As a huge fan of sweet potato pie, I’ve always been perplexed by traditional Thanksgiving sweet potato side dishes.  Whether it is candied yams or a sweet potato casserole dish, most of the recipes call for a lot of butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, pecans, and sometimes marshmallows.  Granted, I love both dishes but have always been confused about why they are so sweet – sometimes sickly sweet.  A more honest recipe classification would put these recipes in the dessert category.

I understand the history and nostalgic aspect of preparing a candied yam recipe, especially if it is a Thanksgiving tradition or a family recipe which has been passed down through the generations.  But what I don’t understand is why people would want to add a top layer of marshmallows to an already sweet dish.  If anyone happens to know the history behind this dish, I would love to hear from you!

I decided to make a Sweet Potato Gratin recipe borrowing certain elements from the traditional side dish offsetting the familiar sweetness with a little bit of saltiness and reducing the amount of sugar.  I also use Asian coconut milk to create a fusion of ‘east meets west’ flavors.

I present to you a very simple and flavorful sweet potato dish, which also happens to be vegan.  By seasoning thinly sliced sweet potatoes with kosher salt and pepper, followed by spoonfuls of spiced coconut cream sauce, the salty and sweet combination work beautifully.  Adding depth to the sauce with a touch of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, molasses, and curry powder makes for a familiar yet noticeably different type of Thanksgiving side dish.  Using a combination of bold spices elevates this sweet potato dish into something special beyond its traditional brown sugar cousin. I would describe this dish as subtle, elegant, and delicious… exactly what a memorable Thanksgiving sweet potato side dish should be!


Recipe: Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin

  • Prep Time: 10 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 50 min(s)
  • Total Time: 60 min(s)
  • Servings: 8-10

A simple but elegant sweet potato side dish


  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons raw turbinado sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 2 lbs peeled sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/16" (or thinner) slices
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Optional garnish: 1/3 cup toasted chopped pecans


    • Heat a small sauce pan on medium high heat.
    • Add the coconut milk, 3 tablespoons raw turbinado sugar, molasses, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom.
    • Stir the sauce until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and set aside.
    • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and spray a 8x8" casserole dish with non-stick spray.
    • Place a layer of sweet potato in an overlapping pattern in the baking dish and lightly season with salt and pepper.
    • Drizzle 4-5 tablespoons of the sauce over the sweet potatoes.
    • Repeat the layers 3 more times.
    • Pour the remaining sauce over the top layer and evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of raw sugar over the potatoes.
    • Bake uncovered for 50 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender.
    • Optional garnish: Sprinkle with toasted chopped pecans - To toast pecans, place chopped nuts in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, toast the nuts until aromatic, approximately 2-3 minutes being careful not to burn.
    • Cook’s note: If you plan on doubling the recipe, baking time should be doubled as well.

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4 Responses to “Spiced Sweet Potato Gratin”

  1. gena

    what kind of curry powder would work best in this? I have garam masala, and a maharajah style.

  2. rawfoodie

    Made this over Christmas. I absolutely love it and my guests did too. Nice change from the ordinary gooey sweet potato dishes. This is a keeper.