Hot Natural Colors for Spicy Seasonings and Breading

What’s Hot: Spicy Seasonings!

Limited edition snack launches are surging, with potato snacks, popcorn and corn, wheat and grain-based snacks-those most commonly using flavored topical seasonings-seeing the largest share of limited edition launches.


of consumers are looking to buy chips with an extra-spicy flavor


of US adults who eat chips are motivated to try new chips if they have unique flavors

Mintel 2020-22

Seasoning blends may be most noticeable when they end up on snackers’ fingers, but they’re also commonly used to add flavor to breadings.

Frozen chicken formats like breaded nuggets, bites, and boneless wings are gaining popularity, with almost half of poultry consumers eating breaded frozen chicken products in the past six months.

Mintel 2021

This phenomenon isn’t limited to the frozen aisle; QSRs are getting in on the fried and breaded protein action too. From Popeye’s to McDonald’s, the famed Chicken Sandwich War has raged for over three years, with almost every chain in North America jumping into the fray at some point. Many have tried to garner consumer interest with spicy versions of a fried chicken sandwich, but almost none of these offerings are visually differentiated from their un-spicy counterparts.

This missed opportunity to create a spicy appearance risks consumer confusion and potentially even reduced flavor perception in an extremely competitive market.

Color Impacts Spicy Flavor Perception

Sensient’s extensive consumer research indicates that color impacts flavor perception an average +15%. Because flavor and color work together to contribute to a delicious flavor experience, having a bold, spicy visual adds to a bold, spicy flavor.

In a large online consumer study, Sensient’s research found that less than one in four consumers chose a low- or no-color version of a breaded nugget or seasoned chip to match the “Xtra Hot n Spicy” flavor positioning.

Bold oranges and reds were preferred by more
than 75% of respondents in both categories.

A brand launching a new “Xtra Hot n Spicy” flavor of their chips. Which of these do you think best represents the new spicy flavor?

Sensient Consumer Research 2022

Additionally, 30% of US parents say their kids would like a food if it was colorful (Mintel 2021). Seasonings for breaded nuggets as well as spicy snacks would benefit from a bold color connecting to a spicy flavor profile.

Rainbow of Natural Spicy
Seasoning Colors

When formulating these spicy seasonings, snacks, or breadings, it’s important to make a decision on natural versus synthetic color solutions.

Similarly, because many breaded meat products (like nuggets with both plant-based and traditional proteins) are marketed to families with children, natural color ingredients for seasonings and breadings are attractive to shoppers.

Naturalness is a key motivator for many consumers, with over a third of US adults wanting to try a new chip if it was made with all natural ingredients.

Mintel 2021

Almost 2/3 of consumers think that chips with all-natural ingredients are healthier than alternatives. So how can developers achieve the spicy-looking products shoppers crave with “the natural colors they’re seeking?

Sensient has the answer. From warm yellows to fiery reds, Sensient’s Microfine technology™ enables developers to bring trending spicy flavors to life in seasonings with any target shade.

Check out these hot ideas for
Breaded Nuggets, Salty Snacks, Fried Fish Sticks, & Seasoning Blends

Pineapple Jalapeno


Chili Lime


Spicy Nacho



Peri Peri

Curry Spice



Carolina Reaper

Serrano Pepper


Mexican Hot Chocolate

Blazing Red™

For products where acid stability may have been challenging in the past, improved pH stability from new clean-label sources like Sensient’s proprietary Blazing Red™ offers the perfect solution.

If a brand needs to comply with a restrictive ingredient list for their own standards or those of a retailer,Simplifine™ is a sister technology to Microfine™, offering preservative- and malt-free color solutions in an extensive color range with the same capabilities as the Microfine™ line.

We also know that more and more brands are looking for FSMA-compliant color solutions that will not require additional kill step processing once they arrive in production facilities. Thats why Sensient offers Ready-to-Eat color solutions, which our customers find particularly useful in applications like seasonings where the color is added toward the end of the production process.

To learn more about Microfine™, Simplifine™, Ready-to-Eat, or any of our color solutions, reach out with questions or to request a sample! My team loves to talk color and is happy to help with any spicy challenge.

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