2020 may have seemed like a fluke of a year, but food trend predictors were actually right about some things: As we collectively ordered sourdough starter kits and sipped on homemade dalgona coffees this past year, Nashville hot chicken — as well as spicy chicken sandwiches, in general — was actually one of the most popular menu items we had delivered to our respective doorsteps this year (and, for Grubhub, it was the most popular dish of 2020). “Desserty” breakfast dishes also gained popularity this year, but we’re not talking soufflé pancakes and other luxe, decadent treats. Instead, we opted for other vibrant, caffeinated breakfast items, like açaí bowls and frozen mochas. It was a wild foodie ride, to say the least, and next year won’t be any different.
The 2021 food trends seemingly pick up where we left off: We’re leveling-up our bread-making skills by making bread art, according to Pinterest, and we’re even learning how to make the fanciest of all cheesecakes, Basque burnt cheesecake.
“As people have limited access to restaurants, Pinners [are] becoming chefs at home. They will get fancy in the kitchen and recreate restaurant experiences at home with Michelin-worthy meals, gourmet food plating and intricate culinary ideas – think art bread and Basque burnt cheesecake,” Aya Kanai, Pinterest’s Head of Content and Creator Partnerships, tells SheKnows.
Image: Butternut Bakery.
Get the recipe from Butternut Bakery
We’re also keeping things spicy — or, as Pinterest puts it, “tongue-numbingly hot” — experimenting with spices to make dishes like cajun chicken pasta, hot honey, and jalapeño pepper jelly.
“In 2021, people will experiment with new flavors, techniques and cuisines at home,” Kanai says. “We’ll see the rise of more spiced-up recipes and intense flavor profiles. Snappy-spicy is the new umami. Bland is banned and things will get hot in 2021.”
But the food trends don’t end there.
Charcuterie boards will also get a breakfast and dessert makeover, coffee gets an upgrade, kombucha gets boozier, and comfort food will get a healthy twist — among other 2021 food trends.
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Kick the Spice Up a Notch
As families continue to stay home and cook together, Whole Foods predicts that our spice rack will become much more diversified with spices such as Spicewalla Chai Masala spice, Whole Foods Market Applewood Smoked Salt, and more.
“Our annual trends list is a way to pull back the curtain and share our insights on what’s next in the grocery business,” says Dan Epley, Vice President of Grocery. “I’m particularly excited about the Basics on Fire trend as families stay at home and reinvent how they feed each other.”
Breakfast & Dessert Charcuterie
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According to the Pinterest Predicts 2021 report, we’re skipping the meats and cheeses and topping our boards with fruit, dessert, candy, Mexican food, and — yep — even breakfast foods.
“Pinners will also entertain differently with a new take on what the French call “charcuterie” board, except instead of cold cuts, they’ll serve breakfast or desserts spreads,” Kanai says. “Fancy boards are the new avo toast. You haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to charcuterie creativity. Millennials and Gen Z will think bigger than adult lunchables as the new snack to share.”
Coffee All the Foods
When it comes to coffee next year, we’re thinking outside of the 12-cup coffee maker. According to Whole Foods, we’ll be able to get our coffee fix in the form of coffee-flavored bars and granules, smoothie boosters, yogurt, and even booze. Think coffee and almond protein chewy bites, cold brew coffee with vanilla oatmilk non-dairy yogurt, Jameson Cold Brew Irish Whiskey, and coffee, almond butter and cacao Blender Bombs Coffee.
More Cheese Foam Tea, Please
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Speaking of caffeine, Chowbus Founder Linxin Wen predicts the fluffy cheese-foam-topped milk tea trend will continue through the first half of next year. For those unfamiliar, this indulgent drink is comprised of cream cheese, whipping cream, almond milk, confectioner sugar, Himalayan pink salt or sea salt, raw cacao powder and green tea (or any loose leaf tea, really).
“In the first half of 2021, with the pandemic still raging, people will continue to want comfort foods. So, we expect to see 2020’s trend of cheese-foam-topped milk tea continue,” Wen tells SheKnows.
Comfort Food, But Make it Healthy
Image: Bryan Gardner/Martha Stewart.
We’ll eventually need a break from over-indulgent comfort foods, though. Both Wen and Colette Heimowitz, VP of Nutrition and Education at Atkins, predict comfort food with a healthy twist.
“Think lasagna made with eggplant or zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice in your stir fry, cauliflower ‘mashed’ potatoes, cauliflower pizza, etc.” Heimowitz tells SheKnows.
Heimowitz adds that we’ll also prioritize immunity-boosting foods and other healthy habits such as embracing a low-carb lifestyle, like Atkins.
Alon Chen, Co-Founder and CEO of Tastewise — an AI-powered food intelligence solution that offers real-time industry insights on how consumers order, cook, and eat — agrees.
“While 2020 was the year of comfort food, 2021 looks to dig in deeper to the trend of nutrition-conscious and functional eating,” Chen tells SheKnows. “Consumers have taken a keen interest in ensuring the foods they’re eating are immunity-boosting and rich in vitamins. This not only keeps bodies healthy, but also puts a heavy emphasis on healthy moods aiding in anxiety and stress relief, and most importantly comfort. While we’ve seen consumers hitting kitchen fatigue, they still crave healthy meals. This comes into play when discussing the uptick in plant-based eating. This is going to explode in 2021 with even more options and expanding further with mainstream eaters.”
Buh-Bye, Hard Seltzers; Hello, Hard Kombucha
No, hard seltzers aren’t going by the wayside, but we will see boozy kombucha dominate the beverage aisle next year.
“Hard kombucha checks all the boxes: It’s gluten-free, it’s super bubbly and can be filled with live probiotic cultures,” Whole Foods’ “Top 10 Food Trends for 2021” report states.
Before you go, check out Ina Garten’s easy weeknight dinner recipes below:
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