Fiery Flavors and Upcycled Fare: Inside 2023’s Top Culinary Trends

Culinary forecasts from the National Restaurant Association and McCormick are fresh out of the oven and chock-full of trends that could add some sizzle to event F&B in the year ahead. According to both reports, the fried chicken sandwich wars wage on, rich comfort food is in again, globally inspired dishes are on the rise and menu simplification tactics like cutting menu items and SKUs—particularly considering inflation—continue to drive food and beverage strategies. The respective organizations, each of which tapped a variety of professional chefs and gastronomy experts for their research, also diverted in a few areas. Together, their findings offer a broad overview of trends worth sinking your teeth into in 2023.

capns-commute-capn-crunch-2022 teaser_chair photo opMore Culinary Strategies:


The National Restaurant Association, in partnership with the American Culinary Federation and Technomic, recently conducted the 17th annual What’s Hot Culinary Forecast. The report, which this year is supported by Nestlé Professional, includes insights on leading menu trends identified by more than 500 professional chefs across 11 categories. Topping the list of macro trends for 2023 are food experiences that incorporate local culture and community, comfort fare and menu streamlining.

The research also points to broader movements impacting F&B, including the inflation factor, which has diners searching for more value and culinary experts working to concoct innovative dishes with less costly ingredients; remote work, which has blurred the lines between meal times and types; and—good news for the experiential industry—a pent-up desire to connect with others in person through local dining experiences.

That’s a taste of what’s hot. What’s not? Survey says: pickle pizza, breakfast salads, ranch water (why this was ever trending we’ll never know), crudité platters and balsamic cocktails.

For more insights, take a bite out of the following findings.


Alfajores, sweets made of almond paste, nuts, breadcrumbs and honey, are trending.


Top 10 Food Trends for 2023:

  • Experiences/Local Culture and Community
  • Fried Chicken Sandwiches and Chicken Sandwiches 3.0 (i.e., spicy and sweet-heat fusion flavors)
  • Charcuterie Boards
  • Comfort Fare
  • Flatbread Sandwiches/Healthier Wraps
  • Menu Streamlining
  • Sriracha Variations
  • Globally Inspired Salads
  • Zero Waste/Sustainability/Upcycled Foods
  • Southeast Asian (Vietnamese, Singaporean, Filipino)

iStock_espresso martini isolated_food trends for 2023Top Three Alcoholic Beverage Trends for 2023:

  • Spritzes
  • Espresso Martinis
  • Spicy Cocktails (think: ghost pepper infusions)

Top Three Non-alcoholic Beverage Trends for 2023:

  • Oat/Nut/Seed Milks
  • Cold Brew Innovations (think: cold brew with sweet toppings)
  • Non-alcoholic Seltzers and Sparkling Waters

Emerging Culinary Trends to Watch:

  • Globally Inspired Sandwiches (Chinese Rou Jia Mo or jianbing, Argentine choripan)
  • Amazake (a Japanese drink made from fermented rice)
  • Alfajores (a sweet made of almond paste, nuts, breadcrumbs and honey)



iStock_fried chicken sandwich isolated_ food trends for 2023FLAVOR FORECAST 23RD EDITION

McCormick & Company, best known for its vast line of spices, released the 23rd edition of its Flavor Forecast in conjunction with the unveiling of its first-ever Flavor of the Year, Vietnamese x Cajun Style Seasoning, which was promoted through a one-day “House of Flavor” metaverse activation in Decentraland. This year’s forecast hones in on three overarching trends: full flavored fats, causal French cuisine and spicy, multisensory foods. The combined expertise of nearly four dozen global chefs, McCormick specialists and other culinary professionals was leveraged for the report. Here’s a quick synopsis:


Full Flavored Fats

No longer misinterpreted, fats, from butters to plants to oils, are being used to infuse rich flavor and creaminess into everyday dishes and drinks, which offer a sense of comfort and signal a return to more balanced eating. The trend is a win-win, as it involves using fats that might previously have been considered waste.

Recipe Examples:

  • Brown Butter Vodka Cocktails
  • Buttermilk Ranch Ice Cream
  • Vegan Pasta Carbonara

Everyday French

Fancy is out and casual, approachable French cuisine is in. The trend leans into typical techniques and ingredients used for French cooking, but with a more personalized twist (think: French-Asian or plant-based French fare).

Recipe Examples:

  • Caramelized Apple and Ham Croque Monsieur
  • Elderflower Lemonade
  • Mushroom Confit Bánh Mì

Beyond Heat

Spicy foods have been increasing in popularity for a few years, but the newest evolution involves multisensory, layered tasting experiences that move beyond the “singularly spicy realm” and into a space where ingredients are paired to shape how heat is perceived and how long it lingers.

McCormick 2023 flavor of the year_vietnamese cajun bottleMcCormick’s Forecasted Flavors:

  • Yuzu Kosho
  • Vietnamese x Cajun Style Seasoning
  • Chongqing Mala Seasoning
  • Seeni Sambol
  • Salsa Macha
  • Tom Yum Soup Base

Recipe Examples:

  • Crispy Mala Chicken Sandwiches
  • Triple Heat Horseradish Cream Sauces
  • Tingly Grapefruit Fizz Cocktails


Photo credit: iStock/TheCrimsonMonkey; fcafotodigital; alvarez; Magone

Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor, digital content. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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