Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
June 14, 2022

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Whether wet- or dry-seasoned, or a combination of both (a personal favorite), heat-infused wings are always on trend. Modern takes on boosted flavors find chefs playing with sweet-spicy to savory-spicy to full-on spicy.

Here are five flavor categories for chicken wings that merit attention in menu development, presented with trend-forward ideas that deliver a memorable flavor kick.

Set craveable flavors all the way to the bone with brining, employing the sous vide method or smoking, paired with inner/outer layers of lively heat applications. Then add textural excitement with the delightfully unexpected via fun coatings or signature preparations.

  • Hot Smoked Lollis: Smoked and fried chicken “lollipops” + guava barbecue sauce + jerk spice
  • Chorizo Roaster: Roasted chorizo-stuffed chicken wings + tequila-corn purée salsa verde

Dry rubs offer patrons a less-mess eating option than sticky sauces, while stimulating the palate differently and dialing up the flavor experience. Dry rubs become even more impactful when a sauced chicken wing is hit with a spicy dry rub dusting, creating layers of mouthwatering heat.

  • Hot Chaat: Chaat masala + mango powder + dried hot sauce powder
  • Vermont Cowboy: Jalapeño maple spice + smoky barbecue seasoning + white cheddar cheese powder

Fiery fruit-laced wing sauces cue up younger consumer preferences for up-and-coming sweet-heat tastes. Pairing tropical or stone fruit notes with trending hot ingredients delivers sought-after smooth, yet blistering heat-sweet complexity.

  • Burning Sweet: Charred pineapple glaze + peri peri sauce + brown butter
  • Habanero Jammer: Apricot jam + habanero + minced roasted yellow bell pepper

Dipping wings in creamy heat-spiked sauces is an indulgent sensory experience, providing a rounded depth of flavor. Global spice blends and bold chiles cut through the richness, creating “Wow factor!” spicy-cooling counterplays.

  • Bama-Japan: White Alabama barbecue sauce + togarashi spice
  • Hot Italian: Limoncello aïoli + Calabrian chile flakes

Vibrant Buffalo-style sauces are a core wing flavoring, which becomes a safe and ideal platform for introducing new flavor iterations. Charismatic additions fuse bigger and bolder flavor, as well as thicker viscosity into Buffalo profiles.

  • Miso-Beer Buffalo: Buffalo sauce + white miso paste + Asahi Super Dry (Japanese beer) + yuzu powder
  • Garlic Truffled Buffalo: Buffalo sauce + black truffle oil + roasted garlic paste + smoked paprika

About The Author

Rob Corliss

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.