Classic fall flavors like pumpkin and apple continue to appeal to many consumers, but that doesn’t mean restaurants and other food and beverage businesses need to strictly stick to the basics like apple pie or pumpkin lattes. There are plenty of ways to get creative with well-known fall ingredients while also making room for new or less common seasonal creations.

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By doing both, you may be able to appeal to different types of consumers — some are seeking comfort in what continues to be a difficult period due to the pandemic, so familiar fall flavors could hit the mark; others might be seeking more excitement, and they can get a taste of indulgence through unexpected autumn creations.

With this in mind, consider some of the following fall flavor trends and examples of fall culinary offerings:

Apple Delights

For the 2021 fall season, apple comes out on top in terms of the most appealing fall flavors and or ingredients for consumers, according to Technomic. Some innovative ways to incorporate apple into dishes, notes Technomic, include brining meat in apple cider, as well as pairing apple with jalapeno for a spicy-sweet condiment.

Another example of incorporating apple flavors can be seen in the packaged goods space. General Mills has launched a new seasonal variety of the classic cereal Cinnamon Toast Crunch; the new flavor is called Apple Pie Toast Crunch.

Moving Into Mushrooms

For a warm, comforting taste that breaks away a bit from the usual fall ingredients, consider turning to mushrooms. Technomic finds mushrooms hold even higher appeal than pumpkin this fall season. And the lion’s mane variety is an emerging fall flavor, the research firm notes.

Mushrooms can also make an excellent complement to traditional fall flavors. The New York Times shares a recipe for a savory squash pie, and one of the suggested pairings is “sautéed mushrooms finished with garlic and lots of parsley.”

Pumpkin Twists

Pumpkin may seem to be everywhere on fall menus and product lines, but that doesn’t mean you have to discard this classic. However, there are options beyond some of the more common collaborations, like pumpkin in coffee drinks.

As The Boston Globe reports, there are several places in Boston, for example, serving up pumpkin spice flavors in different ways. For example, City Tap, in Boston’s Seaport/Fort Point District, serves up a pumpkin spice martini called “The Drunken Pumpkin.” The ingredients include vanilla vodka, Baileys, Becherovka (herbal bitters that have notes of fall spice), pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice.

Other ways to bring new life to pumpkin include noting the specific varieties of pumpkin used, such as Fairytale pumpkins, notes Technomic. The research firm also highlights how the pumpkin vine can be used in place of some greens in dishes.

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Craving Carrots

If you want a break from classics like pumpkin and other squash, you can turn to a different orange root vegetable to still provide a fall feel — carrots. Happy Gillis, a Kansas City brunch spot, serves a “fun dish with roasted carrots, carrot hummus, pickled carrots, roasted peanuts and greens on warm pita bread,” notes Mary Bloch, a food critic at Kansas City NPR station KCUR, in a KCUR story.

On the sweeter side, WBUR, Boston’s NPR station, shares a recipe from Chef Kathy Gunst for carrot and apple tea cake with candied carrot strips.

Call Me Old Fashioned

Fall is a great time to experiment with new beverages, including cocktails. In addition to drinks like a pumpkin spice martini, a beverage like an old fashioned provides a great canvas for fall flavors.

As Locale Magazine reports, Craft House, in the Southern California locale of Dana Point, serves several types of old fashioneds for fall. One, for example, incorporates bacon flavors, and another features ingredients such as smoked rosemary.

The Instagram account @in_time_for_cocktails also shares a fall old fashioned recipe, with this one featuring fresh fig.

See Where Fall Flavors Take You

As these examples show, there are so many great fall flavors to incorporate into food and drinks. Whether you’re serving up fresh meals, creating packaged goods or serving up cocktails, there are tons of options for using produce that’s often harvested during this season, as well as for creating dishes and drinks that add a bit of warmth as temperatures drop.

With so many routes to take, you may want to try your hand in a few different ways, such as by serving up hearty, innovative main courses with ingredients like mushrooms while perhaps also creating more common, comforting pumpkin desserts.

This series is backed by our Seasonality Initiative where we help our customers develop pipelines of new concepts and flavor ideas for the seasons and major occasions like the Fall.

When most folks think of seasonality it’s normally in preparation of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall; but when consumers, more specifically foodies, think of seasonality it is usually in anticipation of pumpkin spice lattes or breast cancer pink cookies. At Symrise we are constantly looking for ways to innovate and that means going beyond the scope of normal. It also means not only looking for inspiration within, but outside of the box — our box being the food and beverage space.


Looking for more flavor insights? Get in touch with our experts at Symrise to see what trends you might want to tap into.

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