Senator Russell’s Sweet Potatoes (Version 1 & 2)

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Calling down to Georgia’s  State Capitol offices and the Culinary History Society of Georgia, nobody could comment on the gustatorial habits of Richard B. Russell, Jr. (1897 – 1971) the famous politician this dish is named for. But judging from its ingredients, one thing is sure: Richard Russell had a sweet tooth. Depending on the version you source, this sweet potato casserole—a mainstay going back for generations on Southern holiday tables, includes from two to three cups of sugar. That, plus plenty of butter and pecans, makes this more of a dessert than a side dish, in my opinion.  But sidedish, or dessert, there’s no denying that the butter-crunchy pecan crust and smooth, whipped sweets beneath taste delicious.

SweetPotatoprep5.5 x 3.7

I’m including two versions of the dish. The first, which may be the original, comes from Nicolette Bruner, who got it from her husband’s grandmother, Stella Roberts Russell, one of Senator Russell’s cousins. It has about half the butter, a quarter of the milk and a third of the sugar used in the second version.

The second version comes to us from Victoria Osteen, who, with her husband Joel, pastors Lakewood Church, of Houston, TX, one of the largest congregations in the country. Victoria’s mom’s family comes from Georgia and says the dish goes way back on their traditional holiday menu.


Makes 10 to 12 servings

Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes Version 1 (from Russell Family) Ingredients

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 stick melted butter

Senator Russell's Sweet Potatoes Version 2 (Victoria Osteen's Recipe) Ingredients

  • 10 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 cups firmly-packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, chopped


  1. Version one: Mix first six ingredients well and place in a buttered 8 x 10 or 9 x 13 casserole dish. Mix brown sugar, flour, nuts and melted butter and sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until bubbling.
  2. Version two: Preheat oven to 350. Bake sweet potatoes until soft, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool, peel and mash potatoes. Force the mashed potatoes through a sieve or ricer to remove threads. Combine sweet potatoes with beaten eggs, sugar, vanilla, milk and melted butter. Spread mixture in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Mix brown sugar, flour, melted butter and pecans. Sprinkle over sweet potatoes and bake for 50 minutes until topping is bubbling.

3 thoughts on “Senator Russell’s Sweet Potatoes (Version 1 & 2)

  1. Our family treats each other 4 times a year, Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas with Sentor Russell. My Maw Maw Traylor from LaGrange Ga treated us all of her life to this wonderful dish. A couple of years ago we had five generations living at one time, all five of us women would cook this dish and have a cookoff, because of the amount of people that loved this dish, we always had enough to serve everyone. Because of the sweetest the children love this as much as adults, it is like a candy dish. This dish helped to create another Southern dish our family eats and has a cooking contest over also. Most people call this dish baked beans, however, we call them Candy Beans in our family and the children as well as the adults devour them. Like you said the amount of sugar both brown sugar and granulated sugar makes this Sentor Russell dish like a dessert. I have the original newspaper clipping of the receipe of the Sentor Russell my Maw Maw Traylor cut out over 50 years ago. It is a genealogy receipe in our family history. Both the Sentor Russell and the Candy Beans have a lot of the brown sugar and granulated sugar. We have one thing we don’t use from the receipe out of the paper however most people don’t know that. My sister-in- law gave me her baked beans receipe, my children when small would not eat them so I added and took away from her receipe to make my own homemade Candy Beans now the entire family love the new beans. So you can image our sweet tooth on these holidays with both Sentor Russell and Candy Beans. Thank you for having this receipe on line for the world to fine. It is an awesome find for someone who has not had this wonderful dish.

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