How To Make Sweet Potato Maple Pecan Casserole Side Dish For Thanksgiving

Pecan Covered Sweet Potato Casserole

Maple Pecan Covered Sweet Potato Casserole

An American Thanksgiving Day celebration is not complete without sweet potatoes or yams.  After years of serving just baked yams and butter, this casserole recipe has taken over as THE favorite to include on the dinner menu.  I have been told it is better than the Cracker Barrel recipe.

It typically makes (12) ½ cup servings, but can be easily scaled to fit any number of servings.  It can be made ahead of time, as much as 2 weeks in advance, and frozen until needed.  However, the best result I have had is making it a day ahead and serving it freshly heated.  If I use more potatoes, I increase the pecan recipe proportionately.  If I use fewer potatoes, I prepare the pecans as listed and just put more topping on the potatoes.

The secret to the success of this recipe comes down to two things: using baked sweet potatoes rather than boiled, because baking the potatoes in their skin makes them sweeter;  and preparing the pecans in a special way.

Ingredients required are:

Yams or sweet potatoes, about 5-6 pounds
½ stick of softened butter (salted or unsalted-your choice)
3/4 cup of light brown sugar divided
1 fresh seedless orange (for the juice and the zest)
1 cup of chopped pecans
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon of ground ginger
½ cup maple syrup (I use real maple syrup but a corn based maple syrup will work)
Sprinkle of salt from a saltshaker

Wash the sweet potatoes and bake them for 65 to 75 minutes at 325 degrees F on an oven rack.  Place a baking sheet on the rack below potatoes to catch any juices.  Test for being done by inserting a serving fork or sharp knife, which should be clean when removed from a fully baked sweet potato or yam.  Remove cooked potatoes from oven and let cool to touch.  When cooled remove skin by peeling with the edge of a semi sharp knife, trying to avoid taking any of the potato meat with the skin. Set aside.

(Alternate cooking method is to peel, slice and boil on the stove top until cooked….Just not as sweet as baked.)

After putting the potatoes in the oven to bake, start preparing the pecans.

In a small saucepan, combine the syrup, ¼ cup of the light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger and nuts.  Stir while bringing to a slight boil and remove from the heat.  About 20 minutes before the sweet potatoes have finished baking, spread the nuts on a non-stick baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt.  Bake in same oven as yams for about 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove and set aside to cool.

After yams are baked, cooled, and peeled, combine with the butter, the remaining ½ cup of brown sugar, and all the juice of the orange.  This can be done using a mixer, a food processor, or by hand with a potato-masher and a few hundred strokes of a wire whisk.  When mixed completely, place into a large casserole-baking dish, top with the nuts and a generous amount of orange zest.
To prepare to serve, with the turkey dinner, heat in a hot oven 400 to 450 degrees F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the topping forms a crust.  (I share this oven time with my dinner rolls).

Remove from the oven and serve hot.

Notes: Frozen orange juice concentrate can be substituted for orange juice.  An apple crisp type topping can be used instead of the nuts.  A cup of marshmallows can be used instead of the brown sugar as the sweetener in the casserole.

More Thanksgiving Day Dinner Recipes: 

Gravy From Scratch 

Homemade Stuffing 

Moist Turkey Recipe

Cranberry Relish

Green Bean Casserole

Sweet Potato Casserole

Parker House Dinner Rolls

Shopping List For Thanksgiving Dinner


Thanksgiving Dinner Shopping List Of Ingredients

A Thanksgiving Day Dinner “List of Ingredients” for a large group of 12 people can  be overwhelming.  Here is my list, done in the complete menu style.  I use it as a checklist to insure I have an ample amount of everything I need. You may want to add amounts to suit your guest list.

Turkey: 12-14 pounds

If a fruity flavor is desired loosely stuffed with a cut up apple, a peeled orange, and a large stalk of celery

Coarse Sea Salt for the cavity of the bird

4 tablespoons butter for a generous coating on outside of bird

Dressing: (cooked separately from the turkey)

3 to 4 loaves of sliced white bread (1 to 1-1/4 pounds each)

3 medium onions

4- 5 large stalks of celery (or one entire celery heart package, about 1/2 pound)

3 sticks of butter (yes…. 3 sticks for the dressing alone)

Dry seasonings to taste: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

Salt and Pepper

Giblet pan drippings

Mashed Potatoes:

5 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

Butter, salt and pepper, heavy whipping cream to taste


Turkey pan drippings

Flour and water or Wondra (to thicken to your preference)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Basic Green Bean Casserole:

1 pound of cooked, cut up green beans

1 can cream of mushroom condensed soup

1 large can or bag of french fried onions

Worcestershire Sauce


16 ounces frozen corn kernels (for 12 diners, make it 32 ounces)

Butter, Salt and Pepper to taste

Simple Ambrosia:

One 16 ounces container of sour cream

One 15 ounce can of Del Monte Fruit Cocktail with cherries

One 16 ounce bag of mini marshmallows


Delicata, Acorn or Butternut (I cook all three so there can be leftovers)

1/4 squash per person

Butter, salt and pepper to taste

Sweet Potato Casserole:



Brown Sugar

Maple syrup

Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg,

One fresh navel orange

Cranberry Relish:

Whole Cranberries


One fresh navel orange

Two medium apples


Deviled Eggs:

Large Eggs

Hellman’s Mayonnaise


Lawry’s Salt and Pepper


Fruit Pies

Pumpkin Pie

Assorted Cheesecake

Pecan Pie

Ice Creams

Whipping Cream

Maraschino Cherries


More Thanksgiving Day Dinner Recipes:

Gravy From Scratch , Homemade Stuffing ,

Moist Turkey Recipe,


Cranberry Relish,

Green Bean Casserole,

Sweet Potato Casserole,

Parker House Dinner Rolls,

Shopping List For Thanksgiving Dinner