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5 Unexpected Flavor Pairings

Most flavor pairings make a lot of sense. For example, a little salt can enhance the natural sweetness of certain foods. That’s why a dash of salt on tomatoes or cheese on apples tastes so good.

However, there are some herbs, spices, and seasonings that might, at first glance, seem like an odd addition to a perfectly good meal. Stick with us, though, because this list of unique and tasty match-ups will have you savoring familiar foods like chili, popcorn, and pizza in a whole new way.

Grilled Spinach, Basil & Honey Pizza

1. Butternut Squash With Cinnamon

Butternut squash can go sweet or savory depending how you season it. When you roast butternut squash, it starts to caramelize bringing out those sweeter notes and cinnamon enhances those almost dessert-like flavors in the squash.

Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut Squash Soup

2. Spicy Watermelon

Chili pepper and lime zest are probably the best thing to happen to watermelon since salt. A mild chili lime seasoning can go on just about anything because that spicy seasoning brightens up foods and adds that little zing. It’s especially good on watermelon, but you can also put chili lime flavors on pineapple, avocados, or even ice cream.

Watermelon
Photo: @ottpamperedchef

3. Chocolate in Chili

When you add a little cocoa powder to your favorite chili stew it can add that something extra you didn’t know it needed. The chocolate notes add richness and depth to those spicy, meaty flavors giving it the vibes of a mole—a thick Mexican sauce that often includes dark unsweetened cocoa and lots of spices.

Similarly, cinnamon is another unexpected flavor you can add to chili. It mellows out the spiciness and acidity of the dish. To keep the cinnamon from overpowering your recipe, cook it with the onions.

Easy Weeknight Chili
Easy Weeknight Chili

4. Basil and Honey

This pairing tastes great on pizzas or flatbreads. It gives you that perfect blend of sweetness with basil’s fresh and vibrant flavors. And, if you sprinkle on some red pepper flakes, you can bring a balanced combination of sweet, spicy, and savory to one perfect square (or slice) of pizza.

Grilled Spinach, Basil & Honey Pizza
Grilled Spinach, Basil & Honey Pizza

5. Spicy Popcorn

Popcorn is the blank canvas of snack foods that you can put any flavor on and it will taste delicious. Lightly coat your popcorn with butter or some oil to help the seasoning stick. Then bring on the chili lime rub for popcorn with a kick! Or make it barbeque popcorn for a lighter alternative to barbecue chips. Try popcorn with ranch or make it sweet with French toast seasoning.

Popcorn in a bowl
Photo: @cutcooking

What unexpected spices or seasonings do you use in your recipes? Got secret seasoning in your chili recipe you’d be willing reveal? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

One Response to 5 Unexpected Flavor Pairings

  1. Terri Wolski October 3, 2020 at 9:37 am #

    I make smoked brisket chili…SO yummy

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