This vegan sweet potato casserole is practically a dessert rather than side dish, with a delicious topping of candied pecans on top.
I’m going to be honest with you and admit that I’m not a big fan of holidays. Stressing over some arbitrary date on the calendar–to cook certain foods, travel long distances, buy token gifts, and so on–has never been my idea of fun.
For a long time, I felt the same way about the traditional holiday meals, too. Every year when I was growing up, I’d beg my mother, “Why do we have to have turkey? Can’t we have spaghetti instead?” I wasn’t a vegetarian back then, just a budding iconoclast who never did care for traditions–or turkey. (Today, I get the same argument from E., though she’s arguing to substitute lasagna for dressing. I’m sure my mother is happy to see me get a dose of my own rebellion.)
Something strange happened, and as I became older, I developed a real love for some of the traditional dishes of the winter holidays. Maybe without the dead bird as centerpiece, I finally felt free to celebrate the holidays as a sort of Festival of Starches. Let’s face it, what’s not to love? To a carb addict like me, cornbread dressing, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, yeast rolls, winter squash, and sweet potatoes are pretty close to the perfect meal!
This vegan sweet potato casserole is one of the highlights of any holiday meal for me. A word of caution, though: In my family, sweet potatoes are dessert, so if you’re expecting a savory side dish, look elsewhere. I always serve this after the meal, along with some coffee to fight off the post-feast sleepiness!
Though my family’s original recipe includes vegan margarine, it may be omitted from the sweet potatoes and replaced with apple sauce in the topping. In this less decadent version, the pecans still contribute a significant amount of fat.
More Vegan Holiday Desserts
For more delicious vegan Thanksgiving and Christmas desserts (because that is what this sweet potato casserole is!), please see my round-up of Favorite Christmas Desserts. For more savory dishes, check out all my Thanksgiving recipes.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping
- 4 large sweet potatoes cooked (I used a pressure cooker) and peeled
- 2 tablespoons vegan margarine (Optional)
- 1/4 cup soy creamer or non-dairy milk
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup vegan margarine (replacing with apple sauce may work for a low-fat version)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/3 cup unbleached white flour
- 3/4 cups chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick spray or quickly wipe with oil (omit if you don't mind the casserole sticking to the sides of the dish.)
- Mash the sweet potatoes (with the margarine, if you’re using it) until smooth. Add the soy creamer, orange juice, vanilla, sugar, maple syrup, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pour into prepared casserole dish.
- Mix the topping ingredients together until well-combined. Spread or sprinkle over the casserole and bake for 45 minutes or until hot throughout.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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Alexis CastroNovember 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm
Hey Susan can I substitute the margarine with Olive oil?
Susan VoisinNovember 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm
I wouldn’t use a very flavorful olive oil because it would clash with the flavors of the sweet potatoes.
MacNovember 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm
I LOVE this recipe and have cooked it before! So yummy! However I have recently been diagnosed as a celiac, and was wondering if rice or potato flour would work in place of the white flour?
Susan VoisinNovember 22, 2011 at 10:15 pm
I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see any reason why a gluten-free flour wouldn’t work.
KarenNovember 21, 2013 at 9:22 am
I realize this is a couple of years late. I make this with sorghum flour or brown rice flour and it works great.
Tina EdwardsNovember 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm
Hi! I love this site..as a new Vegan, it’s been so fun to come and try the recipes. I have just made the sweet potato casserole and can’t wait for it to come out of the oven. Thank you so much!
ZachNovember 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm
Since when did margarine become vegan? While margarine is not dairy-based, like butter, is often does contain trace amounts of animal products- usually in the form of whey or lactose…Earth Balance is a 100% vegan alternative to margarine.
gjJanuary 23, 2012 at 8:24 pm
Zach, just for your info- there are MANY margarines that are vegan. any margerine that is kosher and says “parve” on it- has no trace of animal products in it- meat or dairy.
Wendy T.October 27, 2012 at 10:14 am
So, I haven’t cooked this yet….well, it is assembled, but not cooked. However, the fact that my 3 year old and 5 year old are in a HUGE fight over who gets to lick the bowl is a testament to this recipe! It is sooooo good cold, so it will be fabulous warmed! I have a Cooking Light recipe that was always my go-to, but since we are doing as many vegan dishes as possible, this will be a great one to do at Thanksgiving with my non-veggie family members! Thank you!
Andrea RNovember 5, 2012 at 5:07 pm
Any guidence on how I could make this without the margarine?
Susan VoisinNovember 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm
Leave it out of the potatoes, and in the topping use apple sauce instead. It won’t be quite as good, but it will work.
AlisonNovember 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm
How would this be without the pecans? I am allergic.
Susan VoisinNovember 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm
You can leave them off or substitute walnuts, if you’re not allergic to them.
KimberlyNovember 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm
How did you prepare your sweet potatoes in the pressure cooker. I looked on line for the method, but there are so many ways & I don’t want to mess up the recipe. Thanks!
Susan VoisinNovember 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm
Here’s how I do it: https://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2015/01/perfect-baked-sweet-potatoes-in-the-pressure-cooker-and-oven.html
AimeeNovember 16, 2012 at 11:35 am
I’m so excited to try this recipe! I HAVE to have sweet potato casserole on Thanksgiving or it’s just not Thanksgiving. How would you adapt this recipe for a slow cooker. I’m running out of oven space!
Thanks for giving us such wonderful recipes! Everything I’ve made has been outstanding – it makes it easy to be vegan when you have these recipes in your arsenal! 🙂
KarenNovember 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm
I made these last year for Thanksgiving and they have been requested again this year. I made them gluten/wheat free by using 1/4 cup sorghum flour instead of the white flour. Also didn’t use the maple syrup in the topping and cut the Earth Balance margarine down to 2 Tablespoons, it was still nice and crumbly and yummy.
JessicaNovember 18, 2012 at 4:32 pm
Hi Susan! Any idea how many lbs/oz of sweet potatoes this calls for? I feel like the only ones in my store are huge. Thank you!
Susan VoisinNovember 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm
I’m sorry–I didn’t weigh them at the time. But I’m pretty sure that 4 of your huge ones will be about right. This is a very forgiving recipe. The worst that could happen is you have too much and have to make a second small casserole.
ArwenNovember 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm
I made this last year for Thanksgiving, and it is just SO delicious. It tastes exactly like the sweet potato casserole my grandmother used to make for Thanksgiving when I was a kid, and I can’t thank you enough for it! I’m in the process of making it again now for tomorrow’s dinner.
Patrice KeatingNovember 22, 2012 at 5:01 pm
I made this for Thanksgiving dinner. Mega hit! Roasted the sweet potatoes in the oven (pressure cooker had turnip in it). Beautiful presentation…even the kids tried it. Thanks again.
WendyNovember 23, 2012 at 8:34 am
This was great!!!! I made it for our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, and my whole family loved it, even my sister who doesn’t normally eat sweet potatoes. My mom wasn’t going to try it until I told her it didn’t have any tofu in it! I find many omnis just assume everything I make somehow has tofu, even if it would make no logical sense to add it in! Thanks for another winner-I make your Ribz often too.
gillianNovember 24, 2012 at 11:05 am
Is this good cold?
Susan VoisinNovember 24, 2012 at 11:14 am
I like it better warm, but it’s good at room temperature or cold.
annrNovember 26, 2012 at 7:07 pm
This was amazing! I forgot to buy orange juice so I subbed a little cider and used ground oats in place of the flour in the topping for a gluten free relative. It still turned out really well. Nobody believed it was vegan and gluten free. Before this, I think my family thought I ate leaves and twigs. Now they realize that vegan can be delicious. Thank you Susan for helping me make it through my first vegan Thanksgiving! I’m already planning the Christmas Eve meal!
NatalieSeptember 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm
I’ve been trying to replace butter with coconut oil. Sometimes vegetable shortening works, but for the sweetness that butter would add I try coconut oil. Hmmmm….
This looks amazing! Although I’m not vegan, I appreciate vegan dishes and adore them.
One day maybe…
MayraOctober 18, 2013 at 10:13 am
You are a lifesaver! All your recipes look delicious, Ive tried some so far and the few Ive tried I loved. Ive noticed that sometimes you use very specific flour though, like whole wheat flour (banana bread), or in this case unbleached white flour. Is it absolutely necessary to use the specified flour? can i just use the garden variety all purpose flour?
Susan VoisinOctober 18, 2013 at 10:23 am
All purpose flour will work anywhere unbleached is called for, but whole wheat flour is heavier and it may take a little more unbleached to make up for that.
UshaNovember 18, 2013 at 10:07 pm
I made a mini version today to check it out for Thanksgiving and think it’s a winner! I have 2 questions:
1) What brand of margarine did you use in this recipe?
2) Can this be a make ahead?
Thanks so much for all the wonderful recipes…by the way, my new favorite for fall/winter is black bean and quinoa chili, topped with ripe avocado! Just sharing…unless you have this somewhere in your formidable database already. I was inspired by a pop up called Broadway Bites outside Macys last weekend. Made it again at home and it’s so good!
jenNovember 21, 2013 at 10:43 am
What can i use instead of margarine? Thanks!
Susan VoisinNovember 21, 2013 at 10:56 am
You can leave out the margarine in the filling and try using applesauce in the topping. I can’t guarantee good results for the topping, though.
UshaNovember 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm
Just wondering how far ahead it can be made, Susan?
Susan VoisinNovember 25, 2013 at 5:32 pm
You could make this several days in advance, if necessary. It’s very sturdy. 🙂
katgruNovember 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm
if i make this the day before, do i bake it right away and then reheat or assemble day one and bake day two?
Susan VoisinNovember 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm
Either way will work so do whichever is easier for you.
FaithNovember 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm
FaithNovember 27, 2013 at 2:27 pm
Cooking my sweet potatoes for this now! Just realized I only have a 2.5-qt casserole dish. Will that work, and what adjustments should I make?
Susan VoisinNovember 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm
It should work fine with no adjustments.
jenNovember 27, 2013 at 8:10 pm
i have made this recipe every year for the past 3 thanksgivings. my family loves it!
luluNovember 27, 2013 at 8:57 pm
There’s a key hint in this recipe that leads me (native New Orleanian vegan) to suspect that your recipe is based off of the same recipe my grandmother uses for her sweet potato pone 😉 My hack is almost identical but maple syrup is a rad idea. Great vegans think alike.
LindseyNovember 25, 2014 at 3:31 pm
Another 5-star review 🙂 I made this for the first time for a vegan pre-Thanksgiving potluck, and everyone loved it! It’s perhaps a bit too sweet for my preference, so I may decrease the sugar in the potato mash next time, but notably my boyfriend and everyone else thought it was perfect and I should leave it be. So I think I’m the crazy one! 🙂 Thanks, Susan!
Kathleen PNovember 26, 2014 at 5:09 am
OMG!! This is the BEST sweet potato casserole EVER!! Everyone raved about this dish so much at Thanksgiving last year that I have officially replaced my old standard marsh mallow sweet potato casserole with this one. Thank you!
CaraNovember 28, 2014 at 11:37 am
I made this for Thanksgiving yesterday because my brother in law is vegan and I try my best to put out as many dishes possible for him to eat. This recipe is DELICIOUS! Everyone in the family raved about it. I just wanted to comment and let you know! Thanks!
MaryNovember 28, 2014 at 4:40 pm
Made this casserole yesterday for our first ‘vegan’ Thanksgiving. Was absolutely delicious and I highly recommend this recipe. Due to nut allergies, we had to substitute chopped up cashews for the pecans but it turned out great anyway! Looking forward to eating leftovers! Thank you.
KateNovember 20, 2015 at 11:51 am
Hey, Susan! I was at the Food=Medicine conference last weekend and thought of you. Hoping your health is good. All the best!
MegNovember 22, 2015 at 8:18 pm
Hi Susan, do you think it would work to make this casserole in a muffin tin? I like the idea of individual servings but I don’t have anything fancy like ramekins. 🙂