Sweet potato casserole is one of the most popular Thanksgiving side dishes for a reason: It serves up the vegetable in a creamy, sweet, and decadent way, and as we pile it onto our plates, it makes us feel like a kid again. Unfortunately, it's often overthought and over-complicated, riddled with too many unnecessary steps and ingredients (I'm guilty of it, too, although this version is delish).
This year, we're presenting you with the absolute easiest five-ingredient sweet potato casserole. In less than an hour (and with barely any dishes to wash), you'll be rewarded with buttery mashed sweet potatoes piled under a layer of creamy, tender-crisp marshmallows.
Sweet Potato Casserole: Watch the Video
What You Need for the Easiest Sweet Potato Casserole
Trust me: Sweet potato casserole needs only a handful of ingredients (the potatoes, a little sweetener, some warming spices, and marshmallows) to make it shine. So why make it more complicated than it needs to be?
If you boil the sweet potatoes while the oven preheats and mash the sweet potatoes while they're still warm, you can make this classic Thanksgiving side dish in less than one hour.
The Key Players
Boiled, not baked, sweet potatoes: There's a time and place for baked sweet potatoes, but when ease (and speed) are paramount, boiling is the way to go. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes, and after 25 minutes in boiling water, they're tender enough to mash.
Pumpkin pie spice: Using a spice blend gives you the most flavor bang for your ingredient bucks. If you don't already have pumpkin pie spice (and don't feel like making your own), stick with a teaspoon of ground cinnamon for classic sweet potato casserole flavor.
Mini marshmallows: Minis make for a more even layer of marshmallow across the top of the casserole. Plus they melt, brown, and crisp perfectly in the time it takes the casserole to bake.
Substitute Canned Sweet Potatoes for an Even Quicker Casserole
In a really big rush? You can actually use canned sweet potatoes in place of peeling, chopping, and boiling your own. Opt for a 40-ounce can of sweet potatoes in light syrup, and drain them but don't rinse — you'll want some but not all of the syrup. Begin by microwaving the sweet potatoes on HIGH in a large bowl for 2 minutes, then, beginning with step 4, continue the recipe as written below, reducing the brown sugar to 1/4 cup. Viola! Near instant sweet potato casserole.
Yes, You Can Prep This Casserole Ahead of Time
You can whip up the sweet potato mixture and refrigerate it for up to three days in advance, but leave the marshmallows off until you're ready to bake on Thanksgiving day. Let the casserole dish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before topping and baking.
How To Make the Absolute Easiest 5-Ingredient Sweet Potato Casserole
Serves 8 to 10
Prep time: 25 minutes ; cooking time: 30 minutes
What You Need
sweet potatoes (about 12 small or 6 large), peeled and cut into large pieces
packed light brown sugar
unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
- 1 teaspoon
Chef’s knife and cutting board
Measuring cups and spoons
6 quart pot
Large mixing bowl
9x9-inch casserole dish
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Fill a large pot with at least 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
Heat the oven to 375°F and butter a casserole dish. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 375°F. Coat a 9x9-inch square baking dish or other 2-quart casserole dish with butter; set aside.
Boil the sweet potatoes until tender, about 25 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes to the boiling water and the reduce heat to medium. Simmer until completely tender, about 25 minutes.
Drain the sweet potatoes and mash. Drain the sweet potatoes, then transfer them to a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, butter, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Using a potato masher, mash to desired consistency, folding in the sugar and butter as you go.
Top with mini marshmallows and bake. Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes to the prepared baking dish and smooth into an even layer. Sprinkle with the mini marshmallows. Bake until golden-brown and crispy, 20 to 25 minutes.
Canned sweet potatoes variation: Use a 40-ounce can of sweet potatoes in light syrup. Drain the sweet potatoes but don’t rinse — we want some but not all of the syrup. Reduce the brown sugar to 1/4 cup. Microwave the sweet potatoes in a large bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes, then continue with the recipe beginning at step 4.
Make ahead: The casserole can be prepared without the marshmallows, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before topping with the marshmallows and baking.
Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.