The Enduring Popularity of Caramel

There are few flavors as popular and versatile as caramel – especially of those that have been around as long. Caramel also has multiple personalities: butterscotch, dulce de leche, toffee, and cajeta are all forms of caramel cooked to different stages or made with different ingredients. It is the perfect mild foundation for any number of new flavor twists – perfect for keeping today’s adventurous consumer (especially the food-loving Millennial variety) engaged.


Caramel has been around for literally centuries, with differing accounts of its first appearance. Regardless of when it first made its way into the spotlight, one thing is for sure: it never left. Today, caramel is being used in a wide range of sweets and snacks – of particular note is the salted caramel trend that is still going strong several years after its advent. Salted caramel remains a sought-after flavor in everything from ice cream and desserts to snack foods, dairy products, breakfast cereals, and much more.


This sweet and salty combination is known as “flavor layering,” – and when done right, it blends two or more flavors perfectly so that they melt in your mouth and create a pleasurable new flavor – and a new experience that keeps consumers coming back for more. Salted caramel is just one example; caramel also pairs wonderfully with a variety of flavor inclusions, such as apple, pumpkin, chocolate, even bacon – not to mention cocktail-inspired flavors such as rum and Irish cream.


Speaking of cocktails, desserts and snacks are far from the only place caramel is making an appearance this year. It’s also being featured in limited edition and low- and no-alcohol beers, often paired with bold notes of chocolate, toasty malt, or refreshing citrus. Caramel malt is a signature flavor profile in many pale ales, IPAs, ambers, and porters, offering its irresistible body, sweetness, and taste.


Whether you’re trying to create indulgent sweets, salty snacks, or refreshing adult beverages, caramel is one ingredient with staying power that can go a long way to helping you achieve the new and popular products that you want in your lineup.