2023 Culinary Trends We Think You Should Know

Source: National Restaurant Association | What’s Hot 2023 | Restaurant.org

What tops the 2023 What’s Hot list? Restaurant experiences, local dining and community. Despite the dominance of off-premises restaurant use, pent-up demand for restaurant experiences— socialization, celebration, culinary exploration—is strong.

Inflation, however, is changing how customers spend their restaurant dollars in a greater search for value, and operators will continue to promote meal deals, family bundles and culinary kits that meet at the intersection of craving and budgetary caution.

And although consumers feel inflationary pressures, the cost of groceries is currently outpacing higher menu prices (up 13.0% vs. 8.5% year-over-year in October). Even in inflationary times, consumers want to use restaurants. The challenge for operators is to stay interesting and relevant to attract consumers who are looking to experience food they can’t replicate at home.

10 Hot Trends

  1. Experiences/local culture and community
  2. Fried chicken sandwiches & chicken sandwiches 3.0 (i.e., spicy and sweet-heat fusion flavors on chicken, etc.)
  3. Charcuterie boards
  4. Comfort fare
  5. Flatbread sandwiches/healthier wraps
  6. Menu streamlining
  7. Sriracha variations
  8. Globally inspired salads
  9. Zero waste/Sustainability/Upcycled foods
  10. Southeast Asian (Vietnamese, Singaporean, Philippine, etc.)

Top 3 Hottest Trends in Each Category

  1. Value meals
  2. Unique handhelds (French toast sticks, chicken & waffle sandwiches, etc.)
  3. Veggie-forward breakfasts (vegan tofu scramble, breakfast relleno, etc.)
Appetizers & Sides
  1. Charcuterie boards
  2. Cauliflower
  3. Elote
  1. Elevated bar snacks
  2. Bolder loaded fries (ghost pepper fries, hot honey fries, etc.)
  3. Reduced-sugar snacks
  1. Chicken sandwiches 3.0 (spicy and sweet-heat fusion flavors on chicken, etc.)
  2. Fried chicken sandwiches
  3. Flatbread sandwiches/healthier wraps
  1. Less-expensive meat cuts (chicken thighs, beef chuck, pork shoulder, etc.)
  2. Cauliflower carb alternatives (rice, pizza crust, etc.)
  3. Meal kits/Family meals
  1. Alternative sweeteners (maple sugar, coconut sugar, etc.)
  2. Revamped classics (moon pies, housemade oatmeal cream pies, deconstructed s’mores, etc.)
  3. CBD desserts
Beverage Non-Alcohol
  1. Oat, nut or seed milks
  2. Cold brew innovations (flavored cold brews, cold brew with toppings, etc.)
  3. Non-alcohol seltzers/sparkling water

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