This Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole is the easy, healthy side dish your Thanksgiving table is asking for! Made with a crunchy pecan topping and naturally sweetened with maple syrup and coconut sugar, this is a refined sugar-free dairy-free sweet potato recipe just in time for the holidays.
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Sweet potato casserole is not a traditional part of my family’s Thanksgiving spread, and to be honest I’m not really sure if many Canadians make it. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like more of a southern tradition.
My first exposure to it was when I started having Thanksgiving dinners with our expat friends in Stockholm, and someone brought it to share. Other than really not being able to get my head around the marshmallow topping, I thought it was pretty good.
When I learned that there’s another (and in my opionion, better) way to go – the pecan crumble topping, I was sold. Except for one thing: most sweet potato casseroles I tried were oh so sweet. Cloyingly sweet, even.
I think that mother nature has done a darn good job of making the sweet potato plenty sweet on its own, so I set about putting the HNL spin on this favourite Thanksgiving side dish.
First things first this is a Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole, so everyone can enjoy it. I replaced the traditional cream with full-fat coconut milk, because, frankly, sweet potatoes and coconut are a match made in heaven and this is just further proof.
I also knocked the sweetness waaaaaaaaay back so that the sweet potatoes can really shine, and replaced the sugar with a couple of my favourite unrefined sweeteners. The pecan crumble topping is made with wholegrain spelt flour and it, too, is completely vegan.
I served my vegan sweet potato casserole at our expat’s Thanksgiving dinner, which includes a couple of legit southerners. When I swung by to pick up some leftovers, there was nary a shred of it remaining.
So although this might not be your grandma’s traditional sweet potato casserole and there is nary a marshmallow in sight, I’m hoping you’ll still give it a try. It’s nutritionist created and southerner approved. What’s better than that?
What's in vegan sweet potato casserole?
Alrighty, here we go. Time to gather up your ingredients!
- Sweet potatoes --> This should be a no brainer.
- Coconut milk --> keeping things dairy free.
- Maple syrup --> Just a bit in the sweet potato mash.
- Spices --> We're talking cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
- Vanilla extract --> Try making homemade vanilla extract.
- Pecans --> For the pecan crumble.
- Spelt flour --> Keeping things whole grain.
- Coconut sugar --> A bit of natural sweetness.
- Coconut oil --> Because: vegan.
Do I need any special equipment to make this recipe?
You need a pot big enough to cook your sweet potatoes in, and a potato masher to mash the sweet potatoes.
You'll also need a casserole dish to bake it in. I used this 9.5 inch square casserole dish, but you can certainly use a rectangle as well.
How do you make vegan sweet potato casserole?
You'll find detailed instructions in the printable recipe card below, but let's walk through it here.
Step 1: Peel and cube your sweet potatoes. Put them in a large pot and cover with water.
Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.
Step 2: Drain the sweet potatoes well, and return to the same pot.
Step 3: Add the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices to the pot.
Step 4: Use a potato masher and mash well. If you prefer very smooth sweet potato casserole, you can use an electric hand mixer for a finer mash.
Step 5: Make the pecan crumble! Combine the spelt flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and salt in a large bowl.
Step 6: Use your fingers to work the coconut oil into the flour and sugar to make the crumble.
Step 7: Add the chopped pecans to the crumble mixture and stir to combine.
Step 8: Spread the sweet potato mash into your casserole dish in an even layer.
Step 9: Scatter with pecan crumble.
Step 10: Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is crisp and brown.
Step 11: Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
That's it! You're done!
Can I make sweet potato casserole in advance?
You sure can. You can prepare the sweet potato mash and the pecan crumble topping, assemble the casserole, and then keep covered (I like using Bee's Wrap for a sustainable option) in the fridge overnight.
You can either let your vegan sweet potato casserole come to room temperature before you bake it, or add about 10 minutes to the baking time to account for the chill from the fridge.
Alternatively, you can bake your casserole and keep it at room temperature for a few hours, then simply re-heat in the oven when you're ready to serve.
I also think this dish tastes just fine served at room temperature, so personally don't bother to re-heat it before serving.
Can we talk substitutions?
Sure. If coconut milk isn't your jam, you can certainly replace it with your preferred non-dairy milk.
If you don't have or don't like coconut oil, feel free to use a vegan butter substitute in its place. You're looking for a solid fat that you can rub into the crumble, rather than a liquid fat.
If you don't have or don't like coconut sugar, you can use an equivalent amount of brown sugar instead.
Feel free to replace the spelt flour with all-purpose flour. I have not tested this recipe with a gluten-free flour, so can't comment on how it would turn out.
Hey Nutrition Lady, are sweet potatoes good for you?
You bet your booty they are!
Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are incredibly rich in beta-carotene, a pre-curser to vitamin A. In fact, some studies have shown that sweet potatoes contain even more bioavailable beta-carotene than leafy green vegetables.
Sweet potatoes also contain storage proteins called sporamins which have unique antioxidant properties. Also valuable for their anti-inflammatory benefits and blood sugar regulation, sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber, which helps steady the pace of digestion and regulate glucose uptake.
They're also a great source of vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and phosphorus.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole
- 8 cups cubed sweet potato about 3 large
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Pre-heat your oven to 350°F / §80°C. Lightly grease your casserole dish.
- Place the cubed sweet potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until fork tender.
- Drain the sweet potatoes and add back to the same pot. Add the coconut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and maple syrup. Use a potato masher to mash and mix well.
- Spread the sweet potato mixture into your prepared casserole dish.
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine the spelt flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and salt. Use a silicon spatula or your fingers to work the oil into the flour and sugar to make a crumble mixture. Add the chopped pecans.
- Evenly sprinkle the pecan crumble over top of the sweet potato mixture.
- Place your sweet potato casserole into the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crumble topping is browned and crisp on top.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
- Sweet potato casserole can be prepared in advanced and baked from the fridge, add an extra 10 minutes to account for the chill.
- Alternately, bake in advance and re-heat from room temperature for about 15 minutes.