America’s Sriracha Love Affair | McCormick Flavor Solutions
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America’s Sriracha Love Affair

Postcards from the Bench

America’s Sriracha Love Affair

February 2018 | Angela, Product Development Scientist

Sriracha is a food that’s broken the mold and become a certified phenomenon. It’s on menus; it’s on t-shirts. You can even get a Sriracha-scented air freshener for your car! So where did it come from, and how on earth did it get so popular?

Personally, I put it on just about everything because I love heat. And I prefer Sriracha over other hot sauces because of its complexity. More than just a hot sauce, it has a complex pepper flavor, but also sweetness from sugar, a sharp hit of acid from vinegar, a rich garlic flavor with tons of umami. It’s the perfect sauce; one simple ingredient that can instantly transform a simple meal into something extraordinary.


We collaborate with our Culinary team to identify the "gold standard" sriracha profile that consumers expect. At first taste, you obviously get heat with high intensity. Then comes the sugar and vinegar. Then the tomato, red bell and chili pepper notes. Finally resting on the highly aromatic, natural note of garlic (which has its own heat) and umami. That ending umami flavor is incredibly important, and yeast extract is one of our tools for helping preserve a savory finish with its abundance of glutamates. Traditionally, many would reach for the MSG, but today's consumer doesn't want that on the label. Our proprietary flavor modulation technology also allows us to deliver that full savory, umami flavor without MSG. It's that complex balance of flavor that made it a go-to ingredient in chef circles and why it's becoming the sensational uber-trend it is today.

Whether it’s a chip, a cracker, or a complete frozen dinner, there are so many possible applications for Sriracha. Even a small tweak to the formulation for a customer’s particular base can throw off the flavor profile considerably. We need to make sure that the gold standard translates both ways: the Sriracha compliments the base, and the base doesn’t diminish the best qualities of Sriracha.

The key to developing anything with Sriracha is understanding balance. Yes, it’s a hot sauce, but heat is not the only flavor it’s bringing to the palate. Hot seasoning can be irritating, and it’s tricky trying to find ways to add flavor without overwhelming a consumer. You don’t want to bite into a cracker that’s so hot that you miss all those other flavors that make Sriracha unique in the first place. We are able to isolate those more subtle flavor notes and scale them up or down as needed, and to plot the order they’re activating your palate.

To develop your next spicy, complex profile, contact your McCormick account manager or contact us here today.