5 Irresistible And Unexpected Flavor Combinations For Desserts, Dinner And Cakes


The sensation of taste includes the five established basic tastes, including sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. In addition to these basic tastes, smell, texture, and temperature all contribute to the overall taste profile of a food.1 All together, these sensations lead us to an overall flavor experience.

Do you remember the last time you entered into a cozy room and inhaled that sweet aroma of an apple pie baking in the oven? You could barely wait to dig in for dessert as the scent takes you back to the last time you bit into a delicious, warm, and freshly baked apple pie. When you sit down for the apple pie, you are already salivating. In front of you, you admire a generous slice of pie with big chunks of apples covered in a thick brown sugar sauce with specs of cinnamon, the crust is flakey and browned, and there’s a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream slowly melting on top. You bite in and everything comes together… the warm sweet apples, the crunchy salty crust, and the creamy cold ice cream.

Paula Deen’s Apple Pie

The flavor experience of this apple pie story comes together through it’s complementary tastes, smells, textures, and temperatures found in each bite. The salty piecrust enhances the sweetness of the apples; the warm pie compliments the coldness of the ice cream; the softly cooked apples elaborate the crunchiness of the piecrust. The list could go on and on about how wonderfully this flavor experience is, but let’s stop drooling and take a look at why these flavors come together so flawlessly.

CooksMarts’ Flavor Star

This great graphic by CooksMart shows how these five basic flavors work together to balance or enhance each other. By utilizing this flavor wheel, we can begin to re-create the apple pie flavor experience with other deliciously complimentary and curated flavor experiences.

Here’s our list of 5 irresistible flavor combinations that you need now…

1. Sweet & Salty Flavor Combinations For Desserts

Sweet enhances salty and visa-versa. When you combine sweet and salty flavors, you bring out the best of each. Here’s the best sweet and salty flavor combinations you need in your life now.

2. Sweet & Bitter

Sweet and bitter work together to balance the intensity of the other out. On their own, one may be too overwhelming. So, by using both of these flavors together, you can counteract the other one to achieve a perfectly tasty balance.

3. Umami & Sweet

If you’ve never combined umami (that savory, meaty taste found in meat, mushrooms, and soy sauce) with a sweet compliment of sugar, you have never experienced an ultimate taste paring.

4. Bitter & Hot

Some foods taste better burnt (or the taste known as bitter) and hot with temperature. Most foods contain some amount of sugar and when the food is burnt, the end result is caramelization accompanied with a bitter taste.3 This caramelization effect stands out best in the following foods:

5. Bitter & Cold

On the other hand, some foods taste much better when cold! According to a new study, “taste perception is enhanced as the temperature of food and beverage products increase, explaining why beer is more bitter and ice cream is sweeter when consumed warm.”Try out these cold combos for the best taste:

  • Ice-cream (rested on counter for 5-10 minutes before serving)
  • IPA Beer served in a frozen mug
  • Chilled red wine
  • Frozen dark chocolate (Throw some Bark Thins in your freezer!)
This Doughnut Burger brings together a complete flavor experience by combining sweet, salty, and umami flavors with a soft texture from the doughnut and warmth from the hot patty… No wonder this Doughnut Burger is a common trendy menu edition!

You can start making all your foods taste better today by maximizing your understanding of how taste, smell, texture, and temperature interact together, utilizing “The Flavor Star” to enhance and balance flavors, and trying these 5 irresistible flavor combos! What are you waiting for?? Go get to cooking, ordering, or eating now!

A flavor experience quote about the perfect pairing of an ice cream float:

“An ice cream float is the perfect food pairing because it connects flavor with taste. It’s a balanced taste pairing as the creamy, oily ice cream is cut down by the acidity and astringency in root beer. It is also an elegant flavor pairing as the compound vanillin found in ice cream compliments safrole; a flavor compound found in the sassafras root used to make root beer.”

– Wine Folly


  1. https://www.foodpairing.com/en/science-behind
  2. https://www.quora.com/Why-does-burnt-food-taste-bitter
  3. http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science/Food-temperature-affects-taste-reveal-scientists
  4. http://winefolly.com/review/taste-flavor-pairing-chart-combinations/