While we tend to associate summer with light and refreshing fare, guests still crave comfort foods. By combining the best of both worlds—comforting flavors and seasonal ingredients—you can cater to customers' desires for their favorites and generate sales, all while serving up in-season specialties.
Center of the Plate Comforts
Guests crave BBQ on menus, and with just a few tweaks, you can serve up this staple to reflect the season. Pile smoked pulled pork onto mini sliders, topped with pineapple slaw and a blueberry BBQ sauce for a flavorful, comforting entrée.
Right up there with BBQ, fried chicken needs no improvement. However, with chicken sandwiches and fusion flavors coming in as a top trend this year1, consider tapping into this “swicy” trend with hot honey or spicy maple. Summer is also synonymous with cookouts, so consider specials that highlight trending ingredients such as spicy kimchi, Sriracha mayo, or a fruity relish for your dogs, or top burgers with lemony aioli, Tzatziki sauce, beer cheese, or a savory jam.
Mac and cheese is a comfort classic and cookout favorite, and by adding fresh toppings like crab meat, or mixing in charred broccolini, black truffles, or summer squash, you can tweak tradition with the ability to upcharge. Another cookout classic — baked beans are a low-cost summer option ripe for reinvention. Consider adding a pop of heat from summer peppers, like charred poblanos, or a bit of sweetness from peaches or blueberries. And with the popularity of Mexican street corn, seeing 94% growth on menus in the last four years2, this Contigo® Street Corn Queso will definitely satisfy comfort cravings.
Desserts are usually where patrons indulge a little more to enjoy their favorite end-of-meal comfort food. Try an item like Piancone® Sea Salt Caramel Gelato to serve up a classic warm-weather treat that’s not too heavy. And few desserts evoke summertime memories like s’mores, especially if you can find a way to put your own spin on things. Create a s’mores dessert board as a fun shareable for groups, or mix s’mores elements into existing menu items, like brownies and bars.
1National Restaurant Association, What’s Hot 2023 Food Trends Report
2Datassential, World of Trends, 2022