If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes at a BBQ comp or watching BBQ Pitmasters on TV, you would have heard the term flavour profile. But what exactly is it?

Main Flavour Profile Elements

There are four main flavour profiles that most of us would have heard of, and you can easily categorise most foods into it:

  • Sweet is, as you would expect, mostly based in sugars
  • Salty, which comes from different types of salt and things such as anchovy and soy sauce
  • Sour, generated by things like vinegar and citrus, and;
  • Bitter, which is what you can get with things like coffee and turmeric

There is a fifth taste in all this as well – umami, a more robust, meaty taste, which Jess Pryles explains over on her site here.

What about BBQ Flavour Profiles?

When it comes to BBQ, spices, herbs and the process itself will impart different flavours. In competition BBQ, this goes up a notch as competitors try and impart as much flavour in one bite, through a combination of brines and injections, rubs, smoke and sauce.

We tend to do away with the bitter and have other elements like savoury, smokey and earthy. These are again driven by largely by spice, but the woods themselves play a part. Depending on which would you use, you get the subtlety of smoke flavours.

If I was looking at this in the sense of some of the Moonshine BBQ rubs, our beef rub is equal parts spicy (almost cajun) and salty (as all good beef rubs should be), whereas our brisket rub alters this profile to also be herby and nutty.

Jay from the ABA put together this flavour wheel last year to help out. So if you’re wanting to experiment with flavour, this is a great place to start.

BBQ Flavour Profile wheel

Header Photo credit: Alan Labisch

Main image used with permission of ABA