Tired of bone broth or suffering from edima boredom? Has hummus gone ho-hum?
Maybe you’ve had enough of Whoppers or have had enough of hash browns. Move over to McMuffin, pandemic-weary and hungry Americans want to have a revenge meal, and they’re looking for the next great cocktail, taco, micro-green or amuse bouche.
How does Nashville’s hot and candied bacon, beer smoothies and CBD oil sound?
The National Restaurant Association says the restaurant industry is expected to reach $898 billion in sales in 2022, up from $799 billion in 2021 and even higher than the pre-pandemic sales of $864 billion in 2019. They also report that 51% of adults say they don’t eat out as often as they would like, which is a 6 percentage point increase from before the pandemic. But pent-up demand for catering services remains high.
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Restaurant owners had to switch from in-house to take-out during the pandemic, then readapt to supply chain issues the following year.
These days, restaurateurs are looking for premium ingredients that are convenient, popular, available, and can be consistently obtained. So, to please the public and their bottom line, restaurateurs are relying more on sauces, dressings, condiments, spices and spice blends for their versatility in food and beverages, according to a 2022 report. on menu trends by RSQ and FSR magazines, which cover the quick-service and full-service restaurant industries.
Menu selections will continue to shrink in size even as operators seek to improve the dining experience – upscale and convenient, but not expansive, according to the report. Make a mark on the menus, which is sponsored by Megamex Foods, a supplier of prepared Mexican foods to the restaurant industry. The report uses data from Datassential, a food and beverage market research company.
Global cuisine is gaining ground and younger generations are eating more meat, the report says. New herbs are appearing and vodka is on the rise.
Are you ready for some cronuts and crunchwraps? Reserve celery juice; adios, acai bowl; Bye bye, burnt Basque cheesecake – you toss the kale to the sidewalk and turn your gaze to the takoyaki while picking up a page from the bisque book. Here are some trending menu items to watch out for.
Herbs are on the rise. They are easily obtained or can be grown in-house and often have a good shelf life. Some of the herbs to watch out for include:
A staple of classic French cuisine, sometimes called French parsley, it belongs to the same family as parsley (Apiaceae.)
This Egyptian condiment is usually a mixture of herbs, nuts and spices. It is usually used as a dip with bread or as a garnish.
Lemon balm has a subtle lemon-mint scent when crushed, it adds a citrus flavor to drinks and salads.
The round leaves and bright flowers of your garden nasturtium are both decorative and edible, adding a peppery taste to salads.
A tropical Southeast Asian plant with subtly fragrant and flavorful leaves, pandan is used for everything from flavoring water and rice to wrapping cooked meat. It rose 6% on restaurant menus last year, more than 204% over the past four years, according to Datassential.
Burnet adds acidity to sauces, soups and salads. It tastes a bit like cucumber.
One of the ingredients of Herbs of Provence, savory is used as a seasoning for grilled meats and barbecues, as well as in stews and sauces. It is similar to thyme and can be combined with traditional herbs for a peppery kick.
Distinctly spicy and minty; (it’s in the mint family) shisho grows well in containers. It is used in Korean, Japanese, Indian and some Chinese cuisines.
Sorrel is popular in parts of Europe and India. It adds a sour and tangy accent to fish, salads, soups and curries.
Trending menu items
Here are more items you’ll see trending heavily on restaurant menus in the coming months, according to the QSR report.
Korean barbecue is the next fast-growing global addition. You can see it prepared on a center grill or on your table, as pictured above.
Nashville’s hot fried chicken with its spicy chili flavor has caught on like wildfire with a four-year growth rate of 356%, according to QSR.
Some 82% of consumers like or like bacon. Add sweet to savory, and even 11% of vegetarians and vegans say they like bacon, according to the report.
Yuba is made from the cream layer removed from heated soymilk (tofu skin) according to Hodo Foods. The result is a nutrient-dense, nutty-tasting noodle that’s a popular plant-based option for soups, salads, and bowls.
Lemonade is the big one in this category. The first three non-alcoholic sips are the flavored lemonades: strawberry, raspberry and watermelon.
Alabama BBQ Sauce
This is a tangy take on the Southern-style Alfredo sauce. It’s a creamy, tangy, rich white sauce made with mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, maybe a dash of Worcestershire or hot sauce, and other spices.
A taste of hazelnut, A starchy root vegetable native to South America, cassava is one of the fastest-growing and forward-thinking menu additions, with a year-on-year growth rate of over 46% and featuring on less than 1% of menus, according to Datassential. Over the past four years, it has experienced a growth rate of over 164%.
Cassava, which can be toxic if not cooked properly, is widely used around the world to make everything from alcoholic drinks and crisps to cakes, cookies and breads made from its flour.
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In restaurants, CBD can be used in the preparation of cocktails and beers or desserts by adding a few drops. A national association of restaurants report shows that CBD-infused foods and beverages were all the rage in 2019. The FDA hasn’t regulated its use in foods and beverages, but it’s offered in most states.
Datassential reports that it has a four-year growth rate of over 1,523%, but menu penetration is just 1%.
Crab bisque is an easy, accessible and easily customizable menu item.
If candied bacon isn’t enough for you, try chili, sriracha or coffee flavored bacon. Data indicates that 38% of men and 27% of women are interested in consuming flavored bacon, and that it can stand alone or top any menu item, from cocktails to desserts.
Gochujang red chili paste is a salty, sweet, and spicy fermented condiment used in Korean cuisine. Datassential reported 20% growth in this seasoning in 2021, following a four-year growth rate of over 179%.
Homemade dressings, condiments and sauces
Original dressings, condiments and sauces are a simple and inexpensive way to add charisma to the plate.
This versatile fruit brings a veggie, meaty texture to barbecues, rice bowls, tacos, wraps, pizzas, stews and salads.
According NPR, jackfruit has a distinctive musky odor and flavor that some describe as Juicy Fruit gum. And they’re huge, weighing anywhere from 12 to 100 pounds.
Quick-style noodle soup typically includes thick rice noodles, a base of coconut milk or spicy broth, and topped with chicken, shrimp, or fish.
Non-dairy ice cream and frozen desserts
Made from cashew cream, coconut cream, almond cream or an array of other non-dairy sources, more and more frozen vegan treats are appearing on menus and they have a unlimited range of creativity.
Oat milk or coconut milk
Both a plant-based and non-dairy alternative, oat milk comes from whole grain oats and adds a creamy texture with a hint of oat flavor. Coconut milk is derived from the pulp of ripe coconuts and has a sweeter flavor and high oil content.
Premium tequila, Irish whiskey, cordials, and single malt Scotch are favorites used not only for beverages, but also to infuse desserts, marinades, and other dishes.
An economical addition to the menu, Savory Crunchies can be used as an appetizer, bread alternative, garnish or side dish.
Much like guacamole and hummus, this Mayan pumpkin seed dip could be the next big contender, according to the report, and it’s especially relevant during the colder months.
It might sound strange, but smoothie beers are gaining traction in fast-casual restaurants. According to Blue Owl Brewing in Austin, Texas, the simplest form of the style is when brewers simply mash fruit together when finishing a beer. It’s a trendy choice for those looking for a more textured drinking experience.
More trending menu items
Other trendy entrees over the past four years include falafel, pictured here, round or pancake-shaped donuts made from ground chickpeas common in Middle Eastern cuisine. There’s also fried rice, buttermilk chicken, pork gyoza, mango salad, and takoyaki. All of these have low menu penetration and growth potential, the QSR report says.