Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
September 14, 2022

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Tacos are the glorious sum of all of their parts, with accompaniments pulling flavors together, pushing the discovery of new trends and driving menu interest. Implementing an array of tongue-grabbing spicy finishes adds immediate menu appeal. Here, we highlight six scratch-made finishing touches, each an opportunity to introduce heat-loving patrons to new taco experiences.


Lift up tacos with the unexpected, using unique pickled fruits and vegetables hit with flavorful heat and acidic brightness.

  • Habanero-Pickled Watermelon Rind: Habanero- + salt-blanched watermelon rind slices + garlic + cider vinegar + sugar + cloves
  • Chile-Pickled Butternut Squash: Toasted ancho and guajillo chiles + salted butternut squash slices + ginger + orange peel + cider vinegar + sugar + bay leaf


Add complexity to seafood tacos by employing crema’s creamy, tangy coolness paired with spicy warmth and bite.

  • Serrano Avocado Ranch Crema: Sour cream + avocado + dry ranch seasoning + lime juice + Serrano chile purée + cayenne
  • Sriracha Cocktail Crema: Greek yogurt + Sriracha cocktail sauce


Target next-gen tastes with signature, fiery sauce creations that impart memorable taco cravings.

  • Flamin’ Ranchera Corn Sauce: Fine-chopped yellow tomatoes + buttery yellow corn purée + roasted garlic + cumin + hot sauce + smoked paprika
  • Mezcal Peppercorn Salsa: Blackened red tomatoes + chipotle + mezcal + lime juice + cracked green and black peppercorns


Engage taco purists with spicier distinctive variations of pico, bringing flavorful pops of freshness to lighter tacos.

  • Torched Hominy Pico: Roma tomatoes + chile de árbol + pan-charred hominy + grilled nopales + sweet onion
  • Spicy Green Pico: Green zebra tomatoes + Hatch chile + red onion + garlic + lime juice + micro cilantro + toasted pepitas


Add mouthfeel, fat and welcome spice to plant-based tacos by making garlic mayonnaise signature with an infusion of assertive heat.

  • Morita Macha Aïoli: Aïoli + morita chile salsa macha
  • Calabrian Aïoli: Aïoli + Calabrian chile paste + charred lemon juice


Elevate meat-centric tacos via lusciously indulgent queso amplified with pungent heat.

  • Fresno 3-Cheese Queso: White cheddar-asadero-Monterey Jack queso + red Fresno pepper relish + chorizo
  • Fire-Dusted Goat Cheese Queso: Goat cheese-Oaxaca queso + blistered jalapeño and poblano + hot sauce “dust”


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.