What's The Deal With The Burnt Snack Trend?

The Scots have been on to something with their well-fired rolls. Burnt snacks are now appearing in supermarkets around the world, and lovers of all things well-done can feast upon extra smoky and toasted crackers, nuts, chips, and peanut butter. These snacks have turned the more expected flavors of roasted ingredients up a notch by delivering that ever-satisfying taste of caramelized sugars from extra time spent in the heat. Imagine cookie edges that have been left in an oven a tad too long or neglected marshmallows that have been charred over a roaring campfire, and you have the idea.

Browse the snack aisle of your local grocery store and you're likely to find this trend on display in all kinds of iterations — from Extra Toast Cheez-Its to Dark Split Pretzels, Cape Cod Dark Russet potato chips, and Dark Roasted peanuts. While bitter and charred weren't always everyone's cup of tea, the flavor profiles are beginning to take the culinary world by storm. Scorched-tasting snacks are new but also comforting, as the slightly burnt taste is one almost every at-home cook has experienced. Plus, when strategically placed on a charcuterie board or grazing table, these crispy-tasting snacks bring a touch of intensity to the flavors already present at the party without shocking guests into aversion through excessive spice or unknown ingredients.

Deepen meals with smoky flavor

Now that snacks have inserted themselves into meal times, you can sneak some of these smokier treats into your more traditional dishes with ease. Look for extra toasty crackers to pair with slices of Gouda and Swiss cheese, or grab a bag of extra dark Splits pretzels to dip into salted peanut butter or garlicky hummus. 

These burnt snacks are versatile. For morning menus, dark roasted peanuts can lend a rich roasted aroma to your already comforting morning breakfast bowl. At your next cocktail party or backyard barbecue, add dark russet kettle chips to invite a more robust depth to your burgers, top mac and cheese with the toasted crunch, or consider crumbling the pieces at the bottom of the snack bag over cookies for a unique flavor profile.

Since not every eater enjoys the taste of toast that has been scorched on the highest setting, it's a good idea to provide options for all the guests at your table. Serve the extra-seared snacks alongside more familiar flavors, like barbecue or salt and vinegar chips, so guests can create snack plates of their own choosing. Without much effort, your char-enhanced charcuterie boards may quickly become the talk of the party.