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Sweet potato casserole with cornflakes is a classic Thanksgiving side dish with a combination of sweet and salty flavors. The spiced mashed sweet potatoes are topped with brown sugar, crunchy pecan, and a crunchy topping for a sweet potato cornflake casserole that everyone will love. It’s one of my most popular recipes to date!
What is sweet potato casserole?
Sweet potato casserole is a classic recipe, especially for holidays. If you peruse a vintage cookbook, you’ll probably see lots of casserole recipes with cornflakes as the topping of choice.
This casserole is a concoction that starts with a base of creamy mashed sweet potatoes. On top is all the salty-sweet crunch! There are candied pecans and crushed cornflakes.
We always love to have a white potato side dish and a sweet potato side dish on Thanksgiving because they are so different and so good! I have always been team sweet potato casserole with crunchy toppings, and this cornflake, pecan, and brown sugar topping is nothing short of addicting.
Why this sweet potato cornflake casserole works
- Soft mashed sweet potatoes are a family favorite.
- Sweet potatoes are good for you – with lots of beta carotene and vitamin A.
- The salty pecans enhance the sweet flavors in the sweet potatoes.
- Cornflakes are a budget-friendly topping for any casserole you make.
How to prepare sweet potatoes for mashing
There are two ways you can prepare sweet potatoes for mashing: in the oven or on the stovetop.
The oven roasting method is great, but it takes about an hour or more for them to roast fully.
A quicker way to cook sweet potatoes is by boiling them. I peel the sweet potatoes with a vegetable peeler and then dice them into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
Potato boiling tip:
If you have read my potato soufflé recipe, I discuss the importance of bringing potatoes to a boil with cold water. If you place potatoes in already boiling water, they will cook unevenly, and you’ll have soft broken outsides and uncooked insides.
Starting the potatoes in cold water and bringing them to a boil allows them to cook evenly.
How to mash sweet potatoes
There are a few different ways to mash potatoes. Read this list and pick out your favorite way:
- Use a potato ricer: This is the best way to get an amazing fluffy texture.
- Use an electric mixer: This is what I used, and it works just as well.
- Mash with a handheld potato masher: This way will take the longest.
Do not use an immersion blender because it will make the potatoes runny and gummy.
I added butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and half and half to the potatoes. Once combined, I then added kosher salt to taste to counter some of the sweetness.
The best topping for sweet potato casserole
When it comes to sweet potato casseroles, you’re either team marshmallows or not. If you love marshmallows, you can swap the cornflakes for marshmallows in this recipe.
I prefer a crunchy texture on top to counter the soft mashed potatoes and highly recommend trying the cornflake topping. I use chopped pecans, cornflakes, brown sugar, and some melted butter.
Baking the sweet potato casserole
I pre-bake the sweet potato casserole for 20 minutes without the topping, so the spices can flavor the sweet potatoes.
I purposefully made this recipe without eggs, so you don’t have to worry about it baking to a certain temperature.
Remove from the oven, top with the brown sugar crunchy pecan topping, and place back in the oven for 10 minutes to crisp the top.
How to make the casserole ahead of time
If you’re preparing in advance, stop after you mash the potatoes and store them in the refrigerator. Then you can proceed with baking the casserole and finishing the recipe.
I do not recommend preparing the topping in advance because the butter will cause the cornflakes to get soggy. So, prepare that fresh once you’re ready to top.
Here are some questions people often ask about how to make a sweet potato casserole with cornflakes. If you don’t see your question in this list, please leave it in the comments.
What is the best way to cook sweet potatoes so they mash really well?
Roasting the sweet potatoes in the oven will take the longest. It’s easier and quicker just to boil the sweet potatoes first. Bring your potatoes to a boil in a pot of cold water to ensure even cooking.
What are the best tools for mashing sweet potatoes?
These are my favorite tools for best consistency mashed potatoes:
Stay away from immersion blenders. They cause a gummy texture in the sweet potatoes.
How long will mashed sweet potatoes last in the refrigerator?
If preparing in advance, stop after making the mashed sweet potatoes and store them in the fridge for 3-5 days. Or, you can freeze a week ahead and thaw overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking.
Do not prepare the crunchy topping in advance. The butter will cause the cornflakes to get soggy.
More holiday side dishes:
- Potato Soufflé
- Fresh Green Bean Casserole
- Stuffed Acorn Squash
- Cornbread Sausage Stuffing
- Honey Roasted Carrots
- Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Soup
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- 1 cup cornflakes (lightly crushed)
- 1/2 cup pecans (roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (melted)
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- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium pot, add in quartered sweet potatoes and cover with cold water. Over high heat, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium (gentle boil). Cook potatoes till they are easily pierced with a fork (about 10-15 minutes). Drain and return to pot.
- Add in 3 tbsp butter and mash the sweet potatoes [see note]. Add in the cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, kosher salt, and slowly incorporate the half in half until fully combined. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. In a greased baking dish (I used a pie dish), add the mashed sweet potatoes.
- Place in oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
- When there is 5 minutes left of the casserole baking, in a small bowl combine the crunchy topping ingredients [see notes]. Remove the casserole from the oven, spread the crunchy topping evenly over the sweet potatoes, and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Sweet Potato Casserole Notes/FAQ’s
- Cooking sweet potatoes you can oven roast them (takes much longer) or boil them (quicker & method used in recipe)
- Bring your potatoes to a boil in a pot of cold water to ensure even cooking
- If preparing in advance, stop after making the mashed sweet potatoes and store in fridge for 3-5 days. Or you can freeze a week ahead and thaw overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking.
- Do not prepare topping in advance, butter will cause cornflakes to get soggy