Sweet Potato Pecan Crisp

5 stars based on 13 votes

Sweet potato crisp

When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, I think most of us would say, “Don’t get fancy on me, just make the standards really special.” That’s why this down-home sweet potato dish is always a big hit. It’s an old southern specialty that graces almost every holiday table. Your mom would probably call it a sweet potato casserole.

Sweet potato crisp 4

My version is a little more “gourmet” than most (only in that nothing in it comes out of a can and there are no marshmallows) but I promise it has all the same comfort and appeal as Mom’s.

Sweet potato crisp 6

Sweet potatoes are gently boiled and mashed, stirred with butter and brown sugar, then baked with a crumbly, crunchy pecan streusel topping.

Sweet potato crisp 7

Like most sweet potato dishes, this one straddles the line between sweet and savory.  It goes with dinner but you might be inclined to eat it for dessert.

Sweet potato crisp 9

It’s “that dish,” the one everyone reaches their fork into long after the meal is done. One more bite here, one more bite there — come to think of it, you might want to double the recipe ;)

Sweet Potato Pecan Crisp

Servings: 6-8


For the Sweet Potato Mixture

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

For the Topping

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until soft and tender, 20 - 25 minutes. Drain and let cool.
  3. In the meantime, make the topping: Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat. Off the heat, add the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon and mix until well combined. It should look a little lumpy. Stir in the chopped nuts.
  4. In a large bowl, mash the sweet potatoes with a large fork until very smooth. Add the remaining sweet potato mixture ingredients and mix well. Set aside.
  5. Place the sweet potato mixture in a 2-quart baking dish. Spread the topping evenly over the sweet potato mixture and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the topping is nicely browned. Let cool slightly before serving.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Stumbled upon this recipe for Thanksgiving this year…Awesome, it was the hit at the table.
    Will be repeating this one for Christmas for sure!!
    Only adjustment I made was a little less brown sugar….

    - Diane T on November 28, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    can this recipe be frozen?

    - donna peeler on November 28, 2015 Reply
    • Yes Donna, it is fine to freeze this!

      - Jenn on November 28, 2015 Reply
  • Can I cook the sweet potatoes and mix with ingredients the night before and bake in the morning?

    - Bernadette Groner on November 25, 2015 Reply
    • Yep, that’s fine.

      - Jenn on November 25, 2015 Reply
  • I know you have said this could be made and reheated the next day but my question is do you cook the crisp, then refrigerate when cool and then warm the next day to serve or you mix it up, put the topping on and refrigerate without cooking and cook it the next day and serve?

    - David on November 24, 2015 Reply
    • Hi David, You can make (and bake) the whole thing ahead of time and just reheat it until crisp on top before serving. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on November 24, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jenn! I am excited to try this recipe! Can I make it ahead and reheat it? Or will it be better to make it Thursday and bring it to dinner? Also…how did you get the potatoes so smooth–should I put them in the mixer? Thanks so much! Ellyn

    - Ellyn Dratch on November 21, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Ellyn, It’s perfectly fine to make ahead — it reheats beautifully. And I just mash them up with a fork or potato masher.

      - Jenn on November 23, 2015 Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    This recipes looks delicious and I am looking forward to making this for Thanksgiving. If I make just the sweet potato part now and freeze it without the topping, how long should I bake it on Thanksgiving Day when I add the topping? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    - Cyndi on November 20, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Cyndi, If you make and freeze the sweet potato portion, I would make sure it is fully defrosted before baking. If it is, you can bake it for the directed amount of time. If not, I would increase the baking time in 20 minute increments until it’s heated through. Happy Thanksgiving!

      - Jenn on November 24, 2015 Reply
      • 5 stars

        Hi Jen,
        It worked out beautifully for Thanksgiving. Thanks! Hope you had a nice holiday!

        - Cyndi on November 28, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This recipe is amazing! I followed it to a T and thought it was just the perfect amount of sweet! I wanted to try it out on my biggest, most honest skeptics, my kids, before I made for thanksgiving. All I can say is I turned 2 non-loving sweet potato kids into sweet potato fans! They could not get enough! I will definitely be making for thanksgiving!

    - Brittany Ashley on November 18, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Best ever! Received 5 stars from Family & Friends this past Thanksgiving. My own twist: I added an additional 1/2 pound of sweet potatoes and substituted pumpkin pie spice to the sweet potato mixture. For the topping, I used half a cup of brown sugar, half a cup of flour, added a dollop of cream and substituted 1/3 cup of walnuts and pumpkin pie spice. Exceptional results with an aromatic flavourful scent. Easy to prepare and made a day in advance to rave reviews.

    - Barb on October 13, 2015 Reply
  • Are you aware that if you allow 8 servings, each one is 445.4 calories with 23.4 g fat, 77.6 g cholesterol, 55.6 g sugar?
    It sounds delicious, but totally unhealthy!

    - Sue on October 4, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This is our favorite sweet potato recipe for the holidays and beyond. I love plain sweet potatoes so found the amount of sugar a bit over the top and use about half of what is called for, have also substituted 4 egg whites for eggs. When I am making for a crowd I make a double bottom with one batch of topping. Half the sugar in the bottom. Someone always asks me for the recipe!

    - Lizzie Mcnett on August 27, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this for Easter along w/ the Brussels Sprouts/Kale Salad and the Asparagus/Peas dish. This was fantastic and extremely easy. The topping is sooooo good.
    [While I’m being honest, I DID warm up a bowl of this later in the evening and ate it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Just sayin’. :)]

    - Lindsay on April 7, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Lovely dish! Everyone love the sweet potatoes and wanted the recipe! Thank you so much!

    - kathleen f on March 19, 2015 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Lovely dish! I made it to accompany stuffed turkey breast for Christmas Day dinner and it was a hit. I followed another reader’s advice and halved the topping ingredients and it was plenty, as it’s fairly rich.

    Thanks for another nice recipe!

    - Jenn on December 26, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These were quickly gobbled up at our thanksgiving table this year. The sweet potato texture was out of this world! The crispy topping was perfection. I have tried several of your recipes and have never been disappointed!

    - Paige on December 9, 2014 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Made these for Thansgiving. They were delicious. Next time, I’m going to cut back on the topping by half. It was a little too much for our taste. The spices & creamy potatoes were perfect though.

    - Geo's Mom on December 4, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Made this for Thanksgiving and it was a great hit! I made it vegan by leaving out the eggs and using Earth Balance instead of butter and had people asking for the recipe. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

    - Becky Voelkel on December 3, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    OK this is the third dish I made for Thanksgiving this year from your website. I have made a version of this for years but your is even better! Everyone loved it. Another go to recipe for Thanksgivings to come. Thanks for your great recipes and website. I tell everyone about them.

    - Sandy on November 30, 2014 Reply
  • Hi Jenn – Is there anyway to do this recipe with marshmallows instead of or in additional to the pecans? This is the first time I am hosting the holiday and my family loves the sweet potatoes with marshmallows one them. Thanks so much!

    - Karen Greenfeld on November 23, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Karen, Yes, you can do a marshmallow topping over the mashed sweet potatoes. I would just omit the pecan topping; it won’t cook properly if you top it with marshmallows. Happy Thanksgiving!

      - Jenn on November 24, 2014 Reply
  • Would I need to double recipe or 1.5x’s recipe to cook it in a 13X9 pan?

    - debbie on November 22, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Debbie, I would double it :)

      - Jenn on November 23, 2014 Reply
  • This sweet potato recipe calls for two large eggs, but I don’t see them mentioned in the preparation directions.

    - Gloria Reckner on November 20, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Gloria, They are mentioned where it says “add the remaining sweet potato mixture ingredients.” Hope that helps!

      - Jenn on November 20, 2014 Reply
  • Did you use sweet potatoes or Yams?

    - Linda on October 12, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Linda, I use sweet potatoes. For some reason, most grocers use the words “sweet potato” and “yam” interchangeably. This is confusing since yams aren’t sweet potatoes at all, but rather thick white tubers with dark brown skin. Chances are you won’t find real yams at the supermarket, so if you see “yams,” you’re probably looking at sweet potatoes.

      - Jenn on October 13, 2014 Reply
  • I’m having a vegan guest for Thanksgiving. I can substitute Earth Balance for the butter, but would it hurt this recipe to leave out the eggs? Or can you recommend a substitute for the eggs?

    - Becky on September 28, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Becky. You can leave out the eggs; just won’t be quite as light and fluffy :)

      - Jenn on September 29, 2014 Reply
  • Have made this type of dish for years. I use i large can of crushed pineapple with its own juice. Use half in sweet potatoes and half dotted over top instead of so much sugar & butter. I prefer to bake my sweet potatoes after running in microwave for 6+ minutes I then coat with olive oil spray and bake at 375 on foil until the potatoes start to ooze (20 min.). This makes them sweeter; learned this trick from a restaurant that serves sweet potatoes every night. My family is split on pecan topping vs marshmallows so I put half with pecan topping and bake then add the mini marshmallows on the other half and run under broiler so all are happy.

    - Pegyg on December 24, 2013 Reply
  • Made this for our Thanksgiving feast. I didn’t change a thing. It was wonderful, and now will be my go to recipe for sweet potatoes.

    - Jessica on November 29, 2013 Reply
  • This recipe looks wonderful, but I’m wondering if I can make it ahead of time? If so, what stages of the recipe can be done the day before, and what needs to be done right before cooking?


    - Sandy on November 26, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Sandy, You can make the whole thing ahead of time and just reheat it until crisp on top before serving. Please come back and let me know how it comes out. Thanks!

      - Jenn on November 26, 2013 Reply
  • Yum!!!! Oh my this was good!

    - Ruth Ann on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • I’d love to make this for thanksgiving but my daughter is allergic to tree nuts :(
    What can you suggest that I substitute for the
    1 cup of pecans? Something other than nuts


    - Lauren K. on November 4, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Lauren, you can just leave them out. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on November 4, 2012 Reply
      • will be doing this one for x-mas day.thanksgiving,christmas time i love this so much.got a bag full of sweet taters waitin on me to make this

        - karlayoung on December 17, 2012 Reply
  • This is the way my mom has always made it, and in my opinion it’s the ONLY way to go….nothing better than the yummy, crisp topping with the smooth, creamy sweet potatoes. Don’t wait till Thanksgiving to make this!

    - Becca L on March 8, 2012 Reply
  • I also made this for Thanksgiving and got rave reviews, especially since none of us are fans of marshmallows on our sweet potatoes. This is the perfect combination, smooth, sweet, crunchy sweet potato deliciousness. Can’t wait to have it again.

    - Adrian on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • I made this for Thanksgiving last year, and it was a huge hit. I don’t like marshmellows, so it is the perfect sweet potato recipe for me. I got huge raves from everyone at the table… this will be on my menu for years now!

    - Jennifer on March 4, 2012 Reply
  • This is a wonderful recipe! My entire family loves it!

    - Marci on March 2, 2012 Reply
  • I discovered this recipe a couple of years ago here and LOVE IT! I like to take veggies to family get togethers and this one is always a hit, with people asking for the recipe. I use more sweet potatoes as the topping is pretty sweet and plentiful. Don’t wait for the holidays it is great with roasted chicken or grilled turkey all year long.

    - Liz McNett Crowl on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • These were the best sweet potatoes I’ve made for Christmas dinner. My future son-in-law said they were the best he ever ate!

    - pattybee on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • We made this around the holidays. It’s so fabulous it could almost sit alone in the dessert category, too. The pecans really balance the sweetness well.

    - Amanda on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This will be on our dinner table this Thanksgiving!

    - Cynthia on November 21, 2011 Reply
  • I was never a sweet potato fan until last year when I was introduced to some “outside the box” recipes. Now I know how good sweet potatoes can be, and this recipe looks great. Will definitely try it this holiday season.

    - top internet business on November 25, 2010 Reply
  • Made the sweet potato pecan crisp for Thanksgiving dinner today. It was fantastic, very similar to one I’ve made in the past, but yours was much better. I just halfed the topping recipe. was able to make the sweet potato a day earlier and just added the topping before baking. My guests loved it. Thanks for another great recipe. Have tried several and they are all great. thanks,

    - alice on November 26, 2009 Reply
  • Jenn,
    I really feel like you should do a cookbook at some point. I have tried so many of your recipes, and they are all amazing!!

    I’m making your sweet potato crisp, roasted carrots with thyme, and roasted brussels sprouts for Thanksgiving.
    For Christmas Eve, I’ll have Hot Buttered Apple Cider ready for my guests to enjoy, and later we’ll enjoy your mac n cheese as a side dish.
    And pretty much everyday I’ve been eating pumpkin muffins (made from your pumpkin bread recipe) for breakfast.

    I think it’s safe to say that I am a major contender for Once Upon a Chef’s biggest fan!

    Best regards,
    Danielle Foster

    - Danielle Foster on November 22, 2009 Reply
  • I have been making this dish, mostof my adult life. Not exactly the same but very close. It is just as good cold or even the next day. Wonderful side dish or desert. In my recipe though I also add some FROSTED FLAKES to the topping mixture. Just add it in with the other ingred. it makes for the best topping ever. Try it, you will surely love it.

    - Shelly Sealy on November 19, 2009 Reply
  • Oh this reminds me of the sweet potato casserole from Ruth’s Chris! My bf loved it so much that iw as going to try and make my own version of it but now I have something to go off of!!! Thank you!!!

    - Niki on November 18, 2009 Reply
  • This sounds just wonderful to me! Those southern recipes are always the best :-)

    - Kathy - Cooking On the Side on November 17, 2009 Reply
  • I agree..you just cant make this with the canned stuff!!!
    Amazing. This is my favorite Thanksgiving side!

    - Leslie on November 17, 2009 Reply
  • mmmm! I make a similar one like this- I am not a canned kinda gal, either. Great pics! I put a link to your site on mine- hope ya don’t mind! :)

    - the domestic mama on November 17, 2009 Reply

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