Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development




By Flavor & The Menu
May 26, 2020

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Hot honey is a revelation, gaining followers across the country thanks to the glorious contradiction of smooth, abiding sweetness rolling over biting, smoky, funky or tickling heat. With so much enthusiasm, chefs have expanded their field of play, choosing different honey varietals and various chile peppers or sauces. They’re also looking at popular menu categories, finding creative ways to apply hot honey in order to deepen the flavor story. That complexity of flavor is what drives the success here, answering the call by diners for subtlety, intrigue, surprise, and yes, the always popular—heat.


This is perhaps the category with one of the deepest affinities for hot honey, with a built-in craveability and familiarity that helps varying degrees of experimentation find safe passage.

  • Korean Fried Chicken Wings with Sriracha honey-lime sauce
    Dak & Bop, Houston
  • Beer Brined Jumbo Wings with gochujang honey, served with celery and buttermilk ranch or blue cheese
    Arts District Kitchen, Las Vegas
  • Harissa Chicken Wings with honey and Marcona almonds
    Devon, New York
  • Wings with ancho honey glaze
    Wingstop, based in Addison, Texas


Remember the days when a shake of chile flakes was the only way to really spice up a pizza? Old school has its charm, but a drizzle of hot honey—when finishing the right combination of toppings—lifts and shifts the experience in wonderful ways.

  • Fresno & Honey Pizza with red pepper purée, bacon, purple bell peppers, wilted turnip greens, mozzarella, Parmesan and a Fresno honey drizzle
    EVO Pizzeria, two locations in Charleston, S.C.
  • Hot & Sweet Pizza: Charred pepperoni and Mike’s Hot Honey
    Flour Pizza & Pasta, based in Miami
  • The Risk Manager: Spicy Italian salami, mozzarella, Calabrian honey
    Bebu Pizzeria, Chicago


This might be a newer category for hot honey to move into, but the sweet-heat works on both the savory and sweet side of the menu.

  • Hot Honey and Ham: Fluffy biscuit and thin-sliced country ham with hot honey
    Roots Cafe, Southend, N.C.
  • Breakfast Burrito: Scrambled eggs, hash browns, melted cheese, avocado and chorizo, with choice of sauce, including guajillo honey
    Chanos Latin Kitchen, two locations in New Jersey
  • Chicken and Waffle Breakfast: Belgian waffle crust topped with fried chicken, mozzarella cheese, Mike’s Hot Honey and maple syrup
    Toss & Fire Wood-fired Pizza, Syracuse, N.Y.


Craveability and shareability are the name of the game here, with hot honey offering a flavor complexity, either as a drizzle, sauce or dip. Here, the sweet heat dials up the profile in veg-centric snacks while contrasting the savory, rich notes in meaty snacks.

  • Crispy Chicken Skins with hot honey
    Tolson Bird Bar, Washington, D.C.
  • Crispy Sriracha Honey Pork Belly Lardons
    Rose & Crown, Nantucket, Mass.
  • Jalapeño Honey Fries
    Southern Kitchen & Bar, Birmingham, Ala.


Thai Style Street Ribs photoSmithfield Culinary

Crying Tiger showcases a modern approach to heat, balancing Indonesian chile paste with clover honey, soy sauce, cinnamon and nutmeg.



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