Pecan Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting

I don’t really understand it, but there seems to be a lot of haterade surrounding green bean and sweet potato casseroles.

Pecan Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting // The Pancake Princess

Why?? They’re so delicious. And generally fatty. Doesn’t that mean people should love them? I gather there’s a love hate relationship going on. To which I say, don’t fight it. Just eat cake instead.

Pecan Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting // The Pancake Princess

Sweet potato casseroles: I’m thinking the negative vibes I’ve been hearing stem from the fact that they’re really dessert dressed up as a side dish, typically topped with either marshmallows or a pecan/brown sugar/flour mixture. This cake is a deconstructed sweet potato casserole that combines BOTH archetypes. Ground pecans, brown sugar and flour are baked into a nutty, lightly sweet cake.

And the frosting! Heidi describes her vanilla mashed sweet potatoes as having the “consistency of thick frosting.” Um, why not? Roasted sweet potatoes are pureed until silky and slathered on top of the cake. Finally,  layer of marshmallows are broiled on top until they form an almost crunchy, gooey-underneath, caramelized lid.

Pecan Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting // The Pancake Princess

Pecan Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting // The Pancake Princess

I think this would make a perfect birthday cake for an open-minded dad (generally speaking, dads seem to belong to a category that likes nuts and also not-so-sweet things) OR a great ending to a Thanksgiving meal because who wouldn’t want to have sweet potato casserole twice? Or, this could be a great post-Thanksgiving dessert—during those happy leftover-eating days, you can revive any leftover mashed sweet potatoes with a splash of milk or butter and a whir in the blender, and use that to frost the cake.

Pecan Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting // The Pancake Princess

As a public service health announcement, the cake is gluten-free and butter-free—it’s just buttery tasting thanks to the naturally buttery pecans. It’s like a miracle! But it still has calories, so try not to eat the entire thing. I know, I’m such a killjoy.

Pecan Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting

Yield: 1 6-inch layer cake

Serving Size: 1/8

Calories per serving: 231

Fat per serving: 12.3

A deconstructed sweet potato casserole in the form of cake: wholesome, gluten-free pecan cake is layered with a smooth frosting made out of sweet potatoes and topped with broiled marshmallows.


  • For the pecan cake:
  • 2/3 cup pecan meal (or a scant 2/3 cup of pecans, ground into meal)
  • 2/3 cup oat flour (gluten-free if necessary)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if necessary)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk or runny yogurt

  • For the sweet potato frosting:
  • 3/4 cup roasted sweet potato OR filling from a leftover sweet potato casserole
  • ~6 tablespoons milk of your choice*
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup (more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon brown butter (optional; I'm curious if butter extract would work here to keep this vegan)
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

  • ~1/2 cup mini marshmallows for topping


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease your cake pan of choice: I baked two layers separately in a 6-inch round cake pan, but you could also make this a one layer cake in a 8- or 9-inch cake pan and adjust the baking time accordingly.

Whisk the pecan meal, flour, cornstarch and baking powder together in a bowl.

In another bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk the eggs until frothy, yellow and thick. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla and buttermilk and whisk until combined.

Fold the wet into the dry until just combined.

If using the 6-inch pan: bake half the batter for 18 minutes, or until cake springs back lightly when touched. Let cool for five minutes, then release cake from pan and set aside to cool. Re-grease the cake pan (I didn’t wash it in between) and bake the rest of the batter for another 18 minutes until done. Set aside to cool while you make the frosting.

If using a 8- or 9-inch pan: pour all the batter into prepared cake pan and bake until cake springs back lightly when touched. I'm guessing this will take around 30 minutes, but check on the cake early and often since I haven't tried it this way; the cake may need more or less time.

For the sweet potato frosting:

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend until very smooth. In my blender, it was hard to get a smooth blend with the small amount of volume. If you double the recipe, you will have lot of leftover frosting, but it's so healthy and delicious, you can eat it with a spoon! Or over yogurt or whatever. OR you can save it for another special frosted recipe coming this week! hinthinthint

*You will need to eyeball the amount of milk you use depending on how much water your sweet potato has or how liquidy your leftover sweet potato casserole is. Add enough milk so that your frosting is easily spreadable but not runny. I started with 1/4 cup of milk and added more a tablespoon at a time until I reached a consistency I liked.

To assemble: Frost baked, cooled cake layers. Top with mini marshmallows and turn on broiler. Once broiler is heated, put the cake on a baking tray and broil for 30-60 seconds, or until marshmallows start to brown. Watch your cake the ENTIRE time because it is incredibly easy to scorch marshmallows under the broiler. Remove from oven and eat!


Cake adapted from here; frosting inspired from here.

One time, I also turned a crepe cake into a sweet potato casserole. It was pretty sweet.

Sweet Potato Casserole Crepe Cake












Got leftover pie? MAKE THESE PANCAKES. They are seriously so so good. Yes pie on carbs may sound a little over the top but Thanksgiving only comes around once a year!

{leftover} Pie Pancakes




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29 thoughts on “Pecan Cake with Sweet Potato Frosting

  1. Pingback: 10 Delectable Gluten Free Thanksgiving Dessert Recipes – Light In My Hands

  2. Gaby

    These look delicious! And yes, leftover pancakes are always a good idea, with cranberry sauce too! I can’t believe I just discovered your blog through a pinterest post. I am also a Houstonian and make pancakes roughly 4-5 times a week so I’m totally in <3 with this!

      1. Gaby

        A favorite?? Do I have to choose? haha, I like playing with different flours, but my go to for perfectly flippable pancakes is bob’s red mill gf mix. From there I play with mix ins, coconut, pumpkin, apples, and of course nothing beats some caramelized bananas! I can’t have naked pancakes though, everything must be topped with peanut butter :)
        I haven’t tried too many houston pancakes because I’m vegan, but a trip to the new radical eats location is long overdue!

        1. erika Post author

          Ohh that would be tough. I don’t know if I’ve seen any vegan pancakes in Houston. But oh man I’ve heard GREAT things about the Radical Eats brunch. I’ve been meaning to go! I’ll let you know if they have vegan pancakes 😉

  3. Alice

    Big, big NOM!!! Love the photos, love that pillowy-marshmallowy top and especially love the use of pecans too. Incredibly festive recipe, perfect in the lead up to the silly season :)

  4. Laura Dembowski

    My issue with Thanksgiving foods is that they all come from a can. Homemade green bean casserole and sweet potato casserole would taste a whole lot better. I have no issues with this cake . . . except that I don’t have a piece in front of me!

  5. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    I love the peace not war message you’re spreading with this post, Erika. I would NEVER throw shade at a sweet potato casserole. It’s like, bring it on! I’m so impressed with this cake – it sounds absolutely delicious and it looks stunning. What a fabulous idea to make a filling out of whipped sweet potato. I’d use half of it for the cake and half of it would go straight into my face. Ahhhhh, the holidays. An excuse to eat like the pig that I am! Happy Thanksgiving, girl. I’m thankful I have you in my life. Eat, drink ‘n rest up lots this weekend!

    1. erika Post author

      Omgosh they were never a staple of our Thanksgiving dinners either, but I love them so much!! The first time I had one, it was a revelation. YOU MUST TRY IT!!!!

  6. Two Red Bowls

    This. Cake. I’m speechless. I need this cake in my life. So gorgeous, and your description of every layer — perfection. One of the best recipes I’ve seen all week in this Thanksgiving rush!

  7. Kelly

    Wow, this cake looks magnificent and that marshmallow topping is broiled to perfection! Hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving Erika :)

  8. Choc Chip Uru

    Pecans and sweet potato is fantastic together, but I didn’t know it could be a frosting! Looks delicious 😀
    And wow, these marshmallows are the perfect icing on the cake 😉


  9. tahnycooks

    I wish I could have a slice of this right now in front of me accompanied by a glass of milk!

    I love that this is a healthier version of the holiday favorite flavors!

  10. Mary Frances @ The Sweet {Tooth} Life

    This is hands down the most beautiful and creative way to eat sweet potatoes. What a cake! That frosting looks so incredibly thick, those little marshmallows are adorable, and the all around presentation is stunning. And of course, can’t go wrong with pecans, pecans, and more pecans! Pinning!

  11. The Vegan 8

    Oh yum! Sounds divine girl! I love pecans, they are my favorite but and I love sweet potatoes. I love the marshmallows on top, omg heaven! See, NOW you can kind of see why my pecan butter cookies have been such a hit…because they impart such a buttery flavor. It’s better than butter because it has such a deep rich flavor. That’s why I also used it in pancakes instead of oil. Pecans are like no other!! I’m dying for a slice of this….you’ve been making the best food for Thanksgiving this week!!


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