Maillard Reactions Open Up Secret Of Food Taste And Aroma

The Maillard Reactions

Did you ever wonder why some of your favorite food items taste so beautiful and irresistibly tempting with a lovely aroma?

Well, the reason is that a chain of reactions that takes place while preparing the food item while moisture content is low and the temperature is above 130 degrees Celsius, brings in the taste and aroma in the food item.

More about the reaction

The reactions are called Maillard reactions after the French scientist Louis-Camille Maillard, who was a biochemist and physician both.

He described the effect for the first time in 1912, that how the chain of reactions can make hundreds of compounds in the food to create the taste, smell, color, and texture.

When reducing sugars react with amine groups of the amino acids, then these reactions take place. The reducing sugars are reducing agents chemically.

Commonly known items which get the beautiful aroma and taste after preparation or cooking are potato chips, coffee, bread and baked items, chocolates, roasted meat and fish items etc.

Browning reactions

This same name is given to Maillard reactions for how they bring the color difference to the cooked or baked food. Baked food gets a brown or golden brown color with the aroma.

And all these happen when the food gets cooked in the open air while reacting to oxygen.

Food which is steamed or boiled do not even get to higher temperatures than 100 degrees, and therefore they don’t develop the certain aromas and the brown attractive color which fried or baked food acquires.

Read Also: The Color Effect On Taste And Aroma Of Food

Aroma before the color

The first indication that a Maillard reaction is happening comes with an aroma. When the bread is baked, then even before the baking completes and the bread crust takes the brown color, the aroma is released.

You get the awesome, sweet and nice smell of baked break when volatile molecules are created and released from the food.

However, if the reaction is continued, which means the bread or food is baked further, then it will char or get burnt, which means more severe reaction. Definitely, this will not create nice results or aroma.

Read Also: Can Science Improve Tomato Flavor And Make It Tasty

Clearing the myth

There is a myth that caramelization and Maillard reaction are the same. It’s only a myth and the reality is that caramelization occurs only above temperatures of 160 degrees Celsius when sugars get baked in absence of proteins.


Lastly, Maillard reactions also happen when there is the right ambiance, and not only when food is on even and based. Changes in color gradually in many food items often happen due to these reactions.

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