Lemon-Pepper Sweet Potato Crisp

This is my new favorite sweet potato side dish. It's got incredible texture and amazing flavor with an irresistible bread crumb topping. You can serve it hot, but I think it might be better warm or at room temperature, which makes it a nice choice for Thanksgiving when it's hard to have everything ready at the same time. Great for a special holiday dinner or a random weeknight supper.

Prep Time:
35 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 35 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 10 mins
8 servings

Calling a Crumble a Crisp for Fun and Profit

Unlike some of my peers, when I decide on a name for a recipe, I always try to go for the most accurate title, and not what would make for the best click-bait. This time however, I willingly and knowingly called something a "crisp" that's really more of a "crumble." In fairness, it was very crispy, and with a few tweaks to the method, it could become a legit "crisp." But bottom line, if it crumbles, it's a crumble.

Having said that, I assume no one is overly concerned, but still, I felt like I had to come clean, since one of my biggest online pet peeves, especially when it comes to food, is blatant false advertising. You know, like "crispy baked sweet potato fries," which we all know is a lie, and yet we still naïvely click on the link, hopeful that some kind of magical breakthrough has been discovered, only to find out we've been had. Again.

Anyway, to turn this absolutely delicious casserole into an actual crisp, I'd simply break up, or chop up, the crispy, cheesy crumbs into much smaller pieces and push them down much more aggressively into the soft, sweet potatoes below. Texture aside, I thought the flavors in this were truly incredible. And while cheese is not generally considered a typical Thanksgiving ingredient, it really works here, which is why I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

baked sweet potato casserole with breadcrumb topping on a plate
Chef John


For the Topping:

  • 4 cups fresh bread crumbs

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

  • salt to taste

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste

  • ½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

  • 1 ¼ cups grated sharp white Cheddar cheese, divided

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives, or to taste

For the Base:

  • 2 ¾ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

  • 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or more to taste

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner (such as Silpat®).

  2. Place bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and pour melted butter over top. Add salt, cayenne, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and mix until evenly coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and arrange in an even layer. Sprinkle 1 cup Cheddar cheese over top.

  3. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Leave the oven on.

  4. Place sweet potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper, cayenne, and melted butter; toss until evenly coated. Immediately transfer sweet potatoes into a buttered baking dish.

  5. Bake in the center of the oven until potatoes are very tender, about 1 hour.

  6. Break up the crispy, cheesy bread crumbs into very small pieces and scatter evenly over the potatoes. Gently press them into the potatoes and sprinkle remaining ¼ cup Cheddar over top.

  7. Return to the oven and bake until browned, 15 to 20 more minutes.

  8. Sprinkle with chives before serving.

    sweet potato casserole with crispy bread crumb topping in a white baking dish
    Lemon-Pepper Sweet Potato Crisp. Chef John

Chef's Notes:

When making your bread crumbs, make sure you remove all the crust first. Cut large, coarse bread crumbs or smaller cubes, 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch in size.

You can use a lime instead of a lemon, if preferred, and feel free to try different cheeses, such as Pecorino or Gruyere.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

321 Calories
14g Fat
45g Carbs
6g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 321
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 8g 42%
Cholesterol 35mg 12%
Sodium 638mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Protein 6g
Potassium 581mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

You’ll Also Love