Bake

Edna Lewis & Scott Peacock's Sweet Potato Casserole

by:
November  9, 2021
4 Stars
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. This is a classic sweet potato casserole recipe that will soon become a permanent part of your Thanksgiving table...Thanksgiving, the holidays, and whenever you're entertaining a group you want to impress. It's a showstopper of a side that will have all your guests asking for the recipe. You won't find golden-browned marshmallows topping this sweet potato casserole, but don't worry—this recipe calls for a layer of sugar-crusted pecans over smooth, whipped sweet potatoes that's just as satisfying (if not better). The topping is a simple mixture of flour, brown sugar, spices, butter, and pecans, which is very easy to make and really puts this casserole over the top flavor-wise.

The sweet potatoes, though, of course, are the star in this dish. They're roasted for about an hour and a half in the oven, then peeled and mixed with the rest of the ingredients. After topping, the casserole bakes in the oven for about an hour, so most of the cook time is hands-off. You can also make the sweet potatoes and topping separately and store in the refrigerator for up to a day if you need to plan ahead before dinner. With the sweetness of both granulated sugar and brown sugar (you can also opt to use just brown sugar too if you don't want to use both kinds), plus a touch of honey, and a combination of spices like fresh nutmeg and ground cinnamon, you and your guests won't be able to get enough of this savory casserole. —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 3 hours
  • Serves 8
Ingredients
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • 5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 10)
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher 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 freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped pecans
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Spread the potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 1½ hours, until tender. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then peel.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the hot 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. Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish and pour in the potato mixture; spread in an even layer.
  4. In a large bowl, rub the flour, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, 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 over the potatoes and bake for 1 to 1¼ 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. Do Ahead: The puréed 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.

  • AntoniaJames
    AntoniaJames
  • Lauren Miller
    Lauren Miller
  • Cay Gates
    Cay Gates
  • Stephanie Berry Sklut
    Stephanie Berry Sklut
  • rosinav
    rosinav

25 Reviews

AntoniaJames November 29, 2021
We served this on Thanksgiving - as dessert! With Greek yogurt to cut the sweetness. It was perfect.

There were only two of us (we'd hosted the whole family plus partners of our sons for a celebration "Friendsgiving" type meal the weekend before, as they could not be here on the holiday itself).

For anyone interested in scaling this down - for four servings (the size we like, which may be on the small sides for other people) - here are the amounts:

450 g sweet potatoes
23 g butter
27 g sugar
20 g light brown sugar
34 g honey
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Heaping 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg
100 g / 1/2 cup hot milk

Topping:

24 g flour
40 g light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
23 g butter
24 g coarsely chopped pecans

I cooked it in an 8" square pan because that's what was handiest. The custard is quite loose, so I was happy to have spread it out in a pan that size. It was done in about 40 minutes. Next time, I'd use a baking dish with a somewhat smaller footprint. ;o)
 
P F. October 21, 2021
Seriously, a side dish? Butter, eggs, 3 kinds of sugar, milk! There is a reason they are called sweet potatoes. How about a recipe that brings out the natural flavor of the sweet potato and save all the fat, sugar, eggs and milk for dessert?
 
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 M. 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 custardy..it 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.