Sous vide meats and chicken sausage, themselves delicious food innovations, have made waves in the food and restaurant industry for the flavors they impart.
From the slow-cooked richness of sous vide to the punchy complexity of chicken sausage, there’s a lot to discover as trends and consumer preferences change. Here’s what we see for recent sous vide and sausage innovations and flavors.
Sous Vide Pork
Looking at sous vide pork, the top flavors since 2020 have focused on smokiness, rich BBQ, and herb-filled Italian. We see smoked pork in the top spot, followed by sweet and fruity applewood smoke; the Italian blend of thyme, basil, and oregano; and the bold taste of hickory smoke.
In terms of the fastest-growing flavors, we find sweet at 18% and savory at 15%, followed closely by Japanese flavors like miso, soy, and togarashi BBQ with its citrusy, spicy kick and seaweed earthiness. Interestingly, the sharp, lingering tang of chives sits firmly at 10.5%, showing that the combination of pork and mild onion stands the test of time.
Emerging flavors are bringing in bolder combinations and more global tastes. In 2023, there’s a sophistication to sous vide pork, with flavor innovations such as black truffle, garlic and ginger, bourbon, lime, mezcal, Cajun, and Korean BBQ. Cuban mojo BBQ, with its sour orange, garlic, and herb blend, is a prime example of delicious flavors on the move.
Operators in high-end independent restaurants are more likely to introduce regional dishes flaunting Vietnamese, French, or Greek flavors, while more mainstream establishments shift their menu to the pork flavors gaining acceptance, such as citrus, Latin American, Chinese, chipotle, and apple. Fast-casual dining spots keep it traditional, with proven favorites like garlic, jalapeño, BBQ, sweet, and spicy ingredients.
Sous Vide Beef
What’s popular with beef flavors? The top flavors keep things time-tested, with onion and pepper ranking high, followed by Chinese flavors rich in sesame oil; soy sauce; and bold, spicy peppercorn. Other top flavors turn to Mexican ingredients, with punchy citrus, creamy avocado, tangy salsa, and caramelized onion enhancing the beef. Carne asada is a top flavor here.
The fastest-growing beef flavors bring out fruity/floral, tangy, and herbal notes, elevating sous vide beef with innovative flavor combinations. At 19.2%, sage is the fastest growing, with coconut at 17.2%, miso at 12.4%, and curry at 12%. Thai basil and coffee, each at 11.4%, aren’t far behind.
Emerging flavors get smoky and spicy, with Hatch chile, coffee rub, smoked BBQ, charred BBQ, and jalapeño making their way across the dining industry. Roasted gravy, smoky garlic, and Korean bulgogi, with its savory and sweet notes, are further rising stars.
Across operators, fine-dining restaurants prefer to innovate with cedar smoke, walnuts, yuzu, and Cuban flavors, while more mainstream and fast-casual places focus on sweet and spicy Latin American and Mexican ingredients, along with creamy, earthy, and citrusy notes.
Sous Vide Chicken
Chicken flavor innovations see a strong increase in grilled chicken and tangy buffalo sauce, followed by spicy, sweet, and tangy teriyaki and smoky yet rich BBQ sauce. Chinese flavors, running the gamut from fiery peppercorns and star anise to sweet, fragrant glazes, appear 18.4% of the time, with spicy flavors at 15.4%, garlic at 8.3%, and sweet at 8.1%.
What do we see with the fastest-growing chicken flavors? An incredible array of taste sensations. Crumbly cotija cheese takes the top spot at 24.4%, while sweet and musky melon is close behind at 20.8%. We also find savory and lemon-infused herbs inching their way past 17.4%. Indian-inspired tikka masala and garam masala at 16.3% show the continuing love of creamy textures and fiery spice, while tangerine and cherry at 15.4% and 14.7%, respectively, bring some refreshing fruitiness into the mix.
There’s a decidedly similar trend with emerging flavors, with hot and spicy, sage, basil and pesto, Korean BBQ, hardwood smoke, ginger, and chipotle reigning supreme. Other emerging flavors have a softer side, with apple and gouda, maple, mango, and marsala wine adding gentle yet complex flavor notes.
High-end and independent restaurants often bring chicken flavor innovations showing Indian, German, Jamaican, or Thai influence, while more mainstream and quick-service establishments are more likely to rely on teriyaki, Latin American, honey mustard, BBQ, Italian, or spicy flavors.
Sausage has historically been made of beef, lamb, or pork, but today, chicken meat is gaining ground. The most common top sausage flavors show a strong preference for smokiness and gourmet blends. We see 8.2% of top products infused with smoke, 6.1% with subtly sweet applewood smoke, and 3.2% with punchy hickory smoke. Others seek the complexity of herbs, fruits, and vegetables, with feta and spinach at 7.1%, sage at 5.2%, and green chile and sweet apple at 3.5%.
Emerging sausage flavors show even stronger preference for heat, with spicy Italian and hot Italian gaining ground. Other growing sausage flavor trends range from Black Forest to garlic and ginger or cranberry and smoke. Beer, cheddar, and jalapeño flavor is another rising trend.
While smoky Cajun chicken sausage brings out spicy and earthy flavors, smoky chili verde chicken sausage has a mix of tangy, spicy, and herbal flavor notes.
We also see chipotle peach BBQ chicken sausage bringing in a unique blend of sweetness, heat, and smoky richness. White BBQ sauce is another intriguing shift in recent years. Featuring a mix of mayonnaise, vinegar, and spices, Alabama white BBQ sauce adds a creamy, tangy complexity that amplifies the sausage meat.
Top Trends: Spice and Smoke
Across all meat entrées, consumer demand is giving rise to menus with more heat and smoke.
We find that 73% of surveyed consumers want more spice in their meals. Chili oil's menu presence has increased by 72%, hot pepper by 70%, habanero sauce by 66%, and Calabrian chili by 30%. Sichuan peppercorn and Korean gochujang also show increasing consumer interest.
Smoky flavors are also trending in consumer demand, with those aged 18 to 24 showing the most interest in the complex flavor profiles. Interestingly, there’s a split between the smokiness of wood and the smoky notes that come from fresh and dried peppers. Both types are appearing more often on menus, with ancho chili pepper increasing by 183%, poblano pepper sauce by 38%, and smoky BBQ by 11%.
For more insights into sous vide and other meat entrée innovations, contact Symrise today.