Family Traditions: Fritz’s Sweet Potato Casserole

Author: Oona Sapunor-Pfaff

I don’t know about you, but I am a full-fledged lover of family traditions, especially around the holidays. I don’t care if they are my traditions, your traditions, or a complete stranger’s traditions! I love hearing how people spend their time together, especially when it involves cooking together in the kitchen. There is something so special about slowing down and remembering how someone before you created something delicious for the ones they loved. The history and tradition of passing down beloved family recipes from one generation to the next gets me feeling all nostalgic. Simply put, it feels like home. 

I remember when Peter and I first started dating and were talking about our family’s traditions and what we were going to do for our respective holidays, he told me that he was excited about his dad making his favorite Thanksgiving recipe. It warmed my heart to see this grown man raving about a sweet potato casserole as if it was a rare and unheard-of dish. But that’s what is so great about traditions. They live in your memory and heart and you associate so many other wonderful memories with the actual recipe. This year, my boyfriend’s father Fritz, was gracious enough to share his fan favorite sweet potato casserole recipe that he’s been cooking for over 20 years with me, so that I could share it with you. I hope it brings a smile to your face and fills your belly and heart with as much happiness as it does Peter and the rest of us. 

Fritz’s Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients:

For Casserole:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes (light color) 
  • ½ stick of butter
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup crystalized ginger (chopped)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

For Topping:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup pecans (chopped)
  • 1 cup coconut

*I made the original recipe which is sweet and delicious, but for those of you who want a savory twist, try adding some gorgonzola crumbles on top. It balances out the sweetness and gives it a nice bite.

Directions:

  1. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1” pieces and boil in salt water until tender (about 8 minutes).
  2. Drain potatoes and return to pot. 
  3. Stir until excess liquid evaporates over medium heat. Then add ½ a stick of butter and the white sugar and mash together until smooth. 
  4. Add the half and half, eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt to pot and mix well. When completely mixed, pour into casserole dish. 
  5. In a bowl, combine topping ingredients and mix until crumbly but moist. 
  6. In a separate bowl, combine chopped pecans and coconut together. Mix about ⅓ of the pecan coconut mixture into the sweet potatoes. Mix the remaining into the topping ingredients and sprinkle the topping over the sweet potato casserole covering completely.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Serve warm for ultimate experience.