Ingredient Trends

Jan 30, 2020

With customer interest in global cuisines continuing to grow, restaurants are constantly challenged to develop dishes that deliver enticing combinations of flavors from across the globe. At the same time, menu trends like spicy condiments and superfoods are riding strong. By merging these trends with new players on the ingredient scene, restaurants can ride the waves of the latest trends and create unique eating experiences for their guests.

Below are some emerging ingredients and preparations that you can use to keep ahead of the global flavor curve:

Heat Seeking: Searching for the Next Spicy Condiment

The appetite for tongue-torching hot sauces shows no sign of waning. Now that Sriracha graces almost as many restaurant tables as ketchup, restaurants are looking for hot condiments beyond harissa and sambal oelek. Enter ajvar, a fire-roasted red pepper condiment from the Balkans that brings the heat. Preparations like this add smokiness, fruitiness, and a spicy kick to meats, sandwiches, and as a dip. An option to typical red pepper flakes is urfa biber, a Turkish dried chili pepper with smoky and raisin-like flavor notes. Use urfa bibier as a garnish on roasted meats, or in your own custom spice blends.

Avjar, a fire-roasted red pepper condiment

Go with Your Gut: Expanding the Range of Fermented Drinks

With awareness of gut health reaching mainstream status, fermented drinks like kefir and kombucha continue to grow in popularity. To stay at the forefront of this trend, try tepache, a fermented pineapple-based drink from Mexico. With added flavor from cinnamon and unprocessed brown sugar, tepache can be offered as a “mocktail” for guests craving unique flavors in their healthy beverages.

Tepache | Credit: Jesusbenluc CC BY-SA 4.0

Origin Story: Exploring the World of Superfoods

The search for foods that improve physical and mental health grows daily as restaurant guests connect what they’re eating with how they feel. Ingredients like kale, beans, avocado, acai, and coconut often appear on top ten superfoods lists. A new contender from the Philippines is pili nuts, which resemble an oversized almond. Their status as a complete protein with a high mineral content launches them into the superfood category. They can be added to salads as a topping, incorporated into nut mixes, or ground into flour for baking.

Heap of unshelled pili nuts

Spice Hunter: Delving into Exotic Spices

Another way to add a global touch to your dishes lies in exploring exotic or little-known spices to create new flavor combinations. One such spice on the rise is grains of paradise, hailing from West Africa. With its distinctive taste and aroma of black pepper, cardamom, citrus, and florals, this intriguing spice can be used to flavor seafood, drinks, or sweets. Another exotic spice to sample is anardana, the dried seeds of pomegranate arils. They contain many of the same flavor qualities of pomegranate juice and can add a sour flavor and crunch to a number of dishes or cocktails.

Grains of paradise | Credit: Lemmikkipuu CC BY-SA 3.0

Fruity Goodness: Sample Some Far-Flung Fruits

If you’ve never branched out from apples, pears, and grapes, it’s time to venture into the world of little-known fruits. Besides dragon fruit and jackfruit, which are appearing on a greater number of menus, take a look at calamansi, a unique citrus fruit from the Philippines. With a sour yellow flesh and a skin that’s bright green and sweet, this flavor powerhouse can add new dimensions to desserts, salads, and drinks.


If you want to amp up the Instagram factor of a plain fruit salad, give cucamelons a whirl. They look like tiny watermelons with a taste reminiscent of cucumber, and they provide a stunning visual quality to sweet and savory dishes, or as a cocktail garnish.

Incorporate some of these ingredients to bring a unique global twist to a number of dishes on your menu and add a new level of culinary innovation to satisfy the curiosity of new and existing guests.