This easy-to-make Sweet Potato Casserole with orange juice is a traditional side dish enjoyed every year for Thanksgiving dinner. Mashed sweet potatoes are baked with dark brown sugar, orange juice, and spices and topped with crunchy pecans and fluffy marshmallows for a comforting and delicious casserole everyone loves.
💝 Why You Will Love This Easy Sweet Potato Casserole
- Dessert or Side? It's Naughty and Nice! The playful topic of whether the best sweet potato casserole is a side dish or dessert comes up often! It's usually served as a side but sweet enough to be a dessert.
- Classic Thanksgiving Side Dish: This dish is a Southern comfort food casserole that sits alongside the traditional green beans side dish and cheesy potatoes. While at the same time, its sugary twist could place it with the best Thanksgiving pies and tarts.
- Irresistibly Sweet: A comforting classic, sweet potatoes recipe that brings nutrition and delight to any meal. Baking sweet potatoes with brown sugar, marshmallows, and a hint of orange juice, transforms them into a crowd-pleasing favorite.
- Make-Ahead Magic: Prepare it a day ahead to ease Thanksgiving kitchen chaos. Just hold off on the marshmallows and pecans until it's showtime.
There are so many versions of sweet potato marshmallow casserole and everyone makes it differently. The recipe changes depending on where you live, the availability of ingredients, or traditions your family enjoys.
This great side dish is versatile, and you can replace some elements if you like, making it budget-friendly.
- Sweet potatoes - There is a whole conversation about sweet potatoes versus yams, which I will not address here. However, in the US, most sweet potatoes are sold as "yams," especially if their flesh is orange. I would not worry about the name, as they are probably sweet potatoes.
- Dark brown sugar - I like dark brown sugar, but you can also use light brown sugar if this is all you have. The beauty of this dish is the "umami" that dark brown sugar brings to the "party."
- Salt - We use salt as a taste enhancer and to balance the sweetness of the dish. Please do not skip it.
- Unsalted butter - I bake with unsalted butter because I like to control the saltiness in my recipes. If you choose to use salted butter, please skip the amount of salt entirely in the recipe.
- Eggs - My version of sweet potato praline casserole has an egg in the mixture. Why do we add eggs? Because this is a casserole, eggs act as a binder, keeping everything together. They also add to the fluffiness and creaminess of the dish.
- Spices - I am using cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. All of them are part of the traditional Fall spices, and I love them.
- Orange juice - This is my secret ingredient. Orange juice brings flavor and elegantly balances the dish.
- Mini marshmallows - These can be easily replaced with regular marshmallows chopped into small pieces. You can skip them if you want to reduce the sugar in the dish.
- Pecans - Walnuts are also acceptable, especially if you are an American living abroad desperately trying to find traditional ingredients for their holiday table.
🔄 Substitutions and Variations
- Sweet Potato Casserole No Nuts: You can easily leave the nuts off for a nut-free version. You might want to add a few extra mini marshmallows on top.
- Chunky Sweet Potato Casserole: You can skip the step of mashing the potatoes and simply leave the sweet potatoes into cubes.
- Sweet Potatoes: If you want to skip the fresh sweet potatoes you can use frozen mashed sweet potatoes to save some time. I would avoid canned sweet potatoes, as they already have a lot of sugar.
🧑🍳 How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole with Orange Juice
Here's a look at the main steps to give you an idea of what goes into making sweet potato casserole with marshmallows. Be sure to scroll on down to the recipe card to look at the steps when you're ready to start cooking.
Step 1: Cook the Sweet Potatoes
Making old-fashioned sweet potato casserole uses cooked sweet potatoes. There are few different ways to prepare the potatoes before baking this dish.
- Boil the potatoes: This is my favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes for this recipe. Boil the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes in a pot of hot water for about 15-20 minutes or until a fork goes through them. Drain the potatoes very well.
- Bake the potatoes: You can roast the potatoes whole and unpeeled, for about 40-50 minutes or until a knife goes through. Once they cool down you can remove the skin, mash them, and then follow the rest of the recipe to make the casserole.
- Shred the potatoes: Mix them with the rest of the ingredients and then follow the instructions in the recipe for baking.
- Pressure cook the potatoes: Use the Instant Pot for cooking the sweet potatoes.
Step 2: Make the Brown Sugar Mixture
- Combine the egg with the brown sugar in a small bowl.
- Add the spices and stir together.
- Use a whisk to blend them well before mixing in the salt and orange juice.
- Followed by the melted butter.
Step 3: Assemble the Casserole
- Mash the sweet potatoes in a large bowl with a potato masher or fork.
- Add the mixture of butter, orange juice, egg, and spices to the mashed sweet potatoes.
- Mix everything together.
- Spread the sweet potato mixture inside your prepared baking dish and bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven and sprinkle chopped pecans and marshmallows.
- Return the dish to the oven and bake for five more minutes or until the marshmallow topping on the top of the casserole are brown.
The sweet potato casserole has to sit for 15-20 minutes before you serve it, as it needs to set.
❄️ How to Store
Leftovers should be covered with plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container, and refrigerated for up to three days. If you want to freeze leftover sweet potato casserole, wrap it well before. Casseroles can be frozen for up to six months.
Reheat the casserole in the oven in an oven-safe baking dish for 15-20 minutes or until heated through. You can also reheat individual portions in the microwave.
Make Ahead Sweet Potato Casserole
This is a great dish to make ahead. Bake it the night before, but do not add the marshmallow and pecan topping. On the day you want to serve it, allow it to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, then heat it for 15 minutes, add the toppings, and then put it back in the oven to melt the marshmallows.
🤝 What Goes With Sweet Potato Casserole?
Candied sweet potato casserole with orange juice is a great addition your Thanksgiving table but is also great for Christmas, Easter and other family holidays. This family favorite also works as a tasty sweet potato side for meals throughout the year!
- Enjoy More Holiday Side Dishes: Choose from sausage pumpkin pinwheels appetizers, cranberry apple chutney, sausage stuffing, potatoes au gratin, and green beans almandine. Need more ideas? Get more Thanksgiving recipes to add to your menu!
- Don't Forget Dessert: Whether it's a whiskey pumpkin pie or a cranberry custard pie, your holiday meal deserves a great finish!
- Main Dish: This dish goes great with your favorite turkey recipe or with a succulent baked ham.
💡 Expert Tips
This sweet potato dish makes a small amount but if you want to make a big batch, just double or triple the recipe. This way, you can feed a big crowd or enjoy leftovers for a day or two.
Make sure to drain your sweet potatoes well so you don't end up with a runny sweet potato casserole with pecan streusel.
If you make this dish the day before, wait to add the marshmallows and pecans until you're ready to heat and serve.
More Holiday Recipes to Enjoy
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Marshmallow Sweet Potato Casserole
- 2 pound uncooked sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into cubes, about 3 cups cooked and mashed
- ½ cup dark brown sugar packed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter melted
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg powder
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 cup mini marshmallows or regular ones, but chopped
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350F/180C and grease the baking pan.
- Place potatoes in a pot with hot boiling water, and cook for 15 minutes until a fork goes through. Drain.
- Meanwhile, grab a small bowl and beat the egg with the brown sugar. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, orange juice, and melted but cool butter.
- In the same pot you were cooking the potatoes, or in a large bowl, mash the potatoes with the mixture of spices.
- Spread the potatoes into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chopped pecans and the marshmallows over the potatoes. Return the pan to the oven and bake for five more minutes or until the marshmallows are golden brown.