Flavor Insight: Salted Caramel

December 2, 2021
Flavor Trends
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A wonderful combination of sweet and salty, salted caramel elevates a traditional confectionery mainstay and takes it to a whole new level. Salted caramel has gained consumer popularity in the past 10 years—with only 51 salted caramel new products introduced in 2011, salted caramel is showing significant growth. From 2015-2020, salted caramel grew 105% globally. Spotted in new products beyond confectionery, it is a tried-and-true flavor in the desserts and ice cream category around the globe. Let’s dive into salted caramel and see where it is appearing on the menu, in new products and social media.


Salted Caramel Social Listening Summary


8,443 mentions

61% female

Twitter: @midwexican posted a recipe that includes salted caramel as an ingredient.” Rich Salted caramel coffee #icecream with brownies and chocolate syrup #food #desserts”

Twitter: @Xtraordinary49 also posted a recipe that includes salted caramel as an ingredient.  “I have to make this again now that it’s fall. Cinnamon apple bread pudding, salted caramel & vanilla bean creme anglaise. #GoddessofCarbs”

Make the Most of Apple Picking with Salted Caramel Apple Cookies


In the October 2021 issue of Bon Appetit, they feature a recipe for salted caramel apple cookies.  They describe the recipe as, “imagine a caramel apple and a snickerdoodle got together and created some seriously delicious magic and you'll end up with these cookies.” The caramel is swirled into the cookie dough and topped with flaky sea salt for “swirls of deep apple flavor in every salty-sweet bite.”

Twitter: @midwexican posted a recipe that includes salted caramel as an ingredient.” Rich Salted caramel coffee #icecream with brownies and chocolate syrup #food #desserts”

Twitter: @Xtraordinary49 also posted a recipe that includes salted caramel as an ingredient.  “I have to make this again now that it’s fall. Cinnamon apple bread pudding, salted caramel & vanilla bean creme anglaise. #GoddessofCarbs”

314 SALTED CARAMEL recipes on foodnetwork.com


On Foodnetwork.com 314 total recipes appear when searching for salted caramel. The recipes include mostly desserts from salted caramel milkshakes, salted caramel cheesecake squares, salted caramel chocolate chip cookies and salted caramel cupcakes.

Salted Caramel on the Menu Q1 2020 -Q2 2021


628 salted caramel mentions on the menu

Casual dining is the top restaurant segment, with dessert and beverage as the top menu sections with the most salted caramel flavored menu items. Desserts account for 54% of all salted caramel flavored menu items.

Salted Caramel Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis signature dessert, Houlihan’s style-finished with Ghirardelli salted caramel sauce, powdered sugar and vanilla ice cream at Houlihan’s nationwide.

Caramel Apple Mimosa featuring salted caramel vodka, apple cider, sparkling wine, cinnamon sugar rim at The Bongo Room in Chicago, IL.

Salted Caramel Bacon Kettle Corn is featured in a Signatura Bacon Flight for 3-5 guests, or 1 bacon lover at Slater’s 50/50 in San Diego, CA.

Consumer Awareness of Salted Caramel


Salted caramel is growing in popularity with consumers and according to Datassential’s Flavor Tool, it is in the 85th percentile among all food and flavors, meaning that consumers love salted caramel more than 85% of all other items.

  • 59% love or like it

  • 89% know it

  • 73% have tried it

  • Most popular with Gen X consumers



Salted Caramel Global New Product Introductions 2015-2020


3,118 salted caramel flavored new product introductions

Global Fast Facts:



  • EUROPE is the top global region for salted caramel flavored new product introductions.

  • DESSERTS & ICE CREAM is the top product category globally for salted caramel flavored new products.

  • CHOCOLATE is the top flavor paired with salted caramel.


My Muscle Chef Salted Caramel & Macadamia Protein Cookie: All-natural, high protein oven-baked cookies feature a unique recipe containing a blend of high-quality whey protein, egg whites and gut friendly prebiotic fiber Contains 25 g of protein per serving. | Australia

Captain Webbs Two Swallows Citrus & Salted Caramel Spiced Rum: described as a spirit drink made with the finest spiced rum. | UK

H!P Salted Caramel Oat Milk Chocolate: Made from ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients at origin such as creamy oat milk, less sugar and more cocoa. The vegan plant powered product with 41% cocoa. | UAE

Salted Caramel North America New Product Introductions 2015-2020


708 salted caramel flavored new product introductions

North America Fast Facts:



  • NORTH AMERICA accounts for 16% of the salted caramel flavored new product introductions.

  • DESSERTS & ICE CREAM is the top product category for salted caramel flavored new products in North America.

  • CHOCOLATE is the top flavor paired with salted caramel in North America.


Duncan Hines Epic Salted Caramel Brownie Kit: This product includes brownie mix, frosting, crust mix, candies and pretzels.

52% of consumers responded that they likely of definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming its subcategory. | USA

WildRoots Salted Caramel Chocolate Banana Trail Mix: This product is naturally flavored and made with non-GMO ingredients, contains almonds, banana chips, salted caramel rice clusters, milk chocolate chunks and pretzel balls.

47% of consumers responded that they likely of definitely would buy this product, outperforming its subcategory. | USA

Swiss Miss Salted Caramel Flavored Hot Cocoa Mix: This product is flavored with other natural flavors and has been made with premium imported cocoa.

55% of consumers responded that they likely of definitely would buy this product, outperforming its subcategory. | USA


The Takeaways


Salted caramel is showing growth around the world with 54% of new products appearing in Europe. We are spotting salted caramel flavored menu items in a variety of restaurants with casual dining the key restaurant segment. Desserts account for 54% of all salted caramel flavored menu items. Consumers are extremely familiar with salted caramel and is in the 85th percentile among all food and flavors, meaning that consumers love salted caramel more than 85% of all other items. The question is—is salted caramel on your Flavor Radar?

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Sources in full report