2018 Hottest Food Trends From A to Z

Consider this glossary an aperitif to prepare your palate for what’s to come.

A:  Activated Charcoal

Goth Food maintains traction in 2018, with noteworthy appearances in everything from ice cream to pizza crust. It’s detoxifying attributes, and cool, black hue make it a repeat from 2017.

Beyond Meat

B:  Beyond Meat

Millennials love plant-based foods, which are why companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, exist. They make veggies burgers that bleed like meat burgers. Weird? Yes. Bad? Not really. The Specialty Food Associate Trendspotter Panel predicts that better-for-you choices will be the leading food trend in 2018. This year veggie blood is in.

C:  Chermoula

Middle Eastern Cuisine is big in 2018, so it’s crucial to build our Moroccan, Persian, Syrian and Israeli food vocabularies. For instance, know that when you see Chermoula on a menu, you should probably get it. It’s Morocco’s version of Argentina’s chimichurri, but with an earthier kick made from extra pungent spices and herbs.  

D:  Doogh

Here’s another lesson in Middle Eastern culinary vocabulary. Doogh is a fizzy Persian yogurt drink (think sour, fizzy lassi) made with yogurt and mint. It’s the perfect antidote to a spicy, carb-heavy meal.

E: Ethnic Cheese

Expect to see queso fresco, paneer, and halloumi where you wouldn’t expect them.

F: Free-Range Poultry

Transparent labeling with an emphasis on humane production continues to be on-trend in 2018, which is why you’ll see the words “free-range” as a selling point on dinner and breakfast menus alike.

G: Ghee

If your tummy is finicky when it comes to lactose,  then you’re probably already familiar with this lactose-free substitute for butter. Use it to make mashed potatoes, or dip your lobster tails in it, this satisfies your desire for butter without the repercussions. 

H: Harissa

Say goodbye to Sriracha and hello to Harissa. Harissa is another Middle Eastern condiment (Tunisian to be exact) whose smoky-spicy flavor complements everything from scrambled eggs to grilled lamb chops.


I: Instagramable Food

Instagram continues to popularize food trends as no other social media platform can. Expect to see drool-worthy food photography that’ll make you want to quit your day job.

J:  Juice Pulp Recipes

Upcycled products ride in on the sustainability wave in 2018. Examples include snacks made from leftover grain from the beer-making process and recipes that use juice pulp to make chips and crackers are likely to show up on your Instagram feed. Learn to make it yourself here.

K: Kare Kare

Filipino food is taking a step into the spotlight once dominated by Korean BBQ. And Kare Kare is the classic dish to try. It’s peanut-y, curry-like sauce is comfort-food like you’ve never had before.

L: Lovage

Uncommon herbs will add flavor to menus in 2018. Expect to see unique herbs like lovage and lemon balm grace menus.

M:  Moringa

Matcha is so 2015, the new green superfood to capture our attention is Moringa- a plant native to India, Pakistan, and Nepal. Its health benefits are off the charts; however, more exciting is that it thrives in dry climates. It’s drought-tolerance, combined with high protein levels, makes it much more than just a superfood fad. Moringa has the potential to feed the world.

N: Non-wheat noodles

Non-wheat noodles made from rice, quinoa, edamame, yams, kelp, and buckwheat continue to occupy more shelf space in 2018.  And thanks to the spiralizer, zoodles are still a thing.

O: Oyster Steak

Non-traditional cuts of meat like the oyster steak are taking over space that ribeye and filet mignon used to occupy. Nose-to-tail butchery continues to be on-trend in 2018.  

P: Pate fermentee

Move over gluten-free bread, European, traditional bread made better by the use of freshly milled grain, is capturing our attention in 2018. Pate fermentee (French for “old dough”) describes the process where old dough (or starter) is added to the new dough. Sourdough bread is made this way, and it’s decidedly more complex than your average slice of bread.

Q: Quinoa

“Keen-wah.” We all should know how to pronounce the South American super seed that has become synonymous as the “healthier than” option on so many menus. Nutritionally speaking, Quinoa is a pretty incredible vegetable protein. It has all 20 amino acids, making it a complete protein, which is why it’s the MVP for vegetarians and carnivores.

R: Ras el hanout

This Moroccan spice will be your go-to for the summer BBQ season.  Learn to make it here.

S: Shakshuka

The new star of the brunch menu is this one skillet, Tunisia wonder that combines fresh eggs cooked on top of a rich tomato pepper sauce flavored with cumin and cayenne.  It’s the new frittata, which means that it’s perfectly okay to transform last night’s leftovers into today’s breakfast.


T:  Thai-rolled ice cream

A 5 minute YouTube binge on Thai-rolled ice cream is a worthy endeavor. It captures your attention like your first time to Benihana; then, it entices you to search the nearest location where you might find this mesmerizing treat.  

U: Ube

Ube (pronounced ooh-beh) is the Tagalong word for “purple yam.” It has a pleasantly sweet flavor like a sweet potato, and it turns sweet and savory dishes a bright, beautiful purple hue.

V:  Veggies, imperfect veggies to be exact

Building a sustainable food system is a trend that will never go out of style.  Embracing imperfect produce, such as oddly shaped fruits and veggies that don’t meet cosmetic standards, is now as popular as ever. Some juicing companies such as Ugly Juice in the Bay Area have made it their mission to break the waste cycle and ignite awareness about utilizing imperfect produce. Forget beauty standards, ugly fruits and vegetables are in style.

W: Wild Striped Bass

Sustainable seafood continues to be on trend in 2018. Now more than ever, consumers are checking the pulse on Seafoodwatch.com to help make educated decisions on what type of seafood is okay to purchase and what should be avoided. Wild Striped Bass is a sustainable choice for Mother Earth; bluefin tuna is not.

X: Xylitol

Everybody loves the idea of a sugar-free alternative that tastes like sugar, which is why sugar substitutes like xylitol still capture our attention despite the skepticism of health benefits. Find it next to your coffee or in your chewing gum.

Y: Yacon Syrup

This Peruvian vegetable looks like a potato, tastes like an apple, and sweetens like maple syrup.  Along with xylitol, it’s another alternative sweetener that is making appearances at a more frequent clip.

Z: Zaalouk

Zaalouk is the smokey Moroccan salad (or spread depending on where you find it) made from eggplant, tomatoes, and spices. It’s the perfect vehicle for pita, and with time, it’ll roll off the tongue as easily as hummus.

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