Fall Menu Trends: it’s all about the comfort

Marketing + PR, Menu,
By Bora Kang, Goliath Consulting Group

Fall themed menus seem to crop up earlier each year1, what with Dunkin’s launching their pumpkin and apple cider flavors on August 21, and Starbucks heralding the start of Fall with its pumpkin spice latte and other array of seasonal desserts on August 27th, weeks before the official start of the season.
There is no denying the consumer demand for these items—just look at how pumpkin spice has become a $600 million flavor.2 Switching to a seasonal menu generates interest and excitement around the new menu items, and taking advantage of a wider sales window for fall-themed foods can therefore mean increased sales and happy customers.
So, what inspires a fall menu? Experts say that it’s all about the comfort3. Fall means going back to the roots, and being nostalgic for childhood traditions. This, in food language, means warm and aromatic spices; it means celebrating natural cooking techniques and creating comfort dishes that are rich, hearty and flavorful.
Here are a few fall menu ideas to include in your menu:
Savory Pumpkin dishes
Many have hinted at the coming of a pumpkin spice fatigue4, but we think that pumpkin is an ingredient that is here to stay. For a new take on America’s favorite gourd, try using it in savory recipes such as adding it to chili, soups, salads, pasta and dips. It can also be incorporated into popular breakfast items such as breakfast sausages, grits and oatmeal.
Nuts and toasted flavors
Nothing says fall like pecans, particularly here in the south. It makes great additions to pies and desserts, and the ingredient is versatile enough that it can be worked into a variety of meat, stew, salad and even cocktail recipes. *A note on the Georgia pecan supply, as farms took at massive hit when Hurricane Michael dealt a loss of about 17% in total acreage5. The crop is expected to be short this year and it will take years before growers reach the level of pre-storm production. While New Mexico is expected to be producing the majority of the crop this year, Georgia pecan growers are optimistic of a rebound; we may see Georgia back at the No. 1 spot sooner than you think.
Roasted vegetables
As with toasted flavors, roasted vegetables are as comforting as Fall-menus can get. No longer are vegetables reserved for “sides.” More customers are likely to order dishes that feature vegetable as the main. In fact, National Restaurant Association’s research on this year’s top food trends found that 3 of the 15 trending items were plant based6. Why not try roasted cauliflower, root vegetables, squash varieties and mushrooms?
Turmeric might not seem like a traditional fall-themed ingredient, but its earthy color and orange-gingery aroma says otherwise. While pungent and bitter, turmeric has become more prevalent in recent years thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and health benefits. It’s perfect because it fits recent trends of health and well-being. Turmeric is easily incorporated to sauces, marinades and beverages like lattes and juices, but it can also be a great addition to pumpkin desserts as it boosts color and intensifies flavor.
The list would not be complete without maple, which has been advertised back in 2019 as the ingredient that would dethrone pumpkin spice in the flavor kingdom. It’s sweet, it’s rich, and it pairs splendidly with either dessert or savory recipes such as roasted vegetable, salad dressing, candied nuts and of course—bacon.
Menu development and maintaining a profitable cost of goods are two areas that Goliath Consulting Group assists independent and chain operators. Contact us at getresults@goliathconsulting.com to learn more about our services and how we can get you the results you are looking to achieve.
  1. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/yes-pumpkin-spice-season-is-creeping-earlier-every-year-and-this-chart-proves-it-2019-08-21
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/2018/10/31/inside-the-600-million-pumpkin-spice-industrial-complex/#1507f02d1b95
  3. https://www.fsrmagazine.com/menu-innovations/designing-menu-around-flavors-fall
  4. https://upserve.com/restaurant-insider/restaurant-marketing-ideas-pumpkin-spice-fall-flavors/
  5. https://www.albanyherald.com/multimedia/a-grim-future-awaits-area-pecan-farmers-this-year-and/article_b9251c5c-946a-11e9-8e08-978bf74ca19c.html
  6. https://restaurant.org/research/reports/foodtrends