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2024’s Trendiest Spices Bring Sweet Intensity

We’re always talking about trends when it comes to fashion, home décor, beauty rituals and the like. Culinary trends are less discussed but still easy to detect in restaurants and featured recipes, and even filter down into selection of spices and spice blends.

Leading spice manufacturer McCormick pulls a page from Pantone’s playbook and crowns a “Flavor of the Year.”

Here’s a quick tour of this year’s spice landscape:

Tamarind

This spice drawn from a tropical fruit of the same name is the aforementioned “Flavor of the Year.” The plant is native to Africa and thrives in tropical climates, so it’s also a staple of Southeast Asian, Central and South American and Caribbean cuisine.

It is available as a paste and a powder that can be added directly into dishes or reconstituted as a paste.

Its sweetly sour and acidic taste wakes up curries, chutneys, meat, rice and noodle dishes, beverages, candies and anything else it’s added to.

Aleppo Pepper

Originating from Syria and widely used in Turkey and the rest of the Middle East, this moderately fiery ingredient is used on kebabs, chicken and seafood and included in salad dressing and yogurt dips.

Comparable to the spiciness of red pepper flakes, it offers a more nuanced flavor with hints of smokiness and sun-dried tomato and a salt-like texture. It adds a nice kick to eggs, toast, tomatoes and anything else you might desire.

Berbere

This spicy, smoky North African blend tempers red chili pepper and ginger with milder spices like fenugreek, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. It’s essential to Ethiopian cuisine and features prominently in the stew considered its national dish, doro wat.

Use it in soups, stews, sauces and dips, and sprinkle it onto fruit, vegetables and fish. It’s fantastic as a dry rub for meat, too.

Gochujang

A chili paste familiar to anyone who’s tried Korean barbecue, its versatile spicy, sweet and umami complexity adds depth to marinades, soups, stews and even desserts and cocktails.

Sweeter and milder than Sriracha, it’s made from red gochugaru pepper flakes, sticky rice, fermented soybeans and salt.

Heat levels may vary, and it’s a very concentrated paste so a little goes a long way.

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