Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Holiday Stuffed Sweet Potato – with bacon, pecans & sage

Stuffed sweet potato with holiday vibes! Baked sweet potatoes stuffed with crispy bacon, toasty pecans and swirls of browned butter, with melty cheese and a crunchy sage-panko topping. A swoon-worthy combination of flavours and texture.

Freshly baked Holiday stuffed sweet potatoes

Stuffed Baked Sweet Potato Casserole

This is a riff on my sweet potato casserole, baked in individual sweet potato boats rather than one big casserole pan. The scooped out flesh of baked sweet potatoes are mashed with all sorts of holiday-flavour-goodness (specifically browned butter, pecans and bacon, an utterly divine combination with sweet potato), stuffed back into the potato boats, baked with melty cheese then finished with a shower of crunchy sage-bacon-flavoured-panko breadcrumbs.

PHEW that’s a long sentence!!!

No, it’s not a quick Monday-night side dish slapped together in a rush. This is a starchy side that commands attention, that’s indulgent and lush and made for special occasions. The flavour combination of sweet-salty-nutty-buttery and the crunchy topping with the creamy insides is just unbelievably good.

Bonus: Assemble ahead then bake on the day!

Inside of Holiday stuffed sweet potatoes


Sweet potatoes

I’m using 300g/10oz sweet potatoes which, once halved, makes a nice size portion as a side dish for one person, If your potatoes are larger or smaller, that’s fine. There’s enough topping / filling for around 1.2kg / 2.4lb sweet potato, whether it’s 6 smaller ones or 3 larger ones.

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This recipe will also work with regular potatoes. But the flavour combination here has been specifically designed for sweet potatoes. Try my regular Twice Baked Stuffed Potatoes instead – though there’s nothing regular about how delicious that recipe is!!

Add-ins and crunchy sage-panko topping

Here’s what you need to mix into the filling and for the crunchy topping.

  • Unsalted butter – We’re using this to make browned butter today. More intensely buttery with warm nutty flavours. The better butter!

  • Bacon – Chopped then fried up until crispy and golden, we use the fat to pan fry the panko until golden. No wasting free flavour!

  • Colby cheese – This is my all-rounder go-to cheese with good melting qualities and flavour without going greasy. Feel free to substitute with other cheese of choice – cheddar, tasty, Monterey jack, gruyere, swiss cheese. If using mozzarella, I’d mix in 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese for a flavour / salt boost.

  • Spices – Garlic, onion powder and paprika.

  • Panko breadcrumbs – For the toppings! Larger and crunchier than ordinary breadcrumbs, find it in the Asian aisle of regular grocery stores (though cheaper at Asian stores!).

  • Fresh sage – This is my herb of choice for this holiday-inspired side dish. The earthy flavour is sheer perfection with the buttery sweet potato. If you’re cooking for a special occasion, I think it’s worth getting. But if you don’t have it, you can substitute with rosemary for another herb that will work well with the other flavours in this dish. Otherwise, just use parsley so you get similar green specks (don’t worry, there is plenty of other flavour going on in this dish!).

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How to make Stuffed Sweet Potato Casserole

In a nutshell, the flesh of baked potatoes are mashed up with the tasty add ins, re-stuffed back into the potato then baked with cheese and a crunchy topping.

  1. Bake – Prick the skin with a fork to allow excess juice to leak out (this prevents skin burstage). Then bake the potatoes in a 200°C / 400°F (180°C fan forced) oven for 75 minutes or until soft. Check with a butter knife, not a sharp knife (too sharp so it glides through even if not properly cooked, made this mistake!).

  2. Scoop – Let it cool for 10 minutes just so you can handle it. Then cut in half and scoop the flesh out, using a tea towel to hold the potato if needed.

  1. Filling – Mash the flesh up with all the filling add-ins (see below for steps for each) – the browned butter, crispy bacon bits, chopped pecans, spices and cheese. Reserve half the bacon, pecans and cheese for topping.

  2. Stuff the potato with the filling then top with the remaining cheese,

  1. Bake for 25 minutes until the cheese is melty and there’s golden spots.

  2. Top with the reserved bacon, pecans and golden panko mixture (see below). Bake for a further 3 to 4 minutes just to warm the crunchy topping then serve!

Tray of Holiday stuffed sweet potatoes

Add-ins and panko topping

Prepare the panko topping and add-ins to mix into the filling while the potatoes are baking.

  1. Browned butter – Just melt then simmer the butter until you see golden bits and it smells nutty and intensely buttery. Ideally, use a silver saucepan or small pan so you can see the golden bits. Otherwise, use a spoon to scoop up the butter to check.

  2. Toast pecans – Using a non-stick pan, toast the pecans for 3 minutes in a dry pan until it you see golden spots. Then transfer to a cutting board and chop once cool,

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  1. Crispy bacon – In the same pan, fry the bacon until crispy and golden. If using streaky bacon, you won’t need extra oil because the fat in the bacon will melt. Then remove the bacon using a slotted spoon so the fat in the pan gets left behind – we’re not wasting a drop of it!

  2. Crunchy panko – Add the panko, sage and salt. Then cook for a few minutes in the bacon fat until the panko is golden.

Toppings, done! Use as per directions in the section above.

Close up photo of Holiday stuffed sweet potatoes

Serving and making ahead

We (JB and I) created this recipe with upcoming holiday gatherings in mind. As in, a starchy side dish intended to make an impact on your guests for those extra special dinners.

Does it take more effort than a regular baked potato? It sure does. Does it take more effort than making one big pan of Sweet Potato Casserole? Yes, because we’re assembling multiple ones rather than dumping everything into one big pan.

Is it worth the effort? Yes, a million times over. As someone in my team said, you feel sad when you finish the last bite because you never want the eating experience to end.

But don’t worry. Steal the last one left for yourself. Hide it. No need to share! #HolidaySpirit 😈 – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Freshly baked Holiday stuffed sweet potatoes

Stuffed sweet potato casserole

Servings8 halves

Tap or hover to scale

Recipe video above. Stuffed sweet potato made for holiday feasting! Twice baked sweet potatoes stuffed with crispy bacon, toasty pecans and swirls of browned butter with melty cheese, and a crunchy sage-panko topping. A swoon-worthy combination of flavours and texture!Excellent special occasion starchy-side dish with holiday flavour vibes. Get ahead by assembling then baking on the day!


  • Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F (180°C fan forced).

  • Bake – Prick the skin of the potatoes 15 times with a fork. Place on a foil lined baking tray and bake for 75 minutes or until soft all the way through (check with a butter knife).

  • Scoop – Once potatoes cooked, allow to cool for 10 minutes just to handle. Cut in half lengthwise then scoop out the flesh, leaving a 0.5cm (0.2″) wall (use a tea towel if hot). Place flesh in a bowl.

  • Stuffing (*see below for prepping components*)- Mash the potatoes with a fork. Then add the browned butter, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder and paprika. The add half of each the pecans, bacon and cheese (rest reserved for toppings). Stir until combined.

  • Stuff – Place halved sweet potato back on a paper lined baking tray and stuff them equally with filling. Sprinkle with leftover cheese and bake for 25 minutes until cheese is melted.

  • Crunchy topping – Top with reserved pecans, bacon and panko mixture. Bake for another 3 to 4 minutes

  • Rest for 5 minutes then serve!

Stuffing & topping components

  • Prepare these while the potatoes are baking.

  • Browned butter – Melt the butter in a small silver pan or saucepan over medium heat. Leave to simmer on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring every now and then, until (when you push foam aside) you see little golden-brown bits and it smells nutty. Immediately pour into a small bowl (including the golden bits) and set aside.

  • Toast pecans – Heat a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Add pecans and toast for 2 to 3 minutes until they have golden spots. Transfer to cutting board, cool then finely chop.

  • Crispy bacon – Add bacon into the same pan over medium heat. When the fat starts to melt, turn the heat up to medium high and cook until golden (4 to 5 minutes). Scoop out bacon with a slotted spoon and place into a small bowl. Leave leftover fat in the pan.

  • Golden panko – Still on medium high, add the Panko topping ingredients. Stir until golden, around 2 minutes, then scrape into a bowl.

Recipe Notes:

1. Sweet potato – If your potatoes are larger or smaller, that’s fine. There’s enough topping / filling for around 1.2kg / 2.4lb sweet potato.
2. Nuts – sub almonds, walnuts, macadamia or other of choice.
3. Cheese alternatives – sub cheddar, tasty, gruyere, Monterey jack, gruyere, swiss cheese. If using mozzarella, I’d mix in 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese for a flavour / salt boost.
4. Sage works so well with the flavours in this dish (fresh, not dried). Rosemary is my back up herb here. Fallback – just use parsley for the green specks in the topping!
5. Assemble ahead – The potatoes can be cooked and stuffed, then baked the next day. Leftovers will keep for 4 days though there’s nothing like freshly baked!
Nutrition per serving.

More statement starchy sides

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