Eggs are the menu-maker’s best friend, especially when they can be turned into unique, premium signatures that reach beyond the breakfast daypart. In a new report, Eggs: Culinary Trend Tracking Series, market research firm Packaged Facts highlights nine egg-tastic innovations sweeping foodservice and restaurants across America:
- Chilaquiles and Migas (Hispanic breakfast egg dishes) – Mexican breakfast specialties are no longer just for Mexican restaurants or Hispanic marketplaces—though these remain a good place to enjoy them. Adding or subbing in artisanal proteins, next-level sauces and salsas, and riffs on the traditional tortilla puts an upscale, cheffy spin on migas and chilaquiles, but other familiar Mexican and Hispanic specialties can take an egg and be converted into adventurous breakfast fare.
- Deviled Eggs – The classic party and picnic food is all grown up and getting cheffy, with variations ranging from down-and-dirty pickle relish and mustard to ultra-chic with caviar and smoked salmon. Think of this take on the egg as a great canvas for innovation in venues as varied as pubs and casual restaurants, or as a self-assured comfort food in fine dining.
- Eggs Benedict – Increasingly inventive guises for omelets opened the door for Benedict experimentation, especially now that the breakfast and brunch dayparts are getting more creative attention.
- Frittatas – Frittatas have been riding a mainstreaming wave of more authentic Italian menu items, along with the push to all-day breakfast innovation beyond omelets. Quiche-like frittatas are suitable for casual and family-style restaurants and more upscale lunch menus, as well as in quick-service restaurant sandwiches.
- Meringues – For something made from leftovers, meringue can inspire a lot of innovation. As long as the egg whites can be stabilized, they can be flavored with a whole pantry full of ingredients, with both sweet and savory personalities—which makes them a creative favorite of both the pastry and the salty/spicy sides of the kitchen.
- Okonomiyaki Japanese Pancakes – Fascination with Japanese izakaya (pub) fare has brought okonomiyaki to the American public, in the form of small plates and Millennial-friendly global fast casuals. Much like frittatas, okonomiyaki can be used to showcase seasonal or specialty ingredients, repurpose overproduction, star as a daily special, and keep a rein on food costs.
- Shakshuka (Middle Eastern poached eggs in savory sauce) – Beloved by bloggers, breakfast fans and healthy eaters (including vegetarians), this egg specialty is showing up on restaurants menus coast to coast, thanks to the Middle Eastern restaurant trend and trendy brunch dining. Packaged Facts notes that as a restaurant phenomenon, shakshuka and other saucy poached egg specialties are in their infancy, but restaurateurs can act now to help set the next big trend for an egg dish already on the foodie radar.
- Sous Vide/Slow-Cooked Eggs – Sous vide and other slow-cooked eggs are favorites in chef-driven restaurants, and Starbucks’ sous vide eggs bites, introduced in 2017, helped propel sous vide into mainstream consciousness. Sous vide and other slow-cooked eggs have been embraced by chefs with a penchant for immersion circulators and other “techy” cooking styles, with a boost in popularity from traditional Japanese specialties like ramen and the desire to showcase locally sourced eggs. They’re also much easier to make than the poached eggs they’re replacing in items like frisee salads.
- Egg Yolks – The egg yolk has long been a powerful, versatile traditional culinary tool as an emulsifier in sauces, in baking and desserts, and in pasta dough, among many other uses. But taking the Millennial mantra of “put an egg on it” another step, egg yolks are now adding a final flourish to all kinds of creative foods.
As Packaged Facts notes, each of these egg specialties is super-adaptable, playing well with scads of other ingredients, from breakfast to late-night, and for carnivores and vegetarians alike.
“Eggs have always been a restaurant and home kitchen workhorse, but they have garnered new levels of respect,” says David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts.