Sweet Potato Casserole: Learn the History – and How to Make – This Famous Dish

Everyone has that one dish they look forward to during the colder months of the year. Sweet potato casserole—with its soul-warming flavor and velvety texture—is one of those dishes, and is frequently found on tables celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays. But do you know how it became a holiday favorite? Learn more about the history behind this dish and get the recipe for Ruth’s Chris’ famous Sweet Potato Casserole with the pecan crust.

Yams Versus Sweet Potatoes

We can’t discuss the history of sweet potato casserole without addressing the age-old questions: is there a difference between sweet potatoes and yams? While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are in fact two different root vegetables altogether.

Yams are native to Africa and Asia and have a much starchier, fibrous texture, reflected in their pale flesh. Sweet potatoes—while they come in several varieties—often have that signature orange color, are far sweeter, and are native to the Americas.

Marshmallows or Pecans or Both?

One question that is often asked before preparing a sweet potato casserole is: do you top it with marshmallows or a sweet pecan crust?

The first recipe for marshmallow-topped sweet potato casserole was actually published by a marshmallow manufacturer in 1917. So, was this cloyingly sweet concoction a clever marketing ploy or was it the pillowy topping to take an old holiday treat to new heights?

The sweet potato casserole with pecans recipe originated in the South, and early variations of the recipe included different ingredients like cream or milk. The recipe has morphed over to the years to the recipe we know today, and Ruth’s Chris is famous for its version of this side dish.

The Best Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe

If you’ve been to Ruth’s Chris before, you’ve probably enjoyed our famous sweet potato casserole. Now you can devour this sweet and savory side dish from the comfort of your own home.


Crust Mixture:

  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¾ cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
  • ¼ cup melted butter

Sweet Potato Mixture:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • ¼ cup butter

Cooking Process

  1. Combine crust mixture in mixing bowl and put to one side.
  2. Combine sweet potato mixture thoroughly in mixing bowl in the order listed.
  3. Pour sweet potato mixture into buttered baking dish.
  4. Sprinkle crust mixture evenly onto surface of sweet potato mixture.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes at 350֯. Allow to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy Sweet Potato Casserole From Ruth’s Chris Steak House

Whether you make it at home or order it at our restaurant, sweet potato casserole is a classic side dish that will never go out of style. Make a reservation at Ruth’s Chris today to enjoy this delectable dish alongside USDA Prime steaks and fresh seafood!