In the last decade, we've seen a drastic change in consumer eating trends. Comfort food no longer entails sticking to greasy fries and late-night ice cream runs. In fact, healthier eating has jumped up on the charts, and many diners are seeking out plant-based trends when they want a comforting treat. The surge in demand for cleaner menu options is pushing many restaurants and chefs to get creative and become extremely innovative in creating plant-based best sellers.


Taking Organic to the Next Level

A common misconception about plant-based meals is that they're always vegan. In reality, while some of these tasty dishes are vegan, not all are completely free of animal products. Both vegan and plant-based dishes are changing the comfort food game though. It's a slow but steady crawl towards eating healthier, more organic meals. Many consumers aren't looking to do a complete 180 when it comes to their diet, but they are looking for healthier alternatives that are packed with flavor and easy to adapt into their weekly eating schedule a few times throughout the week. 

This is encouraging many restaurants and specialty chefs to try their hand at creating more inclusive menus to serve. 

For example, instead of serving classic hearty favorites such as chicken piccata or beef burritos, alternatives that are just as good include ingredients like cashew butter, Beyond Meat, vegan cheese, and maple "chorizo." These organic alternatives are packed with flavor and seasoned to perfection. When you take a bite, you'll find that it's bewildering how sweet and savory the blend is. 

Some of these new comfort food flavor trends are so good, you won't even realize you're trying something new. 


Straying from the Classics

Flavor trends are seeing a little more experimentation when it comes to popular comfort foods. With diners being more focused on what they consume as well as the carbon footprint they leave behind, those classic goodies aren't necessarily at the top of their radar anymore. Comfort cravings may make it a little more difficult to seek out healthier plant-based alternatives, but more and more consumers are standing their ground and pursuing these new flavor ideas.

For example, meaty pies often are classic winter trends in the industry for their texture and heart-filling. When replaced with a planted-based alternative, the filling can be made from pulled jackfruit and lentil stew. The new flavor combination is earthy and savory. This classic reinvention is healthier, easy to make, and is a delectable take on a beloved classic.

With interest in healthier dining, consumers are seeming to enjoy taking small steps from well-known comfort foods to indulge in replacements made with cashew cream, peppers, and various beans. These ingredients are among the most popular and are easy to utilize in various dishes. You can create something entirely new or blend the classics with new flavor concepts to give diners the best of both worlds.


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Marinated Delightfulness

You can't enjoy comfort food without sauce or zest to marinate and marry all the wonderful flavors. When it comes to plant-based foods, a lot of the flavoring comes from how well things are seasoned and marinated. Popular ingredients for plant-based comfort foods include but are not limited to:

  • Garlic and herbs

  • Onion powder

  • Peppercorn mélang

  • Paprika

  • Tumeric

  • Chili powder

Sauces such as soy sauce and tamari are great options for making the taste a little bolder while sticking to the newer trends of plant-based produce. You can also utilize fresh tomatoes and greens to help tenderize and add flavor to the many new-age creations. 


Related: New Spin on Comfort Food


Don't Skip on Snackage 

The main meals of the day are important, but so are snack breaks. Plant-based alternatives like seitan and jackfruit aren't only being used to recreate meaty favorites such as burgers or tacos, but they're also being used alongside cauliflower and broccoli to create mouthwatering alternatives for hot items like wings and pizza crusts.

Cauliflower and broccoli are specifically being used for bite-size snacks and those quick easy-to-make treats. These plant-based alternatives make great breading and can be prepared to give you a similar crunchy texture with every bite. When paired with a nice dipping sauce, they'll leave you with a mouthwatering flavor that keeps you coming back for more again and again. 


Emerging Flavors and Ingredients

Of course, we could never fully replace the original comfort foods like pizza, tacos, chicken, burgers, and hot dogs. With a balanced diet, you don't necessarily have to. When you need a bit of flavor-induced comfort, the OG dishes are simply staples that are hard to beat and almost irresistible. However, with the right ingredients, we're getting pretty close to making waves for the foodies at heart. It might not be the same carb-loaded treats, but some of these recipes sure do taste like magic. 

Trending ingredients that are on the rise for competing with meaty comfort dishes are:

  • Variations of seitan

  • Jackfruit

  • Lentils stew

  • Ackee

  • Black beans

  • Kidney beans

  • Mushrooms

  • Cauliflower

  • Broccoli

These plant-based alternatives are being used to create some pretty delicious comparables. They're definitely not taking over entirely, but many consumers are seeking out restaurants and pop-up vendors that offer plant-based alternatives in order to pursue more balanced diets. As the market becomes more saturated with the idea of vegan and plant-based alternatives, we can expect to see these options growing when it comes to new comfort food trends. 

The current trends in ingredients are easy to use, healthy to consume, and quite tasty. Plant-based comfort foods might just be the next big thing, but if it is they'll live with the motto, "slow and steady wins the race".

Looking to learn more about the latest food and beverage trends? We provide you with the latest flavor insights in order to assist you in keeping up with the biggest trends as they come and go. With our detailed audits about all things food and beverage, you can test out the most popular flavor combinations and drive consumer trends with ease. Want more information on current trends? Get in touch with us today. 


To learn more about our products and insights, get in touch with our team at Symrise today, Contact us here! 

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