This slow cooker sweet potato casserole is the perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner! Everything is cooked in one vessel, making for an easy and delicious side dish.
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My family always requests my sweet potato casserole for the big holiday feast. However, to save on oven space when juggling the turkey, stuffing, and pies, I like to grab my slow cooker instead or baking dish. Making the sweet potato casserole in a Crock-Pot makes for a simple set-and-forget recipe. It’s the perfect side dish that saves you active cooking time.
The enclosed vessel gently cooks and steams the starchy spuds, which easily crush. I like lightly sweetening the mixture with brown sugar, vanilla extract, and spices for a baked aroma. After a few hours, mash the potatoes in the slow cooker. For crunch, add a buttery and sweet pecan topping. If you’re a fan of melty mini marshmallows for that smores effect, you can melt them right on top.
Prep the potatoes
I use orange-fleshed sweet potatoes like Beauregard or red garnet. They have a sweet flavor and moist texture that’s easy to mash. Other types of sweet potatoes, like white and purple, can be used, but the texture is more starchy and dry.
Peel and cut the potatoes into ¾ to 1-inch pieces. Four pounds of diced potatoes should yield between 11 to 12 cups.
Slow cook the sweet potatoes
Use a 6-quart slow cooker to hold the large volume of cut potatoes. Add them to the vessel, along with melted butter for richness and brown sugar for a hint of caramel flavor. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to enhance the potatoes’ natural sweetness.
Add orange juice and freshly grated zest, if available, for a touch of citrus. Stir to combine, then cover and cook. That’s it! To tenderize the potatoes, cook on the high setting for between 3 to 4 hours or the low for 7 to 8 hours. They should pierce easily with a fork.
Mash into a smooth consistency
Once the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, crush them! You can do this directly in the slow cooker insert. Use a potato masher or handheld mixer to crush the flesh into a puree. For a super smooth texture, use a handheld immersion blender to process the potatoes in the pot or transfer them to a kitchen blender or food processor.
Alternatively, you can keep the pieces chunky for a rustic appearance. If you want a lighter and creamier consistency, stir in whole milk or heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time. I use about ¼ to ⅓ cups. I add cream to my classic sweet potato casserole for a more whipped texture.
Add a sweet pecan topping to the mashed sweet potatoes. It’s a simple mixture of chopped pecans, melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Walnuts or almonds would be delicious substitutes.
Sprinkle it on top of the spuds, cover it, and let it warm on the high setting for about 10 minutes. I like drizzling some maple syrup and more cinnamon and nutmeg.
For this recipe, you can stop here or take it to the next level with mini marshmallows. My kids love the melted, fluffy bites. Add some on top and cook for about 10 minutes until it becomes gooey.
If you like a lightly browned surface, toast it using a handheld blow torch. I use this when making the sugary crust for creme brulee. Alternatively, you can brown the surface in the oven. Just sprinkle on the nut mixture and marshmallows. Bake at 350ºF (177ºC) until the surface turns light golden brown. This will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
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Frequently asked questions
You don’t have to add a lot of extra liquid to cook the sweet potatoes in the slow cooker. They contain about 77% moisture, which will release and steam the tubers until tender. If you see excess water on the bottom of the pot once tender, drain a little before mashing.
For a lighter consistency of the mashed sweet potatoes, you can add 1 to 2 whisked eggs. This will add richness and structure. Make sure to let the potatoes cool below 144ºF (62°C) before adding the eggs. Otherwise, they with curdle. Slow cook for an additional 2 hours on high to cook the eggs.
Yes, you can make each component, the mashed sweet potatoes and pecan topping, then freeze them separately. Defrost before using and reheat in the slow cooker or the oven in a baking dish at 350ºF (177ºC).
Browning marshmallows in a Crockpot
There’s no way to achieve a toasted surface in the crockpot since the device doesn’t heat above 300ºF (148ºC) even on the high setting. Sucrose in marshmallows will only brown and caramelize above 320ºF (160ºC). You’ll need to use a handheld torch or heat it in the oven at 350ºF (177ºC) until the surface turns golden about 15 minutes. The Crockpot brand insert can withstand up to 400ºF (204ºF).
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Crockpot Sweet Potato Casserole
- 4 pounds sweet potatoes
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed, divided
- 2 tablespoons orange juice, or water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or sea salt, divided
- 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup mini marshmallows, optional
- Prepare Sweet Potatoes – Scrub and wash sweet potatoes with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Cut into about 1-inch pieces.
- Slow Cook – In a 6-quart slow cooker, add the sweet potatoes, 4 tablespoons melted butter, ¼ cup brown sugar, vanilla, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine.Cover and cook on high setting for 3 to 4 hours or low setting for 7 to 8 hours. The potatoes are ready when fork-tender, cook longer if needed.
- Mash the Potatoes – Use a potato masher or hand held mixer to crush the potatoes until a smooth puree is formed. Spread into an even layer.
- Add Pecan Topping – In a medium bowl combine chopped pecans, ¼ cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Sprinkle on top of mashed sweet potatoes. Cover and cook on high setting for 10 minutes.
- Add Marshmallows (Optional) – Sprinkle marshmallows on the sweet potato casserole right after adding the pecan topping. Cover and cook on high setting for 10 minutes, or until melted. See notes for alternate instructions on browning the marshmallows in the oven.
- Recipe Yield: About 6 cups
- Serving Size: ½ cup
- Smoother Potatoes: Use a hand-held immersion blender to process the potatoes in the pot or transfer to a kitchen blender or food processor.
- Creamier Potatoes: Stir ¼ to ⅓ cup of whole milk or heavy cream into the mashed sweet potatoes.
- Toasting the Marshmallows: Brown with a handheld torch. Alternatively, add the pecans mixture and marshmallows on top. Bake at 350ºF (177ºC) until the surface lightly browns, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Make-ahead: The mashed sweet potatoes can be stored in the cooled slow cooker insert for up to 3 days in advance. Warm in the slow cooker, then add toppings when ready to serve.
- Storing and reheating: The casserole can be cooled completely, covered, and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Reheat small portions in the microwave on high setting in 30-second increments until hot.
- Make it Dairy-Free: Use plant-based butter instead of dairy butter.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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