The country’s collective sweet tooth is evolving and maturing as consumers seek out better-for-you options without giving up their favorite indulgences. Not only are they looking for dishes made with less sugar, they’re becoming more discerning when it comes to sweet ingredients. Restaurants can capitalize on the trend toward ditching refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners by incorporating all-natural alternatives instead. Ingredients such as pure maple syrup, sorghum, coconut sugar, malted barley extracts and 100% fruit juice add subtle sweetness and depth of flavor while also boasting lower glycemic index values than processed sugars. Menu transparency and feel-good culinary storytelling also play a role in boosting the profiles of alternative sources of sweetness. For example, the use of honey can support a local ingredient story and raise awareness around sustainability and bee-friendly habitats. And the culinary possibilities are remarkable—according to Flavor & The Menu, there are over 300 varietals of honey, each with their own unique flavor notes, aroma, color and texture. Agave is another versatile sweetener making an impact, showing tremendous menu growth (80% in QSR alone) as it pops up in beverages, savory sauces, salad dressings and smoothies.
Alternative sweeteners like maple syrup, agave and honey help you create subtle yet complex flavor profiles in a variety of signature dishes. Try these recipes featuring Custom Culinary® products as inspiration.
CUSTOM CULINARY® BRANDED PRODUCTS
Combine Custom Culinary® Gold Label Ready-To-Use Craft Toppings™ Bacon Onion Marmalade with maple syrup to create a sweet and savory topper for waffles, pancakes and fried chicken.
Add excitement to grilled pork or chicken with this complex and flavorful topping, made with Custom Culinary® Gold Label Ready-To-Use Craft Toppings™ Bacon Onion Marmalade, Custom Culinary® Master’s Touch® Chipotle Flavor Concentrate, agave, green onion and charred mango.
After brining a chicken with Custom Culinary® Master’s Touch® All Natural Reduced Sodium Chicken Base and dark beer, glaze with a mixture of honey, butter and Custom Culinary® Master’s Touch® Chipotle Flavor Concentrate before roasting to perfection.
Enliven burgers, breakfast, appetizers and dessert with unexpected touches of flavor from alternative sweeteners. Flavor boosters, sauces and glazes from Custom Culinary®
help you create sweet and savory profiles that make a meal memorable.
Product No. 6548
Custom Culinary® Gold Label Ready-To-Use Craft Toppings™ Bacon Onion Marmalade
Product No. 5204
Custom Culinary® Master’s Touch® Chipotle Flavor Concentrate
Product No. 9651
Custom Culinary® Gold Label Ready-To-Use Craft Toppings™ Kentucky-Style Bourbon Sauce
Product No. 9669
Custom Culinary® Gold Label Ready-To-Use Crème Anglaise Sauce
MENU INSPIRATION FEATURING
CUSTOM CULINARY® PROPRIETARY PRODUCTS
SWEET HEAT AGAVE TACOS
Golden-brown buttermilk chicken tenders served on a warm flour tortilla, topped with a drizzle of zesty Custom Culinary® Chili Lime Agave, grilled red onions, queso fresco and cilantro.
MAPLE UMAMI WINGS
Chicken wings fried to crispy perfection and tossed in a sweet yet umami-rich Custom Culinary® Maple Fish Sauce Glaze. Garnished with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions.
HOT HONEY DAN DAN NOODLES
Tender Chinese dan dan noodles topped with minced pork tossed in Custom Culinary® Honey Chili Crisp, a sweet and fiery chili oil. Finished with bok choy, scallions and roasted peanuts.
BLACKSTRAP WAFFLE SANDWICH
A bacon-studded molasses waffle bun topped with a crispy buttermilk fried chicken thigh covered in Custom Culinary® Black Garlic and Molasses Glaze, pickled kumquats and lemon dill aioli.
FRESH MEX CHORIZO JAM BURGER
A toasted brioche bun spread with Custom Culinary® Agave Chorizo and Onion Marmalade and piled high with a seared beef patty, pepper Jack cheese, avocado, grilled corn salsa and fresh cilantro.
- Chili Lime Agave
- Maple Fish Sauce Glaze
- Honey Chili Crisp
- Black Garlic and Molasses Glaze
- Agave Chorizo and Onion Marmalade
GET IN TOUCH
*Products are customized; please contact your Custom Culinary® representative for more information.
Chef Mike Speranza discusses his favorite alternatives to traditional sugar, including banana purée, dried fruit, applesauce and honey. Check out our blog for ways these sweet ingredients can be incorporated onto the menu.
Hungry for more?
Check out our FlavorIQ® video for insights behind this top trend.
Datassential MenuTrends, Agave: US QSR menu penetration growth 2016-2020.
Datassential, “TIPS: Alternative Sugars,” August 2019.
“Flavor of the Week: Agave, a sweetener with a health halo,” Nation’s Restaurant News, August 24, 2020. Rob Corliss, “Sweet Storytelling,” Flavor & The Menu, January 9, 2020.