2021 brought us a bounty of TikTok food trends like baked feta pasta, nature’s cereal, pesto eggs, and corn ribs. Looking ahead to food trends in 2022, expect more spice, a focus on food waste, more global flavors, and epic entertaining ideas. We tapped trend-watchers and food industry experts to sound off on what they predict will be the biggest food trends of the year.
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Just as fashion trends come and go (but can we keep you forever, high-waisted jeans?!), so do food trends. So while you're probably totally tired of hearing about TikTok food trends like the four-way quesadilla wraps, baked oats, and beyond, you can rest assured many of the biggest food trends of 2022 will extend far beyond the social media landscape. We scoured dozens of 2022 food trend predictions and tapped industry experts to help us peer into the crystal ball. Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, you'll notice that many of the expected food trends of 2022 are impacted or inspired by related pivots. But a handful of the other food trends are flat-out fun—and are proof that we're inching ever closer to that "new normal" with fewer boundaries and longer tables.

Cinnamon Roll-Apple Cobbler
Nostalgic recipes like this Cinnamon-Roll Apple Cobbler practically transport us back to Grandma’s kitchen.
| Credit: Jacob Fox

 The Top 7 Food Trends of 2022

Before we dive in, let's walk down memory lane with our top food trends of 2021. It's been quite the tasty year. After digesting several food trend reports and narrowing down the common themes, we asked a handful of savvy food experts to dish about the deliciousness ahead for food trends 2022.

1. Even More Nostalgia

With the external world—viruses, natural disasters, political debates, and more—so unpredictable, it can be comforting to return to something familiar.

"In these topsy-turvy times, many are seeking comforting food and drinks from years past that offer a sense of familiarity and wistful nostalgia," says Leith Steel, senior strategist for Carbonate, a brand communications and creative services agency in San Francisco. 

Think of it as a continuation of the just-like-Grandma-made food trend of 2021. The International Food Information Council (IFIC)'s December 2020 Year-End Survey found that 25% of Americans reported eating more comfort foods as a response to the pandemic, and a whole host of nostalgic cookbooks were released in 2021.

"Being home more during COVID-19 has given some people the time and desire to experiment in the kitchen, like dusting off those old family recipes that make us feel warm and fuzzy. Food is a great way to honor and feel connected with family, even when we're not physically together," says Kris Sollid, RD, senior director of nutrition communications at IFIC in Washington, D.C.

Grubhub's 2022 Forecast, part of their Taste of 2021 guide, predicts future food trends based on rising food orders using the food delivery app, and they foresee that several of the top five dishes "that are bound to rise in popularity next year" fall under the nostalgia umbrella, including buffalo chicken tots and apple cobbler. It's not just food that's having a something old, something new moment—old school drinks are, too, Steel confirms. One standout: The massive resurgence of the '80s-fave Espresso Martini, "undoubtedly the hottest cocktail of 2021. We predict 2022 will be a big year for other 80s-era retro cocktails like the Midori Sour and Long Island Iced Tea, but updated for modern tastes with less sugar, fresh-squeezed juices, and more natural ingredients," she says. (BTW, if you're shaking or stirring these up at home, these cocktail essentials every home mixologist should know, according to the pros will likely come in handy.)

2. Dining Out Will Be Even More of an Experience

Now that many restaurants have reopened their doors and are getting used to pandemic-related precautions, they're going all out to make up for lost time. 

Sage Restaurant Concepts (SRC) oversees more than 50 restaurant, bar, and coffee shop locations in 12 states. In the SRC's top 10 food trends of 2022, they report that dining out will be about so much more than what's on your plate.

"Dining experiences as a whole will become more transformational—think restaurants that transition guests to new spaces throughout each part of the meal, differing music tempos to accompany each course and more," says Derek Simcik, SRC director of culinary operations.

Watch for themed menus, creative settings, beverage brand partners, branded decor, cooking classes, prix-fixe menus, and uber-Instagrammable moments.

3. To-Go and Takeout Aren't Going Anywhere

Restaurant visits are on the rise—and getting more vibrant—but delivery and pick-up options will continue as a food trend in 2022. More than seven in 10 Americans now order food from restaurants directly, according to an April 2021 study by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ad Age. And the amount of people using third-party delivery apps (such as Uber Eats, GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates, Seamless, or Caviar) at least weekly spiked from 15% in July 2020 to more than 28% in April 2021.

IFIC's 2021 Food and Health Survey data echoes these findings, Sollid adds. About 14% of their survey respondents reported getting more meals delivered or via take-out as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"During the pandemic, restaurants got more creative with their offerings and adopted new technologies to make ordering more seamless for their customers. Plus, higher-end restaurants that were previously dine-in only began offering takeout or delivery meals and special packages," Steel says.

She also points to the rise in popularity of ghost kitchens and virtual brands, or restaurants that provide food only via delivery and have no actual storefront for customers to visit. 

"With at least partial remote work becoming the norm, and overall time spent at home increasing, we'll continue to see an increased demand for to-go options," Steel predicts.

The SRC team added to-go cocktails and cocktail kits to their line-ups, as well as larger-format meals customers can reheat at home and share with the family: "Think a cross between takeout and meal prep kits like Blue Apron," Simcik says.

Another trend that's music to our ears: The use of QR codes on receipts for delivery that lead to a restaurant playlist to help create a dining room-like ambiance at home.

"One thing we have definitely learned from the past two years is that we love having food delivered to us. The real differentiator is making sure that this food can do more than just sustain you," says Jason Travi, executive chef of Innovation at Freshly in New York City. "My family has set order limits in my house on how many times we can order pizza and bagels in a given month. As much as I love pizza, it will never love me back from a health perspective. So that decision forces us to look for other delivery options, which has been fun and exciting. We have tried Turkish takeout, Pho, and Japanese rice balls in the past couple of weeks to bring new and exciting flavors into our eating routines."

outdoor place setting picnic table
Credit: Melanie Acevedo

4. The Resurgence of the Dinner Party

Gatherings without a couple weeks of quarantining beforehand were risky in 2020, but with vaccines now accessible for all Americans five and older, at-home gatherings are back on the calendar. Friendsgivings and Friendsmas parties helped usher in what we foresee to be a big food trend in 2022: dinner parties.

"Now that my family has all been vaccinated, we have just started to come out of our bunker, so we are super excited to have friends come over and share recipes and stories," Travi says. "I hope 2022 will be the year of the dinner party; food tastes better with others around and I for one am tired of my pandemic dining routine. Spending time with people you care about or meeting new people goes hand-in-hand with tasting new foods and opening up your desire to try new things."

5. Reducetarianism

Selected as one of Whole Foods Markets' top 10 food trends of 2022, "reducetarianism" describes people who aren't quite vegetarian or vegan, but are aiming to eat less meat, dairy, and eggs mainly for environmental reasons.

"While flexitarians primarily eat plant-based diets—with the occasional inclusion of meat, eggs, and dairy—reducetarians are focused on gradually decreasing the amount of animal products they consume, with some opting to eliminate them completely," Steel says.

Some reducetarians might order an oat milk latte instead of a cow's milk latte, or opt for a slice of dairy-free cheese on their vegetable panini at lunch. They may still opt for a steak every so often, but far less often than they may have previously or than would be common in the meat-and-potatoes days of decades past. 

"With the wide variety of vegan and vegetarian options now available everywhere from independent restaurants to major national chains, many people are able to more easily adopt this flexible approach while still enjoying their favorite comfort foods. Gone are the days when vegetable pasta or veggie burgers were the only choice; now, people can find vegan lasagna, Mexican cuisine, soul food, 'cheese steaks,' 'chicken nuggets,' and much more," Steel says.

Even more seafood and meat substitutes are entering the market late this year and into next, like Jack and Annie's chicken-like jackfruit nuggets, Nowadays pea protein nuggets, and New Wave's seaweed-based plant-based shrimp.

herbs and spices
Credit: Kritsada Panichgul

6. Spice Up Your Life

Turmeric earned a spot on the 2022 food trend list compiled by Whole Foods Market experts, but it's not just about that single anti-inflammatory spice. Spices and peppers of all kinds will be popular in 2022. 

"What started several years ago with the virality of Sriracha has grown into an American love affair with spicy condiments from cuisines around the world. Perhaps the most notable of 2021 was chili crisp—oil infused with crunchy bits of peppers, onions or scallions, garlic and other aromatics—with famous chefs such as Momofuku's David Chang rolling out their own brands," Steel says.

She expects that we'll continue to see fiery global condiments such as gochujang, harissa, schug, and sambal topping everything from scrambled eggs to sandwiches. "You can bring far corners of the world to your kitchen by experimenting with new spices. In addition to livening up meals, spices are also a great way to add flavor without adding salt," Sollid adds.

7. Borderless Cuisine

"The term 'fusion cuisine' historically carried negative connotations. However, as the country grows increasingly more diverse—nearly half of Gen Z identifies as non-caucasian—the concept of 'authenticity' as it relates to food has changed," Steel says.

As a result, we're seeing a wave of new multi-ethnic, "borderless" cuisines that embrace one person's unique identity, mixed race parents, or reflect the diverse cultural influences of a given region. Restaurant examples include:

  • La Chinesca in Philadelphia, which marries global influences from Northern Mexico's Baja region with Chinese American flavors
  • Kimika in New York City, which blends Japanese and Italian cuisines in dishes like crispy rice cake lasagna with sweet italian sausage, spicy cabbage, scallions, and provolone
  • Armitage Alehouse in Chicago, which features British pub fare (steak and ale pot pie, fish and chips) alongside Indian favorites (aloo chana, garlic naan), as well as American classics (dry-aged New York strip steak, chopped wedge salad)

In a March 2021 IFIC survey, 23% of respondents said that they had experimented with different cuisines, ingredients, or flavors since the start of the pandemic. 

"While some foods are indigenous to specific regions of the world, our global connectivity is such that food – literally and figuratively – transcends borders and cultures. Trying new foods and culinary techniques from outside our borders is a great way to learn about and appreciate other cultures," Sollid says.

Travi, who grew up in a family with Lebanese and Italian roots and is now part of his wife's Japanese family, says "we have a lot of different types of ingredients to play with. We have also lived in large cities with diverse food scenes, so it's a lot easier for my wife and I to understand the cultural mashups that are becoming more apparent these days. Erasing borders with food invites conversations to happen that wouldn't normally take place, and just as important, it can lead to new flavor combinations that can change people's perceptions as well."

For instance, he grew up with pita-based PB&Js as a child, which "helped build a foundation about what was possible. Now that the world has seen Korean Tacos and Indian-style pizza, these trends are becoming the norm as people desire new experiences."

In your home, at a restaurant, or across the globe, these food trends are set to make 2022 one of the most delicious and diverse years yet. Pack your appetite.

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