There’s nothing like the savory taste of foods that have been slow-smoked with care. More than 50% of consumers say they enjoy smokiness, and they’re looking for a greater variety of smoky flavors on menus.
According to Technomic, diners consider their cravings for smoky flavor profiles to be unfulfilled. This might be due to the demanding nature of traditional smoking. The process requires a considerable amount of time, labor, equipment and cooking space. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways for operators to deliver smoky flavors without the added investment.
Many operators are taking advantage of liquid smoke as a flavor enhancer. This ingredient makes it easy to add smokiness to nearly any menu item, including proteins, vegetables, fruits and beverages. It’s made from real wood smoke and comes in different varieties to meet operators’ needs for smokiness with subtle flavor nuances in a hurry.
Chipotle, which is a smoked hot pepper, is often used in sauces and seasonings to create a smoky taste. Chipotle mayonnaise is currently the fastest-growing condiment on menus, supporting the idea that diners are demanding smoky flavors on dishes beyond barbecue. Chefs and operators can satisfy these cravings by creating a chipotle mayonnaise to add to sandwiches and burgers or serve as a dip for fries and onion rings.
Another way to add smoky flavor across the menu is by using ingredients that have been pre-smoked. There are many ingredients that bring savory, earthy flavors to dishes—no smoker required. Examples include:
- Cheeses—Use smoked cheeses to add depth to a number of dishes. The Open Yolk Turkey Breakfast Sandwich can be made with smoked Gouda for a unique and tasty twist.
- Spices and seasonings—Salt, cumin and paprika are often available smoked to turn flavor up a notch. This Baja Turkey Salad Wrap is amplified with a roasted red jalapeño vinaigrette that includes smoked paprika.
- Bacon—Crispy and smoky, bacon brings both texture and flavor to all kinds of menu items. With 60% less fat than pork bacon, Butterball’s Premium Turkey Thigh Bacon is a smart offering for health-conscious diners—plus its thicker texture allows it to maintain a smoky flavor similar that of pork bacon.
Smoky flavors can be made simple. What’s your favorite way to add smokiness to the menu? Share it with us on Facebook and LinkedIn, and be sure to view our Culinary Center for more on-trend recipe ideas.
Flavor Consumer Trend Report, Technomic, 2017.
3 Ways Flavors Are Getting Bolder, Restaurant Business, April 2018.
Burns, Alyssa. How to Get Smoky Flavors without Firing Up the Grill, WebstaurantStore, October 2015.
Sackton, Tim. Five Ingredients That Add Smoky Flavor To Your Food, Fiery Flavors, July 2015.
Raichlen, Steven. How to Smoke Meat Without a Smoker, The Wall Street Journal, May 2016.