Subtle Spice Could Be The Hot New Food Trend In 2023

Working with bold ingredients like chili and pepper amplifies the flavor. However, not everyone is a fan of mouth-burning, sweat-inducing, ultra-piquant spice levels. Instead, using a bit of discretion can add that je ne sais quoi to a dish without leaving you red in the face. 

Spicy foods like chilis contain a chemical called capsaicin. When receptors detect this chemical on our tongue, it triggers the release of adrenaline and endorphins, which act as "natural painkillers," notes the BBC. While this dichotomy of pain and pleasure is appealing for some, not everyone is interested in heat to the same degree, which is precisely why there's been a shift towards subtle spice. 

Expanding well beyond the hot sauce industry, many brands have started introducing mild spice directly into existing products, while others have introduced an entirely different approach to fiery infusions. According to Supermarket News, some brands offer consumers a kick of fire through applications like spice flakes or condiments that blend spice with other ingredients. That said, this allows consumers to tailor the level of heat added to a dish. As for which spices are trending in these spiced products, the answer lies abroad.

Chaat masala, tamarind, and other international spices will take over

Collectively, we're becoming more adventurous in our food choices — spices are no exception. With about 74% of consumers interested in trying international flavors, Global Food Forums shares that spice blends like funky and fiery chaat masala are expected to gain traction within the next year. Echoing this sentiment, Beck Flavors has even named the overlooked tamarind as 2023's innovative flavor of the year, sharing that its heat and sourness can pair with a range of sweet and savory ingredients.

Likewise, lesser-known spice blends are gaining more attention. National Restaurant Association explains that spices from Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and South America are expected to peak. Additionally, the association named Mexican guajillo chili sauce, spicy marinades made with Korean ganjang, and numerous types of sriracha as condiments to watch out for in the next year.

Lastly, certain spices are expected to remain on-trend. Supermarket News reports that African spice blends like umami-driven shito, smokey harissa, and tangy berbere are predicted to be mainstays of the spice scene. With so many options to try in 2023, you'll be infusing a touch of heat into every dish imaginable – maybe even for fiery ice cream!