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Vanilla-Scented Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel Topping {Paleo}

I’m calling this a side dish, but anyone who wants to can feel free to call me out on that.

I think (it’s at least arguable) that this could also pass for a mighty fine dessert.

Vanilla-Scented Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel Topping {Paleo} 2

I mean, come on. It has vanilla. And sugar. And hazelnut streusel topping. (Personally, I’d be happy as a clam at high tide with a pretty little bowl of this put down in front of me as dessert!)

My inspiration was marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole (like Cooking Light’s Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole), which as I kid I adored because it was like getting sweets for dinner! This version is much less sweet, yet (as an adult) it still feels like a total indulgence at dinnertime. If you’re into sweet potato casserole, I think you’ll really dig it.

Vanilla-Scented Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel Topping {Paleo} 3

I kept it grain-free and gluten-free, swapped out regular sugar (and/or marshmallows) for coconut sugar, and added healthy fat in the form of coconut oil and hazelnuts. It’s paleo, but completely crowd-friendly, so if you’re looking for a few healthier options to put out on your Thanksgiving dinner table, this one is a good choice.

Plus I’m telling you, if there’s someone who says that they don’t really want dessert, but you know wouldn’t pass up a little something sweet, I think this will satisfy them perfectly.

Vanilla-Scented Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel Topping {Paleo} 4

Vanilla-Scented Sweet Potato Casserole with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel Topping {Paleo}
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 1 (1½-quart) casserole dish, about 6 to 8 servings
Sweet Potato Puree:
  • 2½ lbs (1.1 kg) sweet potatoes (or yams)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, plus more to grease the dish (or clarified butter)
  • 2 tablespoons plain, unsweetened almond “milk” (or your milk of choice)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (see Note)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup (56 g) hazelnut meal
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar (see Note)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup (50 g) toasted whole hazelnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F; wash the sweet potatoes (or yams) and use a sharp paring knife to poke several holes in each. Place the potatoes into the oven directly on a rack in the center. Bake the potatoes until tender, about 1 hour 15 minutes if you’re using 2 (1¼ lbs each) potatoes. To check for doneness, insert the tines of a fork into the center of the potatoes; the fork should easily slide in and out. Cool the potatoes until they’re not too hot to handle.
  2. While the potatoes bake, make the topping. Add the hazelnut meal, coconut sugar, cinnamon, and salt to a food processor and pulse a couple times to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in the melted coconut oil. Add the whole hazelnuts and pulse a few times until they’re coarsely chopped. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F; grease a 1½-quart casserole dish with coconut oil.
  4. Once the potatoes are cool, peel them and add the flesh to a food processor along with all other ingredients for the sweet potato puree; process until completely smooth.
  5. Spread the sweet potato puree into the prepared casserole dish; sprinkle on the hazelnut topping.
  6. Cover the dish with foil and bake until warm throughout, about 30 minutes; serve.
Coconut Sugar: If keeping this dish paleo isn’t a concern, you can substitute the same amount of lightly packed light brown sugar for the coconut sugar.

To Make Ahead: Complete through Step 5, but leave off the hazelnut topping until right before you want to bake the casserole. Cover and refrigerate it for up to 2 days; before baking, sprinkle on the hazelnut topping and continue with Step 6.
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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  1. Just made this sweet potato casserole as a trial run for Thanksgiving. The house smells amazing and it is absolutely delicious! We all love this! This will be a staple for the holiday from now on. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I’m not a fan of the sickly-sweet marshmallow topped casseroles, but this one looks so much better! The flavors sound amazing, and I love that you swapped in coconut sugar and added vanilla. Too delicious! Pinned.

  3. A great casserole and wonderful way to prepare sweet potatoes.



  4. SO, I was totally going to make How Sweets sweet potato casserole…but I think I’m going to make this instead! Bookmarked :)

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