Summer Food Trends: How Restaurants Can Prepare for the Season

Find out what consumers are craving on DoorDash this summer and how restaurants can make the most of the season.

8 min read
Summer food trends poke bowl

Summer's laid back vibes, vacations, and hot weather mean consumers want to cook less and eat out more. And as diners spend time outside, or out and about with friends , food delivery and pickup continue to be important revenue drivers for restaurants. But how can you make the most of these lucrative summer months? 

Here's what consumers are craving on DoorDash during the summer, as well as tips for how restaurants can capitalize on this season's trends. 

Methodology: We pulled DoorDash data from last summer, June 20 - September 21, 2021, to help restaurants understand summer food trends and what consumers are ordering for delivery and pickup during these summer months. In some cases, we compared summer trends to winter trends, looking at orders from December 21, 2020 - March 20, 2021. 

Most popular menu items for summer

The following menu items experienced the biggest growth in orders from winter to summer in 2021:

  1. Poke Bowls

  2. Sandwiches

  3. Tacos

  4. Pizza

  5. Biscuits

  6. Quesadillas

  7. Salads

  8. Bagels

  9. Donuts

  10. Hot Dogs

Poke bowls took the number one spot, with orders growing by 79% in the summer season. This traditional Hawaiian dish is made up of diced raw fish (e.g. tuna or salmon) served over rice, topped with vegetables and sauce. Many of DoorDash's 2022 Most Loved All Stars were also poke restaurants, pointing to the continued popularity of poke bowls.

Sandwiches saw the next highest growth on DoorDash during the summer, increasing by 70% from winter orders. Make the most of this trend by creating a rotating sandwich menu to keep things fresh and entice customers to come back and try the latest offering. Incorporate summer vegetables and fruits such as zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, and others as they come into season. You could even launch a limited-time-offer to drive sales for specific sandwiches while supplies last. 

Donuts — which increased by 55% from winter to summer — are a low-cost item that can help you increase your restaurant profit margin. In fact, the cost to make a donut is reportedly only twelve cents! Donuts don’t require special equipment, and can often be made in the same deep fryer you might use for french fries. Add these sweet treats to your menu any time of day to help create a profitable dessert menu

top summer menu trends

Top cuisines in summer

The following cuisines generated the most orders during summer 2021: 

  1. American

  2. Mexican

  3. Chinese

  4. Italian

  5. Japanese

DoorDash partners offering these cuisines should consider trying Sponsored Listings. This marketing tool ensures your restaurant will appear at the top of search results when diners search for your cuisine in DoorDash.

DoorDash's 2022 Restaurant Online Ordering Report — which was based on data from January-March 2022 — saw similar results, demonstrating that these cuisines are popular on DoorDash year-round.

Popular times for summer food delivery

The number of breakfast orders (between 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.) on DoorDash grew 3.5X between winter and summer. As more people order delivery for their first meal of the day, restaurants can prepare by extending their early hours or staffing up the morning shift. 

Sandwiches, tacos, and pizza — from the most popular summer food items list — all also work well as breakfast items. Restaurants can create breakfast versions of each to whet customers' appetites first thing in the morning. Start by adding a classic bacon egg and cheese sandwich to your menu, or consider offering tacos with scrambled eggs, fresh avocado, and pico de gallo. You can even create a breakfast pizza with a white base, sausage, and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. 

Always a popular time for food delivery, lunch orders (between 10 a.m. -2 p.m.) doubled between winter and summer last year on DoorDash. As more people go back to work at offices, restaurants can offer box lunches or catering through DoorDash to encourage group orders and increase ticket sizes. 

And even mid-day meals (between 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.) grew by 1.5X on DoorDash in the summer. Generally a slow time of day for restaurants, operators can experiment with staying open or running ad campaigns during this timeframe to capture delivery sales for this growing audience. 

Summer holiday insights

On holidays, consumers often turn to food delivery as a convenient, stress-free alternative to cooking at home. Here's how the summer holidays ranked based on DoorDash deliveries per open restaurant in 2021:

  1. Labor Day

  2. Memorial Day

  3. July 4th

Restaurants can prepare for the delivery surge on these holidays by ensuring they have enough staff on hand. Operators may also want to launch a restaurant promotion to drive awareness ahead of the holiday and capture delivery sales. 

Summer holidays often mean barbecue — but consumers who don't have a grill or don't want to cook can get their fix by ordering delivery. That's why burgers and cheeseburgers, sandwiches, and french fries are the top three items ordered on DoorDash on Labor Day and July 4th. Hot dogs, also often cooked up on a grill, also make the list for most ordered menu items in the summer. 

Restaurants should make sure they have enough of these ingredients ahead of the summer holidays. And since fries are notoriously tough to maintain quality during delivery, you can also invest in the right food delivery containers to prevent them from becoming soggy and cold when they arrive at customers' homes. 

Drive summertime sales with delivery

With these insights in mind, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your business goals this summer. Want more tips to increase food delivery sales throughout the year? Download the free 2023 Holiday Marketing Calendar and Toolkit to get a calendar of 270+ holidays and creative ways for restaurants to boost revenue year-round. 

If you’re interested in partnering with DoorDash to offer delivery, pickup, and online ordering to your customers this summer, sign up today.


Jessica Lachs

Jessica Lachs

VP of Analytics

logo subscribe to blog

Subscribe for insights to help you run a great business, delivered weekly to your inbox.