Crockpot Sweet Potatoes with Pecans is a creamy, delicious, slow cooker casserole that frees up oven space, making it the perfect Thanksgiving side dish!
Well, this fall is already flying by at record pace, so I do believe it's time to start getting serious about Thanksgiving menu planning. Do you already have a set-in-stone menu that you adhere to each year, or do you like trying new recipes? Orrrr do you make mostly "family tradition" recipes while throwing in a few new options every holiday?
I have to say that I'm in the latter camp. I always prepare the same turkey and green bean and corn recipes. There are a few go-to options for dinner rolls in my arsenal, depending on how much time I've got. I typically bake a pecan pie that starts with my Fool-Proof Flaky Butter Pie Crust, although sometimes I opt for a mini version instead. And I always make mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes! But sometimes I prepare them candied or baked and sometimes they're turned into a casserole, either topped with pecan praline or toasted marshmallows.
Well, over the years I've learned that when oven space is prime, I can always turn to my crockpot. So a few years back, I decided to try yet another sweet potato approach...throwing together my recipe in the slow cooker! And the easy, delicious result of my efforts was this Crockpot Sweet Potatoes!
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Casserole
Mind you, it's not technically a casserole, seeing as how it never bakes in the oven. But it mimics a casserole in that tasty ingredients are stirred into mashed sweet potatoes in order to add flavor and a tad of richness.
And then the whole shebang is topped off with crunchy toasted pecans, all casserole-like. The resulting side dish is effortless to make, relatively healthy, and yum, yum, YUM!
I didn't frou-frou up these Crockpot Sweet Potatoes too much because I wanted the flavor of the star ingredient to shine through. So what's required to make this side dish?
- Sweet potatoes. I prefer using Jewel sweet potatoes if they're available.
- Whole milk. Skim milk might save you a few calories, but c'mon...it's Thanksgiving! 😉 You could also use unsweetened almond milk for a dairy-free option.
- Butter. You could leave it out, but again...why would you? Or you could opt for a "buttery spread" (I prefer Earth's Balance Olive Oil) if you need to make this recipe dairy-free.
- Maple syrup. Sweet potatoes are obviously already sweet, but adding some natural, unrefined maple syrup boosts the overall sweetness of this recipe to the perfect level.
- Lemon juice. At the same time, some natural citrus acidity balances that sweetness.
- Vanilla extract. Because vanilla makes everything better!
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, & ginger. These spices really bring out the warm fall flavor of this side dish.
- Salt. Don't leave it out! This recipe doesn't end up tasting salty, but salt is necessary to make all of the other flavors POP.
- Chopped pecans. Just make sure you toast them! Doing so keeps the pecans crunchy and really boosts their nuttiness.
How to Make It
The steps are super easy and the overall recipe is pretty hands-off.
- Peel 4 pounds of sweet potatoes and cut them into big chunks.
- Toss them in the crockpot with some water. Cook until tender, which can take a variable amount of time depending on whether you choose to slow cook on high or low.
- Drain off the liquid and use a potato masher to mash the cooked sweet potatoes right in the crockpot. Add the milk and butter and keep on mashing. Once smooth, stir in the maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and spices until well-combined.
- Allow everything to heat back up for a few more minutes and then top with chopped, toasted pecans just before serving.
You can toast your pecans well in advance so that there's no conflict when the oven is over-booked on Turkey Day.
You can alternatively top this casserole with candied pecans if you care to add a little extra pizzazz.
Or you can sprinkle your mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows and use a kitchen torch to toast them. I ask you, who wouldn't love to be assigned that job on Thanksgiving?
How to Serve
Once your sweet potatoes are ready, you can either set the slow cooker to warm and serve straight out of it or transfer all of that goodness to a pretty serving dish. In the latter case, you probably want to sprinkle on the pecans after the transfer.
And that's it...a delicious side dish effortlessly prepared in the slow cooker! I'm telling you, friends...Crockpot Sweet Potatoes may be a new addition to your holiday menu this year. But in coming years, it's guaranteed to shift over to the "family tradition" side of things! Enjoy.
More Thanksgiving Side Dishes
- Cream Cheese Corn Casserole
- Thanksgiving Salad
- Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes with Garlic & Herbs
- Bacon Green Bean Casserole
- Roasted Butternut Squash with Cinnamon + Maple
- Slow Cooker Creamy Cheesy Corn
Crockpot Sweet Potato Casserole
- 4 pound sweet potatoes, washed, peeled, & cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 cup whole milk, warm
- 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 ½ cups chopped pecans, toasted
- Place sweet potato chunks in the bottom of a large (5 ½- to 7-quart) slow cooker; pour in water. Cover and cook for 6 to 7 hours on LOW (or 3 to 4 hours on HIGH) or until tender. Drain water from slow cooker.
- Using a potato masher, mash the sweet potatoes right in the slow cooker. Stir in milk, butter, maple syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Smooth surface of sweet potatoes and evenly sprinkle with toasted pecans. Cover and cook for 15 to 30 more minutes until heated through.
- Crockpot Sweet Potatoes may be served straight out of the slow cooker (set to WARM) or transferred to a serving dish. If using a serving dish, sprinkle the pecans on top after transferring the mashed sweet potatoes.
- To toast pecans, preheat oven to 350°. Spread chopped pecans on sheet pan and bake for 7 to 10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted, watching carefully to prevent burning.
- Candied pecans may be used in lieu of toasted pecans. Alternatively, you may sprinkle the sweet potato casserole with marshmallows and then toast them using a kitchen torch.
- To make this recipe DAIRY-FREE, use unsweetened almond milk in place of whole milk and a dairy-free "buttery spread" (such as Earth's Balance Olive Oil) in place of butter.
Post originally published on November 10, 2015.