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4 ways to heat up menus

burger jalapenos spicy

Consumers are not shy about their affection for spicy flavors, especially as both customization and comfort with ethnic ingredients grows.

In fact, more than three-quarters of consumers say they enjoy at least moderately spicy foods. And when it comes to red-hot flavor, 58% of consumers say the combination of savory and spicy is the most appealing, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor data.

Fortunately, there are seemingly endless ways to menu this highly craveable flavor pairing.

Spice up sauces

Create dishes with a kick of heat by amping up your sauce offerings with simple ingredients. Adding Maggi Spicy Seasoning, with its craveable flavor profile of umami and Sichuan peppercorns, to gravies and sauces amps up their savory notes and gives operators an easy way to create signature sauces. Fast-casual chains are increasingly rolling out Asian-inspired, flavor-packed sandwiches like the trending Vietnamese banh mi. Traditional banh mi sandwiches call for Maggi Seasoning to amplify the umami of the roasted pork, pate fillings and zing of chilies.

For its fall menu, Buffalo Wild Wings introduced several dishes featuring spicy-savory sauces, such as the Music City Fire Sauce for wings with cayenne, paprika, garlic, black pepper and onion. Arooga’s Grille House & Sports Bar introduced a Spicy Chicken Sandwich featuring red pepper relish and roasted poblano mayonnaise—as well as super-hot ghost pepper cheese.

Kick up sandwiches and burgers

Handheld offerings are virtual blank slates for flavor infusion. Even better, consumers are willing to pay 14% more for burgers featuring hot pepper callouts, Technomic found. Some recent examples:

  • A&W All-American Food added a limited-time Spicy Papa Burger with jalapenos and Spicy Papa Sauce.
  • Mendocino Farms introduced the Kurobuta Pork Belly Banh Mi with chili aioli, pickled daikon and carrots, jalapenos and cilantro on ciabatta.
  • Burger 21’s spicy-savory Spicy Cow Burger included pickled jalapeno, pepper jack cheese, fried jalapenos, Frank’s RedHot sauce and the chain’s Srirachup sauce.
  • Native Grill & Wings launched the Southwest Chicken Stack Sandwich with ancho chili-lime seasoning and honey-chipotle sauce.
  • Emerging fast-casual chain Num Pang features Cambodian-inspired sandwiches with chili mayonnaise and spice-infused proteins.

Perk up pizzas

Mexican pizzas are one of the fastest-growing items with spicy-savory callouts, behind only pork sandwiches and wraps, according to Technomic. This low-cost dish can often be prepared with ingredients already on-hand. The New Mexican Pizza at Armand’s Chicago Pizzeria offers seasoned ground beef, jalapenos and salsa. Brixx Wood Fired Pizza menus a kicked-up pie with black bean spread, jalapenos, sour cream and chicken. And the Mexican Pizza at Giant New York Pizza is topped with refried beans, chorizo, ham and jalapenos.

Amp up appetizers

Apps and shareables are a hugely popular menu segment, and operators are finding ways to extend the craveable spicy-savory flavor combination to the meal’s start. Noodles & Company offered a Korean BBQ Meatballs LTO featuring Gochujuang sauce. Luna Grill recently menued a Spicy Feta starter, which blends the cheese with spices, peppers and tomatoes and serves it with pita and sliced vegetables. Outback Steakhouse expanded on its enormously popular Bloomin’ Onion with a loaded version that’s served with spicy ranch dressing. The shareable Southwest Wonton Nachos at Gordon Biersch Brewery feature wonton chips topped with pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, black beans and smoked paprika-jalapeno ranch. 

This post is sponsored by Maggi Spicy Seasoning

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