This super easy healthy Thanksgiving side dish is made in the microwave with just 7 ingredients! The citrus + ginger in this microwave no bake sweet potato casserole SHINES, and anything off the stovetop and out of the oven is a win for big holiday meals. We love this as a side dish for garlicky roast pork as well!
Without any ado, I present to you Grandmother's Sweet Potatoes (microwaved healthy sweet potato casserole). My grandmother was a lifelong reader, and very often would send me recipes or clippings of food articles she found that she thought would interest me (they all did, I adore reading about food).
I think that's how this recipe came to be; she found a version of it in the newspaper or in a magazine, then my dad started making it once he took on Thanksgiving for our family.
We have these lightened up sweet potatoes every Christmas and Thanksgiving, and I've already made them once this year for a Friendsgiving! They are SO good, and really different from anything else sweet potato you've had before, I can almost promise.
First and foremost, this entire recipe can be made in the microwave, which is huge when it comes to fighting for oven space before big meals. We've finished these in the oven or microwave, and I swear you can't tell the difference one way or another.
The sweet potatoes are also initially baked in the microwave, which saves time and doesn't heat up the whole dang house. THEN, the potatoes are mashed with lemon juice and orange juice and just a teensy hint of salt, sugar, and butter. The mixture goes into a baking dish, is nuked a little more, and the lightest, brightest sweet potatoes ever are ready for your Thanksgiving table.
Reviews every time I make these include "I was not expecting to like these at all but I did!" So, there. Glowing? Glowing! I'm telling you: ginger and citrus with sweet potatoes are a match made in HEAVEN.
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole Ingredients
You need sweet potatoes! Three pounds or so (this is for 8 small servings since no one will eat a full serving of anything on Thanksgiving), scrubbed. Then it's orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, ground ginger, salt, and butter.
Ingredient Notes and Variations
- Fresh or bottled OJ works great here. Add some orange zest if you'd like for even more citrus flavor!
- If you don't have brown sugar, white sugar works fine. If you prefer to not use sugar, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, honey, or agave are lovely in this recipe.
- The salt is important to bring out the flavor of the citrus and balance the sweetness of the potatoes and sugar. Don't skip it!
Step By Step Instructions
The only time consuming part of this entire recipe is baking the potatoes. So, prick them a little bit with a fork, then stick them in the microwave for 20 minutes. If you have very large sweet potatoes, you may need 25 or 30 minutes to get the potatoes soft all the way through. Test them with a fork, which should go easily all the way to the center of the potato.
(Also, yes, that is my microwave and YES I know it's easier if you just wipe it out every day.)
Let the potatoes cool until you can handle them, then peel the skin away and put the flesh in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
Use a fork to mash everything together, then taste the mixture! Add more of anything you'd like, and REALLY you could eat the potatoes right now.
But, spread them in a baking dish (a small square, or size similar to this medium roasting dish) and microwave them for 10 minutes more to heat through, or bake them covered at 350F or so (whatever the oven is already on for other dishes) for 20 minutes or until they're hot.
Microwave Sweet Potato Casserole FAQ
YES! The only non-vegan item in the ingredients list is the butter. You can leave it out completely (sad), or replace it with vegan butter, which is delicious.
Short answer: it depends! It depends on the size of the sweet potato, mainly. Start with about 15 minutes for medium sweet potatoes. If they are still super hard after that, add 10 minutes more. After that, use a fork to test the potatoes for doneness - a fork should easily pierce the potato all the way to the center. If it doesn't, add 5 minutes of microwave time, and repeat the fork test until the potatoes are very soft all the way through.
Yes! I like to leave the lid ON (or use plastic wrap if your baking dish doesn't have a lid), and microwave for about 5 minutes, stir, then again for 2 minutes, stirring again and repeating 2 minutes at a time until the leftover casserole is warm all the way through. Because this casserole doesn't have marshmallows or another topping, it reheats a little more evenly than a casserole with a topping.
And that's it! Healthy sweet potato casserole with just a few ingredients, tons of flavor, very little effort. What I love about these is that they are such a different flavor profile than most traditional Thanksgiving side dishes, not heavy or dense, and without a ton of fat or sugar added.
Make Ahead and Storage Instructions
These are great to make-ahead and will last in the fridge for at least 3 days before a big meal, then will just need to be heated up before you'd like to eat.
The flavors, the method, the ingredients are all so simple and so flavorful here. Mashing the potatoes with a fork means they stay nice and fluffy, and the tang of the citrus juice is wonderful with the deeper flavors of Thanksgiving, turkey + gravy, etc.
Other Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes:
- Roasted Turkey Breast and Gravy
- Smoked Turkey Breast
- Broiled Lemony Asparagus
- Curried Carrots
- Pumpkin Blondies
Try these for Thanksgiving, or just the next time you need some brightness with a sweet potato side dish. You will LOVE these. Enjoy!
Microwave Sweet Potato Casserole
- 3 pounds sweet potatoes scrubbed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ lemon juiced
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup softened butter
- Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Microwave on paper towels or a plate for 20-25 minutes until very soft all the way through. (this can be done in advance!)
- When the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and place the flesh of the sweet potatoes in a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Use a fork to lightly mash the potatoes into the seasonings, then taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings to your preference - add more of anything you'd like!
- Spread the mixture into a small baking dish (mine was 8x8 for these pictures), and microwave for 10 minutes more to heat through. Or, bake at 350F for 20 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite meal. Enjoy!
This recipe was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated with improved instructions.