October 23, 2023

TF #018: Serving the World on a Plate: Global Culinary Trends for Heat-and-Eat Entrepreneurs

TF #018: Serving the World on a Plate: Global Culinary Trends for Heat-and-Eat Entrepreneurs

Serving the World on a Plate: Global Culinary Trends for Heat-and-Eat Entrepreneurs

From the bustling street corners of Bangkok to the aromatic markets of Marrakech, we’re seeing an explosion of flavors and dishes that are reshaping the way your audience eats. More than ever, tapping into these global trends is not just exciting, but essential—and we’ve rounded up some simple, on-trend ways to dive in.

Global Street Foods

While this one’s been around for a bit, the influence of global street food keep growing and expanding. What started with elotes, bubble tea, and jerk chicken has exploded into a diverse menu of global eats. Now, many American chefs, restaurants, and meal delivery brands are drawing inspiration from global street foods—think Korean tteokbokki, Indian chaat, and Middle Eastern shawarma.

Based on your heat-and-eat meal brand, there’s likely a way to bring one or more of these trending tastes into your menu, even if it means a twist or two—opting for gluten-free or vegan ingredients, for example, or creating a higher-protein version of the original.  

African Flavors

Ingredients and dishes from African countries, especially West and North Africa, are gaining popularity. Harissa, dukkah, berbere, jollof rice, and Moroccan tagines have been popping up on menus for years, but are becoming increasingly common for everyday cooks. Even integrating simple, vibrant flavors packed with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and allspice can be a great way to test your audience’s appetite for new trends and tastes.

Southeast Asian Cuisines

While Thai and Vietnamese foods are already well-established, there’s a growing interest in the flavors of countries like Laos, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Dishes like Laotian larb or Filipino adobo are becoming more and more mainstream.

This trend often overlaps with the global street food trend, with dishes like khao jee (Laos) and lumpia (Philippines) in demand.

Middle Eastern and Mediterranean

Ingredients like za’atar, sumac, tahini, and halloumi are becoming staples, with dishes from countries like Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey growing in popularity. Shakshouka, kibbeh, köfte, and more are simple, healthy ways to test drive these trends.

Globally-inspired Sandwiches

Whether it’s the Chinese jianbing crepe and Rou Jia Mo—similar to a hamburger—Vietnamese banh mi, Venezuelan arepas… the list goes on, and with good cause. Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? And with so many diverse options trickling into menus from coast to coast, now is a great time to offer some of these eclectic eats on your next menu.

Regional Cuisines

To that end, many of the global trends we’re seeing are focused on not just national cuisines, but regional dishes and flavors –, Sichuan or Hunan cuisine from China, Oaxacan cuisine from Mexico, or diverse regional cuisines from India, for starters.

Integrating these dishes—or even pulling from some of the flavor profiles—not only elevates your menu but gives an interesting backstory to share with subscribers. People crave food with a “story”—sharing the rich background behind a dish can make the entire experience even more exciting and appealing.

Fermented Foods

Inspired by various cultures, fermented foods are in the spotlight for their unique flavors and probiotic health benefits. Kimchi, miso, kefir, and various fermented pickles are all examples.


Chimichurri, the tangy sauce from Argentina, is popping up everywhere lately. It’s fresh, delicious and can add a unique kick to virtually anything, from grilled meats and sandwiches to fish and crusty breads.

Tinned Fish

Canned fish from places like Spain, France, and Portugal has been hitting specialty store shelves for a while now, giving folks a taste of these global treats. These days, even restaurants are jumping on board, dishing them out straight from the can, paired with toast, crackers, and some tasty pickles and spreads.  


Your next step? Try one—or more—of these fast-growing global trends and see how your audience responds. If they’re eager for more, there’s lots more to dig into, from virtually every corner of the world.

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