Every December the National Restaurant Association releases its annual survey of 700 professional chefs – members of the American Culinary Federation – to predict food and beverage trends for the coming year.

According to the survey, food trends that will be heating up in 2018 include doughnuts with non-traditional filling, vegetable carb substitutes, ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items, and heritage-breed meats. Trends that are cooling down include artisan cheeses, heirloom fruits and vegetables, and house-made charcuterie.

The chefs say hyper-local foods, chef-driven fast-casual concepts, clean menus and veggie-centric foods will be among the most desired dining trends next year.

When it comes to dining out and restaurant concepts, consumers will be looking for more healthful, sustainable and simple choices at restaurants in 2018 and they want to see vegetables moved front and center, according to the National Restaurant Association’s list of Top 10 Concept Trends for the coming year (Scroll down to find the Top 10 Concepts list below the Food Trends items).


  1. New cuts of meat (e.g. shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak, Merlot cut)
  2. House-made condiments
  3. Street food-inspired dishes (e.g. tempura, kabobs, dumplings, pupusas)
  4. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)
  5. Sustainable seafood
  6. Healthful kids’ meals
  7. Vegetable carb substitutes (e.g. cauliflower rice, zucchini spaghetti)
  8. Uncommon herbs (e.g. chervil, lovage, lemon balm, papalo)
  9. Authentic ethnic cuisine
  10. Ethnic spices (e.g. harissa, curry, peri peri, ras el hanout, shichimi)
  11. Peruvian cuisine
  12. House-made/artisan pickles
  13. Heritage-breed meats
  14. Thai-rolled ice cream
  15. African flavors
  16. Ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes (e.g. tacos, teriyaki, sushi)
  17. Donuts with non-traditional filling (e.g. liqueur, Earl Grey cream)
  18. Gourmet items in kids’ meals
  19. Ethnic condiments (e.g. sriracha, sambal, chimichurri, gochujang, zhug)
  20. Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth, lupin

Here’s a closer look at the Top 10

  1. New cuts of meatOn trend and inexpensive, shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip or a Merlot cut are flavorful and grill-friendly.
  1. House-made condimentsSimple to make, but exotic if you want them to be. Strut your culinary stuff with items like sriracha ketchup or malt vinegar aioli. They’ll no doubt impress your guests.
  1. Street food-inspired dishesInspired by some of the best food trucks, carts, kiosks and pop-ups around the world, these foods are go-to meals for adventurous diners. Popular items include tempura, kabobs, dumplings and pupusas.
  1. Ethnic-inspired breakfast itemsMore consumers want ethnic offerings on their breakfast menus. Chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut pancakes or breakfast burritos are “muy deliciosa!”
  1. Sustainable seafoodChefs and consumers are making smarter seafood choices that not only taste great, but also protect the environment.
  1. Healthful kids’ mealsRestaurants are offering nutritious items that taste great. Pizza and chicken tenders will always be mainstays, but whole grains, veggies and fruit are favorites, too.
  1. Vegetable carb substitutesFinding ways to turn low-carb vegetables into substitutes for bread, pasta and rice is fun and fantastic. Cauliflower rice and zucchini spaghetti are two substitutes consumers are craving.
  1. Uncommon herbsAdding herbs like chervil, lovage, lemon balm and papalo into the mix create interesting and distinctive flavors.
  1. Authentic-ethnic cuisineYou don’t need a stamp in your passport to sample great global cuisine. Driven by consumers’ sophisticated palates, increased travel and increased access to ethnic foods, chefs are exploring more global flavors.
  1. Ethnic spicesConsumers, especially younger ones, are excited to try new spices and herbs that create different tastes and flavor profiles. Harissa, curry, peri peri, ras el hanout and shichimi are some spices in demand.


The Top 10 Concept Trends For 2018

1. Hyper-local

More restaurants are serving these “foods grown, picked and processed on the premises. Why? Consumers think local equals freshness.

2. Chef-driven fast-casual concepts

Culinary masters are making magic for the masses by serving up great meals that are fast, convenient and affordable.

3. Natural ingredients/clean menus

Customers are eating more simply and healthfully when dining out. They want menu items made with high-quality greens, grains and proteins, among other things. Restaurants who cater to their needs win their loyalty and business.

4. Food waste reduction

Chefs say reducing food waste helps control food costs in the back of the house and protects the environment, too. More restaurants are tracking usage, serving smaller portions and donating prepared items to food banks. Diners also are excited to support these socially and environmentally responsible businesses.

5. Veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine

As more consumers follow vegetarian and vegan diets, restaurants are expanding the complex, inventive veggie-centric items on their menus. Think plant-based burgers and sushi that rival their beef and fish counterparts.

6. Environmental sustainability

Diners say they’re interested in going to restaurants that protect the environment and conserve water and energy. Those practices also help reduce operating and utility costs, so it’s a win for everyone.

7. Locally sourced meat and seafood

American diners increasingly say they want food raised or produced in their own region rather than elsewhere, and restaurant companies are listening. They know consumers, especially millennials, want to know everything about what they eat: where it comes from, how it’s made, even who produced the protein on their plates.

8. Locally sourced produce

Consumers want to know where their food is grown and harvested. It’s about getting the freshest produce possible – and they say they’re willing to pay more for it. They’re also happy to help local farmers and purveyors grow their businesses, too.

9. Simplicity/back to basics

Simply put, back-to-basics cooking and classic dishes are hot. Stripping down recipes to fewer ingredients and rejiggering traditional recipes for today’s tastes are whetting consumers’ appetites.

10. Farm/estate-branded items

These are especially important to consumers who care about a connection to how food is grown and processed. The desire for these quality foods continues to grow in popularity.

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