One year my family went out for Thanksgiving dinner. Never again! The stuffing tasted funny, they ran out of pumpkin pie, and worst of all, there were NO leftovers to break out the next day! It felt like Thanksgiving never happened!

That year, I realized there are certain flavors our family expects at Thanksgiving. It’s not a day to experiment. Nope, we love our traditions–turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, pumpkin pie . . . and Sweet Potato Casserole.  Years ago, a good friend copied this recipe down for me on a 3 x 5 card.  That year, her family favorite became our family’s favorite–so delicious, it’s almost dessert.

When I started typing the recipe, I wondered if “yams” could be substituted for “sweet potatoes”.  Are they the same vegetable? According an article from the University of California Extension Center,  the answer is yes. And no. True yams are not even botanically related to sweet potatoes.  But in the US, they are the same vegetable. In an effort to clear up confusion for us poor consumers, the USDA requires the label on a “yam” to say “sweet potato” as well. Obviously, this didn’t  exactly clear up the confusion. Today, sweet potatoes in our produce sections are primarily grown in southern Florida.  They are not actually potatoes, but are part of the Morning Glory family.  True yams are grown mainly in West Africa and Asia, and are not the same as sweet potatoes. Got it?  Well, don’t worry, the Extension Center says “unless you buy your ‘yams’ from an ethnic store, they are sweet potatoes.” So you can use yams or sweet potatoes for this recipe, as long as you don’t buy your yams in an ethnic grocery store!

And you’ll be happy to know that the USDA states that one medium baked sweet potato contains over 400% of the minimum daily requirement for vitamin A, 37% of Vitamin C, 4 % of both iron and calcium, and 4 grams of fiber as well. So, even though I can’t tout the health benefits of this recipe packed with butter and sugar, sweet potatoes are generally a healthy choice of vegetable.

sweet potato casserole



Sweet Potato Casserole

makes one delicious 11 x 7 pan


  • 4 cups sweet potatoes, cooked, mashed and warm
  • (2 1-lb cans or about 6 large fresh sweet potatoes)
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2/3 cup coconut
  • 2/3 cup pecans
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup melted butter


  1. For the topping, mix together coconut, pecans, flour and brown sugar. Add melted butter and stir till crumbly. Set aside.
  2. Mix butter into warm potatoes. Add milk, eggs and sugar. Spread mixture in a buttered 7 x 11 Pyrex pan. Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.
  3. Bake at 325 for 1 hr.

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