Last Updated on December 18, 2020 by Novotaste
In the past few years, we’ve seen flavors and spices (turmeric, everything bagel seasoning, and matcha, to name a few) take a permanent residence on our pantry shelves. In a year that turned out to be full of unknowns, I found myself most comforted by my favorite foods and many baking therapy sessions while stuck at home. But like many around the world, I miss satisfying my appetite for new and exciting flavors. As we look to the fast-approaching new year, I chatted with a couple of experts in the flavor industry on what they anticipate will become our next go-to flavors. Lucky for us, it looks like we’ll have one flavorful year. “We’re going to see a lot of launches with a lot more exotic flavors that indicate a feel of global travel,” says Marie Wright, chief global flavorist for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). “I think we’re all wanting to dream about going somewhere.” Here’s a look at some of the trendy flavors you might find in everything from drinks to potato chips at our grocery stores as well as menus when we’re able to dine out safely again.
Popular in Peruvian cuisine, aji amarillo ($9, The Spice House) is a type of chile pepper Alex Wilkens, operations manager at The Spice House, says “has an intensely fruity profile and only a fraction of the face-melting Scoville units found lurking inside those mango-scented habaneros.” He encourages trying a light dusting of the spice on grilled fish or mix with kosher salt for a creative rim on the glass of your next margarita.
Whether it’s a squeeze of lime to add tangy flavor to tacos or in a sweet dessert, citrus flavors are no stranger to the culinary scene. But for a bit of a twist, you might start seeing fermented citrus flavor take a more prominent role. If you haven’t heard of black lime before, it’s a dried version of a key lime that produces a tangy-sweet, slightly fermented flavor. It’s found in a lot of Middle Eastern cuisine, but is making its way into less traditional dishes. Wright says it pairs particularly well with cocktails such as gin and tonics.
This is far from a new flavor, but it’s about to go beyond your morning cup of joe or pumpkin spice latte. Wright says we should expect to see coffee flavor in everything over the next year. Ice cream, yogurt, candy, you name it. Until the new products start hitting shelves, enjoy 2020’s famous whipped coffee if you haven’t had a chance to try it yet.
A bowl of tikka masala is easily one of my favorite ways to satisfy comfort food cravings. So it’s no surprise Wright says the warm Indian spice blend of cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, and coriander is making its way into the culinary industry in new and exciting ways. Sure, garam masala is a go-to spice for savory stews, but Wright says it might appear in unexpected dishes such as ice cream.
This spicy root is already well established in the natural health foods world. It’s known to do wonders for gut health and act as an anti-inflammatory. Wright says this flavor isn’t going anywhere, as we’ll continue seeing ginger either on its own in drinks such as teas as well as sweet or savory dishes. Or it may be accompanied by its other digestive-healthy friend: lemon.
In a year where a sense of calm is most welcome, spa-like notes from florals such as lavender, rose, and hibiscus are already on the rise. Expect to find the relaxing flavor in high-end teas and sweet treats. For some unconventional turns, these floral flavors could find their way into savory snacks such as potato chips.
For anyone longing to travel, the flavors from this tropical fruit can help you feel as though you’re on a gorgeous sandy beach. Wright says in the past, the sweet-tart passion fruit would be combined with other flavors (like in these fruit pops), but she’s “definitely seeing a lot of products with passion fruit standing on its own.”
Both Wilkens and Wright see this key flavor in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine taking off. It’s a star ingredient in the also trendy za’atar spice blend. “Sumac really makes a dish come alive with its bright acidity, fruit-forward profile, pleasantly chewy texture, and perfectly salty bite from the curing process,” Wilkens says. Try using ground sumac ($9, The Spice House) to flavor kabobs, hummus, and roasted veggies.
Garam masala ice cream, floral-infused potato chips, and more could be the next big thing. Which flavor has you the most excited? Until 2021 reveals which of these flavors will really shine, I’m thinking an Indian-inspired dish or a cozy cup of ginger tea will hold me over.