When the calendar flips to September, we leave summer behind for a new season. We start craving fall flavors even if the hot temps stick around. Despite changes to our routines this year, the flavors we associate with fall and winter seem strongly connected to cheerful times like: 

  • Savoring freshly baked donuts and tangy apple cider after a trip through a corn maze, apple orchard, or pumpkin patch
  • Enjoying a robust lager while watching a football game with friends and family
  • Ending a holiday dinner with warm apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream
  • Decorating gingerbread cookies with your family or sipping eggnog by a warm fire
Why Consumers Crave Fall Flavors 

Fall and winter flavors have organoleptic commonalities that contribute to their likeability with consumers:

  • They’re aromatic, and their scents trigger memories.
  • Many fall and winter flavors are showcased in creamy foods or beverages that boost flavor perceptions and involve the sense of touch.
  • Spicier flavors like cinnamon, chili pepper, and the beloved pumpkin spice may tap into the brain’s trigeminal nerves, which are more closely related to touch and pain receptors. This trigeminal response will heighten the overall taste experience.

Unlike summer days which sometimes seem endless, fall and winter seasons seem to pass quickly as the days get shorter. That’s why flavor innovation picks up along with limited-time-offers to draw consumer attention and build incremental sales. Technomic reports that 66% of consumers will seek out seasonal LTO foods and 60% will pick up an LTO beverage.

What's Trending in Fall Flavors

Popular fall flavors include more than the now iconic pumpkin spice!

  • Menu insights from Mintel show growth in flavors like Gingerbread and Cranberry across food and beverages.
  • Intros featuring Butterscotch flavor jumped double-digits! 
  • And new product launches for Maple and the ever-popular Pumpkin Spice were up in Q3 and Q4 last year. 

In addition to maple and butterscotch, other warm brown flavors that are trending on menus and on shelves for fall include Caramel, Toffee, Bourbon Vanilla, and Rum.

How to Choose Fall Flavors for Your Application

Taste is the top priority for any new baked good, frozen dessert, candy, or beverage, whether it's a limited-time-offer or a year-round addition to your line. You'll improve the success of your launches when you find flavors that include:

  • A usage rate recommendation for dosing your application. You may adjust levels up or down to achieve your desired taste profile, but it’s helpful to have a starting point.
  • Known performance in your application. As you evaluate flavor sources, check to make sure bakery flavors are heat stable. Similarly, high quality frozen dessert flavors will deliver intensity without dominating other ingredients.
  • Safe and approved ingredients for use in food and beverages. Flavors for alcoholic beverages, for example, will have a formulation that meets TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) guidelines.

Determining when to dose flavors into your product is also essential to delivering a delicious taste experience. Timing varies by application:

  • To maintain the character of flavors for alcoholic beverages, add them later in the brewing or distilling process.
  • Adding flavors to frozen desserts after mix pasteurization, homogenization, and aging but before freezing ensures the flavor profile meets expectations.

If you have questions about using fall flavors in your manufacturing process, reach out to the National Flavors team for support.

Ready to Tee Up Your Fall (or Winter) LTO?

National Flavors has 100s of flavors to use for your seasonal LTOs with samples available through Flavorush. With a few clicks, you can create your free account and get samples of fall flavors shipping in 24 hours. Interested in a Fall Flavor sample kit with trending flavors? Order here for our Alcoholic Beverage kit or here for all other applications.

And if you’d like to brainstorm about fall or winter LTOs, contact our team. Whether you’re exploring a winter citrus bakery item or wondering if a pistachio frozen dessert would have appeal, we’ll help you find a delicious solution.





Gwen Buffinga

Written by Gwen Buffinga

Gwen Buffinga supports customers with deep understanding of regulations from FDA, USDA, OSHA, and many other domestic and international governmental and societal organizations. Her expertise with flavor solutions includes product prototyping and applications, nutritional analysis, and analytical chemistry. Gwen’s bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan in Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition Services includes a chemistry focus. She has also completed secondary courses at the American Institute of Baking and Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy.