Food trends in 2023 could include the rise of mood food, curry, and mushrooms as popular new additions to the American dinner table. In past years, pumpkin spice, Kimchi and Korean cuisine in general have all gained in popularity with Americans eager to try new things.
But there are also potential culinary trends in the cocktail department; the alcohol-free cocktail seems to be gaining traction side by side with THC-infused food. Is there a connection? That remains to be seen, but these will be fascinating trends to watch in 2023.
A fancy way of saying “ordinary food with cannabis infused”, mood food has been growing in popularity on social media for some time. The Vice Munchies series includes an impressive amount of reporting on 420-friendly recipes, and YouTube channels such as The Cannabis Cooking Channel all point toward a sustained interest in marijuana-infused entrees, deserts, and even cocktails.
Some 19 states have legalized or decriminalized cannabis at press time. As more states join this group, we may see a national trend developing in this area.
What does “swicy” mean? Basically a collision between sweet and spicy elements in a single entrée, dessert, or side. Swicy food includes hot honey (see below), chili dark chocolate candy bars, and even some types of hot chicken.
South Korean cuisine features plenty of swicy options (one includes hot sauce mixed with strawberry jam applied to fried chicken) and thanks to a growing interest in Korean cooking, swicy food seems to be getting singled out for some good attention in the months ahead. Whether South Korea-inspired or not, swicy is a trend to watch.
Mocktails we shall always have with us; the Shirley Temple is one of the most famous, but so is the “virgin” Cosmo, guilt-free Margaritas, and much more.
Why the added interest in 2023? Part of that may have a lot to do with New Year’s resolutions, but there’s the added factor of being just far enough out of the COVID-19 pandemic lock-down mentality to start contemplating the long-term health implications of some of our collective bad habits during the pandemic.
“Virgin cocktails” may be a phrase worth re-thinking in favor of something a bit more descriptive, but the concept is certainly worth a look. The other reason for a rise in popularity may well be that some markets are just more interested in cannabis than alcohol.
And that’s likely to be a growing market share or demographic to contend with in the coming years and not just 2023.
Sustainable ingredients have been a welcome trend in the restaurant business and as cultivators and chefs look for new resources to source locally, the humble mushroom often winds up getting a look.
Shiitakes, portabellas, and crimini are old favorites; in 2023 look for continued growth in specialty mushrooms; Oyster mushrooms alone are reported by one source to have grown well over 100% in use as appetizers alone.
A variety known as Trumpet mushrooms are being used nearly 75% more often on restaurant menus; compare that to criminis, which were reported in 2022 as being up only 12% by comparison.
Butter boards have become a viral Tik Tok sensation. What are they? Think charcuterie board with a butter base. Butter boards are wooden serving boards topped with a thick coating of butter. Toppings are then added to the butter. It’s all about personal choice here, and flavor combinations are practically endless. Chefs recommend using high quality salted and grass fed butter for the best flavor. Once you’ve added your toppings to the butter, slather it on to french bread, crostini, challah, or even crackers.
Here are some topping suggestions:
- Chopped, roasted tomatoes or sundried tomatoes
- Basil, chives, or other fresh herbs
- Salsa or Chimichurri
- Chili oil
- Seasonings like cajun spice, Old Bay, or Italian seasoning
- Thinly sliced pickles
- Lemon or orange zest
- Fig jam
- Dried cranberries
- Roasted garlic
- Walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds
- Honey drizzle
- Balsamic glaze
- Roasted butternut or acorn squash
- Blueberry or other fruit compote
- Pomegranate seeds
- Chopped steak or chicken
- Bacon crumbles
- Salami or pepperoni
It started with the popular TikTok video “tinned fish date night,” and now it’s nicknamed “hot girl food.” You can even join tinned fish-of-the-month clubs, buy a tinned fish cookbook or make waves at your next party with a “seacuterie board.”
Look for more canned mackerel, anchovies and sardines to be included with pizza and fish taco recipes in the coming year. We even had this canned or should we say tinned oyster stew recipe before we even knew it was a trend.
Where toppings, seasonings, and spreads go, Yuzu and spicy honey are likely to be big trends in 2023. Yuzu is described by some as a “Japanese lemon”, this is more common in East Asia but has since caught on in America thanks in part to Yuzu-flavored cannabis gummies popular among recreational users.
But its popularity may also be rising thanks to interest from high-class chefs and cocktail bars. Spicy honey has been gaining some traction in a similar way as a spread or a topping; it has been a sort of underground staple condiment found in some New York pizzerias.
But once the brand known as Mike’s Hot Honey found its way into the legendary New York Pizza chain Paulie Gee’s, interest in spicy honey seems to have exploded. Hot honey today is finding its way into more pizza places than ever.
Ube is a purple yam with origins in the Philippines. It is said to have a warm, vanilla-adjacent flavor and works well as a seasonal ingredient in both desserts and savory entrees. There has been some rising interest in the purple yam from bakeries, dessert shops, and even gastropubs.
In parts of Hawaii and the Philippines alike, spam preparations are a cultural go-to and spam mixed with ube is something Americans might find a bit adventurous but in other cultures this may be a serious comfort food.
Ube could be seen as a successor, food fad-wise to taro root, which had some attention for a time, but ube should not be confused FOR taro. One big difference is that taro contains a toxin when raw that should DEFINITELY be avoided.
Last fall it was summer it was the Dirty Shirley and the summer before that it was the Espresso Martini so demand for retro food and drinks is not new. However, TikTok and the social media world are not slowing so expect to see more nostalgic dishes recreated in the coming year.
Functional foods are ingredients that provide an extra health benefit beyond nutritional value. Some examples include mood-boosting and relaxation snack bar brands or gut-friendly probiotics and prebiotics that are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles.
The pet industry is even catching on with toppers and mixers that use ingredients to benefit pet’s skin, bone, joint and digestive health.
Olive Oil Coffee
Inspired by Starbuck’s Oleato Olive Oil Coffee line, adding olive oil to coffee has got the internet buzzing. As far out as this may seem to some it is actually similar to adding other fats like coffee and cream to coffee. For the main draw may be its texture, Starbucks describes it as “velvety,” while for others it’s appeal may be the health benefits of olive. Particularly Paleo and Keto diets, which promote healthy fats.
Curry in 2023
There is no one curry the way there is no single ice cream variety–the flavors and options are practically endless. People in the west may be more tempted in the fall by curries and curry dishes; it’s a great comfort food for cooling weather and falling temperatures.
Indian curry varieties that could get more attention in 2023 include chicken or vegetable tikka masala; this is a mild, almost sweet entrée featuring a tomato sauce with cream, chicken, and a blend of spices.
More Food Trends
- Wiggly foods – Wiggly, wobbly foods have become a recent fascination because they are both silly and mesmerizing at the same time.
- Beverage as medicine – Functional and medicinal beverages that claim a health benefit are now on the rise. Even alcohol brands are beginning to add antioxidants and other extracts to their drinks.
- Fusion cuisine – Inspired on by social media, unique concoctions from influencers all over the world are being mixed and matched in creative and vibrant ways. Itameshi, a fusion cuisine that combines elements of Japanese and Italian food, is one recent example that has gained popularity.
- International BBQ – Look for both an uptick in BBQ dishes from from the Middle East, the Mediterranean, South America and Asia but also many creative fusion BBQ dishes.
- Filipino food – Global dishes are on the rise but perhaps none more than food from the Philipines which has more depth than most people yet realize.
- Bold ingredients – We mentioned Yuzu and Ube but there many other bold flavors that are on the rise like spicy maple, coconut curry, Caribbean spices, and Kombucha.
- Climate consciousness, sustainable food production – More effort is beginning to focus on minimizing the environmental impact of food production with organic and sustainable markets continuing to grow. Zero-waste cuisine, Nose-to-tail and leaf-to-root cooking, is gaining momentum as well.
- Whipped cheese – Whipped cheese is a social media trend that appears to have captivate food enthusiasts. Whether it’s whipped goat cheese, ricotta, or feta, there seems to be no limit to the types of soft cheeses being whipped and enjoyed.
- More non-milks – This trend already started with soy and almond milk but be on the lookout for many new types of milk, like those made from peas, tiger nuts and macadamia nuts.
- Amaro cocktails – Amaro, the bittersweet Italian liqueur, has gained popularity and is becoming a staple on bar menus and home bar carts nationwide. It is typically made by infusing a combination of herbs, spices, roots, and citrus peels in a base spirit, which is then sweetened with sugar or honey.
- Elaborate cocktail garnishes – In today’s Instagram-driven world, a basic cocktail garnish just won’t cut it anymore. Mixologists and home bartenders are taking garnishing to the next level, with a rise in wild cocktail garnishes. From edible garnishes to artfully painted cocktails, the creations are endless.
- Coffee & tea – Keep an eye out for innovative trends in the coffee and tea shop world, such as protein coffee, coffee concentrates, and lattes with unique food toppings. Emerging tea options include Kombucha, Moringa Tea, and non-alcoholic Sparkling Tea, offering exciting and refreshing alternatives.