The Unexpected Ingredient To Elevate Sweet Potato Casserole

Whether you enjoy sticky, toasted marshmallows or brown sugar and pecans on top, sweet potato casserole is an iconic dish that never fails to be the Thanksgiving and Christmas crowd-pleaser. It's a sweet, creamy, and utterly comforting mashed sweet potato souffle, using butter, milk, and eggs for a rich flavor and fluffy texture. Brown sugar is a common sweetener responsible for extracting and adding complexity to the natural sugars in sweet potatoes.

However, roasted bananas are an unexpected secret ingredient that'll improve your sweet potato casserole in more ways than one. Roasting bananas softens them while also changing their flavor profile from the distinct banana taste to a more concentrated burnt sugar. This caramelized sweetness complements both brown sugar and sweet potatoes, making the depth of flavor that much more profound.

Roasted, ripe bananas are also known for their binding capabilities and fluffy textures from popular recipes like banana bread and flourless banana pancakes. Consequently, they'll help lighten the texture of dense sweet potatoes. They'd also make great substitutes for eggs or even brown sugar, reducing overall sugar and cholesterol content for a healthier dish. Plus, most of us are guilty of buying too many bananas to eat before they get too overripe to eat. After countless banana bread loaves and smoothies, sweet potato casserole gives you a new avenue of resourcefulness. 

How to add roasted bananas to sweet potato casserole

You can use roasted bananas as an auxiliary ingredient that adds flavor and texture to the sweet potato casserole you always use. You can also use them as a substitute for sugar, eggs, or both as a worthy alternative for vegan or sugar-free dietary preferences.

Whichever option you choose, the first order of business is to roast the bananas to concentrate their natural sugars and add a distinct caramelized flavor. To roast the bananas, place the unpeeled banana on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F for between 10 and 15 minutes. While some recipes recommend slow roasting at lower temperatures, the shorter roasting period at higher temperatures is key to achieving the gooey, soft texture. 

Once they've cooled enough, you can discard the peels and mash the soft pulp in with the mashed sweet potato, dairy, eggs, sugar, and spices. If you're using bananas to substitute eggs, keep in mind that one whole banana counts as one egg. The roasted banana will aid in the fluffy rise of the casserole while also adding that caramelized sweetness.

If you want to substitute brown sugar with bananas in your sweet potato casserole, the ratio of banana to sugar is one part banana for every two parts of sugar. Two to three roasted bananas are more than enough to compensate for the brown sugar you leave out.