How To Make the Best Sweet Potato Soufflé

updated Oct 29, 2021
thanksgiving
How To Make the Best Sweet Potato Soufflé

An elegant take on sweet potato casserole made with whole eggs, spices, and brown sugar, and baked until light and puffed.

Serves6 to 8

Prep15 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Serving spoon inside sweet potato souffle dish.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

No holiday table is complete without sweet potatoes. Some people like theirs mashed and marshmallow-ed, while others serve theirs for dessert, but me? I prefer mine souffléd. Souffléd sweet potatoes are puréed until silky-smooth, topped with a candied pecan crumble, then baked until light and puffed. They’re elegant yet rich and always hit the spot — and it’s high time they made an appearance on your spread. Here’s how to make the very best version.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

What’s the Difference Between Sweet Potato Casserole and Soufflé?

The difference between a sweet potato casserole and a sweet potato soufflé is mostly a matter of semantics. Sure, sweet potato soufflés are usually more aerated — thanks to a step of whipping eggs into the potatoes — but some sweet potato casseroles rely on that technique, too (Toni Tipton-Martin’s casserole in Jubilee, for example, is made by whipping eggs with baked sweet potatoes in a stand mixer). To add more confusion, some soufflés call to separate the eggs (as is the case in Bill Neal’s version in Southern Cooking), while others use the whole eggs.

As a general rule of thumb, soufflés rely on eggs for lift, while they’re an optional ingredient in casseroles. Our best-ever version, inspired by this carrot soufflé, uses whole eggs: The yolks provide fat, giving the dish a rich and heavenly texture, while the proteins in the egg white partner with a half-cup flour to provide the structure to hold the soufflé’s height as it puffs and rises. The result is a super-light yet velvety mash, with a subtle warm spice flavor.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

The Best Topping for Sweet Potato Soufflé

Buttery, crunchy pecans are the perfect contrast to a luxuriously smooth soufflé — and a less-sweet alternative to marshmallows. Whole pecan halves can be expensive, so save those for candied nuts and pies. For this recipe, opt for the chopped pecans you can find in the baking aisle alongside most of the other ingredients for this recipe. Mix them with melted butter, brown sugar, flour, and a pinch of salt to form a crunchy coating that toasts and caramelizes the pecans as the soufflé bakes.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

How to Serve Sweet Potato Souffle

To streamline holiday prep, you can make both the sweet potato filling and the pecan crumble in advance. Slide it into the oven about an hour before eating, conveniently at the same time when the turkey comes out to rest and be carved. Sweet potato soufflé is best served hot from the oven at the peak of its puffed presentation.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk
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Here's how to make the best sweet potato souffle.

How To Make the Best Sweet Potato Soufflé

An elegant take on sweet potato casserole made with whole eggs, spices, and brown sugar, and baked until light and puffed.

Prep time 15 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the soufflé:

  • 3 pounds

    large sweet potatoes (3 to 4 large)

  • 4

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cup

    half-and-half or whole milk

  • 1/2 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon

    baking powder

For the pecan topping:

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish

  • 1 cup

    chopped pecans (about 4 ounces)

  • 1/4 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

Equipment

  • Chef's knife and cutting board

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • 2-quart souffle dish or 8x8x2 baking dish

  • Vegetable brush (optional)

  • Aluminum foil

  • Microwave-safe bowls

  • Food processor with blade attachment or blender

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven and prepare the sweet potatoes. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above that rack, and heat the oven to 350°F. Scrub 3 pounds sweet potatoes and pierce all over with a knife.

  2. Bake the sweet potatoes. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack (place a sheet of aluminum foil onto a lower rack if you’re worried about drips). Bake until tender, about 1 hour. (Alternatively, microwave the sweet potatoes at 100% power for 12 to 15 minutes. Use tongs to flip halfway through cooking.)

  3. Scoop out the flesh. Remove the potatoes from the oven and let cool until you can comfortably handle them, about 30 minutes. Halve each sweet potatoes lengthwise, then scoop the flesh out into a bowl; discard the peels. At this point, you can refrigerate the sweet potato flesh up to 3 days before proceeding; let come to room temperature before proceeding.

  4. Prepare the pecan topping. Place 4 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 100% power until melted, 20 to 40 seconds. Add 1 cup chopped pecans and toss to coat. Add 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, and 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, and toss with a fork to combine.

  5. Prepare the baking dish. Coat a 2-quart soufflé dish or 8-inch square, 2-inch high baking dish with butter.

  6. Make the soufflé base. Place 4 large eggs, 1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk, 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or blender. Process or blend until smooth and the sugar is mostly dissolved, about 30 seconds.

  7. Blend in the sweet potatoes. Add the sweet potato flesh and process or blend until very smooth, about 30 seconds.

  8. Add the flour and baking powder. Add 1/2 cup all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder and process or blend just until combined, about 10 seconds. Do not overmix. 

  9. Transfer to baking dish and top with pecan topping. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the pecan topping.

  10. Bake 45 to 55 minutes. Bake until puffed and just set in the middle, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The sweet potatoes can be baked and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance. Let come to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

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