What is your favorite cooking aroma?

So many to choose from, but right now my wife is sautéing some onions for the stuffing, and the thought crossed my mind that that might be my favorite of all cooking/baking aromas.

How about you?

Bacon has to be a contender.

  • Bacon
  • Bread
  • Onions
  • Coffee

Garlic in oil. Not only delicious in its own right, but a kind of “good food ahead!” indicator.

Dang, how did I forget garlic? Add it to my list, right below bacon on the hierarchy.

BBQ. The combination of the smoke and the cooking meat is intoxicating. Probably a smell relic (smellic?) of my primitive ancestors cooking their kill over an open fire.

Funny you should mention onions. I sauté white onions quite frequently and love the aroma.

Kind of a strange one is the aroma of baking sausage rolls. It’s not the sausages, it’s the pastry. There’s something about the sweet smell of baking pastry that for some reason elicits Christmas morning. I really have no idea why.

The smell of a rotisserie chicken wafting through the grocery store! My own chicken in the oven with a little garlic and rosemary. And a steak cooking on a Weber charcoal grill.

I’ll go with this and add cumin blooming and whatever my Mexican coworkers are reheating for lunch.

Bread baking.

Indian spices blooming in the oil.

Green chili stew simmering.

Christmas cookies and cakes.
Any good Maillard reaction (see bread above, but also chicken, duck, pork, lamb…)
Garlic and onions simmering in oil. With bay leaves. And rosemary. And thyme.

Wort is on the list.

Not home cooking, but the smell of fish and chips/a chippy on a cold winter’s evening takes some beating.

(And it never tastes as good as it smells.)


I worked with a guy years ago who moved house. I asked him a while later had he settled in and how was he finding the new place. He said that it was great except that the kitchen was too close to the bedroom. I was puzzled and he explained that, “Every night I set the bread maker to bake a fresh loaf for the morning. Now every day, at 5 AM, the smell of baking bread wakes me up.”

My Mom’s fried chicken.

Most everything listed, but I’m going all in with freshly baked bread.


Curry. It enchants and compels me. Mmmmmmmmm curry.

Lots of the smells mentioned so far trigger happiness in me, two additions:

  1. Part of the seasons, but slooooow roasted Sweet Potatoes, where the sugar is seeping out and caramelizing on the foil underneath is waaay up there this time of year (we’re talking 2.5 hours @ 300F)

  2. The southwestern boy in me finds the scent of beef fajitas sizzling on a iron skillet, with the cumin, beef, onions and hatch chile (yes I lived within an easy hour drive of Hatch), especially with the sizzle of a touch of lime the perfect savory combo. The drool, it is upon me!

I feel this way about the smell of hamburgers on the grill. There’s something deep in my lizard brain that gets tripped by that aroma.

Not beef stew miasma leaching from neighbouring condos, into your own.