This make-ahead, freezer-friendly Apple Cider Sweet Potato Casserole features fresh sweet potatoes cooked in apple cider and topped with a delicious toasted pecan streusel.
About the recipe
Today we are looking ahead towards Thanksgiving, with a recipe for beloved sweet potato casserole that features apple cider in 2 ways. Yes, I know there are TONS of recipes for sweet potato casserole out there on the interwebs.
But if you love to cook and have particular tastes, you've probably tweaked one of them enough to "make it your own." This recipe for Apple Cider Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Pecan Streusel is the sweet potato casserole of my dreams.
Here's my checklist for what I wanted in a sweet potato casserole:
- It needed to use fresh sweet potatoes - not the canned, syrupy yams. Since sweet potatoes are in season in the fall and winter and I try to base my diet on seasonality, we are using fresh potatoes!
- The flavor should be moderately sweet, and naturally-sweetened as much as possible. This doesn't quite get close to the line of what could be called a Thanksgiving dessert - it's festive and indulgent enough that you probably shouldn't put it on your weekly menu. But I definitely showed restraint here in the department of butter and sugar.
- A crunchy yet soft streusel topping is a MUST!
- I need to have options for making it ahead and even freezing it ahead for baking later, because, let's face it, Thanksgiving time is BUSY. And there's a 100% chance that I won't be hosting and instead will be asked to bring a dish. So make-ahead, freezer-friendly, and transportable are all boxes I need to check.
So now that you know the specifics of the recipe, let's make some!
- Sweet potatoes, apple cider, water - the sweet potatoes are boiled in a mixture of apple cider and water, which gives them a gorgeous color and depth of flavor.
- Cream, eggs, browned butter, maple syrup, boiled cider - a splash of cream and browned butter, a few eggs, a bit of maple syrup, and boiled cider syrup are used to flavor the sweet potato filling. Basically, a little bit of everything to make a luscious, creamy filling, but not too much of anything to keep things from becoming too indulgent!
- Brown sugar, browned butter, cinnamon, toasted pecans - basically everything you need for a toasty, flavorful, and drool-worthy topping. Because we eat with our eyes!
Ingredient amounts/instructions listed in the recipe below.
Step 1. Boil the sweet potatoes - first, you will boil large chunks of sweet potatoes in a mixture of apple cider and water until they are tender through the center.
Step 2. Brown some butter and toast some pecans - these are small steps that yield major payoff in the flavor department, which helps us get away with using less fat and sodium in the long run.
Step 3. Mash the sweet potatoes - once the sweet potatoes are drained, you can use a potato masher or a potato ricer to mash them in the pot that you boiled them in. Next, you will fold in some of the browned butter, cream, maple syrup, boiled cider, and beaten eggs. Spread it all in a casserole dish coated with cooking spray.
Step 4. Make the topping - you'll combine the pecans, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and the rest of the browned butter. Sprinkle evenly on the casserole.
Step 5. Bake - you can either bake right away or cover and chill overnight for baking the next day.
Freeze for later - cover the unbaked casserole tightly with plastic wrap then foil. Freeze for up to 6 months, and thaw in the fridge overnight before baking. See my Top 10 Freezer-Friendly Recipes for those interested in meal-prep and freezer meals.
- Make it gluten-free: you can easily substitute a gluten-free flour blend for the flour in the streusel topping!
- Make it vegan: first of all, skip the step where you brown the butter. Omit the ¼ cup of browned butter added to the mashed sweet potatoes. Substitute the ¼ cup of cream in the potatoes with either coconut cream or dairy-free milk. Substitute the ¼ cup of browned butter in the topping with either ¼ cup of melted coconut oil or ¼ cup of vegan buttery spread (like Earth Balance).
- Make it nut-free: omit the pecans in the streusel topping and replace it with ½ cups of old-fashioned rolled oats.
- Lower the sugar: omit the maple syrup in the sweet potato filling AND/OR only make ½ of the pecan streusel topping.
- Reduce the fat: replace the cream in the sweet potato filling with fat-free half and half, replace two of the 3 eggs with egg whites instead of whole eggs and only make ½ a recipe of the streusel topping.
If you're craving more apple cider recipes, be sure to check out other recipes in the Apple Cider series:
- Boiled Cider Syrup
- Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes
- Boiled Cider Pecan Pralines
- Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Apple Cider
Are you ready to make this Apple Cider Sweet Potato Casserole? I’m so excited for you to try this recipe. Once you get the chance to make it, please let me know how it turns out for you! Leave a comment and rate the recipe below. This will help me with the creation of future recipes!
I’d also love to feature your creation in my weekly newsletter, so you can upload a photo to Instagram with the tag @sweetcayenne5 to be featured! Quick and easy recipe videos are available on my YouTube channel, and lots of menu inspiration on my Pinterest boards.
Apple Cider Sweet Potato Casserole
For the sweet potatoes:
- 5 medium-large sweet potatoes (about 4.25 pounds)
- 3 cups fresh apple cider
- 6 cups water
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, browned and cooled, divided
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons boiled cider (or replace with 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract)
For the topping:
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- ⅓ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350℉. Grease a 9x13 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1 ½-2 inch cubes. Place in a large pot with the apple cider and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat slightly and boil for 20 minutes or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
- While potatoes are boiling, place the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8 minutes, stirring halfway to toast evenly. Remove from oven and cool slightly before chopping into small pieces. Set aside. Place the butter in a small saucepan. Melt, stirring often, and simmer over medium-low heat until the butter becomes fragrant and starts to brown. As soon as the butter turns a light brown color, transfer to a bowl to cool. Set aside.
- Drain potatoes and cool 5 minutes. Mash them through a ricer and return to the pot they were cooked in, or return potatoes to the pot and mash with a potato masher.
- Add half of the browned butter, eggs, cream, maple syrup, salt, and boiled cider to the mashed potatoes. Fold in with a rubber spatula until well-combined. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and smooth out the surface.
- In a medium bowl, combine the chopped pecans, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and the remaining half of the browned butter. Stir to combine until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Sprinkle evenly on top of the potatoes.
- Bake the potatoes for 30 minutes until heat through and the topping is crisp and golden. Serve hot.
- Make-ahead option - cover the unbaked casserole and refrigerate overnight. Add an additional 10-15 minutes to the baking time.
- Freezer option: cover the unbaked casserole tightly with plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Freeze for up to 6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking. Add an additional 15-30 minutes to the baking time.