Orange-Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole is an easy side dish that's delicious with a holiday meal, or any meal any time of year. It combines naturally sweet mashed sweet potatoes with orange zest, butter, brown sugar and a touch of nutmeg and cinnamon. But it's the pillowy peppered marshmallows and crunchy pecans on top that just might steal the show. Follow up and serve Pumpkin Pie with Condensed Milk for dessert and enjoy classic holiday flavors!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
If you enjoy traditional holiday meal flavors like Elegant Green Bean Casserole, Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese or the tender texture of freshly baked, no knead Potato Rolls, then this recipe will be right up your alley. It pairs well with so many flavors, it's especially tasty with No Ketchup Meatloaf.
Orange zest adds a bright, citrusy aroma and tangy flavor to the well-known flavors of sweet potato casserole. The orange adds natural sweetness creating a balanced and refreshing taste.
This recipe caters to both our savory and sweet cravings, making it a versatile dish perfect with oven-roasted turkey or chicken, beef pot roast, ham or grilled salmon.
Ingredients to Have on Hand
- Sweet potatoes
- Miniature marshmallows
- Brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg
Choosing Sweet Potatoes
You'll need about three pounds of sweet potatoes for this recipe, and since the size of each potato varies that may mean three large ones or 4-5 smaller, slender sweet potatoes.
Pro Tip: Use a scale in the produce section of your grocery store to be sure you buy the perfect amount of sweet potatoes for your casserole: 3 pounds.
Prepping the Sweet Potatoes
Oven roasting or baking helps to caramelize the natural sugars in sweet potatoes and it helps bring out the ultimate sweetness in this casserole.
In a pinch, you could also microwave the sweet potatoes until tender, just use the potato cooking option on your microwave oven.
You can tell the sweet potatoes are cooked once a fork easily slides into the potato. It will need to be tender and soft.
After baking, slice the sweet potato in half and scoop out the inside.
Yes. Although there is often confusion about the two, the yams that we buy in a standard U.S. grocery story are almost always just a different variety of sweet potato and yes, they will work great in this recipe.
Scroll down for more details on the difference between yams and sweet potatoes.
I've not made this recipe using canned yams, but if time is short I imagine that would be OK to substitute. You'll need about 6 cups of mashed, canned sweet potatoes or yams.
Yes, simply leave the marshmallows and pecans off and freeze the sweet potato mixture in a freezer-safe dish. Defrost, then bake according to the recipe below.
Mash or Smash the Sweet Potatoes
Place the baked sweet potato filling in a large mixing bowl. I like to smash the sweet potatoes by hand using a potato masher and leave a few chunks of sweet potato in the filling. I like it a little lumpy.
But my family prefers the filling to be fluffy and more like mashed potatoes which requires more mashing, a process similar to when we make mashed Russet potatoes.
Add the remaining ingredients, except the marshmallows and pecans.
If you like a soft, fluffy casserole - similar to the consistency of mashed potatoes - then use a hand mixer to blend the ingredients until you get the texture you like.
I think this recipe is equally delicious when the ingredients are combined using a potato masher. It depends how you and your family prefer it.
Either way, spread the sweet potato mixture evenly in a 13" x 9" glass baking dish or any oblong, 3-quart baking dish.
Pro Tip: Here's the secret to making your sweet potato casserole stand out in the crowd of holiday side dishes. Add pepper to the mini marshmallows then toss them with one teaspoon of orange zest.
Each little pillowy marshmallow gets a light dusting of pepper and a touch or zest.
It's a technique that gives candy-like marshmallows a savory touch.
Spread the peppered marshmallows evenly across the top of the mashed sweet potatoes.
A Great Side Dish Any Time of Year
We often think of sweet potato casserole as a side with our other Thanksgiving recipes or at Christmas side dish, but since this recipe includes a touch of citrus and light spices it's delicious any time of year.
The Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes
If you buy sweet potatoes from a standard U.S. grocery store, the odds are incredibly good that you will bring home a variety of sweet potato that will work beautifully in this recipe.
Don't worry if you see them labeled as yams. The word yam is sometimes used to differentiate the soft variety of sweet potato from the firm variety.
But it gets confusing. Even canned yams are simply a different variety of sweet potatoes. But they are labeled as yams.
To try and lessen the confusion, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.’
But true yams are native to Africa and Asia and have rough brown peels, almost like tree bark, (photo below) they have white flesh and a neutral flavor. They also won't work as a substitute for a recipe calling for sweet potatoes. These yams are often sold sliced, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated.
Unless you specifically search for true African "yams," which are usually found in an international market, rest assured, you are probably buying and eating sweet potatoes!
Idaho Sweet Potatoes?
The Crinkled Cookbook is based in Idaho and yes, our state is oh so famous for potatoes. But do sweet potatoes grow here? Nope.
Sweet potatoes are actually more closely related to the carrot than potatoes and they don't grow well in Idaho because it takes about 150 frost-free days to grow sweet potatoes. It's pretty hard for Idaho weather to meet those conditions.
The majority of U.S. sweet potatoes are grown in the southern states.
More Side Dishes
Here are a few more sides that I think you'll enjoy.
If you tried Orange-Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the 📝 comments below.