I never liked sweet potatoes as a kid. We had them on Thanksgiving, baked and covered with marshmallows, and I thought they were underwhelming, at best. When I started making Thanksgiving dinner after moving across the country from my family, I felt like I needed to include those orange beauties, so I started experimenting with sweet potato recipes.
For a while, I used a recipe that combined baked apples and sweet potatoes. While it was tasty, it still wasn’t a huge draw for me.
Then, one year, I was hosting a family reunion for my husband’s family over Thanksgiving and wanted to try something new. It is just like me to try new things when I am cooking for a large group of people. Brave, I know. Or maybe stupid. I will let you decide.
That year, I found a recipe for sweet potato bake, so I decided to go out on a limb. I had never before prepared sweet potatoes by mashing them, mixing them with a few other ingredients, covering them with a crunchy topping, and baking them, but it sounded divine. So I gave it a go.
Let me just say that it was the hit of Thanksgiving dinner. My in-laws could not get enough of the heavenly sweet potatoes. I think they might have licked the pan clean. Or maybe that was me; I can’t be sure.
All I know is that the melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness topped with a sweet and crunchy streusel was like nothing I had ever tried. It tasted almost like dessert, only better, and I was forever hooked.
Every year since then, sweet potatoes have always taken this form on our holiday table. And every year, I get a call from one of my in-laws requesting the recipe because it has become a staple in their homes, as well.
With that in mind, let’s jump into the dish that my holiday dreams are made of. Seriously, my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
To begin, you will need mashed sweet potatoes, which you prepare just like regular mashed potatoes: peel, wash, and chop your potatoes, then boil them until tender. I use approximately 3-4 medium sweet potatoes for this recipe.
Once the potatoes are done, drain and mash them with a potato masher. Or, if you want super creamy potatoes, use a hand mixer or a stand mixer instead.
I throw the drained potatoes into my Bosch mixer (the one thing in my kitchen that I could never live without) and turn it on. Within a few seconds, I have creamy potatoes without any effort. That is a win/win for one like me who struggles with arm strength. I could tell you stories about that one (or you could talk to my trainer, John), but I will let you use your imagination.
Do not add any butter or milk to your potatoes while you are mashing them because you are going to add a list of other things in a minute.
Once the potatoes are mashed, add the sugar, eggs, milk, butter, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla and mix well. Then pour that gorgeous orange mixture into a buttered 2-quart baking dish.
Now it is time to get started on the streusel, which is what makes this recipe sing. If you own a pastry blender, that will be your best friend here. I do not, so I will show you an alternative method. It involves a dough scraper, which I would recommend investing in because I use mine all the time for things like splitting dough for rolls and bread. I also use it to transfer things from a cutting board into a bowl or pan, as well as for pastry doughs and streusels. You can buy an inexpensive one here.
For the scraper method, put your brown sugar, pecans, flour, oatmeal, and cold butter (make sure it is cold) onto a flat surface. I used a cutting board.
Then hold your scraper blade down and use it like a chopper by pounding the blade into the ingredients, again and again, mixing as you chop. This is amazing stress relief.
When your mixture is crumbly and fairly uniform, you are done. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you don’t want any large chunks of butter remaining.
Take that crumbly topping and spread it all over the top of your sweet potatoes, then put them into a preheated 325° oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and crispy, and the potatoes are heated through.
They are best served warm, so eat up. And I will not tell anybody if you eat the entire pan by yourself. It is that good!
Note: I usually double this recipe and cook in a 9×13″ pan for a large Thanksgiving crowd so there are plenty of leftovers. These are leftovers worth eating!
This recipe was adapted from Taste of Home recipe: Mom’s Sweet Potato Bake. I cut the sugar in half (and you could probably cut it even more since sweet potatoes are naturally sweet), and added cinnamon to the potatoes and oatmeal to the streusel topping.