We all have our favorite sauces and dips—from a creamy ranch and sweet and spicy BBQ to savory hummus and tangy vinaigrette. However, sauces are like the accessories of a meal; they’re meant to be swapped out and experimented with. The right sauce can turn a boring chicken dish, salad, or fries into a culinary adventure.
Unsurprisingly, sauce trends change frequently. While we may go back to our favorite standbys, many of us are keen to try something new from time to time. In fact, 39% of consumers are tempted to order an item with an “original” sauce or ingredient.
Which sauces are currently trending? Which flavor profiles will likely tantalize your senses and top your list this year? Here are a few options to consider adding to your next meal.
You can never go wrong with salty, sweet, and savory flavors when it comes to saucing your entrees and side dishes. However, the trend of late is to turn the spice up to 11.
Americans are notorious for skimping on heat. However, that long-established trend is changing. Today, more U.S. consumers are demanding spices, like jalapeño and chipotle (smoked jalapeño), tajin, hot mustard, smoked paprika, gochujang, harissa, schug, and sambal, as well as chili crisp-oil (infused with crunchy pieces of peppers, scallions, garlic, and so on).
These spices are popping up in everything from BBQ to aioli, and people can’t get enough.
Tropical flavors are also surging, with everything from banana and mango to guava and Asian citruses like yuzu dominating dressings, BBQ sauces, and more. You can also expect to see unusual additions to ingredient lists. Florals like lavender, lemongrass, and hibiscus are invading the sauce world.
Finding Natural Goodness
Even a few years ago, choosing a BBQ sauce might have involved little more than weighing the flavor advantages of smoked versus honeyed. However, today, consumers pay attention to the ingredient list, where those ingredients come from, and how products are manufactured.
People are hunting for natural ingredients and warding off chemical additives that are impossible to pronounce. Organic options and ingredient lists that work with alternative diets (vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, etc.) are also popular. More consumers also favor eco-friendly production, and several brands like Annie’s, Brianna’s, Organic Girl, Primal Kitchen are working to meet consumer demand in various ways.
Supporting a Healthy Lifestyle
Sauces are notorious for bumping up a meal’s calorie count while contributing little nutritional value, but that’s changing as people seek ways to add flavor without detrimental side effects. Sauces that help to support a healthy lifestyle include natural ingredients and added value through features that improve immunity or gut health, for example.
Kimchi has become a common additive, and the market is seeing an explosion of fermented hot sauces. Many people are also seeking low-sodium options, and sauces that play a role in an overall holistic diet are starting to gain momentum.
What’s a cake without icing? It’s still good but not as decadent or appealing as you know it can be. The same basic principle applies to adding sauces to your everyday dishes. People want sauces that feel indulgent without ingredients they know are bad for them.
This is why modern sauce recipes need to feature quality ingredients that dial up the flavor without added fat, salt, and other common additives of old. They also need to provide an immersive experience through a unique flavor explosion that thoroughly dominates the taste buds.
We have to eat for survival, but we also tend to eat for pleasure. If you’re going to consume some calories, shouldn’t they deliver feelings of satisfaction, decadence, delight, and even an air of adventure?
To answer that call, the sauce market has opened the door for ethnic sauces that transport tasters across the globe with a virtual magic carpet of culinary immersion. The latest ingredients to gain popularity include Thai, Vietnamese, and Middle Eastern spices.
Sauces may be considered simply “extra ingredients” in meal preparation, but they’re essential for creating satisfying dishes. With new flavors and a focus on balancing health and indulgence, you’re sure to find plenty of satisfying new sauces to tempt your palate this year.