Keeping up with global food trends can be a little dizzying these days. The internet has ushered in an era of fads that burn hot and fast, showing up everywhere before disappearing completely. Sometimes, they start on TikTok, making it to Instagram and Reddit within days or weeks. If they show promise or seem to have staying power, restaurants and grocery stores may decide to jump in to cater to consumers.
Viral trends explode in ways that are unprecedented, making their way around the world in days. Bars everywhere had to make dozens (or hundreds) of the viral negroni sbagliato back in October 2022, but people stopped ordering them shortly thereafter.
But how do you know which global food trends are going to be a flash in the pan — and which ones will come to be a standby on your menu?
In this article, we'll explore popular food trends from around the world, and share tips on how your restaurant can stay on top of evolving consumer preferences.
Choosing which food trends to follow
Longer-lasting trends are the ones that can be worth trying at your restaurant. Use your point of sale tool to track what’s been selling more lately — are you going through more tequila because tequila sodas have gotten popular? Maybe it’s time to put a tequila soda on your cocktail menu permanently.
Be patient and see if a trend sticks around before jumping to order the ingredients needed to offer it at your restaurant. And use industry benchmark reports like the Restaurant Online Ordering Trends Report to see what diners are ordering in your area. For restaurants with a less-fixed concept and more flexibility, try making a trendy dish as a special and see how popular it is. Then, use your POS or sales data to determine whether or not it deserves to stay.
Finally, always consider whether or not a trend actually fits in at your restaurant. If you serve Turkish small plates, there’s no reason to try a square pizza special at your restaurant.
Global food and drink trends
Here are some of the trends that are currently showing up on menus, on grocery shelves, and all over social media.
From mushroom meat replacements to torched sushi to small menus, here’s what we’ve been seeing around restaurants lately.
Oyster mushrooms as a meat replacement. Along with many other vegetarian and vegan options that restaurants continue to provide, oyster mushrooms have been growing in popularity. They can be seared in coins as scallops, peeled and sauteed to resemble pulled meat, or even breaded and fried in the place of chicken.
Square pizza. Pizzerias have been experimenting with a style of pizza that many in North America might associate with childhood birthday parties: thicker crust, crispy on the outside and fluffier in the middle, with stringy, delicious cheese and other toppings, and cut into squares. Variations of square pizza originate in Sicily and in Detroit, but they’re all delicious. Learn how popular San Francisco-based pizzeria Square Pie Guys embraced delivery to grow their business.
Pickles. As one TikToker recently put it, pickles are so popular that they’re approaching 2013 bacon mania levels. So many different cultures have different approaches to pickles, from Middle Eastern pickled turnips, to Korean pickled radishes, to classic Eastern European dill pickles and so many more. Offering a plate of pickles as a starter or a side dish is a great way to jump on this trend — and if they’re priced right, they can be a very profitable way to boost average check size.
Tinned fish. High-end tinned fish has been making its way into specialty food stores for years, letting people around the world try preserved seafood and fish from Spain, France, and Portugal, among others. Now, restaurants are serving it too, often right in the can, and accompanying it with toast points, crackers, and complementary pickles and spreads.
Chimichurri. This delicious, herby, condiment is from Argentina and Uruguay, and it’s been making its way onto steaks, sandwiches, sausages, and charcuterie boards around the world in the past few years.
Bowls. Ever since poke became an incredibly popular lunch option, restaurants all over, from the West Coast in the US to London have been taking their ingredients and presenting them in all-in-one bowl form. Grains plus veggies, a protein, and a tangy sauce are everywhere. They’ve even made it to Subway, which recently started offering their classic sandwiches in the form of rice bowls in Canada.
Aburi sushi. Japanese restaurants across Australia and other parts of the world have started breaking out the torches: aburi sushi is torched sushi, usually presented in the form of nigiri. The bottom of the fish stays raw while the top is very lightly charred, giving a smoky flavor and a pleasant combo of textures.
Gluten-free options. In recent years, gluten-free diets have skyrocketed in popularity. Some diners have Celiac Disease and are unable to eat anything that could have been in contact with gluten, while others just choose to reduce their gluten intake and have less strict needs. No matter the reason, restaurants can benefit from having a few gluten-free options available on their menu, along with a few vegetarian or vegan options.
Small menus. Some of the most hip, trendy places have menus with very few items, like Totto Ramen, with locations in Taipei, Taiwan and New York and Boston in the US. This approach is great for food cost, makes life easier for servers, and can help reduce waste, all while showing your community you’re focused on making your signature dishes perfectly, instead of many things not-so-perfectly.
Here’s a taste of the latest non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverage trends. Let’s explore what people are drinking in bars, restaurants, and at home.
Seltzers. Though we may no longer be dominated solely by White Claw, fruit-flavored, lightly sweet alcoholic seltzers like High Noon are still massively popular, and they’ve even made it onto many restaurant and bar menus.
Vegetable cocktails. Beyond Bloody Marys and Caesars, mixologists are venturing further into the world of savory cocktails, with creative veggie and herb-forward drinks, like this yellow pepper cocktail or this tomato margarita.
Spritzes. Yes, the Aperol Spritz may be well-known and well-drank by now, but the spritz family still has more to offer: enter the Hugo Spritz. Made of St Germain elderberry liqueur, mint, prosecco, and soda, this refreshing drink is gaining popularity on TikTok and other social platforms.
Natural and organic wine. The demand for organic and natural wines has exploded in the US, driven mostly by Millennials and Gen Z.
Canned cocktails (RTD cocktails). From tequila sodas, to margaritas in a can, to the very popular (and very strong) canned Cutwater cocktails, brands everywhere have started experimenting with ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktails — and they’ve gotten really good at it. People love the convenience of being able to just open a can and experience a delicious cocktail at home without having to buy multiple ingredients.
Canned Micheladas. Micheladas, which are Mexican beer beverages with lime, salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and sometimes Clamato juice, have become more and more popular as Mexican restaurants and bars started introducing them to the masses. Now, you know they’re reaching peak popularity because major beer companies like Modelo are creating ready-to-drink micheladas.
Non-alcoholic or low-alcohol (NoLo) spirits and beer. Zero-proof gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey are readily available for the many people seeking to cut back on alcohol consumption, and NoLo drinks are gaining popularity. 0% ABV Coronas, Heinekens, and even craft beers are showing up on menus and liquor store shelves everywhere for those who prefer non-alcoholic beers over mocktails. They’re even making canned non-alcoholic cocktails now.
Shrubs. Made of fruit macerated in vinegar, shrubs are sour syrups that can be mixed into cocktails or used as the non-alcoholic base for delicious mocktails.
Grocery stores have started leveling up their ingredients that cater to vegan and gluten-free diets, as well as items that make preparing delicious food at home quicker and easier. Explore the latest trends below, and get a deep dive from the Grocery Online Ordering Trends Report.
Plant-based cheese and yogurt. Even five years ago, the selection of dairy-free dairy products was limited, and the quality wasn’t always great — but today, the lactose-free dairy market is growing faster than ever. Today, cheeses made of cashews and yogurts made of coconut milk have made their way into the specialty fridges of grocery stores, much to the delight of vegan customers.
Frozen, bake-at-home pastries. Because consumers are so busy, bakeries and brands have invested some serious R&D into frozen, bake-at-home treats, and it’s paid off. From bagels to chocolate croissants, people can have fresh bakery quality baked goods in under 20 minutes without leaving their home.
Leveled-up frozen meals. Inspired by the massive success of Trader Joe’s microwave, stovetop, and oven meals, grocery stores have started stocking healthier, higher-end instant meals that go beyond instant mac and cheese (though we still love that, too!). In South America, the frozen foods market is set to grow by nearly 6% per year through 2028.
Gluten-free options. As mentioned above, the gluten-free craze continues to impact restaurants everywhere — with gluten-free demand growing across Europe and Africa in recent years. Grocery and convenience stores have had to adapt. They’re stocking gluten-free bread, crackers, snacks, pastries, and desserts.
TikTok food trends
With over 1 billion users, TikTok is often where trends originate these days. Though many TikTok food trends are related to home cooking, some trends stem from star items at restaurants that go viral. Here are some major food trends on TikTok today.
Chopped sandwiches. Though the iconic NYC chopped cheese sandwich has been well-known for a long time, another chopped sandwich has been going viral lately. It’s from Houston’s Mortadella Head, and it’s a chopped chicken caesar sandwich. That video is an amazing example of how restaurants can use TikTok to reach new customers — it was viewed more than 13 million times. Finally, there’s another kind of chopped sandwich making the rounds on TikTok: chopped Italian sandwiches, where all the fixins are chopped together, so every bite gets every flavor at once.
Cottage cheese. The once-popular, then long-forgotten ingredient has recently boomed in interest again. Home cooks are making savory cottage cheese toasts, using blended cottage cheese in pasta sauces to add protein, adding it to scrambled eggs, and even putting it into smoothies.
Pasta salad summer. Food creators like BabyTamago have gone massively viral posting delicious, creative pasta salad recipes that are best enjoyed on hot days, spotlighting pasta salads that are full of fresh ingredients (and skip the mayo).
Online ordering trends
Here are a few major trends about how people order food online. For more on this topic, explore the Restaurant Online Ordering Trends Report.
In the US, 80% of diners are ordering online the same amount or more than last year. In Australia and New Zealand, it’s 75%, and in Canada, it’s 61%.
34% of consumers in the US use a third-party app to browse for restaurant ideas in 2023, which is 10% higher than last year.
US consumers love food delivery even more than dining in or getting takeout. In the past month, 77% of consumers report ordering delivery, 76% report picking up takeout, and 61% report dining at a restaurant.
In Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, takeout is leading the way — it’s even more popular than ordering delivery or dining in. 78% of Canadian and Australian consumers and 87% of New Zealand consumers report ordering pickup in the past month. In New Zealand, takeout (87%) is twice as popular as delivery (44%).
Though people love hosting friends for social meals, not everyone is cooking for them anymore. 40% of consumers in the US, around a quarter in Canada and in Australia, and 13% in New Zealand report having ordered delivery for guests in the past month.
US consumers love french fries — they’re the #1 most popular food to order online, followed by burgers, tacos, salad, and pizza.
In Australia, burgers take the #1 spot for most popular food ordered online, followed by fries/chips, pizza, nuggets, and salad.
Canadians also love burgers: they’re the #1 most popular food to order online, followed by french fries, pizza, salad, and sandwiches.
Learn more about the online food ordering landscape in the 2023 Restaurant Online Ordering Trends Report.
Some food trends come and go. Find the ones that stick — and embrace them.
Things are always changing in the restaurant industry — and food trends can come and go in what feels like minutes. But when a trend really sticks around, it’s worth paying attention to.
For example, the margarita was the top alcohol item ordered on DoorDash in summer 2022 in the US, and has been for many years — but it had to start out as a trendy new thing before it exploded in popularity and became a standby on bar menus worldwide.
Similarly, online ordering may have started as a trend — but in recent years it’s become a solid revenue channel that’s standing the test of time. Restaurants today can continue to find success reaching new customers and boosting revenue by joining the DoorDash Marketplace.