Meat Poultry and Seafood Menu Trends

Family Time


There’s something wonderful about sitting down to a meal with your family, whether you cook together and then gather around your dining room table or pile into the car and head to your favorite local eatery. There are many different things you can eat as a family, but there’s one main dish that’s hard to beat: delicious, flavorful meat. From old standbys such as burgers and BBQ to newer favorites such as seacuterie boards, unexpected pizza toppings, and fruit chutney pairings, meat is one “trend” that isn’t going anywhere. Here are a few of the menu trends we’re seeing in chicken, beef, pork, and seafood this year.


Beef is where it’s at


For all the delicious ways to prepare and serve other meats, beef continues to outpace them with ease. Surprisingly, even with the growing popularity of plant-based alternatives, beef has been experiencing a growth surge. This trend includes steaks and burgers, as well as other items such as cheese steaks, beef tips, and meatloaf.


Regional BBQ: still popular


From Texas BBQ brisket to North Carolina BBQ pork shoulder to Kansas City pulled pork, regional BBQ has stayed in the spotlight. BBQ flavors never cease to amaze and delight. Some of the latest combinations include peppery beef ribs, snappy jalapeno sausages, chopped beef sandwiches, and pork in smoky sauces. BBQ is a great area to explore in terms of creating new flavor profiles and coming up with delicious new menu items for restaurants.


Charcuterie boards for snazzy snacking


Almost everyone snacks daily. As snacking has become a lifestyle in response to people’s busy schedules and appetite for a wide variety of flavors and nutrients, snacks have become more sophisticated. Charcuterie boards make an outstanding snackable menu item, replete with staples such as prosciutto. Here is an excellent opportunity for operators to inject more protein variables – the more “grownup,” the better, such as smoked goose meat. Another fun trend in snacking is the seacuterie board, featuring items such as tuna pastrami, salmon roe, smoked whitefish, Maine lobster, and jumbo shrimp.


Sweet, fruity flavors for balance


There is a new trend on restaurant menus involving sweet, fruity flavors chosen to balance the savory flavors of meats, including fruit sauces, marinades, and garnishes. Chutney has seen impressive growth in recent months. Some possibilities include hot wings with spicy sesame garlic plum glaze; duck breast with currants, quinoa, and pistachio; and grilled chicken topped with peach chutney along with sides such as broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes.


Embracing the dark side of chicken


Chicken thighs are becoming more and more popular for their bold, rich flavor, particularly when prepared with the skin on. Chicken thighs also turn out very well when slow-cooked, remaining juicier because of their higher fat content. The dark meat of the chicken is being used in international dishes, such as Mexican citrus-marinated flame-grilled chicken thighs and Korean chicken thighs with house sauces – combinations of any number of delicious, tantalizing ingredients to produce savory and sweet dishes to die for.


Chicken as a pizza topping


While it’s unlikely that pepperoni pizza will fall from grace anytime soon, now, there’s a new kid in town: chicken. The versatility of chicken means that it can be used in a huge variety of applications, and it’s perfectly at home on pizza. These pizzas are designed for the adventurous eater with combinations of toppings and flavors such as honey butter fried chicken pizza, Cordon Bleu pizza with Alfredo sauce, chicken, Canadian bacon, red onions, and Swiss cheese; and lots of different takes on buffalo chicken pizza.


Family restaurants provide an excellent target market for food manufacturers and flavorists. Today’s consumer likes variety and surprising flavors, so have fun with it and come up with your own ways to present juicy, aromatic, flavorful meat.