Kay Brown’s Sweet Potato Casserole

With butter and sherry flavoring.

Sack is an antiquated term for white fortified wines; sherry was one of those wines. Over time, the sherry name took over, though you’ll still on occasion find mentions of “dry sack.” For what it’s worth, keep your dry sack out of this recipe, which calls for something sweeter. (Yes, yes, I know what I said.)

We talked about the production of sherry in the post for raspberry trifle from this box. What I didn’t talk much about was how any of them actually taste, except to say that some are sweet and some are dry. That could present an obstacle for a recipe that calls for “sherry flavoring.”

Sherry flavoring is difficult to find–even Amazon seems not to have it. This is probably because most people just use sherry. But what kind of sherry substitutes for sherry flavoring? Almost certainly, it’s a sweet sherry flavor–and probably a very sweet one.

While obviously there’s a wide range of flavors in the sherry universe, as a general rule, most dry sherries will be crisp and slightly nutty with citrus notes. That’s why they pair so well with shellfish; a dry sherry will end up in a a crab bisque or be used to finish a lemon and caper sauce for shrimp. That’s delicious, but it’s not likely to be something you’d use in a sweet potato casserole.

Sweet sherries (including the cream sherries, although not the “light cream” blends that have started to show up in last few decades) have flavor profiles that are warmer and sweeter–spice and raisin are typical flavors, and as you get darker, the flavors tend more toward prune, fudge, and anise. I’d enjoy any of those with sweet potatoes.

If you want to skip the sherry entirely (speaking personally, I don’t keep sherry on hand), you can substitute other liquors, but expect the results to be different. For a recipe like this, whiskey varieties that have oak and spice notes are would do the job nicely, or a sweeter bourbon, even. For dry sherry, pinot grigio has many of the same tannic and crisp characteristics, just in smaller quantities. As I said, it won’t be exactly the same, but so far, the shrimp haven’t complained.

From the box of L.R. from Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Sweet Potato Casserole (Kay Brown’s)

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup sugar (brown sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. butter flavoring
  • 1 tsp. sherry flavoring

Mix above ingredients and put in baking dish.

Top with:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 stick butter

Melt butter, add flour and sugar and sprinkle over potatoes.

Add 1/2 to 1 cup chopped pecans on top and bake at 350 deg. for 25-30 minutes.


  1. Maureen Wilson

    How very interesting this post is. I was given this IDENTICAL sweet potato recipe in Virginia Beach, VA in 1990. We’ve been using is almost every season since. Kay Brown and Sandy Nelson must be related somehow. More realistically, they must have ‘borrowed’ the same recipe from somewhere. Sure would be interested in knowing from where.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked:*