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The National Restaurant Association's  What's Hot  for 2018 Menu Trends

The National Restaurant Association's "What's Hot" for 2018 Menu Trends

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

With 2017 coming to a close very soon, many are speculating about what concoctions, confections, and trends 2018 will have to offer. After surveying over 700 professional chefs, all members of the American Culinary Federation, the National Restaurant Association predicted food, beverage, and culinary concepts that will be having everyone abuzz in 2018.

Stafford T. DeCambra, National President, ACF

“Chefs strive to strike the right balance between offering consumers what they want to eat now and guiding them toward new and exciting culinary frontiers," said ACF National President Stafford T. DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC, according to a press release. “ACF chefs dedicate countless hours to continuing education and professional development to stay at the forefront of culinary innovation, allowing them to respond to and redefine diners’ expectations in an ever-changing foodservice landscape.”

According to the survey in which chefs were asked to rate 161 items as a "hot trend," "yesterday’s news," or "perennial favorite," 2018 menu trends will include doughnuts with non-traditional filling, ethnic-inspired kids’ dishes, farm/estate-branded items, and heritage-breed meats. However, trends that will be left behind in 2017 include artisan cheeses, heirloom fruits and vegetables, and house-made charcuterie.

The National Restaurant Association’s Top 20 Food Trends include:

  1. New cuts of meat (e.g. shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas Strip Steak, Merlot cut)
  2. House-made condiments
  3. Street food-inspired dishes (e.g. tempura, kabobs, dumplings, pupusas)
  4. Ethnic-inspired breakfast items (e.g. chorizo scrambled eggs, coconut milk pancakes)
  5. Sustainable seafood
  6. Healthful kids' meals
  7. Vegetable carb substitutes (e.g. cauliflower rice, zucchini spaghetti)
  8. Uncommon herbs (e.g. chervil, lovage, lemon balm, papalo)
  9. Authentic ethnic cuisine
  10. Ethnic spices (e.g. harissa, curry, peri peri, ras el hanout, shichimi)
  11. Peruvian cuisine
  12. House-made/artisan pickles
  13. Heritage-breed meats
  14. Thai-rolled ice cream
  15. African flavors
  16. Ethnic-inspired kids' dishes (e.g. tacos, teriyaki, sushi)
  17. Donuts with non-traditional filling (e.g. liqueur, Earl Grey cream)
  18. Gourmet items in kids' meals
  19. Ethnic condiments (e.g. sriracha, sambal, chimichurri, gochujang, zhug)
  20. Ancient grains (e.g. kamut, spelt, amaranth, lupin)

National Restaurant Association's "What's Hot" 2018

Top 10 Concept Trends include:

  1. Hyper-local (e.g. restaurant gardens, onsite beer brewing, house-made items)
  2. Chef-driven fast casual concepts
  3. Natural ingredients/clean menus
  4. Food waste reduction
  5. Veggie-centric/vegetable-forward cuisine (e.g. fresh produce is star of the dish)
  6. Environmental sustainability
  7. Locally sourced meat and seafood
  8. Locally sourced produce
  9. Simplicity/back to basics
  10. Farm/estate-branded items

For the complete survey results, plus additional trends to watch, visit

For more on what’s cooking in the deli, dairy, and bakery world, stick with us at Deli Market News.

National Restaurant Association