very similar recipe for over 30 years - it's from a cookbook I purchased in Atlanta. Delicious and my family would never let me have Thanksgiving without this dish!!