This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

What do you need to make sweet potato casserole?

It may seem far away, but Thanksgiving is approaching fast. If it’s your first time making the classic Thanksgiving dishes or you’ve found yourself on a sign-up sheet for bringing a side, you might be sweating.

Don’t. Aside from the turkey, most Thanksgiving foods aren’t too difficult to make.

Take sweet potato casserole, for example. This dish doesn’t require much equipment or many ingredients, yet is among the sweetest and most-loved dishes come turkey day. It’s also easy to personalize by using different toppings.

What to know before you make sweet potato casserole


Sweet potato casserole doesn’t require much, but you’ll still dirty a few things.

  • Oven: Sweet potato casserole is baked, so you need a standard oven or a large toaster oven.
  • Casserole dish: Most sweet potato casserole recipes call for a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish and feed six to eight people.
  • Pots and pans: You need a pot to boil the sweet potatoes, and you may need pans to melt butter or prepare toppings.
  • Bowls: If you want to reduce the equipment you get messy, you can find ways to avoid using bowls, such as mixing the main sweet potato ingredients in the pot the potatoes were boiled and mashed in. However, you may need some bowls to melt butter in your microwave should you have one, or to prepare toppings.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: These are kitchen basics, but if you don’t have them yet, make sure to grab a good enough set that they can last for close to a lifetime.
  • Utensils: The utensils you need vary depending on how you like to cook. That said, a chef’s knife and potato masher won’t be out of place.

Main ingredients

The main ingredients used to make the body of the casserole are:

  • Sweet potatoes: Roughly one large sweet potato, when combined with the other main ingredients, is enough to make two servings of casserole. Three or four large sweet potatoes are recommended to fill a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish.
  • Butter and milk: These give a sweet potato casserole its creaminess. If you’re lactose intolerant or live a vegan lifestyle, you can use vegan butter and almond milk instead.
  • Brown sugar: Brown sugar has long been an accompanying ingredient in any sweet-potato-based dish, as it’s perfect for bringing out the potatoes’ natural, well, sweetness.
  • Eggs: Eggs give sweet potato casserole more body and structure. Without eggs, you really just have exceptionally tasty mashed sweet potatoes.
  • Salt: Salt is added to essentially everything because — for reasons too scientific to go into here — it just makes food taste better.
  • Vanilla extract: Technically, you don’t need to use vanilla extract, though it does make the casserole more nuanced. If you want to make a top-dollar sweet potato casserole, infuse your milk with vanilla beans instead.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg: These spices are optional. They’re used in many Thanksgiving dishes, so use them sparingly or not at all.


What’s used to top a sweet potato casserole is what sets one recipe apart from the next. Everything on this list is optional and only a taste of the possibilities. You do need to top it with something, though, as excluding a topping is like excluding eggs — the result is just fancy mashed sweet potatoes.

  • Marshmallows: Despite the general oddity of topping sweet potato casserole with roasted marshmallows, they remain the most traditional topping. This is because one of the original recipes for the dish, in the early 1900s, came from a marshmallow company that hired a cooking magazine writer to develop recipes using its marshmallows.
  • Brown sugar: While there’s already brown sugar mixed with the potatoes, a scattering on top doesn’t hurt. Broil the sugar for a minute or two to melt it for a crunchy topping, or to really impress, mix it with melted butter, flour and salt, and drizzle it all over before baking.
  • Pecans: Pecans typically find their way onto the Thanksgiving table in pie form, but some pecans on your sweet potato casserole can serve as a nice bridge between dinner and dessert. Upgrade the pecans by sugar-roasting them.

What to buy to make sweet potato casserole

Best Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chefs Convection Toaster Oven

Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven

This toaster oven fits a standard 9-by-13-inch casserole dish, has 1,800 watts of power and a digital control panel that makes cooking a breeze. It includes several accessories, such as a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

Sold by Amazon

Best Koov 9-By-13-Inch Casserole Dish

Koov 9-By-13-Inch Casserole Dish

This dish is ceramic, making it safe for use in any high- or low-temperature cooking. It comes in light blue, pink and red.

Sold by Amazon

Best Calphalon 10-Piece Pots and Pans Set

Calphalon 10-Piece Pots and Pans Set

This set includes everything you need to make sweet potato casserole and more: an 8- and 10-inch frying pan, a 1- and 2-quart saucepan with lids, a 3-quart saute pan with lid and a 7-quart stock pot with lid.

Sold by Amazon

Best Cook With Color Plastic Mixing Bowls With Lids

Cook With Color Plastic Mixing Bowls With Lids

This set comes with six bowls — sizes are 1.28-, 2.96-, 5.48-, 8.88-, 14.76- and 23.2-cup — with matching lids in plastic so they can be used in the microwave. It comes in 29 designs.

Sold by Amazon

Best Control Kitchen Measuring Cups And Spoons 13-Piece Set

Control Kitchen Measuring Cups and Spoons 13-Piece Set

This set includes a 1/8-, 1/4-, 1/3-, 1/2- and 1-cup scoop, a 1/4-, 1/2- and 1-teaspoon scoop, a 1/2- and 1-tablespoon scoop and a 1.5-, 2.5- and 4-cup glass.

Sold by Amazon

Best GrandMesser 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

GrandMesser 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

This knife has a comfortable grip and comes at a great price. It should chop sweet potatoes up with ease, but go slow if using it to peel.

Sold by Amazon 

Best KitchenAid Gourmet Stainless Steel Wire Masher

KitchenAid Gourmet Stainless Steel Wire Masher

You can buy this masher alone or with a variety of extras, such as a slotted spoon or a whisk. It comes in shiny or matte versions of black, turquoise and red.

Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s


Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.