Maillard Reaction Meaning
The Maillard reaction is a browning reaction that converts amino acids and sugars into flavor compounds.
For more information, read the full guide to optimizing the Maillard reaction.
The Maillard Reaction’s Role in Cooking
The Maillard reaction creates complex flavors that accentuate the five basic tastes.
The browning process also improves a dish’s appearance and perceived taste (e.g., gray, boiled food vs. golden-brown sear).
Maillard Reaction Examples
- Brown grill marks on meat
- Crispy turkey and salmon skin
- Golden-brown crust on baked goods
- Coffee and chocolate
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How to Enhance Maillard Reaction
Therefore, high heat cooking methods like searing and broiling enhance the speed of the Maillard reaction.
Adding an alkaline agent to increase the pH (like baking soda) will produce browning much faster. Meanwhile, acidic ingredients (lime juice, tomato sauce) will decrease the Maillard reaction rate.
Furthermore, low moisture environments allow temperatures to exceed water’s boiling point (212°F), which indirectly speed up the Maillard reaction.