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This vegan sweet potato casserole with a crunchy pecan topping is decadent and rich made with vegan butter, brown sugar, and pecans. It is a special occasion sweet side dish that will compliment your family’s Thanksgiving table or other special holiday events. It’s a traditional sweet potato casserole recipe – only made vegan!
Looking for the perfect side dish for your family’s Thanksgiving dinner? Nothing says holiday food like this absolutely delicious vegan sweet potato casserole!
We first discovered the best sweet potato casserole at a fun dinner theater in Dayton Ohio. It was called sweet potato souffle and was honestly the part we looked most forward to when attending the theater. This was such a popular dish that the theater actually shared their amazing recipe with us- which of course, wasn’t vegan!
Typically, one of the major ingredients in a casserole or “souffle” such as this is eggs – lots of eggs! Eggs are the perfect ingredient to bind everything else together. You won’t need eggs for this vegan holiday dish! Using a little cornstarch and a different cooking process, (lower and slower) this vegan sweet potato casserole does just fine without eggs.
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The Ingredients for Sweet Potato Casserole:
(Please see the recipe card below for the full ingredient list with amounts along with the instructions.)
- canned sweet potatoes – I use canned sweet potatoes for this dish. It’s easier than cooking and mashing baked sweet potatoes. I’ve tried it both ways and the flavor isn’t improved by baking your own. But if you would like to cook your own, bake about 6-8 medium-sized cooked sweet potatoes. Allow to cool enough to handle, and then scoop out the insides.
- coconut cream – Skim the top from a can of coconut milk.
- vegan butter – Make sure it’s a flavor you enjoy. You will be using quite a bit and the flavor will come through in the finished casserole. You will be using one-half cup of vegan butter for the casserole filling and one-third cup for the pecan topping. No, this is not a low-fat side dish but a special holiday side dish.
- both brown and white sugar – Use organic is desired
- vanilla extract
- all-purpose flour – You can substitute gluten-free flour if desired. The flour is not going to be used as a thickening agent but in the crumb topping – so really any gluten-free flour will do. Remember that if you are truly trying to cook gluten-free, you will need to check the ingredient labels of all of the canned and prepared food you are using to make sure they are also gluten-free.
- orange zest – This really adds a zip of flavor. I haven’t seen orange zest used in other sweet potato casserole recipes so if you leave it out, it won’t be a tragedy BUT I believe orange zest is part of why this recipe is so yummy.
- cornstarch – used as the thickening agent in the casserole
- You’ll also need a hand mixer or potato masher. You could use a food processor for the crumb topping, but i just use my hand mixer.
What is NOT in this vegan sweet potato Casserole recipe:
You will not find fall spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and such. This is NOT a pumpkin pie recipe, nor a sweet potato pie recipe. This is an actual side dish – that happens to be a little sweet. It’s the way the original sweet potato souffle recipe was written. I know a lot of recipes for sweet potato casserole add the extra seasonal spices. You do you…
Steps for making vegan sweet potato casserole:
The exact ingredients with measurements can be found in the recipe card below along with more concise abbreviated instructions. Read on for more details, tips, and tricks so that you will feel confident making this recipe.
Step 1: Prepare
Preheat oven to 350° and prepare the casserole baking dish with some cooking spray or lightly grease with vegan butter. If you don’t spray or grease your baking dish, the cooked sweet potato mixture will definitely stick to the sides and be a big mess to clean.
Melt the vegan butter (one-half cup) you will be using in the casserole and set the butter you will be using for the topping (one-third cup) to the side to come to room temperature.
Skim the coconut cream from the top of a can of coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk. Full fat coconut milk is my preference for this recipe. It’s not like this vegan side dish is trying to be a healthy food item or anything. So go ahead and use the full fat.
To get the best cream without the watery coconut water, set the canned coconut milk in the fridge overnight and then very carefully open it and scoop out the top layer of cream. If you forgot to set the can in a cool spot, or if it has been shaken around, set it in the freezer for a little while. Hopefully, that will help.
Step 2: mix the casserole ingredients
Drain the canned sweet potatoes well, place in a large bowl, and then mash with a potato masher or with your hand mixer. Add the other ingredients with the exception of the pecan topping ingredients. Add the melted butter, coconut cream, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract to the mashed sweet potatoes and mix well with a hand mixer or by hand.
Pour the prepared sweet potato filling into a prepared 9×13 casserole baking dish and smooth the top. The sweet potato mixture will be the consistency of a very thick cake batter.
Step 3: Combine the pecan topping ingredients
Add brown sugar, flour, softened vegan butter, and chopped pecans to a medium bowl. With the hand mixer, mix on low/medium until all ingredients are incorporated. You can use the same beaters you used to mix the casserole. Just give them a good shake.
Spread the pecan brown sugar topping mixture evenly on top of the sweet potato casserole mixture. Sprinkle some orange zest on top.
I sprinkle a little orange zest on top as well. The day I made this dish I did not have an orange to zest. Luckily, I had some Valencia Orange Peel in a jar. I always keep a little on hand for this situation – just in case.
Final step: Cooking your vegan sweet potato casserole
The original recipe calls for a higher temperature and quicker cooking time. I find this recipe (without eggs) sets up a little bit better with a lower cooking temperature and a slower cooking time. Be aware though that the finished product with thicken better upon standing. You don’t really want this dish piping hot anyway, but more lukewarm.
Also, be aware that it just isn’t going to be perfectly set like a casserole with eggs will. It’s just one of those things. It will still be super delicious!
Because this eggless dish sets up better on cooling, you can make this sweet potato casserole ahead of time, refrigerate overnight and then gently warm before serving.
For more delicious vegan recipes you can serve as side dishes at your holiday table, try:
Lucky we have so many delicious options now to serve on our holiday – whether it be for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, or an Easter Brunch Buffet! These are some of my favorites!
- Savory Sweet Potato Casserole – are your tastebuds getting a little bit older and less inclined for the super sweet? You’ll love this savory vegan sweet potato casserole dish with buttery rosemary breadcrumbs on top.
- Cheesy Funeral Potatoes – a funny name for a classic cheesy potato casserole dish served at special events – including at funerals where I grew up.
- Sweet Potato Boats – super cute and tasty too – Not your traditional sweet potato casserole dish. These are little individual servings of yummy sweet potatoes prepared and served right in the sweet potato “jackets”.
- Classic candied Yams with marshmallows on top
- Green Bean Casserole – Made from scratch without opening a single can.
- Watergate salad
- Orange Fluff Salad
The Printable recipe card for vegan sweet potato casserole with pecans and brown sugar:
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Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans (Vegan)
- ½ cup coconut cream skimmed from the top of a can of coconut milk
- 3 29 ounce cans sweet potatoes drain well
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 ½ cups organic sugar sub regular sugar
- 1/2 cup melted vegan butter more for topping
- 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
Brown Sugar Pecan Topping
- 1 cup organic brown sugar can sub regular brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup vegan butter softened
- 1½ cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- Preheat oven to 350° and spray coconut oil baking spray in a 9×13" casserole dish. Set aside.
- Melt the vegan butter (one-half cup) you will be using in the casserole and set the butter you will be using for the topping (one-third cup) to the side to come to room temperature.
- Skim the coconut cream from the top of a can of coconut milk. You will only need one-half cup. If the cream is not at the top of the can, set it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
- Open cans of sweet potatoes. Drain well and put in a large mixing bowl.
- With a hand mixer, mix until sweet potatoes are light and fluffy.
- Add in cornstarch, granulated (white) sugar, melted vegan butter, coconut cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Continue mixing until all ingredients are well incorporated. The sweet potato mixture will be the consistency of a very thick batter.
- Pour the sweet potato mixture into the prepared 9×13 casserole dish and smooth out.
Brown Sugar Pecan Topping
- Add brown sugar, flour, softened vegan butter, and chopped pecans to a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- With the hand mixer, mix on low/medium until all ingredients are incorporated. You can use the same beaters you used to mix the casserole. Just shake them off. No need to clean.
- Spread the topping evenly on top of the sweet potato casserole mixture.
- Sprinkle orange zest on top.
- Cook at 350° for 45 minutes. Allow cooling slightly before serving. The sweet potato mixture will thicken upon cooling. Serve slightly warmer than room temperature.