How to use vanilla in savoury cooking with a carrot and sweet potato purée

Side dishes

Discover the Versatility of Vanilla: From Sweet to Savoury with this carrot, sweet potato and vanilla purée

Jump to recipeHow to use vanilla in savoury cooking with a carrot and sweet potato purée

It's time to shake things up and get a (little) wild with your cooking by experimenting with vanilla in your savory dishes! Vanilla is an incredibly versatile flavor that can add depth and complexity to savory dishes, and I'm here to convince you to give it a try and create your own recipes with this ingredient.

First of all, let's talk about the benefits of using vanilla in savory cooking. For starters, it adds a subtle sweetness with woody notes that can balance out other flavors in a dish. But vanilla isn't just about sweetness. It also has a complex flavor profile that can add depth and richness to a dish. Think about it like adding a layer of complexity to your favorite savory dishes. It's like putting on a fancy blazer over a t-shirt and jeans – it elevates the whole outfit.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Vanilla in savory dishes? That sounds crazy! But hear me out. Vanilla has been used in savory cooking for centuries, dating back to the Aztecs who used it as a flavoring for their savory dishes. It's not a new concept – and actually quite common in restaurant cooking but not (yet) in home cooking.

Which vanilla to use in savory cooking?

Vanilla paste is the best choice for savory dishes as it provides the flavor of vanilla without the added sweetness that comes with vanilla extract. The paste is made by scraping the vanilla beans and mixing them with a bit of sugar and a thickening agent, resulting in a concentrated, flavorful paste. It can be easily mixed into savory dishes without affecting the overall flavor profile. Additionally, the paste contains specks of vanilla bean, which adds visual appeal to the dish.

How to use vanilla in savory cooking?

Vanilla can be a versatile ingredient in savory cooking, but it's important to use it judiciously to avoid overpowering the dish. In general, vanilla pairs well with bold and spicy flavors such as chilies, ginger, and garlic. It can also complement the sweetness of roasted vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots. When adding vanilla to savory dishes, it's best to start with a small amount and taste as you go to ensure the flavors are balanced. It's also important to consider the overall flavor profile of the dish and whether vanilla would enhance or clash with the other ingredients. With a bit of experimentation, you can discover the perfect balance of vanilla in your favorite savory recipes. For example, vanilla may not be a good match for seafood, as the delicate flavors of fish and shellfish may be overwhelmed by the strong flavor of vanilla. Similarly, it may not pair well with certain herbs or spices, such as oregano or cumin, which have distinct flavors that may not work well with vanilla. Ultimately, the decision to add vanilla to a savory dish is a matter of personal taste and experimentation.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

1. Add a dash of vanilla extract to your homemade sauce. For instance, in a tomato sauce the sweetness will balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and add a subtle depth of flavor.

2. Mix vanilla beans into your marinade for meats or fish. The complex flavor of the vanilla will add an extra layer of richness to your meat or fish.

3. Use vanilla in your rub for roasted vegetables. The sweetness will caramelize and add a crispy texture to the vegetables, taking them from ordinary to extraordinary.

The possibilities are endless! Vanilla can be used in so many different ways in savory cooking, it's just a matter of finding what works for you.

Now, I know what you're thinking. "But won't it just taste like dessert?" Not necessarily. Vanilla is a subtle flavor that can be used in moderation to add depth and complexity to savory dishes. It's all about finding the right balance of flavors.

So, are you ready to give vanilla a try in your savory cooking? I promise you won't be disappointed. It's time to shake things up and add a little sweetness and complexity to your favorite dishes. Get creative, experiment, and let your taste buds be your guide. The world of savory vanilla awaits!

Today, I will share a simple recipe to get you started: carrot, sweet potato and vanilla purée.

How to use vanilla in savoury cooking with a carrot and sweet potato purée

Discover the Versatility of Vanilla: From Sweet to Savoury with this carrot, sweet potato and vanilla purée

Side dishes
Prep time
cook time
total time
in the fridge up to 5 days


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

Start with 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract and experiment going up

Salt and pepper to taste

A bit of butter


To begin, boil the sweet potatoes and carrots. Let the vegetables simmer until they are soft and tender.

Once the vegetables are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the vegetables until they are smooth and creamy.

Return the pan to the heat and add the vanilla extract and the butter. Start slow with the vanilla, mix and taste before adding more. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. If the sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with a little more water.

Serve the carrot and sweet potato sauce with your favorite dish. It pairs well with chicken (see the chicken breast recipe) or tofu, grilled vegetables, or even as a dip for crackers or vegetables.

Vanilla is a simple versatile ingredient that can add a unique depth of flavor to your favorite savory dishes. So why not give it a try and see how it can elevate your own savory recipes?

Get ready to cook with what's in your fridge! Book your FREE video call 30-minute cooking class and learn the basics of meal improvisation. Limited spots available – as I am testing my new teaching methods!


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