sweet potato winter squash casserole with pecan topping

Make Ahead Sweet Potato or Winter Squash Casserole with Crumb Topping {Paleo/Gluten-free/GAPS}

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This casserole can be made with either sweet potatoes, or winter squash, depending on your diet and preference. Paleo, GAPS and Gluten-free, you’ll love being able to make this before your holiday dinner — refrigerate or freeze, then bake when you’re ready!

I was a vegetarian for 10 years. During that time folks always felt sorry for me on Thanksgiving, because I couldn’t have the turkey. I chuckled to myself, hehe: more room for sweet potatoes and stuffing! Yep, I’ve always been one for rich foods, full of fat, flavor and sure, crumb topping! Now that I can and do enjoy moist, dark-meat turkey each Thanksgiving, I have to be extra strategic. I definitely skip the rolls. (I do not need plain bread and jam taking up room on a feast day!) I need Sweet Potato Casserole (and stuffing)!

For our GAPS (low-starch) diet, I also make a winter squash version. Both are gluten and grain-free; both are rich… and you want them to last forever. Thankfully this humble casserole dish holds a huge amount of goodness. I must weigh it at some point. I seriously think it weighs 15 pounds! And it feeds so many!

sweet potato winter squash casserole with pecan topping

Make Ahead

I got the idea to make this a casserole that can be prepared ahead of time, for convenience-sake! What happens anyway when you put uncooked eggs in the freezer? Will the casserole bake up as it should? Will it turn out?

I’ve taken that guess work out for you; so you can focus on making the turkey, the stuffing and perhaps pies the day before and the day of the holiday. This casserole freezes, defrosts and bakes beautifully!

Make something predictably awesome ahead of time so there is less stress the day your loved ones arrive, (or more time to make pies)!

Note: I give both variations of the recipe below: make ahead and freeze or bake and serve immediately.

5 from 3 votes
sweet potato winter squash casserole with pecan topping
Make Ahead Sweet Potato or Winter Squash Casserole with Crumb Topping {Paleo/GAPS}
Prep Time
35 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Servings: 12 servings (or more)
Author: Megan
Main Recipe
  • 8 cups, loosely packed cooked sweet potato or butternut squash cut into big chunks, (yielded from two butternut squash or 10 sweet potatoes, approximately, depending on size)
  • 1 can coconut milk, or 1-3/4 cup high fat raw milk or grass-fed heavy cream
  • 4 pastured eggs
  • 1/2 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup (I like to use honey with winter squash and maple syrup with sweet potatoes)
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil or butter melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Crumb Topping
  • 2-1/4 cups sprouted walnuts, see How to Sprout Nuts below in Recipe notes
  • 3 T. coconut flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 T. coconut sugar or honey* (see note below)
  • 3 T. coconut oil, butter or ghee room temperature
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. + a pinch sea salt
Main Recipe
  1. Grease a 9" by 13" casserole dish with animal fat, butter or coconut oil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, if you plan to bake the casserole immediately.
  2. Place all ingredients into a large 14-cup food processor (or puree ingredients in two batches if necessary). Puree for 30-50 seconds, scraping down the sides once, until all ingredients are smooth and well mixed.
  3. Pour puree into casserole dish and smooth the top. Make Crumb Topping.
Crumb Topping
  1. In (dry) food processor, blend walnuts to a meal.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until they come together nicely, clumping somewhat.
  3. Sprinkle topping on casserole. Cover and freeze, if you're making the casserole ahead of time. Or bake in preheated oven if eating immediately.
  4. Bake in preheated 325 oven until even the middle is hot and the topping is golden brown but not too dark.  Check after 45 minutes and cover loosely if it's browning too quickly.  Total times will vary slightly, about 1 hour total. (Note: the center will be slightly jiggly, not fully set.)
  5. For make-ahead casseroles, take casserole out of the freezer the afternoon/night before you plan to serve it, allowing about 24 hours for it to defrost in the fridge. Uncover the casserole while it defrosts. Cook according to above baking instructions.
  6. Once baked, allow casserole to cool, and set up further, for 20 minutes, before serving.
Recipe Notes

How to Sprout Walnuts- For every 4 cups nuts, cover with room temperature, filtered water by two inches, and 2 tsp. sea salt.  Stir well to dissolve the salt.  Leave out overnight at room temperature to soak.  Drain in a colander; and rinse them well. Place in your dehydrator, or low temperature-capable oven, 95-145 degrees, for 24-48 hours.  To check your nuts’ doneness, let one or all cool to room temperature.  Eat one.  It should be very dry and crispy, no softness or chewiness to the inside.  Store in the refrigerator or freezer because walnut oils go rancid quickly.

*If you make the topping with honey as the sweetener, it will be sticky and take more time to crumble on top of the casserole. Expect an extra 5 minutes if you choose the honey version.

In conclusion, if you haven’t made my stuffing recipe before, I highly recommend that recipe, as well (find it here). I’ve gotten tons of great feedback on the grain-free version! Happy Holidays!! Enjoy all the healthy fat!

And here’s the humble casserole dish I recommend. The new American-made Pyrex is no longer safe. Consumer Reports now recommends this European-made version, that uses the original glass recipe that Pyrex once used.

Comments 18

  1. Planning a dinner party can be so stressful! Having a yummy make ahead dish like this would really help. I’ll try this out for sure.

    1. Me too! My kids say that having leftovers cold is like eating upside down pumpkin pie. They love it this way for breakfast!

  2. Oooh, yum! This is my kind of sweet potato casserole! Usually the ones served at Thanksgiving are too sugary for me. :p

    Thanks so much for sharing this at Savoring Saturdays, Megan! I hope you’ll stop by and share with us again this weekend! 🙂

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Savoring Saturdays linky party! Just wanted to let you know that I’ll be featuring your recipe tomorrow when it goes live. Hope you’ll join us again 🙂

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