Spices and Flavor Trends in 2023: Wow Your Guests with Your Menu’s Flavor

Jan 03, 2023

With a focus on healthy choices, wellness, and variety – some inspiring food and flavor trends are on the horizon for 2022.

Going out to a restaurant is an experience we were deprived of during the pandemic, but in exchange, we have become more creative and experienced in the kitchen and are eager to experiment. When eating out in restaurants now, our taste buds are on high alert to define which flavor, spice, or herb made the drink or dish so we can try and replicate them with our home creations.

Recipes on the internet are available to accommodate our newfound foodie lifestyles. Let’s dive in and see some trends we expect this year.

Flavor Trends: Healthy Herbs and Spices

The priority of health has us focusing on three distinct areas–supporting our immune system, our gut health, and controlling our blood sugars. Throughout the history of the human species, every known culture has used the healing powers of herbs and spices. Here are a few of the more common spices used for health in many cultures.


turmeric spice
Turmeric spice
  • Cayenne chili peppers contain capsaicin. Studies link capsaicin to reducing pain signals to the brain and are used with arthritis pain and diabetes-related nerve damage. It also reduces the growth of ulcer-causing bacteria by reducing excess stomach acid.
  • Cinnamon adds a sweet taste without sugar. Research has linked cinnamon to lowering blood sugar levels, high blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
  • Garlic is a dominant ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, which physicians highly recommend. Studies show garlic intake can help keep blood vessels flexible and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Ginger is sometimes recommended by physicians to treat stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, pregnancy-related and surgery stomach upset, and motion sickness.
  • Turmeric reduces inflammation linked to Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and arthritis. Studies also show turmeric has anti-cancer properties.

7 Popular 2023 Spice Combinations

Chefs who know the health benefits of some basic universal spices can combine them to create some fantastic food dishes.

Many of the innovative spice trends of 2022 will carry over into 2023.  It appears these flavors have not run their course.

These are some of this year’s popular combinations with ingredients and uses that can make your cuisine spectacular:

  • Baharat: From Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Palestine, and Turkey. There are many variations to add aroma, warmth, and sweetness. Ingredients include black and white pepper, allspice, coriander, paprika, cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, cloves, and cinnamon.

Use to season lamb, chicken, and stews.

  • Chinese 5 Spice: (uses the balance of the five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and spicy). Ingredients include star anise, fennel, black pepper, cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, and galangal.

Use on fatty meats like duck, pork, and stews.

  • Ras El Hanout: North Africa and Moroccan. (means “head of the shop”) There are many variations of 12 to 30 different spices. Essential ingredients include black pepper, allspice, paprika, coriander seed, cumin seed, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, mace, nutmeg, turmeric, and ginger powder.

Use to season chicken, couscous, lentil soup, and roasted vegetables.

  • Garam Masala: From India. Ingredients include cumin, coriander, black cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon, clove, bay leaf, mace, nutmeg, star anise, black pepper, and fennel seed.

Use in curries, lentils, vegetables, and stew dishes.

  • Harissa: North-West Africa, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Ingredients include red chili pepper, smoked red bell pepper or paprika, garlic, coriander seed, cumin seed, caraway seed, salt, olive oil, and lemon juice.

Season and marinate grilled meats, spice up stews, couscous, and hummus. And scrambled eggs.

  • Herbs de Provence: Ingredients include rosemary, savory, oregano, thyme, basil, marjoram, and lavender.

Use in preparation of fish, chicken, and vegetables.

  • Za’atar: Levantine cuisine and Mediterranean. Thyme, sumac (or a little lemon zest), sesame, salt, oregano, cumin, black pepper, marjoram, and savory.

Use to marinate fish and other white meat. Season salads, baba ghanoush (eggplant), and hummus, and add olive oil on pita bread.

Popular 2023 Flavor Trends

Exotic flavor trends led the 2022 lists as a nice healthy balance to the spice trends. Vanilla, salted caramel, and milk chocolate are comforting flavors that will always stay popular. Still, some sour and exotic flavors were added to the lists last year.

Lemons, pink grapefruits, and pineapple are still popular, but flavors like lime, yuzu fruit (from East Asia), and clementine have made the list too. Passionfruit, tamarind fruit (from Africa), cranberry, and sour cherry additions create perfect fun drink options.

Yuzu fruit

Some herbal infusions have been keeping things interesting in the drink department. Lavender, chamomile, and mint offer refreshing taste, improved focus, and relaxation.

Chefs have been adding matcha and hemp for a distinguished, healthy flavor to many baking, drinking, and cooking combinations.

These ingredients provide health benefits like reducing inflammation, aiding digestion, and boosting the immune system. Manufacturers have been adding these flavors to enhance the health benefits (and taste!) of products like kombucha, lattes, ice cream, soda, and yogurt.

Health and wellness seem to be the ongoing trend for 2023. Our kitchens are our science labs and are open to all sorts of possibilities and creations. There is something for everyone, and everyone has their take on what their original healthy cuisine will offer.

This year, many in the industry see consumers gravitating toward one healthy beverage in particular: prebiotics.  One of the lasting effects of the pandemic is that consumers are placing a big emphasis on immune health.

With  studies and news reports about the interplay of the microbiome with immune health coming out, it’s easy to see why the prebiotic trend is catching on with consumers.  According to  Grand View Research, prebiotics are projected to see a compound growth rate of almost 15% this year.  Food and beverage manufacturers are capitalizing on this trend by introducing new products infused with prebiotics – like cereal, soda, sparkling water, tea, and other beverages.

Expect even more imaginative prebiotic food and beverage products to be served up throughout the food service industry to satisfy the wellness trend of consumers.

Food and Beverage Products on the Rise

Datassential (a leading food and beverage insights platform) has some strong predictions regarding the food and beverages consumers will seek in 2023.  Using their technology to put a finger on the flavor pulse, they report that consumers will have an increase taste for:

  • Mangonada: A frozen beverage, also known as chamango or chamoyada, are a favorite on the streets and beaches of Mexico throughout the summer. They have the salty, spicy, and tangy flavors of Tajin (a chili-lime salt) and chamoy and can be created with any mix of mango sorbet, diced fresh mango, or mango purée.
  • Spicy Maple: a flavor or condiment that mixes a fiery kick with maple’s sweet, earthy flavor. Usually, it’s used to flavor foods like meats, veggies, or baked products. Depending on the brand or recipe, spicy maple seasoning may or may not contain ingredients like maple sugar, chili peppers, paprika, and other spices. Spicy maple seasoning is frequently used to grilling marinades, sprinkled over roasted vegetables, or used as a flavor for meats like chicken or pig.
  • Ube: a purple yam native to the Philippines,  used frequently in both savory and sweet cuisines. It has a distinct, sweet and nutty flavor. Ube is regularly used in the Philippines to make desserts like halo-halo and ube halaya, a sweet spread prepared from mashed ube and coconut milk.  In some Asian markets, you can buy it fresh – or you can get it is a powdered, frozen, or puree food product.
  • Birria: a classic Mexican food dish made with goat or lamb meat, which is marinated in a mixture of chili peppers and spices, and then slow-cooked until tender.  The meat is typically served in a delicious broth or within tacos.  It is renowned for its flavor – which is distinctly rich and spicy.
  • Salsa Macha: a traditional Mexican condiment made from a blend of ground chili peppers, nuts, seeds, and aromatic spices. It’s often used to add flavor and heat to a wide range of dishes, including meats, eggs, vegetables, and soups. Salsa macha also has a bold and spicy flavor profile. Its exact ingredients can vary, but it typically includes a combination of dried chili peppers, nuts (such as peanuts or almonds), seeds (such as sesame or pumpkin seeds), and spices (such as cumin, garlic, and oregano). It is typically made by toasting the ingredients in a pan, then grinding them into a paste or sauce. It can be found at Mexican food markets or made at home using a traditional recipe.
  • Soju: a Korean alcoholic beverage made from rice, wheat, or barley. It’s the most popular alcoholic beverage in South Korea – often consumed with Korean barbecue food or fried chicken. Soju has a smooth and subtle flavor.
  • London Fog:  hot beverage made with Earl Grey tea, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup. It’s essentially a latte made with Earl Grey tea instead of coffee. The London Fog originated in Vancouver, Canada.
  • Ranch Water: an alcoholic beverage made with tequila, lime juice, and Topo Chico.  Some preparations of it include cucumber, jalapeno peppers, or cilantro.
  • MSG: a flavor enhancer for savory dishes. It’s naturally found in many foods – like cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms.
  • Verjus: a type of tart juice made from unripe grapes. It has a light, greenish-yellow color and a mild, slightly sweet and sour flavor which is less intense than vinegar. In fact, it’s often substituted for vinegar to add a sour and acidic flavor to food dishes – especially salads. Verjus is commonly used in French and Middle Eastern cuisine. It can be found at specialty food stores or online.
  • White Coffee: a type of coffee made with beans which have been roasted to a lighter degree than regular coffee beans. As a result, it has a milder flavor and a lighter (or whiter) color than regular coffee. White coffee is often preferred by those sensitive to the acidity of regular coffee or who prefer a milder flavor. Expect white coffee to show up in the popular flavored beverages – like lattes and cappuccinos – of coffee houses near you.
  • Savory Granola: a mixture of nuts, seeds, and grains – similar to regular granola, but with a savory flavor profile. Savory granola is typically made with ingredients such as oats, nuts (such as almonds or pumpkin seeds), seeds (such as sunflower seeds or sesame seeds), and spices (such as cumin, paprika, or chili powder). It becomes savory when the flavors of  garlic, onion, or herbs are added to it.  Plus, savory granola may include foods like cheese or dried fruit for added flavor.
  • Pickled Strawberries: strawberries which have been preserved in a vinegar-based brine. They can add a tangy, sweet, and sour taste to many food dishes – including salads, sandwiches, or charcuterie boards. Pickled strawberries can be found at specialty food stores or made at home using a simple brine of vinegar, sugar, and spices.
  • Cherry Blossom: also known as sakura in Japanese, the flower of cherry trees that bloom in the springtime.  Cherry blossoms can be used in a plethora of food dishes – including breads, pies, cakes, cookies and jellies.  They have a delicate flavor that’s been likened to the flavor of green tea.  Salted cherry blossoms can have a slightly spicy flavor profile – close to the spices of cinnamon and cardamom.
  • Sisig: a popular street food in the Philippines made with diced or minced pork and seasoned with spices, vinegar, and citrus juice. It’s typically served as a topping for rice or as a filling for tacos and sandwiches. Sisig is known for its bold, savory, and slightly sour flavor.  Often, fresh herbs and spices (like garlic, ginger, and chili peppers) are combined with it to add additional flavor.
  • Black Tahini: a type of tahini made with black sesame seeds instead of the traditional white sesame seeds. Tahini is a condiment made from ground sesame seeds often used in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. It has a creamy, nutty flavor.  Black tahini has a slightly sweeter and nuttier flavor than white tahini. It is also darker with a deep, rich, and slightly smoky flavor. It can be featured in several food dishes – within dips, sauces, dressings, or toppings for meats, vegetables, or grains.
  • Chestnut Flour: a type of flour made from ground chestnuts – an especially popular food ingredient in Tuscany.  There it’s used to make traditional dishes such as castagnaccio, a type of chestnut cake. Chestnut flour has a sweet, nutty flavor and a slightly gritty texture –  similar to whole wheat flour. It’s naturally gluten-free, making it a wonderful  alternative for people with gluten intolerance or sensitivities. . It can be mixed with other flours to add flavor and texture to baked goods.  It can be also be used to coat meat and vegetables.


Menu Innovation and Engineering with Synergy Restaurant Consultants 

As you can see, the trends in flavors and spices this year are as vast as they are exciting.  To be at the cutting edge of the industry, you’ll need imagination and innovation while using these up-and-coming flavors in your dishes.  This is a fantastic way to delight your guests’ taste buds and spur those on the search for the hottest food trends to visit your business.

If you seek professional consultation on your restaurant menu, please reach out to Synergy today!