Chocolate and peanut butter, apple and cinnamon, sour cream and onion...
Some food combinations go together so well that they’re almost more popular as partners than they are individually.
Pairing flavors is both an art and a science. While there’s a methodology for combining ingredients, some of the best flavor pairings not only break that mold but do so with unbelievably delicious results.
If you’re someone who likes to push the boundaries of what’s possible when it comes to taste, you’re in luck. Today I’m going share with you my favorite weird (yet absolutely delicious) ingredients that pair together perfectly.
1. Peanut Butter & Sriracha
It’s amazing how many flavors can go with peanut butter—that includes spicy sriracha sauce. In fact, a peanut butter sandwich with sriracha has become quite a trend over the years. Yes, I know, it sounds like a sandwich some bachelor made because there was nothing else in the pantry. Though, it’s surprisingly delicious.
I get it if this combination sounds anything but appetizing. That being said, you may have already had it before when eating spicy Thai peanut sauce.
The peanut butter smooths out the spiciness of the sriracha to yield a pleasant and appetizing flavor combination. If these two on their own aren’t enough to satisfy your adventurous taste buds, try adding basil, pickles, or lime juice to your sandwich. The slightly acidic and salty nature of these added ingredients give the flavor another level of oomph.
One bite of a peanut butter, pickle, and sriracha sandwich will be sure to make your taste buds dance under a disco ball of exploding flavor. Don’t worry though, it’s approved by the food connoisseurs over at NY Times Cooking.
2. Blackberry & Rosemary
One of the best drinks I’ve ever had was a blackberry and rosemary cocktail. Both blackberry and rosemary are quite bold in flavor—one sweet and tart, the other savory and bitter. That’s why I was both surprised and intrigued by this interesting flavor combination. After my first sip, I was sold. The sweetness of the blackberry pairs exceptionally well with the savoriness and slight kick of the rosemary.
The key to perfecting this pairing is to have more blackberry flavor than rosemary flavor, as too much rosemary will easily overpower the taste and make much too it bitter. With just the right amount of each, the flavor is reminiscent of a warm August evening. The perfect touch to the drink was a sprig of rosemary. Every sip I took was met with the scent of lovely rosemary, which added nicely to the overall flavor.
If cocktails aren’t your thing, there are many other ways to combine blackberry and rosemary. Here are a few other recipes to explore…
3. Mango With Chile & Lime
When looking for unusual flavor pairings, why stop with what’s found in the United States? International cuisine can broaden our knowledge of food and what flavors work well with others. In this case, mango with chile and lime is a traditional Mexican food usually sold in markets and on the street.
The bright burst of sweet mango with the bold chile and lime seasoning lends a delicious treat you’ll be surprised you love. Some add a dash of salt to give it another twist of flavor. This unique and tasty snack is incredibly easy to make, all you need is a mango, chili powder, and lime juice.
This pairing works well on its own or, with a few alterations, as a tasty drink.
4. Avocado & Chocolate
If you’re looking for a dairy substitute that will make your chocolate dessert rich and creamy, try adding mashed avocado to your recipe. This weird combination is less about the differing flavor profiles and more about the complimentary texture of the avocado to the chocolate.
While it seems like a crazy food duo to try, the flavor of avocado is actually unnoticeable in most chocolate avocado recipes. It’s recommended to use a less ripe avocado to minimize the avocado flavor even more (if undesired).
This is a great food combination if you’re looking to make more nutritionally balanced chocolate desserts that will satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard on sugar.
Chocolate and avocado pair exceptionally well in pudding, mousse, truffles, and brownies.
Here are a few tasty recipes to explore…
5. Steak & Pomegranate
When you bite into a steak fresh off the grill you want it to have two things: tender juiciness and bursting flavor. Pomegranate, in this case, adds that extra “burst” of flavor—quite literally.
You may not normally think of adding this exotic fruit to your marinade, but you’ll thank me after you try it. The sweet and tart flavor of pomegranate pairs well with the savory and saltiness of the steak. To add an extra burst of character and taste to each bite of your steak, add some fresh pomegranate as garnish.
The pomegranate juice or molasses works well in a variety of marinades. Some recipes call for pomegranate in combination with wine, others soy sauce and vinegar, and even some with rosemary and thyme. It’s undoubtedly well suited for those who love savory meat dishes but also have a sweet tooth.
Here are some delicious steak and pomegranate recipes to pique your interest…
- Pomegranate Flank Steak
- Beef Filets with Pomegranate-Pinot Sauce
- Hanger Steak with Pomegranate Chimichurri
6. Cheese & Jam
If you’re a charcuterie board master, then it’s highly likely you’re familiar with the amazing combination that is cheese and jam. If, like me, you’re new to the world of fancy cheeses, then you’ll be surprised to learn that jam and cheese are a weird, but surprisingly delectable flavor combination.
The end result of this flavor pairing all comes down to what type of cheese is paired with what jam. For example, you can pair sweet cheeses with spicy jams, such as jalapeno cherry jam. Or, you could try a savory, bold-flavored cheese with a more mild jam, such as apricot. The combinations are endless, which makes jam and cheese pairings fun to try and test your own flavor pairing skills.
If you’d like to explore this food combination further, Dorothy over at FarmToJar.com put together a great resource here for how to properly pair cheese with jam.
7. Strawberry, Basil, & Balsamic Vinegar
The sweet juiciness of strawberry and the wonderful, savory taste of basil may seem like a peculiar mix but it is one of the best summertime flavor combinations. What makes this combination even more flavorful? A dash of balsamic vinegar. This trio lends a flavor profile that is quite distinct and nothing other than delicious.
The best way to enjoy this unique concoction is in a salad or on a cracker, along with goat cheese for an extra kick of flavor and texture. If you want to get a little fancy, this recipe places the strawberries, basil, and balsamic vinegar over a toasted pound cake.
8. Peanut Butter & Bacon
While this flavor combination is undoubtedly weird, for some reason it just makes sense. Of course, peanut butter goes with bacon. It’s peanut butter, which basically goes well with just about everything, and bacon, the universally worshipped food with an almost cult-like following.
The best part? Slap it between two pieces of bread and you’ve got yourself a peanut butter and bacon sandwich. Ah, the bachelor's dream. Heck, through some sriracha and pickles on it too. Why not? We make the rules after all.
9. Watermelon & Salt
Normally, you wouldn’t think of adding anything to watermelon, as it’s pretty delicious as is. That being said, a light sprinkle of salt enhances the sweetness and juiciness of watermelon.
How it works is pretty magical. The salt pulls the liquid to the surface so every bite is full of juicy flavor. While you may be skeptical, go ahead and give it a try the next time you have some watermelon. You may be surprised at just how delicious this weird flavor combination is!
10. French Fries & Ice Cream
This odd food combination brings me back to my high school days when my friends and I would order Wendy’s shakes with fries. While I couldn’t get on board with dipping my fries in ice cream, my friends were obsessed. They loved the sweet creaminess that contrasted perfectly with the salty crunch of the French fry.
I tried it a few times to no avail. Sure, it was alright—but apparently, in the words of my friends, I just “didn’t get it.”
My personal opinion aside, this weird food combination is beloved by many. Sweet and salty flavors are well-known companions, and this weird, yet delicious (for some) combination is no exception. Next time you’re at the fast food drive through, give this strange concoction a shot.
11. Douglas Fir Shortbread Cookies
This is one of my favorite recipes to make around the holidays. I love how unique and bold the douglas fir needles are. Most wouldn’t see a douglas fir Christmas tree and think, “I’m going to make cookies out of you.” But, I did, and it was delicious. The recipe is pretty simple. I combined the douglas fir needles with sugar and powdered them, which mixes nicely with the flour and butter. Here’s a variation of my recipe.
These fir needles have a distinct “pine” flavor to them that is sour, citrus-like, and a tad savory, which works well to balance out the butter and sugariness of the shortbread. Sure, it’s an odd combination but they smell heavenly and taste like Christmas in a cookie.
12. Black Bean Brownies
Thanks to Hungryroot, we now know how delicious and decadent black bean brownies are. Who would’ve thought?
Surprisingly, they taste nearly identical to regular brownies but are a bit more nutritionally balanced and, bonus points for being gluten-free. Similar to avocados and chocolate, the flavor pairing isn’t necessarily what makes this combination stand out. Rather, it's the perfect texture that black beans and chocolate create when combined.
I know black beans and chocolate are a weird flavor combination, but don’t knock it until you try it. Here’s a delicious black bean brownie recipe you can whip up in around 15 minutes. Or, pickup the black bean brownie batter mix Hungryroot is famous for here.
13. Sage, Rose Hip, and Elderberry Tea
Feel a sore throat coming on? This unusual tea is for you.
Try a delicious cup of elderberry, rose hip, and sage tea. Elderberries offer a unique flavor in and of themselves—earthy, slightly bitter, and sweet. Sage is full-on savory, bitter (in large amounts), and very distinctive in its own right as well. Rose hips are classically tart and sour.
I paired these three together when crafting a cold formula, and I was curious about what flavor would be produced. One sip and I was delighted with the outcome. This tea soon became a faithful comfort drink.
Elderberries are well known for their amazing ability to support the immune system, and numerous studies have proved sage and rose hips contain vitamins such as Vitamin C. While you combat your mild cold, why not make a delicious and comforting herbal tea?
14. Fried Egg On Pizza
In my younger years I lived in France and it was there that I discovered one of the weirdest food combinations I’d ever come across.
Like clockwork, the family I lived with had a pizza night every single Friday. On my first pizza night, I scanned the menu and was only able to recognize certain words such as “egg” and “beef.” Having little knowledge of the French language at the time, I was skeptical and ordered the only pizza with familiar words I could find. Soon I saw a French style pizza I’ll never forget.
Let me pause for a moment and say, I am not a fan of runny eggs. So you can imagine my utter shock as the waiter brought the pizza and I watched as my French hosts opened up their pizza box to reveal a pizza with a perfectly round sunny side egg smack dab in the middle. To my horror, they broke the egg and spread it all around their pizza… with vigor. To many Americans, runny egg yolk spread around a pizza is just weird. To the French: c’est délicieux.
Don’t worry though, you don’t have to travel to France to take a bite out of this deliciously odd pairing. Here’s a simple recipe to make your very own pizza with egg.
15. Potato Donut
My mother-in-law has a cooking superpower. She can make homemade donuts that rival the fresh, melt in your mouth, warm donuts Krispy Kreme is famous for.
Her secret ingredient? Mashed potatoes.
Although it sounds crazy, there’s a method to her madness. The starch in the potato helps retain moisture while keeping the texture fluffy and airy. There is a mild potato flavor present, but it’s unnoticeable if you’re unaware of the secret ingredient.
These donuts are so good I’m somewhat surprised using potatoes in donuts isn’t more of a thing. It used to be, as potato donuts (also called spudnuts) are a more traditional style donut than what we’re used to today.
The best part is you can whip up a batch of your own spudnuts with leftover potatoes using this recipe..
16. Chocolate & Beets
Earthy beets and… chocolate? Sounds insane but hear me out.
Upon discovering this weird, yet delicious flavor combination I too was skeptical (to say the least). Beets are powerful and bold in flavor—not something one would normally think to mix with chocolate. However, beets and chocolate are becoming popular companions for many chocolate dessert recipes, including cake, brownies, cookies, and cupcakes.
The reason why is simple—they add moisture and sweetness. Plus, they’re highly nutritious. While there’s no mistaking the earthy flavor of beets, it goes incredibly well with the flavor of chocolate—creating a rich, moist, and irresistible dessert.
Here are some scrumptious recipes you can use this crazy combination in:
17. Egg Sandwich With Jam
An egg sandwich and a toast with jam are two perfectly normal separate breakfast options. But what happens when you combine the two? Well, you may be surprised at just how delicious this mash-up tastes.
Most mornings, my partner loves to spread a thin layer of jam on his bread for his egg sandwich. He explains, “it creates a perfect blend of sweet and savory.”
I have tried this unique “jam egg sandwich” of his with precarious results. While it’s not my favorite, he swears by this delicious, creative food invention of his.
“Plus, it minimizes having to eat a separate piece of toast with jam,” he adds. Well, I can’t argue that logic.
What More Is There To Discover?
While we covered some of the wackiest food and flavor combinations found across the world and even in my own personal life, this list is really just the tip of the iceberg.
If you’re a food enthusiast, or just like to pair uncommon foods together, then let us know the strange (yet delicious) combinations you’ve tasted in the comments below!