Maillard Reaction Explained

The Maillard Reaction as discovered by Louis Camille Maillard is pretty simple. Basically, there are two main ways on how the browning of food happens. One is mediated by enzymes while the other one is not. It is really hard to tell whether the enzymes have worked or not through the entire process unless the enzymes were inactivated. Nevertheless, in the case of non-enzymic browning, it can be categorized further into three and one of these is the Maillard Reaction.

The Maillard reaction occurs between a carbonyl compound like a reducing sugar, and an amine, like an amino acid, peptide, or protein.

This process is pretty much complex. When the sugar and amine are heated, they combine to form new flavors and aromas. This also causes the browning of the substance thus, the Maillard reaction is also called the browning reaction. This normally happens at high temperatures but is also possible at lower temperatures given that there is a high concentration of amino acids and sugars.


The Maillard reaction is widely evident. In food preparation, it can be observed in high temperatures such as roasting, baking, and extruding, or even storage for prolonged periods. The Maillard reaction is responsible for the taste of your toast, and even the color of your beer. It is also necessary in chocolate and coffee production, as well as artificial maple syrup. Even textile production makes use of this scientific phenomenon.

Tanning products’ capability of making our skin brown is also an effect of the Maillard reaction. It plays a role in substances such as the soil and it can even be evident in the seas. The effect it does on food in particular bring about necessary nutritional and toxicologal outcomes. Physiologically, it occurs in the body whenever amino compounds and reducing sugars interact. Concrete examples are aging, cataracts, diabetes, and dialysis fluids.