Approachable Global Flavor Trends


Why Global Flavors Matter

Globally-inspired foods pose an advantage for restaurant operators. Consumers are more likely to get them away-from-home, with the top barrier for at-home preparation being not knowing how to prepare these types of foods (Datassential’s Global Flavors Keynote Report, Sep 2021). This makes global foods and flavors a greater potential traffic driver for restaurants.

And global flavors are more approachable than you might think, for both consumers and operators. It is an easy and simple way to add interest to a variety of familiar formats like fries and burgers, for example. Additionally, elevating classic dishes with global flavors can differentiate offerings: 59% of operators say consumers are actually demanding more unique sauces and condiments (Datassential’s Sauces, Condiments, & Dressings Keynote Report, Jul 2022). Stick to that resolution to “learn a new (flavor) language” by applying the consumer insights and global trend inspiration ahead.

In general, the main source of meals is at-home prep, with consumers reporting that only 31% of their meals are purchased away from home (Datassential’s America in Transition Keynote Report, Oct 2021). However, when it comes to the unique draw of globally-inspired foods, that number jumps to 56% (see chart to the left), giving restaurants the edge when it comes to global flavors*.

Consumers today consider a wide range of global cuisines approachable, so there’s no need to stick only to more commonly-menued options like Mexican or Chinese. Consider regional European cuisines (like Greek) or Asian cuisines (like Indian) for flavor inspiration*

*Datassential Global Flavors Keynote, Sep 2021

Cast a Wider Net with Approachable Innovation

Millennials are known to be adventurous eaters, but almost half of Gen Z and Gen X (and over half of Boomers) prefer new food experiences in familiar formats. Showcase global flavors in approachable favorites to engage a wider consumer base**. 

**Datassential Five in Focus Reports: New Food Experiences for Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers, Oct 2021

Trending Global Fry Dishes

Globally-inspired loaded fry dishes are taking off across menus as a way to showcase global flavors in an approachable format. Take advantage of fries as a ubiquitous base and explore toppings ranging from adventurous (like spicy Korean kimchi) to familiar (like creamy Mexican queso cheese sauce).

Growth on app/entrée/side menus over the past 4 years in Datassential MenuTrends, YE Sep 2022

Global Sauces on the Core Menu

Menu staples like burgers and fried chicken sandwiches can also serve as well-loved blank canvases for global flavor innovation. Leverage trending global sauces for approachable inspiration and consider how creamy or sweet infusions can make global heat even more accessible to consumers. Look to spicy maple (which has grown 75% on menus over the past 4 years, according to Datassential MenuTrends) and how it has inspired emerging globally-influenced flavors like chipotle maple and sriracha maple on menus.

Growth on fried chicken sandwich menus over the past 4 years in Datassential MenuTrends, YE Sep 2022

Growth on burger menus over the past 4 years in Datassential MenuTrends, YE Sep 2022

Global Flavor Versatility

The trending sauces above reveal how global flavors often gain traction through infusions with more familiar flavors. See below for how top chains across different segments creatively utilize spicy Mexican chipotle flavors in innovative-yet-approachable ways to garner high appeal and uniqueness scores from consumers.


This new mashup features Nolan Ryan Beef layered with house-made pico de gallo, guacamole, shredded lettuce, queso, and Cholula chipotle ranch dressing, all smashed between two crisp, warm cheese quesadillas.

$6.99 – June 2022

This limited-time offer balances hot chipotle flavor with creamy and cooling ranch dressing as part of an innovative burger-quesadilla mashup that nearly two-thirds of consumers consider unique.





Chipotle BBQ pulled pork, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, applewood smoked bacon, and scallions on a bed of seasoned fries.

$14.99 – Feb 2022

BBQ Sauce adds a sweet and tangy flavor to complement the chipotle’s heat in this loaded fries dish which mixes a Mexican flavor infusion with American ingredients like pulled pork, bacon, and cheddar.




Datassential SCORES

 top performer for item type (>90th percentile)

 above average for item type (70th to 90th percentile)

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