Flavor enhancers are used in many different food products to create a distinct flavor within the food that it is added to. Even for many hot sauce products, which can have strong and bold flavors, there may be flavor enhancers used. These can help direct the brand to be paired with specific types of food or allow the sauce to be marketed in a certain direction.
The three most common flavor enhancers used in hot sauce are smoke, butter, and bacon. These flavor enhancers augment the flavoring concentration that the sauce is intended to represent. Many flavor enhancers are natural flavorings that have been captured and concentrated to bring out the flavor intended. There are also alternate ways to add enhanced flavors to a hot sauce with extracts, spices, and oils.
In recent years hot sauces have deviated from the typical hot pepper and vinegar flavors to include bold flavors that have become popular in many other types of food products. Sauces that contain flavor enhancers are often viewed as being artificial or unhealthy for consumption. Additives used in a brand name hot sauce available on store shelves will most likely include flavor enhancers approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some are naturally produced from the products they are made from or other plant-based products whereas others are manufactured products.
Naturally and artificially produced flavors
Flavor enhancers can be both naturally and artificially produced. Either one will have similar flavors that they contribute to a hot sauce recipe. Natural produced flavor enhancers are derived from plants where artificial enhancers are made with synthesized “manmade” products states Scientific America. Artificially produced flavor enhancers may still be acceptable to use in a hot sauce product as approved by the FDA.
Why add flavor enhancers?
Many hot sauce brands will have a concentrated flavor to guide their use when pairing with certain foods and for marketing purposes. An example of this would be the smoke flavor in Dawson’s Big Smoke Chipotle hot sauce. This sauce is intended to be used or paired with meats without needing an intense grilling process. If you are making a sauce that has a concentrated flavor it will be easier, less expansive, and increase the shelf life to add a flavor enhancer than the actual product or process the hot sauce through a procedure that “smokes” the sauce.
Easy to use
Flavor enhancers are much easier to use in a hot sauce recipe than the actual ingredient. For example, although bacon can be added to a dish or entre it is rarely used in a sauce. Bacon would need to be fully cooked and processed in some manner and the sauce may need an added preservative to extend the expiration date. A bacon-flavored additive can be added directly to a hot sauce recipe throughout processing without lengthy or costly treatments.
Adding “flavors” to a hot sauce means either adding a product directly or adding essence, extracts, or byproducts of processes like roasting, heating, or frying. Any flavoring derived from processing will take time and energy and this will equal a more expensive process. Because flavor enhancers are concentrated a strong flavor can be added with only a few drops and this can reduce the costs of making sauce.
Pairing with food
Pairing a hot sauce with food can guide its purpose and use. Although consumers love hot sauces they are just not eaten plain unless they are sampled or undergoing a taste test. Flavor enhancers are used to infuse a certain flavoring into a sauce without complex processing to make a distinct sauce.
Many hot sauce brands have distinct flavors because of the hot peppers used but the trend in recent years has been to expand on the flavors offered. Creating a sauce to be paired with specific types of foods can lead to using a flavor enhancer to accomplish this.
Wing sauces are made specifically to be eaten with chicken wings and will almost always include butter or butter flavoring, one of the main ingredients in a wing sauce. These flavor enhancers can instantly change a traditional hot sauce into a wing sauce.
Use flavor enhancer for marketing
Adding the words bacon, butter, or smoke to your hot sauce label or as part of your marketing campaign will certainly get eyeballs on your product. Consumers love these flavors, and they are eaten with a variety of foods.
A simple hot sauce recipe of hot peppers, vinegar, and spices can easily be altered with a flavor enhancer. This can instantly expand a product line and create a particular piece of merchandise to be marketed toward a specific demographic.
Common flavor enhancers in hot sauce
Certain flavors like lemon, limes, and garlic have always combined well with hot peppers and vinegar to create a distinct flavor. Those typical flavors have expanded into using other popular flavors and desired tastes. Hot sauces have increased their flavor profiles to follow the trends of flavors that consumers prefer.
Artificial butter flavor
Both artificial and natural butter flavoring is another rich and decadent flavor that consumers love. This type of flavoring is often found in a chicken wing sauce. Butter flavoring can also be used in a creamy-style sauce or hot sauces used for grilling meats.
A butter flavoring is used because real butter may not mix well in a hot sauce and keeps the sauce from preserving naturally. Other additives like thickeners like binding agents like xanthan gum and preservatives such as sodium benzoate are commonly used.
Natural smoke flavor
A smoke flavor is a very distinct and desired flavor. This flavoring can be added to a hot sauce in several different ways. Read 5 Ways To add Smoke Flavor To A Hot Sauce for other methods of adding this flavor. There are also subtle flavors within the larger umbrella of a smoke flavoring to include mesquite and hickory.
A natural smoke flavor is the intensity of the smoked wood during processing captured and contained in concentrated form. This becomes a liquid form that is added to hot sauce to create the smoke flavor.
A smoke flavor can be found in some dried peppers. Other forms of flavoring are usually added to the peppers by slow smoking them. This produces a strong smoke flavor in a hot pepper that penetrates the flavor of the hot sauce as well.
Bacon and bacon flavoring are not commonly found in many hot sauces and when they are it is usually in the form of a sauce used for grilling meat. This is a distinct flavor that will stand out, take over the flavor and heavily influence what the sauce will pair with.