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Just-baked sweet potato casserole.

Classic Sweet Potato Casserole


This is my Great Aunt Phyllis’s classic sweet potato casserole, previously known as candied yams in my family. As noted in the post above, it is unlikely Phyllis used yams in this recipe, which are hard to come by in most American super markets, and much more likely she used sweet potatoes, which is what I’ve used here. 

After speaking with my mother, I learned she has reduced the brown sugar in the topping to 2/3 cup sugar as opposed to 1 1/3 cup sugar, which I would recommend doing, and she also omits the brown sugar in the filling. The filling itself does not taste too sweet to me, but it is not wanting for flavor either. 


For the sweet potato filling: 

  • 4 lbs. sweet potatoes, washed if very dirty
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed if you are up for it
  • 5 tablespoons brandy
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, optional, see notes above
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted, room temperature
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste

For the topping: 

  • 8 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 1/3 cup brown sugar, or less, see notes above
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon


  1. Boil the sweet potatoes for 40 minutes. They should be very soft when pierced with a knife. Drain them and let them cool until easy enough to handle. Peel them and transfer them to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth.
  2. Heat oven to 350ºF. Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, orange zest, orange juice, brandy, brown sugar, butter, yolks, and ginger. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I find these need at least a teaspoon of kosher salt — I add 2 teaspoons — but season to your liking. If tasting the raw egg yolks makes you nervous, you can leave them out until you get the seasoning right; then add the yolks. Whisk the mixture until smooth; then spread into the prepared baking dish. 
  4. Melt the butter in a small skillet. In a large bowl combine the butter, brown sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. Spread the mixture over the sweet potatoes. At this point the dish can be covered and transferred to the fridge for 24 hours or longer. Or, transfer to the oven immediately and bake uncovered  for 40-45 minutes. 
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stovetop, Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: sweet potato, casserole, classic, pecans