Examples of Chemicals that Flavor Foods

The delicious flavors of food are actually produced by chemicals whose names can sound scary - but these chemicals are entirely natural.

By discovering the chemicals responsible for specific flavors, food scientists can produce foods with precisely controlled flavors.

Example List of
Chemicals that Flavor Foods

Diacetyl C4H6O2

Intensely buttery flavor; a fermentation product found in alcoholic drinks.

IUPAC name: Butane-2,3-dione
Ethyl decadienoate C12H20O2

ethyl decadienoate
Pear flavor and odor; also used in perfume products; found naturally in apples, grapes, pears, quince, and beer.

IUPAC name: Ethyl (2E,4Z)-2,4-decadienoate
Ethyl maltol C7H8O3

ethyl maltol
Caramelized sugar, cooked fruit, and cotton candy flavors; this is a synthetic chemical.

IUPAC name: 2-Ethyl-3-hydroxy-4-pyranone
Ethyl propionate C5H10O2

ethyl propionate
Fruity flavor, pineapple odor; traces found in strawberries and kiwis. Produced synthetically.

IUPAC name: Ethyl propanoate
Ethylvanillin C9H10O3

Strong vanilla flavor used in chocolate; it was one of the first (late 19th century) synthetic flavors added to foods.

IUPAC name: 3-ethoxy-4-hydroxybenzaldehyde
Eucalyptol C10H18O

Eucalyptus - minty smell, spicy, cooling taste, added to mouthwashes and cough medicine (it is a cough suppressant). Produced from eucalyptus leaves.

IUPAC name: 1,3,3-Trimethyl-2-oxabicyclo[2,2,2]octane
Isoamyl acetate C7H14O2

isoamyl acetate
Banana and pear flavors; found naturally in bananas, peppermint leaves, and is a fermentation product in beer. Produced synthetically for the food industry.

IUPAC name: 3-Methylbutyl acetate
2,6-Lutidine C7H9N

Nut, bread, coffee aromas when used at low concentrations; found naturally in bread, tea, coffee, cooked beef and pork, cheeses, and beer. Produced synthetically for the food industry.

IUPAC name: 2,6-Dimethylpyridine
Limonene C10H16
Orange and citrus flavors; found naturally in citrus fruit rinds, from which it is extracted for the food industry.

IUPAC name: 1-Methyl-4-(1-methylethenyl)-cyclohexene
Manzanate C8H16O2
Apple with cider and pineapple hints; produced synthetically.

IUPAC name: Ethyl 2-methylpentanoate
Menthone C10H18O
Peppermint odor; small amounts are found naturally in essential oils such as peppermint, and pennyroyal. Produced synthetically for the food industry.

IUPAC name:(2S,5R)-2-Isopropyl-5-methylcyclohexanone
Methyl anthranilate C8H9NO2
methyl anthranilate
Grape flavor in Kool-Aid, candy, and chewing gum; found naturally in a number of sources including grapes, oranges, lemons, strawberries, and bergamont. Produced synthetically for the food and perfume industries.

IUPAC name: Methyl 2-aminobenzoate