grandma’s sweet potato casserole

My husband’s grandmother, known by the family simply as Grandma, made several traditional dishes each Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wrote about her cornbread dressing here. Another one of her specialties was a sweet potato casserole topped with a pecan streusel. After she died in 1993, the tradition of making her recipes was adopted by various members of her family. I started making the dressing as my usual Thanksgiving dish, and my sister-in-law took over sweet potato duty.

Grandma’s sweet potato casserole is a thing of beauty. It’s sweet and rich, and the dish could almost substitute for dessert. The crunchy streusel topping makes an ideal textural contrast to the smooth mashed sweet potatoes which lie underneath.

The casserole can be made very easily with fresh sweet potatoes, but if you’re in a pinch, you can use canned yams. Because the canned yams are packaged in syrup, I chose to use fresh sweet potatoes. I chose six medium-sized potatoes, baked them for an hour, peeled them, and mashed the sweet potatoes by hand.

I also burned my fingers on the hot potatoes. Don’t do that. You should let these cool a bit before peeling them. Learn from my mistake.

While the potatoes bake, you can make the streusel topping with chopped pecans, butter, flour, and brown sugar. This part can even be done the day before; just store the topping in a resealable plastic bag and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use.

It’s hard for me to make a recipe exactly as it’s written these days, and Grandma’s sweet potato casserole is no exception. I was hoping to find a way to make it a little healthier (so I could eat more), so I cut back on some of the sugar and butter. I won’t do that again. The casserole was still delicious, but it didn’t turn out quite the way I wanted it to taste.

Since this recipe comes with such strong taste memories for me and my husband, from now on I’ll prepare it using all those extra calories. It just tastes better with them. It tastes like Grandma’s. It tastes like Thanksgiving.

Grandma's Sweet Potato Casserole

Serves 6-8 as a side dish, depending on how many times your family goes back for seconds. The struesel topping makes enough for a double-size recipe. I find it easier to make a larger batch of streusel and then keep the extra in a resealable plastic bag. The extra pecan streusel makes a nice topping for steel cut oatmeal in the morning.]


Ingredients for Casserole:

5 medium-to-large sweet potatoes
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, beaten well
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Streusel Topping:

1 cup light brown sugar, packed [You could also use dark brown sugar instead.]
1/3 cup (about 5 1/2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes on a foil-lined sheet pan and pierce each several times with the tines of a fork. Bake for 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender. Allow to cool to the touch, then peel and mash well in a bowl.

Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Make streusel topping: Blend brown sugar, butter, flour, and chopped pecans together with a pastry blender or fork. Set aside.

Mix mashed sweet potatoes with sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Pour into a 9 x 9 inch lightly greased casserole dish. Sprinkle sweet potato mixture with the streusel topping, as much as your heart desires.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the casserole is set.

Note: The casserole can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. Pour the prepared sweet potatoes into a tightly-covered dish, but do not add the topping. When ready to bake, pour into the casserole dish and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Top with struesel and bake as directed.

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17 Responses to “pan-fried onion and chive dip”

  1. Leigh — December 6, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    I can attest to how wonderful this dip was. I’m totally wishing I had some right now. You are a great hostess, lady!

  2. May Ling Wu — December 6, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

    This looks amazing! Will have to take it to my next potluck!

  3. Brian @ A Thought For Food — December 6, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

    This has all the good things in life… butter, sour cream, mayo. My heart hurts just thinking about it… but gosh darn it, when has that stopped me from enjoying things in life? Nom!

  4. Jennifer (Savor) — December 6, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    OMG – gorgeous!

  5. Lindsey @ Gingerbread Bagels — December 6, 2010 @ 9:16 pm

    I LOVE this dip recipe, it is beyond amazing. Thank you for reminding me to make it again soon! 😉 Your photos are gorgeous by the way!

  6. Ina is the best and all of her recipes are wonderful for entertaining. Homemade onion dip versus the store bought version is so much better. Your photos look great! Wish I had a bowl of dip and chips right now.

  7. Tes — December 7, 2010 @ 6:51 am

    Love your photographs!
    This sounds super simple but looks so delicious 🙂

  8. Kristina @ spabettie — December 7, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

    this sounds and looks perfectly delicious… I WILL be making this before the year end!! 🙂

    Happy Holidays !

  9. briarrose — December 7, 2010 @ 3:56 pm

    What an interesting dip. So tasty.

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  11. Nancy@acommunaltable — December 8, 2010 @ 12:08 am

    Wonderful remake of a classic – and much, much more delicious!!
    I am like you – even though I am a personal chef, when I have people over I don’t want to have too much to do in the kitchen and so make ahead dishes are the best!!

  12. Jara — December 8, 2010 @ 12:27 am

    I adore anything and everything with onions. It’s something I’m known for in my family and this couldn’t be more my style. I definitely have to make this dip for my next family party. thanks for sharing! 🙂

  13. Jason Phelps — December 8, 2010 @ 2:58 pm

    I can’t find anything wrong with this at all! I’m always looking for new appetizers to try. Party on Sunday.


  14. Aggie — December 8, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

    The BC onion dip is one of the first “entertaining” recipes I have ever tried! I love that you added chives…the color is so pretty! One of my all time favorite dips!! (great photos!)

    • mj (merry gourmet)

      mj (merry gourmet) replied: — December 8th, 2010 @ 9:08 pm

      Thanks, Aggie! Her recipes never let me down.

  15. Chris — December 12, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

    I am going to have to try this with the rotisserie onions that I made yesterday! Thanks for sharing.

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