There's nothing wrong with indulging a bit during the holidays. Stuffing, cranberry sauce, pies—there are so many treats to savor. But we've never fully understood the sweet potato casserole thing. Sweet potatoes on their own are, well, sweet. Why the need for sticky marshmallows, or tons of added sugar? Plus, it makes the pumpkin pie feel a little redundant. (And we love pumpkin pie.)

So we set out to create a sweet potato casserole that's satisfying and luscious, but with healthier ingredients and a bit more balance. This one has the creaminess and sweetness you want in the filling; a cinnamon-laced, crunchy nut-and-oat topping; and no refined sugar so you really get the sweet potato flavor. It's easy to prepare (especially with the shortcut noted below), rich and indulgent enough to satisfy everyone at the table, and it won't leave you feeling terrible afterward. Oh, and that pumpkin pie will feel extra-special.

Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves: 6

Filling:
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs. total), scrubbed and dried
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
3 large eggs, beaten
½ cup coconut milk (shake can to blend before measuring)
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp. orange zest
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt

Topping:
1 cup (120g) chopped pecans
½ cup (40g) rolled oats
1½ tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

  1. Make filling: Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Prick potatoes all over with a fork; place on baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are very tender, turning over once, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool until you can handle the potatoes, then halve lengthwise and scoop flesh into a bowl and mash. (You should have about 2½ cups.) Whisk in butter and let cool. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and butter a 7-by-11-inch baking dish.
  2. Make topping: In a bowl, stir together pecans, oats, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Stir in maple syrup. Using your fingers, blend in butter until mixture is well combined (it will be a bit sticky).
  3. Whisk eggs, coconut milk, maple syrup, orange zest, vanilla, and salt into sweet potato mixture. (You can use a food processor for this, if you prefer.) Spread evenly in baking dish. Sprinkle with topping. Bake until topping is golden and casserole has firmed but is still slightly jiggly in center (it will firm up as it cools), 30 to 40 minutes. Serve.

NOTE: Save a step by using canned sweet potato puree (we like the Farmers Market brand). Simply measure 2½ cups (about 1½ 15-oz. cans) and continue with the recipe. We made it both ways and it was equally delicious. Cover and refrigerate the leftover puree and use it in a smoothie.

TIP: You can make the casserole components a day ahead. Keep the filling and topping covered in separate containers in the fridge. You may need to add some additional baking time.