When it comes to flavor experimentation, American consumers see sauces as the ideal category to try something new.

According to Innova’s 2022 Flavor Survey, 39% of Americans said they are most likely to experiment with flavors through sauces, seasonings, and toppings. These categories rank ahead of others such as bakery, soup, desserts and ice cream, cheese, savory snacks, and more.

This hunger for new and different flavor sensations lit a fire under US sauce and seasoning new product launches during 2022.


New product introductions involving Sauces & Seasonings—a category that includes table sauces, cooking sauces, pasta sauces, salad dressings, and more—rose by around 10% during the 11-month period ended November 30, 2022, versus the same period in 2021, per the Innova Database of new products. Cooking Sauces also were a winner because consumers presumably want to change things up in the kitchen. Cooking sauce launches were up nearly 15% during Innova Market Insights’ 11-month period ended November 30, 2022.

Flavor Cravers! 

This willingness to experiment explains growing interest in flavors such as truffle, avocado, fig and even hops when it comes to new sauces, dressings, and marinades.

Big brands are enamored with truffle. The Clorox Company, Oakland, Calif., partnered with Sauce Ventures LLC, the Costa Mesa, Calif., parent to TRUFF hot sauces. Together, they created TRUFF x Hidden Valley Ranch, a limited edition Spicy Truffle Ranch. Retailer Trader Joe’s has introduced both a Trader Joe’s Truffley Soy Sauce and Trader Joe’s Truffle Piccante Spicy Pasta Sauce. And Amazon Fresh developed used its Aplenty private label brand to introduce a Truffle Flavored Aioli spread.

Avocado’s fan base continues to grow. Last October saw restaurant operator Chick-fil-A, Atlanta, start offering its four most popular salad dressings—including Avocado Lime Ranch—at retail in the greater Cincinnati area and across Tennessee. Plans were to expand availability nationwide this spring.  

Fig’s star also is rising. When Sunkist Growers developed a line of multi-purpose sauces and dressings, officials chose Sunkist Mandarin Fig Dressing as one of eight new varieties. Elsewhere, Alchemy Peppers LLC, Cambridge, Mass., created four namesake Hopp Sauces by blending peppers with various brewing hops.

How about adding flavor anytime and anywhere? Last fall saw Campbell Soup Company, Camden, N.J., introduce Campbell’s FlavorUp!, a line of three, 11oz cooking concentrates to add “customizable flavor” to any protein, grain or vegetable. Varieties include Rich Garlic & Herb, Caramelized Onion & Burgundy Wine, and Savory Mushroom & Herb. Addressing the same need is cookbook author Alex Snodgrass who went retail this January with three SideDish multi-purpose sauces. They include Chipotle Ranch, Creamy Sesame (both which are Whole30 Approved), and Honey Dijon for $8.89 per bottle.

Ready for more culinary cupboard options? Kraft Heinz introduced the Heinz 57 Collection—including two Infused Honeys: Hot Chili and Black Truffle; and three oil-based Crunch Sauces: Chili Pepper Crunch, Roasted Garlic Crunch and Mandarin Orange Miso Crunch. Elsewhere, Stonewall Kitchen, York, Me., launched Stonewall Kitchen Scallion Aioli as well as a Napa Valley Naturals Toasted Onion & Garlic Dressing. Speaking of garlic, Del Sol Food Company Inc., Brenham, Texas, introduced a Garlic Vinaigrette. And yet another culinary offering is a new line of branded California Pizza Kitchen dressings developed by the namesake pizza chain and dressings giant Litehouse Inc., Sandpoint, Idaho. The line debuts in early 2023 and includes Ranch and Thai as initial offerings.

Another boredom buster could be Marie’s Zesty Secret Sauce. Ventura Foods LLC, says it has a savory and slightly sweet taste and a ketchup-meets-black pepper flavor profile and fits everything from backyard burgers to shrimp cocktail salad.

Bring the Heat

Heat and spice popped up in unexpected places. Bold Palate Foods LLC, Miami, introduced Bold Palate Hint of Harissa Dressing to shake up the category with Middle Eastern flavor. Texas retailer HEB LP, San Antonio, took spicy Cajun flavors into the pasta sauce category with a new private label H-E-B Select Ingredients Saucy Cajun Pasta Sauce.

Unilever United States also extended its Hellmann’s brand (not known for spicy flavor) with a new Hellmann’s Spicy Mayonnaise Dressing, said to be “made with real chili peppers.”

The Nashville hot and spicy flavor has been a foodservice hit and is expanding in sauces. McCormick & Company extended its Frank’s RedHot Wings sauce with a Nashville Hot flavor. Restaurant operator Buffalo Wild Wings Inc., Atlanta, also extended its retail line with a Nashville Hot Sauce.

Barbecue sauces are no exception. Mantis BBQ, Scarsdale, N.Y., introduced three new bottled sauces to support The Kidney Project and raise $10 million to fund trials of an artificial kidney. Besides an Original variety, Mantis created A Whisper of Chile (pepper) and A Haunt of Ghost (pepper).

Pasta sauces may be due for a shakeup in 2023. Major Food Group, the New York City restaurant chain behind Carbone restaurants, created a Carbone Fine Food business and launched three of its best-selling sauces—Marinara Arrabbiata, and Tomato Basil—in Whole Foods Market stores nationwide. Sovos Brands, Louisville, Colo., took its Michael Angelo’s frozen, Italian entrée brand and extended it to four Michael Angelo’s “Nonna’s Secret” pasta sauces sold exclusively at select Wal-Mart locations. Mizkan America Inc., Mount Prospect, Ill., also expanded its Bertolli d'Italia line of sauces—made in Italy—with two white sauces: Cacio e Pepe, and Alfredo with White Wine.

Another company targeting authentic flavor has been Litehouse. In fact, its versatile Sky Valley Organic Thai Peanut Sauce was named “Sauce of the Year” last fall by the Association for Dressings & Sauces.

Plant-based product innovation has infiltrated nearly every supermarket product category. In fact, US plant-based new product introductions in Innova’s “Sauces and Seasonings” category nearly tripled in between 2019 and 2022.

Having introduced its first plant-based ranch dressing in 2021, The Clorox Company, Oakland, Calif., came back more recently with Hidden Valley The Original Ranch Spicy Plant Powered Dairy Free Ranch featuring some heat from spicy harissa, habanero and bell peppers. One of the more unusual new launches here came from The T. Marzetti Company (Lancaster Colony Corp.) Westerville, Ohio. Its new Marzetti Simply Plant Based Ranch Dressing made with Oat Milk is one of the first to use oat milk as a plant-based dairy substitute.

One of the possible long-term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic is that consumers are paying closer attention to “local” products. Perhaps not surprisingly, more brands are playing up their local or regional roots.

Sauer Brands, Inc., Richmond, Va., offers one example with its Duke’s Southern Sauces line including an Alabama White BBQ Sauce. This “distinctive, zingy Alabama white BBQ sauce marries the taste of Duke’s with tangy vinegar, punchy horseradish, and a peppery blend of spices,” the company says. In another move, H-E-B extended its H-E-B Select Ingredients line with Kentucky Bourbon Barbeque Sauce.

Looking ahead to flavors to watch in 2023 and beyond, basil stands out. Per the Innova Database of new products, basil posted the fastest average annual growth rate of the top 10 flavors in spices and seasonings between 2021 and 2022.

Botanical flavors like basil have upside when you consider that just over 46% of American consumers say they prefer “tastes that are lighter on the palate and less sugary or heavy these days” according to Innova’s 2022 Flavor Survey.

Tom Vierhile is Vice President Strategic Insights, North America for the Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights and has more than 20 years of experience in new consumer packaged goods reporting and analysis. Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from St. Bonaventure University and an MBA from the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Follow him on Twitter at @TomVierhile.