19 Aphrodisiac Foods to Spice Up Your Valentine’s Day

Sweet and spicy foods like chocolate, strawberries, and chili peppers get a lot of attention around Valentine’s Day for their so-called mood-enhancing properties. I have always found the aphrodisiac food theory suspect because I consume excessive amounts of hot sauce and not once has it inspired me to escort my husband to the bedroom.

While the power of aphrodisiac foods might be primarily that of suggestion (ahem, oysters), certain spices like cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and ginger can awaken the “love senses” by making your mouth tingle. Some even increase blood flow to the whole body, and if you passed the eighth grade health course, you know exactly what I mean.

With that in mind, here are 19 ways to spice up your Valentine’s Day with some real spice. No, these items alone probably won’t get you in the mood, but they won’t hurt the situation either, especially since we’re looking for a subtle spice, not “Oh my God, what have I done to my insides?”

Warming spices

Before you start cooking that spicy Valentine’s Day dinner, check the expiration date on your ground spices, smell them, and then examine the color carefully. Even though they technically haven’t expired, they have probably lost some of their punch. A good rule of thumb? If you bought a ground spice before the pandemic, now is the time to throw it away. Then refresh your spice cabinet with one of these heated spice sets.

Spicy candies

Honey Mama’s Spicy Dark Cocoa Truffle Bar

Honey Mama’s Dairy Free Honey Sweet Chocolate Bars are a favorite of Epi and BA staffers for their dreamy texture and fun flavors. The Spicy Dark Cocoa Truffle bar combines cayenne and cinnamon for a pleasant, but not overwhelming kick.

Honey Mama’s Spicy Dark Cocoa Truffle Bar, 12 Pack

365 gingerbread cookies

Yes, I definitely recommend a box of store-bought cookies. These 365 Whole Foods Market Gingerbread Cookies are super crispy, perfectly spiced, and not too sweet. Arrange them on a pretty little plate or add them to your fancy cheese platter, then hide (recycle) the box, and enjoy.

Chocolove peppers and cherries in a dark chocolate bar

Chocolove dark chocolate bars are ubiquitous in grocery stores coast to coast, and that’s because they’re so damn good! Still, not all flavors are readily available — the Chiles & Cherries bar may be harder to find at your local Kroger than some of the other flavors, so ordering online is probably your best bet.

Chocolove peppers and cherries in a dark chocolate bar

Old fashioned cinnamon candies

Cinnamon candies don’t get enough love from the over-14s, but these nostalgic candies will give you the same spicy feeling of a fancy chocolate bar with hand-picked chili peppers. And, sure, artificial coloring can temporarily give your mouth a cartoonish red tint, but you’ll also have good breath.

Red Hots Cinnamon Flavored Candies, 12 Pack

Claeys Old Fashioned Cinnamon Hard Candies, 2 Pack

Spicy sauces and condiments

Brightland Ardor Chilli Olive Oil

As a general rule, we tend to steer clear of infused staples because they’re so easy to make in small batches at home, but Brightland’s Ardor Chilli Olive Oil is a nice finishing oil. which can add a spicy kick to almost any dish – without the garlic breath you might get from other spicy condiments.

Brightland Ardor Chilli Olive Oil

Acid League Garden Heat Living Vinegar

Acid League’s live vinegars are so good that some Epi staff use them in cocktails. The Garden Heat flavor, made with carrot, celery, and jalapeño juice, will add a spicy, savory twist to Bloody Marys, soups, salads, fish, and more.

Divina chilli fig spread

Spice up your Valentine’s Day charcuterie board with this sweet and spicy chilli fig jam. You can also use it to glaze grilled meats or elevate a simple grilled cheese sandwich.

Mike’s Hot Honey

The question is not “What can you use hot honey for?” but what can not do you use hot honey? and I’m having trouble finding an answer. I’ve used it for just about anything that would benefit from a little gentle heat, including cocktails, meat marinades, salad dressings, and even tomato sauce. And because some like it hotter, Mike’s also offers extra hot honey.

Mike’s Hot Honey Original & Extra Hot Combo Pack

Spicy spirits and mixers

Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur

This brightly colored spirit is exactly what it says: an intense ginger liqueur. Spicier than its French predecessor Canton areait’s still a bit sweet (like most ginger drinks), so serve it with seltzer water and lime or stir it into a more complex cocktail.

Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur

Ancho Reyes Chili Ancho Liqueur

A spicy liqueur doesn’t have to punch you in the face (yes, we’re talking about you, fireball) and Ancho Reyes has mastered the art of subtle spice with this sweet and spicy ancho chili liqueur. Infused with sun-dried chile poblanos, it can be served neat or sipped on the rocks, but it really shines when added to fruity cocktails like daiquiris.

Ancho Reyes Chili Ancho Liqueur

Wilfred’s Non-Alcoholic Sweet and Sour Appetizer

This alcohol-free aperitif has the bitter and spicy notes you would expect from a Campari but with the addition of spicy, warm cloves. Epi’s digital director, Maggie Hoffman, recommends using it in a non-alcoholic toddy or spritz.

Wilfred’s Non-Alcoholic Sweet and Sour Appetizer

Slow burning non-alcoholic spirits

I’ve been drinking coffee and alcohol for longer than I probably should admit, so the subtlety of “functional” drinks largely eludes me; my real concern is the taste. When I first tried this brownish “alcohol free functional spirit” I was not in love. It hit some of the right notes (namely tart and spicy), but it wasn’t balanced enough to stand on its own as a drink. Then I realized it was really intended to be a blenderso I shook it with a little honey syrup and topped it off with Topo Chico and I haven’t stopped sipping it ever since.

Bonbuz Slowburn Non-Alcoholic Functional Spirits

Spicy ginger beer

Ginger beer is perhaps best known for its place in a Moscow mule, but it can also hold its own as a soft drink, as long as it’s a really spicy brew like Fentimans Where Reeds. You can sip these sweet and spicy sodas straight from the bottle, but for something a little more festive, serve them extra cold in a Collins glass with a giant ice cube and a squeeze of lime.

Fentimans Ginger Beer, 4 Pack

Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew, 4 Pack

Gris Gris Cocktail Magic Chilli Simple Syrups

Yes, it’s easy to make your own simple syrup, even infused, but sometimes you just want to buy the damn thing. And for those moments, there’s Simple Syrups Chilli Gris Gris Magic. Made in small batches and packaged in glass bottles, these spiced syrups come in two flavors: Jalapeño Hex and Habanero Basil.

Gris Gris Cocktail Magic Chilli Simple Syrups

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