Today, sweet potatoes and marshmallows are an iconic American couple. But have you ever wondered how those fluffy puffs of sugar found their way to the dinner table? As it turns out, this now common combo may be the result of one of the first native advertising campaigns in American history. A 2011 article in Saveur has the scoop. Apparently, the first documented recipe that combined these two ingredients appeared in a 1917 pamphlet that was financed by—you guessed it—a marshmallow company.
So why let a centuries-old advertising ploy tell you how you make your next sweet potato casserole? Of course it’s undeniably true that marshmallows and pecan streusel (another go-to topping) are traditional and tasty ways to dress up this Thanksgiving staple. But they’re by no means the only foodstuffs that go hand in hand with the spicy, starchy treat. Why not try surprising and delighting your guests by adding fruit, using different kinds of nuts, or taking things in a savory direction?
Mix It Up With Fruits and Roots
From tropical to tart, fruits can bring their own natural sweetness to your next casserole.
All you’ll need is one banana to add a hint of fruitiness. Get the recipe.
A whole medium pineapple complements the sweetness of the potatoes in a fresh and flavorful way. Get the recipe.
Not only do the bright red berries and seeds taste great, they look festive to boot. Meanwhile a dash of orange juice and zest lends a citrusy brightness to the flavor profile. Get the recipe.
Beyond the flavor factor, the coconut topping caramelizes in the oven to create a crunchy golden brown crust over the top of the dish. Get the recipe.
Add a tablespoon of crystallized ginger into an otherwise standard pecan streusel for a fun zing! Get the recipe.
Pecans aren’t the only option!
When it comes to a nutty crust, pistachios lend more saltiness than the traditional pecan approach. Get the recipe.
A topping of hazelnut and oats with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and butter delivers an aromatic and autumnal twist on the standard streusel. Get the recipe.
This recipe reduces the sugar factor by mashing the sweet potatoes with orange juice instead of milk or cream. Additionally, cashews tossed with madras curry powder give this variation a spicy twist. Get the recipe.
Savory Is the New Sweet
It’s no secret that some people find this Thanksgiving essential far too sugary. Here are a few adjustments you can make to cater to palates that prefer savory over sweet.
While this recipe technically lives in the salty and sweet borderlands (hello, caramel), we threw it to the savory category thanks to the ¾ cup of crunchy crushed pretzels. Get the recipe.
If bacon, leeks, and two types of cheese can’t get the haters on board, we’re not sure what will! Get the recipe.
This recipe calls for dousing alternating layers of sweet potatoes and cheese with a mixture of cream, garlic, rosemary, and nutmeg. The herbal cheesy final product is sure to make skeptics see sweet potato casserole in a new light! Get the recipe.