If you’re looking for a new spin on a classic, Pretzel Topped Sweet Potato Casserole is just the ticket. Buttery, rich potatoes topped with pecan-pretzel crumble are an irresistible creamy-crunchy combo. A sprinkle of cranberries makes this casserole even more festive.
Thanksgiving is all about comfort food, and easy Pretzel Topped Sweet Potato Casserole is about as comforting as you can get. Aside from being so good, it’s one of those sweet potato side casseroles you can prep a day or two ahead of time and bake right before you eat.
For me, holiday meals need as many make ahead dishes as possible, like make ahead mashed potatoes, it’s one less thing to worry about on the big day.
This simple sweet potato casserole only takes 30 minutes in the oven. It’s not finicky so if you need the oven at a different temperature for making your homemade yeast rolls, you can just adjust the cooking time.
The best part about this casserole is the streusel topping. You’ll have as much streusel as you do sweet potatoes! It’s quick and easy to throw together while the potatoes are cooking.
The addition of pretzels and cranberries makes it completely different from my bourbon sweet potato casserole, which has bacon in the topping. It’s slightly salty, tart and sweet all in one bite.
Want something less sweet, try a sweet potato souffle, or scalloped sweet potatoes, or layer in some apples with the sweet potatoes instead.
If your family wants a more traditional sweet potato dish, than go with candied yams which cook on the stove, saving your oven space for corn pudding and sausage stuffing.
What type of sweet potato should you use for a casserole
While there are many different sweet potato varieties, I like to use the ones with dark orange or red skin, such as Red Garnet or Jewel. They are sweeter and less starchy than the ones with lighter skin.
Of course, this make ahead sweet potato casserole goes great with turkey. And it also pairs well with steak marsala, pork tenderloin with apples, chicken with white wine and countless side dishes.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container, but eat them within a day or two before the pretzels get soggy.
Why you’ll love pretzel topped sweet potato casserole
- Assemble it ahead of time
- Needs only 30 minutes to bake
- Always a popular Thanksgiving side dish
- Pretzels add crunch to the crumbly topping
- Tart cranberries are a unique addition
Pro Tip: Save time when making sweet potato casseroles and cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave.
What you’ll need
Sweet potatoes – choose smooth potatoes with firm skin and no cracks
Pretzels – the shape doesn’t matter since they’ll be broken up for the topping
Pecans – add crunch and a buttery, sweet flavor
Cranberries – use either fresh or frozen cranberries, not cranberry sauce
Pro tip: buy an extra bag or two around the holidays and freeze them to use for this recipe or when you are craving homemade cranberry sauce.
Evaporated milk – for a thick and creamy base
Pantry items – brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, butter
How to make this simple sweet potato casserole
Step 1 – heat the oven
Preheat the oven to 350°. However, if you need the oven at a higher temperature for other dishes, just decrease the baking time.
Step 2 – cook the potatoes
Cook the sweet potatoes until tender in the microwave or you can bake them in the oven.
Pro tip: You can cook the potatoes in one of several ways. Microwaving them is the fastest option and only takes 6-8 minutes. If you have more time you can bake them at 400° for about an hour. There’s no need to peel the potatoes beforehand, as the skins are easy to remove once they’re cooked.
Step 3 – make the topping
While the potatoes cook, make the pecan streusel by combining the pretzels, pecans, cranberries, brown sugar and melted butter. If using frozen cranberries, you don’t need to thaw them.
Step 4 – mix the base
When cooled, scoop out the flesh of the cooked potatoes with a spoon. Use a potato masher or fork to mash the potatoes until they’re smooth. If you want to get out all the lumps, use an immersion blender or ricer. Then stir in the milk, sugar, vanilla and some more butter.
Step 5 – prep for baking
Pour the sweet potato mixture into a greased casserole dish. If making this in advance, cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to bake. Sprinkle with the streusel topping right before baking.
Step 6 – bake the casserole
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are heated through.
FAQs and tips
What other types of nuts can you use to top sweet potato casserole?
Chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or sliced almonds would all work in place of pecans.
Can I substitute canned sweet potatoes for fresh sweet potatoes?
You can make sweet potato casserole with canned yams if you don’t have time to cook potatoes, just make sure you get ones in their natural juices and not syrup.
Can you reheat a sweet potato casserole?
For the best results, reheat leftovers in a 350° oven until warmed through. Or you can heat them in the microwave, but the pecan topping won’t stay as crunchy.
More holiday sweet potato recipes
Looking for more Thanksgiving classics?
Add the best Sausage Stuffing to this year’s menu
Homemade Cranberry Sauce tops anything you’ll buy in a can
You’ll love the fresh taste of Green Bean Casserole from scratch
Sweet and savory Fresh Corn Pudding is worth the splurge
You can’t go wrong with walnut-topped Apple Crumb Pie for dessert
If you loved this recipe, give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating! Also, snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #butterandbaggage and tagging me @butterandbaggage.
Pretzel Topped Sweet Potato Casserole
- 2 cups pretzels broken into pieces
- 1 cup pecans chopped
- 1 cup fresh/frozen cranberries
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup butter melted, divided
- 2½ lbs sweet potatoes cooked
- 5 oz. evaporated milk
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350º.
- In a medium bowl, combine the pretzels, pecans, cranberries, brown sugar and ½ cup of the melted butter and stir to combine. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mash cooked sweet potatoes until smooth. (I used about 3-4 sweet potatoes) Add milk, sugar, vanilla and remaining butter. Mix until blended. (If you want your sweet potatoes to be completely smooth, then use a mixer or immersion blender or ricer.
- Spoon potato mixture into a greased 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with pretzel mixture. Your pretzel mixture will take up about as much room as the sweet potatoes, so make sure you start with a deep enough pan. Bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are bubbly.
- To cook the potatoes, microwave for 3 minutes, turn and microwave for 2 more minutes depending on the size.
Barbara’s Tips + Notes
- You can microwave the sweet potatoes for about 6 minutes or bake them at 400º for an hour. You can do this 3 days in advance.
- If making the day before, wait to add the pretzel topping until prior to baking so the pretzels don’t get soggy.
- If you need to bake this at a higher temperature, just decrease the cooking time .
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