The Flavor Forecast has been a leader in identifying emerging culinary trends that inspire a passion for flavor for over a decade. New this year, our global forecast pinpoints the forces that will drive culinary innovation around the world in the coming years.
Celebrating the root of a cuisine—be it an ingredient combination, signature dish or cooking method—is a renewed global priority. As cultures evolve, preserving the integrity of regional flavors is crucial to honoring their heritage, even as lifestyles continue to change. Chefs inspired by foundational flavors and cooking styles are applying a fresh perspective that balances modern tastes and cultural authenticity.
Cumin with Sofrito
Authentic Hispanic foundational flavors. Sofrito—an aromatic blend of garlic, onion, bell pepper and tomato sautéed in oil—is the flavorful base of countless traditional Latin dishes, from Spanish to Cuban. Robust cumin, one of the world’s most widely used spices, is taking these “background” aromatics to new places on the global culinary map.
Korean Pepper Paste with Sesame, Asian Pear & Garlic
BBQ with a global twist. In Korean barbecue, powerful ingredients combine in an intricate harmony for the senses. Gaining popularity as a result of interest in global street food and regional live-fire specialties, chefs are celebrating the balance inherent in this tasty heritage—dazzling the taste buds with a unique combination of sweet, sour, savory and bitter.
Quest for the Ultimate
For flavor fanatics, what satisfied yesterday will not do for tomorrow. Those searching for the pinnacle of fulfillment in food are on an endless quest to achieve ever-greater sensory heights. For some, the “ultimate” might equal superlative quality; for others, it is about a patchwork of textures, colors and layers of enjoyment. Culinary explorers are seeking out combinations that create powerful, harmonic bursts of elemental flavors—be it zesty, refreshing, umami or pungent—for the ultimate taste experience.
Dill with Mint, Melon & Cucumber
The ultimate refresher. The supremely cooling blend of cucumber and melon gets an invigorating kick from lively dill and mint. Prized in Turkish, Greek and African cooking for the cooling refreshment they bring, the winning combination of dill and mint adds both an unexpected savory backbone and a subtle herbal sweetness.
Meyer Lemon with Lemon Thyme, Limoncello & Lemon Peel
The ultimate lemon. With its mellow acidity, Meyer lemon mingles with the familiar, pleasing bitterness of lemon peel, the sweetness of Limoncello and the citrusy, herbal notes of lemon thyme. The result is a bracing symphony of ingredients that showcases the lemon’s multi-dimensional flavor profile.
Veggies in Vogue
Veggies have long been saddled with second-class citizen status, suffering from overcooking, oversaucing and lack of inspiration. Those days are finally over, thanks to the enthusiasm of chefs, the quality of seasonal produce and the unstoppable growth of fresh markets. Showcased through new cooking techniques and inventive bursts of flavor, it’s finally the vegetable’s time to shine.
Eggplant with Honey & Harissa
Worldly veggie with sweet heat. Eggplant is a diverse global favorite that often replaces meat in dishes because of its substantial texture and hearty flavor. Naturally sweet honey and the fiery North African condiment, harissa, add unique intensity, elevating eggplant to a starring role in many international cuisines.
Squash with Red Curry & Pancetta
Versatile veggie with a touch of Thai. Red curry brings an air of the exotic to adaptable squash, for a match that can be enjoyed throughout the seasons. This spicy curry blend warms up winter squashes, while waking up summer varieties. Savory pancetta adds a hip twist, thanks to the world’s passion for cured meats.
The most memorable food is often the simplest. As cooks focus on highlighting quality ingredients with simple preparations, they have moved away from the clutter of complex presentations and flashy innovations. Their creativity is mindfully balanced with a dose of restraint. Clear, unpretentious flavors are an approachable celebration of the basics – and remind us what real food tastes like.
Ginger with Coconut
Warm spice joins tropical favorite. Ginger’s multi-faceted personality is being celebrated for its endless possibilities for sweet and savory dishes. Lush, creamy and cool, coconut is a deliciously contrasting—though wonderfully complementary—counterpoint to the intensity of ginger.
Vanilla with Butter
Pure essentials for real goodness. Sumptuous vanilla is one of the most unmistakable flavors on earth. When vanilla is paired with the creamy richness of butter, this essential duo elevates baked goods. New savory applications bring the pairing to the forefront, transforming everyday meals into simple indulgences.
In the quest for personal well-being, small changes add up to big results. Simple, healthy swaps can help us make consistently better choices for the mind, body and soul – without sacrificing enjoyment. Balancing an appetite for bold flavor with a hunger for good health is key to achieving wellness goals, one delicious taste at a time. Swapping spices and herbs for salt and fat results in flavors that are vibrant enough to stand on their own.
Grapefruit with Red Pepper
A new take on lemon pepper. Grapefruit and red pepper delivers big flavor with purely wholesome ingredients. With a range of bright offerings—juice, zest, pulp—grapefruit meets a similarly versatile match in the exciting assortment of red pepper forms and varieties. An added bonus, this bold, sour-spicy duo also boasts promising metabolism-boosting benefits.
Red Tea with Cinnamon & Plum
Better-for-you beverage meets fruit and spice. Known as rooibos in its native South Africa, caffeine-free red tea has a nutty taste and deep auburn color. Having conquered the healthy beverage realm, red tea is emerging as a flavor in a wide range of dishes, both savory and sweet. Juicy plums and warm cinnamon round out this aromatic, antioxidant trio.
Culinary trailblazers are cooking outside the lines by discovering, reinventing and even playing with food. We now have the freedom to explore and enjoy whatever foods we want, whenever we want. Blending inspirations and shedding the confines of traditional “rules” equals a renewed permission to have fun. From mixing up dayparts to packing the flavor of a whole dish into a single bite, we are guided by a single, simple mantra: anything goes.
Blueberry with Cardamom & Corn Masa
From everyday to extraordinary. In an unexpectedly delicious collision of influences, an all-American stand-by fruit meets a staple of Mexican cooking and India’s versatile “queen of spices.” The combination bursts with excitement, transcending meal times and regional borders.
Sweet Soy with Tamarind & Black Pepper
Steak sauce with an Asian flair. An indispensable flavoring in its native Indonesia, sweet soy is a savory-sweet, molasses-like sauce – also known as kecap manis. Together with black pepper and tamarind, these boundary-bending ingredients bring new inspiration to a condiment culture.