Formulating with Flavor: Bakery Emulsions

by | Apr 28, 2022

What is a Bakery Emulsion?

An emulsion is a combination of an oil and water phase that is immiscible (not forming a homogenous mixture when added together). To get the two liquids to combine homogenously, flavor suppliers disperse the oil phase within the water phase in the presence of an emulsifier that breaks down the oil into small particles.

  • For bakery emulsions, a common goal for the end-use is to transform an oil-soluble flavor solution into a water-soluble solution.
  • Flavor houses like FlavorSum achieve this goal by microencapsulating the flavor in stabilizers (the emulsifier mentioned above) and then suspending those microparticles in water.

Bakery emulsions are different than other emulsions, such as a beverage emulsion, because they are more like a suspension vs. a true emulsion.

  • In a true emulsion, weighing agents are used to get the density of the solution as close to water as possible, and then gums and mechanical tools are used to create a strong and lasting bond.
  • Since the bond in a bakery emulsion is more like a suspension, these solutions aren’t appropriate for a fully liquid product because they will separate quickly.

When should a bakery emulsion be used?

Bakery product manufacturers have several reasons for selecting an emulsion for their formula.

  1. Cost-effectiveness. Oil-based ingredients can be costly. In a bakery emulsion, flavor creators strive to reduce the volume of oil-based ingredients. Product developers often choose bakery emulsions to execute their formulation without taste compromise.
  2. Performance. Though bakery emulsions are less stable than true emulsions, their unique suspension capabilities enable them to perform well in many bakery segments because they are mixed into a more viscous solution.
    • Formulators might also consider a bakery emulsion if they’re concerned about the possibility of the flavor baking out of a recipe. Bakery emulsions are heat-stable, so they tend to not evaporate or degrade like traditional flavors, resulting in more potent aromas and tastes.
    • Bakery emulsions are often much stronger than extracts and are a good solution for formulators who want to maintain the flavor strength but reduce costs.
  3. Versatility. These types of emulsions are also successful in products like ice cream and certain confections because of the viscosity of the base and finished good.

What Initial Questions Will a Flavor Partner Ask a Bakery Formulator?

Before discussing your next bakery innovation with a flavor supplier, get internal alignment about the questions shown below. Confirming these details will allow your flavor house to identify the solution that makes the most sense for your formulation.

  • Do you prefer an oil- or water-soluble solution?
  • What is your cost target?
  • What is your targeted volume?
  • How are you adding the flavor ingredient into the product?

How are bakery emulsions labeled?

Flavor solutions may contain different compounds beyond the flavor agent, but labeling regulations require producers to only note the presence of a natural or artificial flavor, depending on the type.

Bakery emulsions are subject to different requirements because they leverage those emulsification ingredients (like gums or a modified food starch).

  • In a bakery emulsion, the developer must label the flavor and the emulsification ingredient.
  • Because the water content is much higher in a bakery emulsion than other flavor solutions, preservatives (like potassium sorbate or sodium citrate) are needed and must show on the label.
  • Additionally, flavor suppliers often incorporate acidic ingredients (like citric acid) in bakery emulsions to keep the pH low and provide additional preservation. Bakery product manufacturers must also include any acidic ingredients on the label.

What’s Next? Explore Trending Flavors in Bakery

Emulsions are available for a range of bakery flavors, including the Top 10 flavors launched in North America over the past few years.

North American Launches 2018-2022 – Top 10 Flavors

Cookies Cakes, Pastries, Sweet Goods
Chocolate Chocolate
Vanilla Blueberry
Dark Chocolate Vanilla
Coconut Apple
Lemon Strawberry
Butter Lemon
Peanut Butter Cinnamon
Almond Brownie
Raspberry Chocolate & Brownie
Strawberry Berry
growing in last 52 weeks  


North American Launches – Fastest Growing Flavors Last 52 Weeks

Cookies Cakes, Pastries, Sweet Goods
Chocolate & Peanut Butter Banana Nut
Blueberry Vanilla
Pistachio Sugar
Maple Fruit
Sugar Lemon Poppy Seed
Coconut Cherry
Pumpkin Spice Cinnamon
Chocolate Vanilla  Chocolate Hazelnut
Carrot Cake Red Velvet
White Chocolate Coconut Marble Cake
Marshmallow Coffee
Green Tea Buttermilk
Caramel Apple Dark Chocolate
Raspberry Cream Cheese
Ube Apple Cinnamon


And many of the fastest-growing bakery flavors are also available in bakery emulsions. Your flavor partner can provide additional guidance about the solution that will fit within your budget and processing methods.

Craft Your Next Bakery Innovation With a Solutions Partner

Need support on your bakery innovation journey to success? Leverage our flavor and applications expertise by partnering with us on your next delicious innovation! A partnership with our flavor experts can help you navigate development hurdles and speed time to market. We’re here to make your ideas become a reality. Connect with our team to learn more!

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