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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GwenNovember 26, 2015 at 8:41 pm
Deelish! Served this today and my carnivore family loved it! I was out of pecans, so I subbed walnuts.
MicheleNovember 27, 2015 at 11:50 am
Just wanted to thank you for this wonderful recipe! We made it for Thanksgiving this year and it is the bomb!! Love your site – it’s probably the number 1 site I check for great recipes consistently!! Thanks again!
Belinda SpencerDecember 5, 2015 at 1:54 pm
Can the orange juice be omitted in this receipe? Thanks
Susan VoisinDecember 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm
Yes, you may have to add a different liquid, though.
Andrea RNovember 17, 2016 at 7:01 pm
I’d like to try this in the crockpot-any tips?
Susan EllwangerNovember 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm
The flavor of this recipe is absolutely delicious! I used a combination of soy milk (for thickness) and coconut milk (for flavor). I also left out the orange juice (I don’t love sweet dishes with orange juice) and the pecans (I was bringing it to a potluck with nut-allergic friends.) I agree that the recipe is way too sweet to serve with dinner — it’s much more of a dessert. When I make it again as a dessert I’ll cut the sweetener since it was a bit overwhelming. Overall, though, I couldn’t believe what a yummy combination the spices and maple syrup and sweet potatoes were. Thanks!
JenniferNovember 14, 2018 at 9:16 am
How far in advance do you think this could be made? I was hoping to make it without baking on Monday night to serve with Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday (I would bake it fresh that day.)
Do you think that would work? thank you!
Susan VoisinNovember 14, 2018 at 9:37 am
I think that’ll work just fine.
RachelNovember 19, 2018 at 8:17 pm
If I make this the night before and refrigerate, would I still back on 350° and how long since it will be cold to start?
Susan VoisinNovember 19, 2018 at 10:31 pm
You’ll probably just have to check it periodically to see if it’s hot in the middle. If possible, let it sit out on the counter for a couple of hours to come to room temperature.
Millican PecanJune 25, 2019 at 1:56 pm
Pecans and sweet potatoes really do well together. Plus, maple syrup has always worked well with pecans. This recipe puts them all together. I love it.
janetNovember 19, 2019 at 8:15 am
I made the casserole and we loved the taste, but I was disappointed in the topping. I made it exactly as written, but it was soft and gooey. I couldn’t ‘sprinkle’ it on the top and it was hard to ‘spread’ because the sweet potato mixture was so soft. I put blobs of the topping on instead and after 15 min in the oven, I spread them around a bit. After baking, the topping was still just gooey although it tasted good, just a disappointing texture. Has anyone else experience this?
DanaeNovember 22, 2019 at 8:20 pm
:This recipe is amazing. It has been my Thanksgiving “go to” sweet potato casserole for years and it always gets rave reviews!
AmyNovember 21, 2020 at 7:34 pm
Have you tried this with the applesauce and no butter? Does it work ok?
Susan VoisinNovember 21, 2020 at 8:37 pm
Yes, it’s different—not as crunchy—but still good.
HeatherNovember 19, 2022 at 11:41 am
Not sure if you are still monitoring the comments but just wanted to say that I think we’ve been making this recipe for thanksgiving for the past ten years. It’s so good. Thank you!
Susan VoisinNovember 19, 2022 at 12:16 pm
Thank you! I’m so glad you like it!