This Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole with buttery pecans has a little less sugar and butter for a boozy, not-too-sweet holiday side dish!
Sweet potatoes to me are an amazing vegetable. Such deep flavor, such a pretty color and seriously nutritious. ❤️
For regular weeknight dinners, I bake and serve them as is; we sometimes add a sprinkle or salt and pepper, but they really don’t need much.
And when it comes to Thanksgiving sweet potatoes, I like giving them a little something special, a little flavor boost, a little extra love.
But certainly not marshmallows.
Not to knock that classic combination for a sweet potato casserole, but I just don’t care for the sickly sweet version.
(My classic sweet potato casserole has a pecan streusel topping that's sweet but balanced.)
So I'm gonna skip the marshmallows, but I'm still going to ramp up the flavor and make this a special dish.
I’ve added some bourbon to give it a little depth and topped it with a buttery pecan crust that brings a bit of salty and savory to cut the sweetness, plus a great crunch to add some texture.
You're going to go crazy for that topping!
I’ve also reduced the butter and sugar you’d normally see in a sweet potato casserole, but trust me, this is still plenty rich and plenty sweet.
It feels indulgent and fancied up, which is perfect for holiday fare, but it's much more balanced. 👌
And can we talk about the aroma when the butter and brown sugar and bourbon hit the hot mashed sweet potatoes?
You’ll feel a little light headed as you stir that delicious mixture. 😉
And then you’re gonna top it with the pecan streusel of sorts, creating the perfect little crust for the sweet potatoes.
Holiday happiness in a dish!
Now, we all have heard that most of the alcohol evaporates and cooks off when cooking or baking.
But I did a little digging -- I'm a health and nutrition editor, after all -- and some studies have shown that not ALL of the alcohol evaporates.
Depending on the preparation, cooking method and cooking time, up to HALF of the alcohol content can remain in the final dish.
So if you're concerned, keep this for just the adults at the table.
OK, let's get cooking!
You can also see my Google web story for this bourbon sweet potato casserole recipe.
Now, I’ve got some notes, tips and substitutions coming up below on how to make bourbon sweet potato casserole. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
- Sweet potatoes: We need 6 medium sized sweet potatoes for this recipe. It helps if they are pretty evenly sized so they bake through at the same time.
- Brown sugar: Light brown sugar is what I use, but dark brown sugar would be fine here as well.
- Butter: I always use unsalted butter so I can control the amount of sodium in my recipes. If you have salted butter, that's fine too, just reduce the amount of salt in the recipe from ¾ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon.
- Bourbon: Use a decent quality bourbon or whiskey. Doesn't have to be top shelf but I don't recommend the super cheap stuff. I tend to go with Maker's Mark, which I always have on hand.
- Nuts: Pecans and walnuts (or a mix of the two) work great to use as the nuts in the topping for the casserole. You can definitely buy the chopped kind, which are cheaper than buying the whole nuts or nut halves, since we need them chopped for this recipe anyway.
Now, because it's the holidays and we have 112 other things to do, let's talk about how we can prep this ahead.
Cause I'm all about making it easier on yourself!
- You can prep this ahead! Make the casserole through step 4 in the recipe instructions below. Then cover and refrigerate.
- When ready to continue, remove the casserole dish from the refrigerator to come to room temp while the oven heats up.
- Make the pecan topping and add it to the top of the casserole just before baking.
- You'll probably need to bake it for a little bit longer, about 35 minutes total.
My mom and I always do as much as we can ahead for our holiday table. Cause everyone should enjoy the holidays, cooks included 👍
Last thing, what to do with any leftovers.
Now, of course, it’s best served when it’s warm from the oven and the topping is crunchy.
However, you can keep leftovers, once cooled, in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Reheat in individual servings in the microwave to warm it through quickly. The crunchy pecan topping will soften a little and lose some crunch, but it’s still delicious.
And if you need some other ideas for holiday sides, my super quick + easy green beans with mustard butter sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and red onion and 15-minute easy cranberry sauce are all good picks!
Cheers to boozy sides -- enjoy! And happy Thanksgiving!
- 6 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and pierced with a fork
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- ¼ cup packed brown sugar, divided
- ¼ cup bourbon (or whiskey)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped pecans (or sub walnuts)
- Preheat oven to 400. Place sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for one hour. Remove from oven and reduce oven temp to 375.
- Once the sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off and place the potatoes in a large bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, bourbon and salt. Use a fork to mash the sweet potatoes and mix them well with the other ingredients.
- Spread the sweet potato mixture evenly in a greased 3 quart casserole dish.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts. Stir well to combine then spoon the mixture evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm or hot.
Brown sugar: Light brown sugar is what I use, but dark brown sugar would be fine here as well.
Butter: I always use unsalted butter so I can control the amount of sodium in my recipes. If you have salted butter, that's fine too, just reduce the amount of salt in the recipe from ¾ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon.
Bourbon: Use a decent quality bourbon or whiskey. Doesn't have to be top shelf but I don't recommend the super cheap stuff. I tend to go with Maker's Mark, which I always have on hand.
Nuts: Pecans and walnuts (or a mix of the two) work great to use as the nuts in the topping for the casserole. You can definitely buy the chopped kind, which are cheaper than buying the whole nuts or nut halves, since we need them chopped for this recipe anyway.
Make ahead: You can prep the casserole ahead through step 4. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to continue, remove the casserole dish from the refrigerator to come to room temp while the oven heats up. Make the pecan topping and add it just before baking. Bake for 35 minutes.
Leftovers: Leftovers, once cooled, will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. The pecan topping will lose some of its crunch upon reheating, but it's still delicious.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 398Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 38mgFiber: 6gSugar: 15gProtein: 4g