Your Classic Sweet Potato Casserole with a Healthy Twist
Coming at you with another Thanksgiving recipe! This one is one of my favorites – the sweet potato casserole! My sweet potato casserole crumble is a mix of the classic dish you know and love plus a fruit crumble. Plus, it has a healthy twist.
The eggless casserole is loaded with mashed sweet potatoes, tart cranberries, orange zest and juice, Granny Smith apple, warm spices, pecans, shredded coconut, AND a buttery crumble on top. Seriously a delicious mouth full. This sweet potato casserole crumble is a wonderful side dish on your holiday table or it will fit right in on your dessert buffet.
How did your family make sweet potato casserole when you were growing up? Are you team marshmallows on top or no?
My family always buried the sweet potato under pecans, brown sugar, coconut and a mountain of marshmallows. Basically, the “casserole” was a dessert disguised as a side dish. Nothing wrong with the classic casserole. I made it a few times as an adult for events and people went crazy over the marshmallows. Slowly, I started getting away from the casserole recipe of my childhood. My stepmother is allergic to eggs, so I started experimenting with different, egg-free versions. Finally, I landed on this casserole crumble and my taste testers agreed that it stood on its own – without the fluffy clouds of sugar on top!
**I’m not going to judge you if you choose to still add marshmallows on top of this recipe in its last few minutes of baking. You do you!**
Sweet Potatoes: Of course the star of the casserole crumble is the sweet potato! The ingredient is naturally sweet and a great binder in recipes to replace eggs and/or added oils and fats. Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins and other essential nutrients. The sweet potato is also shown to help reduce insulin levels and blood pressure when consumed as part of a balanced diet. Let’s not forget that they are also delicious!
I’ll be honest with you, I was not crazy about sweet potatoes as a kid. I needed the potato completely disguised in a casserole loaded with sugar and covered in marshmallows before I’d even touch them. Also, that casserole often contained canned yams, not even the fresh potato…Thankfully, my tastes have evolved and I enjoy sweet potatoes now without all of the bells and whistles (i.e. added sugar content).
I highly recommend using fresh sweet potatoes in this recipe instead of canned yams. Canned yams are often stored in syrup and just have more sugar than necessary. If you do go the canned route, drain the yams as best you can before mashing up and adding to the recipe.
Prefer your sweet potatoes savory? Check out my sweet potato gnocchi recipe.
Cranberries: I am going through such a cranberry kick right now! Add orange to the mix with the cranberry and the flavors are OUT OF THIS WORLD. The tartness of the berry really elevates the sweet potato and adds dimension to the casserole without adding unnecessary sweetness. On top of that, cranberries are great for you and considered a super food. This recipe features fresh cranberries instead of dried. The dried variety has more sugar content.
Crumble: If you aren’t a fan of a good crumble topping, we can’t be friends. The crumble in this recipe has a bit of flour, brown sugar, oats, shredded unsweetened coconut, butter, and orange zest. The zest truly makes it pop!
Let’s Make Sweet Potato Casserole
- Cutting board
- Sharp knife
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Large pot
- Potato masher or large fork
- Medium mixing bowl
- Rubber spatula
- 2 qt casserole dish up to a 3.5 qt
- 4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds) peeled and diced
- 3 tbsp heavy cream
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 large Granny Smith apple – cored and diced
- 1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries – whole
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (divided) – if desired
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter – melted
Prep: Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 2 to 3.5 qt casserole dish lightly with non-stick spray. Peel sweet potatoes and dice into chunks. Zest orange and then use a juicer to juice both halves of orange. Get as close to 1/2 cup of juice as possible(pulp is good as well). Remove core from apple and dice into small chunks. Rinse cranberries.
Place diced sweet potatoes in a large pot and add enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to medium-high and continue to cook for an additional 10-12 minutes. A sign that the potatoes are tender enough is to be able to pierce a chunk of potato with a fork with little to no effort. Turn off heat and drain potatoes into a colander.
Once drained, place potatoes back into empty pot off of heat. Mash the potatoes using a potato masher or a large fork. Leave some chunks in the mix to add texture, you don’t want to over-mash the potatoes. Add in orange juice, cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, clove, nutmeg, and sugar and blend well with a spatula. Fold in apple chunks.
Use spatula to transfer the potato mixture from the pot into the casserole dish and spread evenly along the bottom of the dish. Place fresh cranberries on top of the potato mixture and then sprinkle the chopped pecan. You’ll finish off the base with 1/4 cup of the shredded coconut (if desired).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, remaining coconut, rolled oats, orange zest, and sea salt. Pour in the melted butter and ensure mixture coated in the butter and a crumbly texture. Use fingers to evenly crumble the mixture on top.
Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes until the crumble is a nice, golden brown and apples and cranberries are tender.
- The shredded coconut is COMPLETELY optional. I know people have strong feelings about coconut.
- Best served warm. Will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator covered in aluminum foil. Just reheat in the microwave or pop casserole dish in the oven at 200F to warm up
- I use fresh cranberries as they have so much more tartness. You can definitely use dried cranberries but reduce the sugar in the crumble topping to 1/4 cup to adjust for the increased sugar in dried cranberries.
- The recipe is so much better using fresh sweet potatoes, boiled, and mashed. If you are in a time crunch, canned yams will work but please drain as much syrup from the potatoes as possible before mashing. Please!