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2023 Food Trends

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.

2023 Food Trends

Mood Food

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.

Swicy Food

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.

Alcohol-Free Cocktails

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.

Mushrooms

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

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
  • Dates
  • 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

Tinned Fish

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.

Yuzu Fruit And Spicy Honey

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

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.

Nostalgic Food

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 Food

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.

Curry

Curry is obviously not new, but have you noticed a growing number of curry-related products on your local grocery store shelves? Take a look the next time you go in; this warming, complex type of cuisine crosses many cultures and preparations.

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.

As with cannabis-infused cooking, you will find a growing number of cooking channels on YouTube focused on this topic–curries and curry-adjacent food.

Naturally the pandemic spurred a great deal of interest in cooking at home, but in today’s economy it’s more likely that inflation and a need to curb the expenses related to dining out or DoorDash-type delivery is encouraging people to try making the same dishes they love on a night out, but in the comfort of their own homes instead.

Curry In 2023

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.

Depending on how hot you like this particular dish (it seems to be mild by default, but some enjoy it hotter) it can creep into the “swicy” trend we discussed earlier in this article.

Another variety that may get more attention in 2023? Tarka dal and related dishes. It’s made with split chickpeas, a blend of spices infused in oil or ghee, vegetables, and dried red chilis (just to name a few ingredients).

Vegetarian curries and curry-adjacent dishes will likely trend higher in 2023 due to economics, supply chain issues, and climate change. But naturally, the X-factor in any food trend is how people respond to the new-to-them flavors and textures.

Some dishes are more challenging, you may find that entry-level entrees or sides are good to experiment with in the earliest days of a new food fad…but you’ll soon graduate to more complex and unique options.

But Indian curries are just the beginning. There are Thai curries, Japanese varieties, and Indonesian curries just to mention a few of the many options. Japanese curry alone is forecast to be on the rise in global markets and 2023 could be the year some varieties finally catch on in a more mainstream way. Look for more options and greater availability of curry entrees, sides, and grocery store products in the next year.

2023 Food Trends

Here's a collection of recipes that include foods and ingredients that are trending for 2023 including mocktails, mushrooms, and cannabis-infused foods.

Monique McArthur
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