Taste is one of the fundamental senses, and it is essential for our ability to ingest nutritious substances and to detect and avoid potentially toxic ones. Taste buds, which are clusters of neuroepithelial receptor cells, are housed in highly organized structures called taste papillae in the oral cavity. Whereas the overall structure of the taste periphery is conserved in almost all vertebrates examined to date, the anatomical, histological, and cell biological, as well as potentially the molecular details of taste buds in the oral cavity are diverse across species and even among individuals. In mammals, several types of gustatory papillae reside on the tongue in highly ordered arrangements, and the patterning and distribution of the mature papillae depend on coordinated molecular events in embryogenesis. In this review, we highlight new findings in the field of taste development, including how taste buds are patterned and how taste cell fate is regulated. We discuss whether a specialized taste bud stem cell population exists and how extrinsic signals can define which cell lineages are generated. We also address the question of whether molecular regulation of taste cell renewal is analogous to that of taste bud development. Finally, we conclude with suggestions for future directions, including the potential influence of the maternal diet and maternal health on the sense of taste in utero.