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Food trends for 2023

by Jay Kitterman, culinary and special events consultant and adjunct instructor, Lincoln Land Community College

Major food trends predicted for 2023 are the aftereffects of COVID-19 on restaurant operations, innovations in plant-based and sustainable menus, butter boards and more.

COVID-19 of course had a major impact on restaurant operations. People were no longer dining out, resulting in restaurants closing and forcing their employees to find new employment. Many of those employees never returned, deciding to stay with their new, preferred 8 a.m.-5 p.m. jobs. This change is forcing restaurants to place new emphasis on their employees’ hourly wages, benefits and scheduling. From an operational view, to offset increased labor costs we will see more automation. For example, handheld tablets for servers, reduced hours of operation and reduced menu offerings.  

Plant-based and sustainable menu innovation

The plant-based food market is growing. One survey reported that 50% of consumers seek foods labeled “plant-based,” and 70% have tried these alternatives. With increasing awareness of the impacts of animal agriculture, vegan and vegetarian alternatives are in demand, and many are introducing plant-based alternatives. 

Growing in popularity is plant-based chicken. Daring has become a leader in the production of plant-based chicken which can be purchased online or locally at Schnucks and Wal Mart. Their goals are to make “chicken better by making it out of plants and have products that are better for people, better for chickens and better for the planet.” 

Another company that prides itself on sustainability is Shār. Their goal is to become the “Patagonia” of the snack industry. Founder Peter Rushford’s background is from the outdoor industry, and he believes that “Way too much single-use plastics are being used. Over 96% of snacks are packaged in single-use plastics that are choking the planet.” He proclaims that his company Shār chooses “Planet over Profit” every day. For Peter it all started with his quest to create the best-tasting trail mix possible and after 36 months and 52 iterations, he landed on nine “incredible” ingredients with just the “right combination of flavors, textures and proportions.” He then spent the next 12 months searching for the best of each ingredient to make sure each was responsibly sourced from small, family-owned organic farms with ingredients that are grown the way nature intended, free of chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. Shār trail mix is organic, GMO-free, plant-based, gluten-free and a paleo-friendly snack made in small batches sourced from socially responsible, artisan farmers. It contains no preservatives, stabilizers or sweeteners - just clean 100% organic ingredients. As I write this article, I am snacking on Shār, and it is very tasty.   

Butter boards

Last year Charlyn Fargo Ware wrote a great article on the popularity of charcuterie boards. The latest version is “butter boards.” You can say they are “utterly popular.” Very simply, a butter board is butter that is spread on a board with toppings. The hardest part of making a butter board is having the right consistency of butter. You want to make sure that you’re using softened butter, not butter straight from the fridge or melted butter. The simplest way is cubing your butter and leaving it out at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Once the butter is softened, you’ll use a small knife or spoon to spread the butter as flat as possible onto any decorative board, cutting board or flat platter you have. Add to the butter board items like honey or jam. After spreading the butter all over the surface area of the board, it’s time for the toppings. Sprinkle the toppings evenly all over the butter. You want to make sure you can still see the butter underneath the toppings. Toppings can be sweet or savory, which makes them extremely versatile as an appetizer or even as a dessert. Using unsalted butter will allow you to sweeten the butter board easily or even keep it savory and control how much sea salt is added on top. 

For savory toppings, think about using vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, seasoning, olives, roasted garlic, cheese, citrus and peppers. For sweet toppings, you can use fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs, jams, honey, citrus, glazes, coconut flakes or chocolate. The favorite choice here is crusty sourdough bread that makes it easy to swipe the bread across the board and slather it with the butter. But just like the endless array of topping ideas, you’ll also see that there are multiple options for serving the butter board as well, including pita chips, naan dippers, crackers, pretzels and chips. Think about how you pair the flavor and texture of the dipper you’re using with the type of toppings you have and have fun with it! 

Other trends to look for in 2023

Mushroom mania

Journals report that mushrooms are exploding as a plant-based meat alternative. Mushroom coffee is trending. Mushrooms have protein, are rich in umami and boast a low carbon footprint. 

Sober bars and drinks

Sober socialization is gaining popularity, and you will see more alcohol-free products. In some of the larger cities, there are new shops devoted to selling zero proof spirits, beer, and wine. Younger adults are leading the charge and when they do drink, they are choosing lower alcohol options. 


Some of the restaurant gurus are predicting a big boom in the entertainment sector: an effort for restaurants to provide a unique experience. After spending so much time indoors during COVID, consumers are looking for more than just a place to eat. 

For 2023 I encourage you to adopt the New Year’s resolution of supporting our locally-owned restaurants, and to thank your hard-working servers by leaving a generous gratuity.  

Bon Appetit!   


Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management and Baking/Pastry, and non-credit cooking and food classes through LLCC Community Education.

Cooking or food questions? Email