Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up

My Sweet Potato Casserole lightened up still has all the buttery, brown sugar flavor of a traditional casserole with half the calories!

An easy recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up! Still packed with brown sugar, buttery goodness but with half the calories!

Sweet Potato Casserole is my favorite Thanksgiving side dish. It wins by a mile. I will happily pile up my plate with gravy-free turkey, steamed green beans and a whole-wheat roll as long as I have my sweet potato casserole.

Who doesn’t love eating dessert WITH dinner before getting to the real dessert…pie?!

An easy recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up! Still packed with brown sugar, buttery goodness but with half the calories!

In high school and college, my best friend, Julia, regularly joined my family for Thanksgiving. She was in charge of bringing her sweet potato casserole…It was crazy good. Sweet, buttery filling topped with a toothachingly sweet brown sugar pecan topping. The good stuff.

An easy recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up! Still packed with brown sugar, buttery goodness but with half the calories!

Last year when I was planning on hosting Thanksgiving for the first time (You can read about my adventures with that here, here, and here!), I requested the recipe from Julia, and I almost fell out of my chair. There was more butter and sugar in the casserole than I even had in my cupboard!

So, with the help of my husband, I lightened it up.

An easy recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up! Still packed with brown sugar, buttery goodness but with half the calories!

This isn’t a healthy sweet potato casserole; so don’t even go there. It’s just not as indulgent as a traditional one!

Most of the calorie savings are from drastically reducing the butter and sugar in the filling. To me the topping is sacrosanct and shouldn’t be messed with, but you could always reduce the sugar and add more flour and oats as filler. But why? It’s Thanksgiving, the day of indulgence!

An easy recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up! Still packed with brown sugar, buttery goodness but with half the calories!

This casserole has brown sugar in every bite but it isn’t cloyingly sweet. Toasting the pecans is calorie free flavor boost! It has the added benefit of keeping them a touch crunchier even after refrigerating. Since I reduced the amount of butter and sugar in the filling, the actual sweet potato flavor is more pronounced and reminds you why sweet potatoes are so awesome even by themselves!

My husband likes sliced sweet potatoes in this casserole but I got distracted (shock!) and cooked the thin slivers too long and they didn’t hold together in a beautiful layered form like last Thanksgiving. Immersion blender to the rescue!

An easy recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up! Still packed with brown sugar, buttery goodness but with half the calories!

Fortunately they are just as good when the filling is mashed. It just doesn’t look as classy.

An easy recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up! Still packed with brown sugar, buttery goodness but with half the calories!

Kitchen Tip: Boiling the sweet potatoes will preserve that beautiful, bright orange color. This will provide a gorgeous color contrast in the casserole but will also keep your sweet potato pies, cakes and cupcakes orange too!

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Sweet Potato Casserole Lightened Up

  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8


My lightened up Sweet Potato Casserole still has all the buttery, brown sugar flavor of a traditional casserole with half the calories!



For the Filling:

  • 3 pounds (uncooked) sweet potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick (or cubed)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, unpacked
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
  • ½ cup low fat milk
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • pinch salt

For the Topping:

  • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Dash cinnamon
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. In a large bowl combine brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk, butter and salt. Whisk to combine.
  3. Boil sweet potatoes in cold water, just covering, until fork tender. Drain well.
  4. Toss sweet potatoes in the butter mixture. If you are going to puree your potatoes, you can do it at this stage or you can press the potatoes through a ricer after draining.
  5. Pour into a 1 ½ – 2 quart casserole dish.
  6. Mix all the topping ingredients together in a medium bowl and sprinkle over the top.
  7. Bake 30-40 minutes until bubbling.


I did like this casserole better when it was prepared right before baking, but an overnight stay in the refrigerator wasn’t the end of the world. If you do want to prepare it ahead of time, make the filling and refrigerate or freeze that, then prepare the topping right before baking.

I halved this recipe for the dish that you see in the photos.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes

More Feast Favorites!

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Ginger Lime Brussels Sprouts and Leeks

Nana’s Cranberry Chutney

Nana's Cranberry Chutney

Cornbread Stuffing

Classic Cornbread Stuffing

Classic Pecan Pie 

Classic Pecan Pie

Southern Sweet Potato Pie

Mary Randolfs Sweet Potato Pie

Foolproof Pumpkin Pie 

Easy Foolproof Pumpkin Pie

Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie

Salted Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie | Pure decadence! You'll love this sweet Southern twist on a pecan pie!

This recipe is linked to: Inspiration Monday, Merry Monday, Munching Monday, Monday Funday, Two Cup Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Party Time, Moonlight & Mason Jars, Gluten Free Wednesday, What’s Cookin’ Wednesday, Gluten Free Friday, Foodie Friday, Food on Friday, Flashback Friday, Saturday Night Fever, Sweet and Savoury Sundays


  • Annie+@+ciaochowbambina
    November 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I love sweet potato casserole with pecan topping! Quintessential Thanksgiving side dish! Beautiful!

    • Lindsey
      November 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      Thanks, Annie! It’s mandatory at my table 🙂

  • Kelly - Life Made Sweeter
    November 9, 2014 at 8:11 am

    I would happily forego the turkey just to have more room for side dishes and dessert 🙂 Especially this sweet potato casserole, it looks incredible and I love that you lightened it up too! I would totally be piling a big serving or two of this on my plate 🙂 Pinned!

    • Lindsey
      November 9, 2014 at 10:03 am

      LOL that makes 2 of us, Kelly! I only eat the turkey because I have to have something to put my cranberry chutney on!

  • Denise
    November 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

    A wonderful collection of Thanksgiving staples – definitely will try the lightened up sweet potato casserole. Thank you

    • Lindsey
      November 9, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Thanks, Denise! I hope you do!

  • Kathleen @ Yummy Crumble
    November 9, 2014 at 9:52 am

    The color is amazing! Sweet potato casserole is my most favorite dish at Thanksgiving but I always feel guilty and not eat dessert. Now I can do both! Thanks for this 🙂

    • Lindsey
      November 9, 2014 at 10:02 am

      Oh wow, you have waaaaay more will power than I! I eat sweet potato casserole AND dessert. I figure it’s one day a year…

  • Manali @ CookWithManali
    November 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    wow this looks delicious. I have never had one before 🙂 Thanks for this lighter version Lindsey, I will give it a try! Pinning.

    • Lindsey
      November 10, 2014 at 8:05 am

      Thanks, Manali! Never had a sweet potato casserole?! oh dear. Try it! Thanks for the pin!

  • Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice
    November 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve only recently started to like sweet potatoes, so I’m discovering my love how I like them prepared. This casserole looks delicious, Lindsey! I like how it’s on the lighter side, but still full of flavor. And that topping sounds amazing! Delish!

    • Lindsey
      November 10, 2014 at 8:06 am

      Oh I am a HUGE fan of sweet potatoes both for the sweet and savory.

  • Josephine
    November 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for this healthier version. I will pass it along to my healthy cooking sister in law who has been assigned sweet potatoes.

    • Lindsey
      November 10, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Welcome! There is still more lightening up that can be done but I didn’t have the heart to do it 🙂

  • Kristi @ Inspiration Kitchen
    November 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I am *so* glad you’re featuring some lightened up recipes to counteract my eatin’ pants posts! LOL. I personally love sweet potatoes, and I’m with you – the topping should not be messed with! Having dessert with dinner sounds like a perfectly acceptable and necessary idea to me! I am loving it! Pinned!

    • Lindsey
      November 10, 2014 at 8:09 am

      lol! I’m trying to make sure that my eaten’ pants aren’t the only pants that fit in January! Thanks for the pin

  • Julianne @ Beyond Frosting
    November 9, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Sweet Potato Casserole is one of my favorite! I’ve got one coming up tomorrow!

    • Lindsey
      November 10, 2014 at 8:15 am

      Mmmm can’t wait to see yours!

  • David @ Spiced
    November 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Haha! I think we were separated at birth…as soon as I saw “gravy-free turkey,” I knew we must be related somehow. I can’t stand gravy on my turkey! Now to be fair, we might be like distant cousins or something because I just don’t love sweet potato casserole. Sweet potato pie? Now that’s a whole different story…but I have some weird issue with sweet and savory flavors combined in a savory style dish. With all of that said, your sweet potato casserole looks amazing…and I love the toasted pecans. Nice work!

    • Lindsey
      November 10, 2014 at 12:03 pm

      My money is on distant cousins. But let me make sweet potato casserole for you and we’ll see how you feel then, mmkay? Maybe it will help if you think about sweet potato casserole as a crustless, deep-dish pie with a crumble topping?

  • marcie
    November 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    I make a casserole similar to this and have lightened it up significantly as well…still not healthy…but lighter. 🙂 It’s one of my favorite side dishes too, and I like the idea of using sliced sweet potatoes, too!

    • Lindsey
      November 11, 2014 at 9:00 am

      Yours is probably way healthier than this one..and that is why you are so thin! 🙂 The sliced sweet potatoes were so pretty…if only I hadn’t been distracted!

  • Erlene
    November 16, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    This is going to sound weird, but I’m not a fan of mash sweet potatoes, but I love eating it in chunks. Do you think this would work if I didn’t puree the potatoes and just left them in chunks?

    • Lindsey
      November 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      We all have our preferences! Absolutely you can leave them in chunks and it will taste just as good. I like to make this casserole with sliced sweet potatoes, which I planned to do here but I forgot about them on the stove and they cooked too long to stay whole, so I had no choice but to mash them!

  • Melinda @Home.Made.Interest
    November 18, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    Stopping by from Moonlight & Mason Jars link party. I will have to make this next week! Yum!

    • Lindsey
      November 18, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you do make it, Melinda!

  • Sweet Potato Casserole
    November 21, 2014 at 8:41 am

    […] saw this recipe over at American Heritage Cooking and it looked so amazing I knew I needed to adapt it to be gluten, dairy and egg-free. It worked […]

  • Jacqui Odell
    November 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

    This sounds amazing. Thank you for linking up to Party Time and we hope to see you again next week!

    • Lindsey
      November 21, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks, Jacqui! Absolutely!

  • Laura@Baking in Pyjamas
    November 23, 2014 at 10:19 am

    Love how vibrant your dish is, it looks great. Thanks for linking up to Sweet and Savoury Sunday, stop by and link up again. Have a great day!!

    • Lindsey
      November 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks, Laura!

  • pakistani dishes recipes
    March 28, 2018 at 10:31 am

    I have never eaten something delicious like this before. I loved your blog.

    • Lindsey
      March 28, 2018 at 3:27 pm


    April 28, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    thanks for the recipe liked it varshaskitchen has recently posted
    homemade pizza sauce recipe

  • […] Sweet Potato Casserole (single recipe, 2 8×8 foil pans) […]

  • Amanda Meier
    November 26, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    I am planning on making this on Thanksgiving. I will be feeding 18 people.. so I plan on doubling the recipe. How long do you suggest to bake it?? And how big of a pan?

  • Crissy
    February 3, 2020 at 12:25 am

    This looks so good, and I love your plates!


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