A Taste of Flavor Basics

Cooking is all about balancing flavors and textures. Even though food’s appearance, texture, and smell are all part of what make dishes popular, it is their taste above all that keeps us coming back for more. Taste is what makes cooks on the Food Network make those amazingly entertaining faces when they take a bite of their recipe! Most dishes create a natural balance between primary and secondary flavors, but there are also those that are more obvious in their flavor combinations – sweet and sour, salty and sweet, sweet and spicy.


Knowing how to combine certain flavors to make a dish delicious can be intimidating. For the first installment of the Rooted Cooking Classroom, I’ve created Flavor Basics! I’m super pumped about this first guide and will have more in the works being launched in the coming months – Get Your Protein, Meal Prep Success, and Knife Skills. 

First things first though, I want to give you a sneak peak of the first lesson in the series! Without further adieu, I give you a taste of Flavor Basics. To access the whole guide, check out The Kitchen here.

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When you begin to build a flavor profile for any dish, keep the following four things in mind to make sure the dish comes out balanced and has a good depth.

  1. Each ingredient should serve a purpose. There doesn’t need to be a crazy long ingredients list for a dish to be flavorful. Think about what flavors would support your star ingredient, and keep it simple. When you begin to add too many things to one dish, the primary flavor gets lost.
  2. Ingredients can work together or contrast one another to add depth. There are five types of flavors used in the culinary world and they can be combined together in various ways to create a flavorful balance.

    Salty/Umami – adding something salty or that has an umami quality helps to bring out the sweetness of a food or balance the bitterness of somethin

    Sweet – adding something sweet helps minimize sourness, bitterness, and spice and can enhance salty/umami flavor

    Sour – adding sour agents helps to balance spice, sweetness, and bitterness, and also enhances saltines

    Bitter – helps to balance sweet and salty flavor

    Spicy – helps to balance sweetness
  3. Make sure contrasting flavors balance one another. Think Goldilocks here – you want to create a balance where all the flavors combine seamlessly so that nothing overpowers anything else.
  4. Make sure to consider flavors that may be included in side dishes as well. If you’re making chicken piñata as we mentioned above, you’re most likely going to have some sort of side dish with it, right? Wild rice and sautéed broccolini maybe? Think about these flavors as part of your supporting components while creating the flavor profile for the star role.
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Learn more about flavor basics and the other simple cooking lessons in the Rooted Cooking Classroom visit rootedradish.com