Candied Yam Casserole Recipe

Candied yam casserole is a decadent and widely beloved side dish combining sweet and savory flavors for a serious treat. The perfect accompaniment to any holiday feast, candied yam casserole has long been a staple on many festive tables. Maybe it's the frankly brilliant idea someone had of adding marshmallows to a starchy root and serving it for dinner. Or maybe it's the simple prep that makes this dish so appealing to home cooks. Whatever the reason, candied yam casserole is assuredly here to stay. 

Probably it's simply because this dish is indulgent, filling, and delicious, which lines up with its position as fully American cuisine. As essentially just a baked combo of marshmallows and yams, there's nothing not to love. Plus you can cook this in advance and refrigerate it. Then just heat it back up when it's time to serve, allowing you to prep a whole side well before the rest of the feast.

Registered dietitian and recipe developer Kristen Carli put together this excellent candied yam casserole that nails the sweet and savory balance so sought after in many kitchens. It's also pretty versatile. As Carli explained, while this casserole is traditionally served as a side, "this is a great dessert," meaning it can do double duty when you're tasked with another round of holiday meal prep.

Gather your ingredients, and prep the sweet potatoes

To make this recipe, you'll need 3 pounds sweet potatoes (or yams, since there's effectively no difference for most grocery store shoppers), 2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, ½ cup brown sugar, ½ of a prepared graham cracker crust, crumbled, 1 cup chopped pecans, and 10 ounces of marshmallows.

First, preheat your oven to 350 F now in order to make sure that it's fully up to temperature when you come to the baking stage. While the oven warms up, peel your sweet potatoes and cut them into 2-inch chunks. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and then add the peeled and cut chunks of sweet potato. 

Why not just throw the potatoes in the pot whole? The small pieces are key, making them a bit faster to cook and definitely easier to mash. That said, don't go much smaller than about 2 inches in length for each piece, lest you end up with an overly mushy mess. Boil for 20 minutes, or until they're soft and ready to mash. Drain the pot and set it aside with the warm yams waiting inside while you continue onward with your prep.

Mix the brown sugar, graham cracker, and pecans

While the yams are boiling, melt 1 stick of butter (we recommend doing so in short bursts in the microwave), being careful not to burn it. You just want it nice and clear, since we're not making slightly more complicated brown butter in this recipe. Again, all we want here is to simply melt the butter.

To a small bowl, preferably a heat-resistant glass or ceramic, add the brown sugar, graham cracker crust crumbles, and pecans. When your butter is melted, add that to the bowl also. Mix everything until the ingredients are fully combined and coated with the butter. Once everything is fully blended, set the mixture aside.

Mix the yams with vanilla, sugar, and salt

Now that the brown sugar and butter mixture is done, it's time to put the drained, cooked sweet potatoes into a large bowl. Mash the yams with a potato masher or a strong fork until the solids are well combined, but not totally smooth. That means there should still be some texture and little chunks left behind. 

Melt a stick of butter and mix that into the mashed sweet potatoes, along with the vanilla, sugar, and salt. Stir until everything is combined completely into one delicious, sweet-smelling mash.

Combine the two mixtures in a baking dish

We're getting close to baking! Next, spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray, to ensure that all of your carefully prepared casserole slices come out cleanly when it's time to serve. 

Add the sweet potato mixture to the bottom of the baking dish, spreading it into an even layer that completely covers the bottom of your baking dish. Top this mixture with the graham cracker and pecan topping you made earlier. Spread this across the sweet potato mash as evenly as you can.

Bake and finish the casserole

By this point, the oven should have reached 350 F. Simply place the prepared baking dish containing the sweet potato mash and the crumble mixture into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. According to Carli, you'll know it's ready when things start to change hue. That is, "you want to look for a slightly golden color for the topping," she says. 

Once you've reached that stage, remove the casserole from the oven and place it on a trivet or something else made specifically to handle the hot dish. Top the mixture with the marshmallows, then return everything to the oven. Bake for 5 more minutes, until the marshmallows are slightly puffed and have also turned a golden brown on top. Then, it's time to take this candied yam casserole out of the oven and serve it immediately. Given the aromas that are filling your kitchen at this stage, chances are good that you'll have some hungry diners assembling nearby, anyway!

Candied Yam Casserole Recipe
5 from 33 ratings
The perfect accompaniment to any feast, candied yam casserole has long been a staple on many holiday tables. Here's how to make this treat at home.
Prep Time
Cook Time
yam casserole in baking dish
Total time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ prepared graham cracker crust, crumbled
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 10 ounces of marshmallows
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel the sweet potatoes. Cut into 2-inch chunks.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add chunks of sweet potatoes and boil for 20 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, graham cracker crust crumbles, pecans, and 1 stick of melted butter. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add drained cooked sweet potatoes. Mash with a potato masher or fork until combined, but not smooth.
  5. Add 1 stick of melted butter, vanilla, sugar, and salt into sweet potatoes. Stir to combine.
  6. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  7. Add potato mixture to the bottom of the baking dish. Top with graham cracker and pecan topping mixture.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
  9. Remove casserole from the oven and top with marshmallows. Return to oven and bake for 5 minutes until marshmallows are golden brown. Serve immediately.
Calories per Serving 597
Total Fat 28.6 g
Saturated Fat 12.8 g
Trans Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 48.6 mg
Total Carbohydrates 85.0 g
Dietary Fiber 5.3 g
Total Sugars 51.2 g
Sodium 545.9 mg
Protein 4.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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