Millennial Food Trends

Teens on a phone

Sweet, spicy and decadent flavors appeal to this adventurous generation.

These adventurous eaters are not only looking for an opportunity to customize their order, they’re looking for menus offering the bold, unique, and flavorful menu items they crave. With more than 61 percent of millennials saying they love to try unique flavors at a restaurant, innovative food service operators are stepping outside of the box and offering something new. 

The Flavors Millennials Crave

There’s no one flavor profile that gets millennial mouths watering, but there are a variety of flavors that you can infuse into your menu to add a touch of sweet, spicy, and decadent notes that they’re sure to crave. 

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Cajun

Technomic Inc. has found that fast-casual restaurants are easily adapting their menu to offer spicy Cajun flavors into everything from po’boy-inspired sandwiches and wings, to spicy gulf shrimp cocktails and Bourbon Street barbecue burgers. Cajun can easily be adapted to suit a variety of menus, either as a bold gumbo with andouille, a sizzling steak, or in a brunch-time favorite, the Bloody Mary. 

Miso

Made from fermented soybeans, miso is a thick paste which is added to broths to create miso soup. With the popularity of Asian flavors in this generation, the craving for miso has spread beyond soups, and has now become the ideal addition to entrees, salads, and appetizers. Try adding miso to Caesar salad dressings, or use it to create richness in ancient grain dishes, and even to compliment fish, such as salmon and cod.  

Saffron

Described as being reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like note, this sweet spice is widely used in Indian, European, Persian, Arab, and Turkish dishes. Added to confectionaries and liquors, or Italian risottos and French bouillabaisse, it provides an exotic flavor not common in American classics. Use it to create a unique dishes, like marinated chicken, or chocolate- and saffron-spiced ice creams. 

Wasabi

Sold as a powder, a paste, or a whole stem, wasabi is often used to provide a hot, spicy flavor to a variety of dishes - particularly Japanese cuisine. Served alongside sushi, or blended into a mayonnaise to offer a unique dipping sauce for fish, the opportunities to highlight this ingredient on your menu are endless. Try wasabi peas, or mixing it with a ginger vinaigrette to top salads, or use it to create a signature sauce for burgers or sandwiches.

Millennial Food Trends: Flavors by the Numbers

One thing all generations can agree on is the love for pizza and burgers. But there are some cuisines that are perfectly suited to the food trends millennials are craving. Below are some favorite foods, and the percentage of millennials craving them: 

  • Chinese - 59%
  • Mexican - 57%
  • Barbecue - 55%
  • Chicken dishes (other than fried) - 54%
  • Breakfast food - 54%
  • Pasta - 51%
  • Sandwiches (other than burgers) - 49%

No matter your restaurant or menu style, the food and flavors millennials crave offer an opportunity for food service operators to get innovative with their dishes. Whether it’s a bold infusion of spicy Asian ingredients, sweet and exotic spices, or flavorful Cajun favorites, with a few simple ingredients it’s easy to create a dish that millennials will crave.