The key difference between Maillard reaction and caramelization is that the Maillard reaction is non-pyrolytic whereas the caramelization is pyrolytic.
The Maillard reaction and caramelization are two different non-enzymatic browning processes of food. These processes, however, differ from each other according to the method of processing. In both cases, the food that undergoes these processes get a brown color at the end of the process.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Maillard Reaction
3. What is Caramelization
4. Side by Side Comparison – Maillard Reaction vs Caramelization in Tabular Form
What is Maillard Reaction?
Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction that takes place involving amino acids and reducing sugars in food. This process results in a browned food having a distinctive flavor. It is not an enzyme-catalyzed reaction. Typically, this process occurs at around 140 to 165 °C temperatures. Most of the times, we tend to go for even higher temperatures in order to make sure this reaction has taken place. However, very high temperatures will result in caramelization rather than this reaction.
In Maillard reaction, the carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the amino group of the amino acid. It results in a mixture of poorly characterized molecules. This mixture of molecules is responsible for the aroma and flavor of browned food.