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Every year, new food trends seem to materialize out of nowhere and completely grab hold of the dining scene. It wasn’t so long ago that CBD, for example, was little-known outside of the medical marijuana community, and within the past year it’s made its way into everything from cold brew coffee to overpriced cocktails. It’s never easy to predict what a new year will bring, but we’re confident that these food and drink trends are on the horizon for 2019.
We’re not just coming up with these predictions off the top of our head; we consulted reliable sources like the National Restaurant Association, Pinterest, Nation’s Restaurant News, Whole Foods, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, and hospitality PR firm The Door (which polled chefs including Stephanie Izard, Marc Murphy, and Spike Mendelsohn), all of which release well-researched food and beverage trend reports. And we of course added a few predictions of our own, as we’re no strangers to making annual predictions.
So what does the future have in store? Nobody knows for sure, but we have a good feeling that these will be among the biggest food and drink trends of 2019.
As more and more home cooks (and restaurant chefs) look to spice up their chicken, fish, and other dinnertime creations with flavor instead of fat, expect to see more African herbs and spices, including ras el hanout (a warm Moroccan spice mix), berbere (a heady Ethiopian blend), and rooibos (a South African herbal tea). Even McCormick got on board with the trend, releasing spice blends including berbere and harissa earlier this year.
Kombucha may have gone fully mainstream, but its close relative is yet to have its moment in the sun: alcoholic kombucha. Brands like Kombrewcha are already selling it, but expect to see bars start creating their own.
Seltzer is riding high thanks to brands like LaCroix, and countless new alcoholic seltzer brands have popped up in the past year or so, including Spiked Seltzer, Truly, Henry’s, Smirnoff, and White Claw. Expect these brands to grab more market share away from beer in 2019, and also expect to see more seltzer-forward cocktails at bars; the plain old vodka soda will be joined by kicked up by homemade seltzers infused with herbs and fruits.
CBD made its way onto cocktail menus in a big way in 2018, and just about every trendy bar now has at least one CBD drink on the menu. But it doesn’t end here: CBD macaroni and cheese, anyone?
Take a guess what Whole Foods’ best-selling pasta is: chickpea pasta, which is also the second best-selling pasta at Target. With more protein and fiber and far fewer carbs than traditional pasta, expect to see plenty of restaurants using chickpea pasta in 2019. And it’s gluten-free!
According to Pinterest, searches for mushroom recipes were up 64 percent in 2018 from the year before. Expect to see that number go even higher, and more and more home cooks realize that there are lots more mushroom varieties out there than button, and that their meaty texture and umami-rich flavor makes for a great meat substitute.
The market for craft, artisan, and locally-produced spirits is booming, with nearly 100 distilleries opening since 2012 in New York State alone. Expect to see this trend continue to grow in 2019, as the craft beer market becomes even more saturated and entrepreneurs look onward. Distillers will also get more and more creative, using heirloom grains, fruits, and other outside-the-box ingredients.
Banning plastic straws is a good first step, but 2019 will show us that that was just the tip of the iceberg. All single-use plastic is now in the crosshairs, so expect to see more emphasis on bringing reusable bags and containers from home, and watch for things like plastic cups, bags, and cutlery to be targeted for extinction.
As food waste becomes front-and-center in more people’s consciousness, more of us will begin to think of ways to keep food around that would otherwise go bad — and fermentation and other forms of preservation have been doing just that for millennia. Pickling, canning, salting… these will become regular hobbies for a whole new generation, and we’ll see more preserved foods in restaurants as well. And don’t forget about homemade fermented foods including kombucha, sauerkraut and pickles, which are gut-healthy and full of probiotics.
Deep purple “forbidden” rice, which was supposedly reserved for royalty in ancient China, isn’t just full of antioxidants, protein, and fiber, it also looks really cool in an Instagram post. Expect to see more of this superfood in your feed in 2019.
Chocolate cake is all well and good, but if there’s an opportunity to make something healthier, or to sneak some superfoods into it, home cooks and pastry chefs alike are going to jump on it. Olive oil, nuts and seeds, quinoa, almond butter, goji berries… when it comes to dessert, nothing is off the table.
With the lifting of the decades-long ban on industrial hemp, expect to see hemp-derived products everywhere in 2019. Hemp can be used in more than 25,000 products, from concrete alternatives to clothing, but its culinary uses aren’t to be underestimated. Its seeds can be processed into oil (which is high in essential fatty acids and cholesterol-reducing sitosterol; milk (which tastes great); protein powder; and flour (which is gluten-free and high in protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals).
Plenty of people have discovered the joys of making homemade jam in recent years, but its popularity is really primed to take off. A haul of fruit from the farmers market or apple orchard won’t stay fresh forever, and turning it into homemade jam doesn’t just prevent food waste, it’s delicious and infinitely versatile, is a fun and super-trendy hobby, and makes for a great gift.
A whopping 45 percent of all fruits and vegetables produced in the world are wasted every year, and a not-insubstantial amount of that is thrown out simply because it’s not pretty enough to make it onto the grocery store shelf. Within the past couple years, grocers including Walmart, Whole Foods and Kroger have begun to figure out ways to sell this “ugly” produce, and we can expect more brands — and consumers — to jump on the wagon in 2019 as they learn the extent of the problem.
Chefs are beginning to incorporate Israeli and Middle Eastern standbys like tahini, zhoug, shakshouka, matbukha, labneh, and za’atar into their menus, and over the past couple years some of America’s best new restaurants, like Mh Zh in Los Angeles, Nur and Miznon in New York, and Saba in New Orleans, have embraced the traditional cuisine of Israel. Israeli cuisine is fun, fresh, flavorful, healthy and homey, and it inspires plenty of creativity, and that’s exactly what chefs and diners are looking for right now.
Sea vegetables like kelp, sea lettuce, algae, and sea beans pack a briny, umami-rich punch, and they’re sustainably-grown and present a whole new world of culinary possibilities. They’re still far more popular in Asian and Nordic cuisine than they are in the U.S., but as more and more U.S. chefs begin to experiment with produce from the ocean, more diners will fall in love with it.
“Craft lager” doesn’t have much of a ring to it these days, as the majority of craft breweries are focused on turning out super-hoppy IPAs, stouts, and other big, bold ales. But the average American beer drinker doesn’t always want to be drinking double dry-hopped Imperial IPAs; sometimes they just want a crisp, refreshing lager. Craft breweries are beginning to take note; in Brooklyn alone, Threes Brewing and Other Half recently introduced lagers to their draft lists (Echo of Nothing and Mike’s Regret, respectively), and you can expect to see more craft lagers emerge in the months ahead.
Move over almond and soy; oat milk is here; so much so that a shortage of the stuff is freaking out die-hard fans. Creamier and more fiber-rich than other non-dairy milks, nut-free and packed with protein, oat milk is primed to see massive sales in 2019. And with none other than Quaker getting in on the trend (they’re launching an oat milk of their own — in three flavors — in March), expect to see oat milk at your local coffee shop soon.
Move over, fro-yo. New shops are opening that serve international frozen treats like Taiwanese snow ice, Thai rolled ice cream, ice cream in Japanese fish-shaped waffle cones, Mexican nieves de garrafa, and Turkish booza, and crowds can’t get enough of them. There’s a whole world of incredible frozen treats out there, and the U.S. is finally starting to take notice.
Traditional comfort foods, but with plant-based replacements — think cauliflower or chickpea pizza crust, Trader Joe’s cauliflower pancakes, black bean brownies, yuba-based pasta, zoodles, and cauliflower gnocchi — will become more and more popular as consumers long for those comforting foods of their youth but with smart swaps to cut back on calories. And now that many of those swaps actually taste good, expect more and more restaurants to get on board as well. You can also use some of these healthy swaps to make your home cooking instantly healthier.
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