Flavor Insight: Chile Pepper

February 26, 2021
Flavor Trends
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There are more than 200 different varieties of chiles, over 100 of them originate from Mexico. Sometimes spelled "chili," they vary in length and size and their heat quotient varies from mildly warm to mouth-blistering hot—with the general rule, the larger the chile the milder it is. It’s no surprise that seasonings is the top product sub-category within chile pepper flavored new product introductions globally, but the options are endless for adding heat to any product category. Let’s take a closer look at various forms of chile pepper on the menu, in social media, and in new products.

Chile Pepper Social Listening Summary

We conducted a social listening analysis on chile pepper covering the previous 12 months. An overview is provided below.

  • 23,008 mentions in the past year

  • 52% female—key consumer voice

Popular Posts:

Twitter: @boulderlocavore posted a recipe for a Sweet Chile Sauce “Sweet Chili Sauce is the perfect combination of sweet, spicy and tangy flavors. Fast and easy to make with fresh chile peppers. This sauce is perfect for dipping, as a relish or recipe ingredient. Truly irresistibly good!”

Twitter: @bobbyflay the Food Network Chef posted a recipe for sausage and onions and he added chile peppers. “Sausages & Onions. Fire up your grill. Break out your cast iron pan. I sliced white onions & chile peppers, seasoned w s+p & pinch of sugar, put pan on grill & cooked till soft.”

  • 2,590 chile pepper recipes on foodnetwork.com

  • On Foodnetwork.com, 2,590 recipes appear when you search for chile pepper. Recipes include pork chops with red chile pepper sauce, chile con queso, chile rellenos and a chile pepper swiss meringue butter cream. The site even features a chile pepper cheat sheet to navigate the heat intensity for the types of chile peppers.

Like It Hot? Good For You!

According to an article in the March issue of Food Network Magazine, there is new research suggesting that people who eat chile peppers may live longer. The American Heart Association is now touting research with the benefits of chile peppers being very beneficial for consumer's diets.

Chile Pepper on the Menu: Q2 2019- Q3 2020

2,038 chile pepper mentions on the menu

Casual dining is the top restaurant segment, with entrée and appetizer as the top menu sections with the most chile pepper flavors items. Entrées account for 50% of all chile pepper flavored menu items.

  • Fine Dining: Shrimp & Melon with Chile Lime Vinaigrette at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles, CA

  • Casual Dining: Garlic Chili Green Beans at Mikimotos Asian Grill and Sushi Bar in Wilmington, DE

  • Quick Service: Chocolate Chili Cupcake with a hint of chili powder, topped with vegan chocolate and a chili buttercream at Yummy Cupcakes in Encinatas, CA

Spicing Things Up in New Ways Featured in EatingWell Magazine

In the December 2020 issue of EatingWell magazine, they highlight food trends they think will be big in 2021. Spicing Things Up in New Ways is trend #1. They mention spotting hot honey and spicy cocktails as well as consumers are looking for new way to spice up pantry staples such as frozen and canned vegetables. A report from Instacart is also showing sales of spicy pepper sauces like piri piri are up 725% year over year.

Chile Pepper Global New Product Introductions 2015-2020

10,654 chile pepper global new product introductions


  • EUROPE is the top global region for chile pepper new product introductions with 42% of all new products.

  • SEASONINGS is the top product sub-category globally for chile pepper flavored new products.

  • GARLIC is the top flavor paired with chile pepper globally.

Products of Note:

Arnott's Tim Tam Dark Choc Chilli Flavored Biscuits: The limited-edition biscuits are made with irresistible real chocolate and paired with chili. 52% of consumers stated they would likely or definitely buy this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | Australia

Jumbo Lekker Veggie 100% Plant-Based Chili Burger: A pre-cooked, beans, vegetable and wheat protein-based burger with a breaded quinoa layer and chili, and with added iron and vitamin B12. | Netherlands

Olé Tortillas Chili and Lemon Flavored Michelada Corn Snack: The product is high in fat and salt and low sugar. The ingredients are from from Ecuadorian family run farms, including Manabí-origin corn. | Ecuador

Chile Pepper North America New Product Introductions 2015-2020

921 Chile Pepper Flavored New Product Introductions


  • NORTH AMERICA accounts for 9% of all chile pepper flavored new product introductions.

  • SEASONINGS is the top product sub-category in North America for chile pepper flavored new products.

  • CHEESE is the top flavor paired with chile pepper in North America.

Products of Note:

Signature Select Pitted Green Snack Olives with Olive Oil, Chili Pepper & Thyme: Described as a grab-and-go snack without the mess. 41% of consumers stated they would likely or definitely buy this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

Snak Club Tajin Chili & Lime Peach Rings: This product is described as a gummy peach ring candy seasoned with mild Tajín Clásico chili lime seasoning.  52% of consumers stated they would likely or definitely buy this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

Lay’s Flavor Icons Chile Relleno Flavored Potato Chips: A limited-edition product inspired by the Cocina Azúl restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. 52% of consumers stated they would likely or definitely buy this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

The Takeaways

Chili pepper is showing consistent growth over the past 5 years with new products appearing across the globe. We are also spotting growth in chile pepper flavored menu items with casual dining as the top restaurant segment and entrées accounting for 50% of all chile pepper flavored menu items. Chile peppers are being used in many traditional ways such as flavoring snacks but also adding a kick to sweets and baked goods as well with flavor combinations creating a balance of sweet and heat. the question is—is chile pepper on your Flavor Radar?

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Sources in full report