11 Best Food Trends Of 2023, According To Tasting Table

Each year food trends crop up and take over our cultural lexicon. Terms like "butter boards" have taken over our social media feeds and, for many, have been spoken over the dinner table in 2023. Of course, culinary tastes are highly subjective, so one "best" trend might be another's worst nightmare. Here at Tasting Table, we embrace a dish's ability to polarize tastebuds and create a buzz over whether a food trend is considered a pillar of innovation — or an affront to the palate. Pushing boundaries is a culinary tradition — near-empty pantries can also force creativity for eaters in a pinch — and we love it when an experiment can surprise and delight.  

So, we turned to our team of food lovers to select the best food trends of 2023. Perhaps it's a variation that they can't stop thinking about or the return of a long-forgotten approach to the ways we cook. After all, the kitchen (and dinner table) can be a hotbed of improvisation, but it's sometimes a forgotten classic that inspires a generation. 

11. Cottage cheese renaissance

In the dairy case, certain foods never seem to fall out of favor, like flavored yogurt, chocolate pudding, or half-and-half. Cottage cheese, on the other hand, has been the subject of scorn for everything from its physical characteristics to its dubious associations with diet culture. But in 2023, the divisive dairy snack underwent a resurgence, thanks partly to its viral popularity on social media. Suddenly, it seemed the public had softened to cottage cheese — and some shoppers even reported shortages caused by its newfound TikTok fame.

After years of sitting atop lettuce leaves on "light" and "healthy" menus across the United States, the formerly hapless snack entered an exciting new era. Cottage cheese enthusiasts, like "Real Housewives of New York" star Bethenny Frankel, began eating their curds and whey with rich toppings like salmon roe. Meanwhile, other TikTokers served it hot in comfort foods like noodles and kugel.

While I'll admit its texture and taste may not be for everyone, I must give cottage cheese props for its triumphant comeback. Even if you're not inclined to eat it straight from the container like diehard fans, it's a surprisingly tasty addition to an array of foods. If you're still unconvinced, add a small scoop at your next salad bar stop or use small-curd cottage cheese as a substitute for ricotta in pasta dishes. If all goes well, you may become the newest member of the growing cottage cheese renaissance.

— Robyn Song, features contributor

10. Garlic confit enters the limelight

You've probably heard of duck confit, but before this year, garlic confit was utterly new to me. After watching TikTok after TikTok showcase this mystical wonder, I decided to try it for myself. As someone who loves garlic, I simply felt drawn to it. The first time I dumped the garlic into the dish, I was blown away by just how much you should use to create this delicious treat. Even still, throughout 2023, I found myself making garlic confit on repeat. From appetizers to late-night snacks and even a savory spin on avocado toast, I am obsessed.

To prepare garlic confit, you'll take a small oven-safe dish (I like to use a French onion soup crock) and add a ton of garlic, then cover it entirely with olive oil. You can also add seasonings like rosemary and thyme, but that's entirely up to your flavor preferences. I like to add a sprinkling of salt right on top. Then, cook it in the oven until it's super soft, just like you might do when roasting garlic. We love putting it on brie or, even better, simply slathering it on toasted bread. It's so soft and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The best part is it's easy to make and serve. It's become an absolute hit in our house, and we can't imagine stopping as we roll into 2024.

— Dani Zoeller, features contributor

9. A new take on vintage cakes

Something I was delighted to see return in 2023 was the resurgence of vintage-style cakes. These cakes fit perfectly into the modern lexicon, being aesthetically pleasing, easily customizable in both taste and looks, and bringing a new twist on something vintage. I'm sure you're familiar with the retro cake look, even if you're not super familiar with the origins.

The current vintage cake trend usually features a small circle cake with a few layers, covered in a single color of buttercream, and then really decked out in layers and layers of beautifully draped piping. I've seen these cakes decorated with everything from dainty pearls to glitter-dipped cherries to fondant letters cut out and placed on the top for birthdays and celebrations. What I love about the aesthetically pleasing vintage cake resurgence is that it really showcases the baker's skill and abilities in a way that other pastries don't. You need to be a skilled baker to accomplish the different piping techniques and that is something I can appreciate — along with just how pretty these cakes are. Keep 'em coming into 2024, I say.

— Julia Collins, features editor

8. Butter boards for the win

If cheese can have a board and cured meats can have a board, why not give butter the same treatment? Butter boards were a big party trend for 2023, and despite being a bit controversial because of issues with the hygiene of it all (anyone heard of a butter knife?), the butter board should be here to stay. Like with a really good cheese board, a good butter board can deliver various fun and delicious flavor profiles from a range of toppings and accouterments. Plus, the texture can be beautifully complimented by good bread, crackers, or even some fresh veggies. Long live the butter board!

— Sara Kay, features contributor

7. Rice paper food hacks

Rice paper food hacks reign has been revolutionizing home cooking with its gluten-free, vegan, shelf-stable, and apocalyptic-weathering qualities. This staple ingredient from Southeast Asia (particularly Vietnam and Thailand) gained viral popularity for its versatility. Beyond summer rolls, rice paper food hacks simplify making dishes like dim sum, including har gow (shrimp dumplings) and cheung fun (rice noodle rolls) at home. Crafting dim sum wrappers from scratch is notoriously challenging, sometimes even daunting for seasoned Cantonese chefs.

This year, I've fully tapped into rice paper's potential, creating quicker versions of traditional Asian desserts and savory dishes. Wrapping sweet fillings inside, I've made treats such as rice paper fruit sushi and easy chuối bọc nếp nướng (or Vietnamese grilled banana). Rice paper also proves ideal for crispy spring rolls, achieving a perfect fry. You can also microwave, deep fry, or air fry rice paper to turn them into quick chips. Rolled into logs, it mimics Korean rice cakes or tteokkboki, or when sliced into strips, it instantly becomes a quick noodle alternative, perfect for pouring hot sizzling oil and chili crisp over.

I highly recommend you stock up on rice paper; it'll last practically forever in your pantry. Versatile, popular on social media, and with endless food hack possibilities, rice paper is the ultimate food trend of 2023 and beyond.

— Kat Lieu, news contributor

6. Tableside dining experiences

Experiential dining is here to stay. Across restaurants, diners can better engage with the food they order — and see a dish come to fruition without ever leaving their table. This style of dining pairs dinner with a show, building excitement for the dish to come.

For example, Margaux, a French restaurant housed in Grand Rapids, Michigan's JW Marriott, offers two tableside dishes. These options include both a sweet dessert and a savory steak tartare. It's the sweet option, however, that brings the fire. When Margeaux diners order the flambé, the restaurant wheels out a cart with the ingredients and a stove. The nature of the flambé rotates; sometimes it's banana, other times it's apple with caramelized brown sugar and fall-spiced gelato. Regardless, the preparation doesn't take more than a few minutes and includes one last, crucial step: A flambé requires fire, so diners watch right from their seats.

Similarly, Mexico's OCN Resort & Residences — which is slated to open next year — is planning for a tableside option."There's a really fun tableside presentation of a fire-roasted banana dessert that I'm excited about," chef Brad Kilgore told Tasting Table, "that we flambé with our own proprietary Mezcal." What more to look forward to in 2024 than a dessert best served tableside?

— Anna Staropoli, news contributor

5. Tinned fish is elevated stateside

Maybe our 10-year-old selves pushed the canned tuna away, but nowadays tinned fish and seafood are part of any pescatarian menu. With sales steadily increasing with no signs of letting up, this is one TikTok trend that's here to stay. With millions of videos under #tinnedfish, there have never been more ideas as to how to use canned seafood — it doesn't have to be mixed with mayo and served on a sandwich. If you love collecting new items to add to the pantry, many brands of tinned fish showcase design aesthetics, doubling as a cute gift for the pescatarian in your life.

There are plenty of reasons to love this category of food, from the vast options (tuna, sardines, eel, calamari, mackerel, to name a few) to the ease of preparation. It's no secret that canned food is convenient, but it doesn't always inspire a gourmet feast. Pick a selection of tinned fish, then simply pop the lids open and serve the assortment with bread, crackers, and your favorite pickled bites for a hands-off dinner. Or, take advantage of the protein content and healthy fats and give an ordinary bowl of pasta or salad a nutritional boost.

— Lucia Capretti, features contributor

4. The major comeback for espresso martinis

Following the endless cycle of "everything old is new again," the espresso martini made a triumphant return to brunch tables and cocktail bar menus in 2023, and we're so glad it did. Boozy and bitter with a slight touch of sweetness, the rich sip is delighting a whole new generation of tipplers with its wonderfully retro vibes.

A simple mix of vodka, coffee liqueur, and a signature shot of espresso (sometimes with simple syrup swirled in for good measure), the cocktail is a relic of the early aughts that never quite went out of style but is enjoying a resurgence thanks to a renewed interest in all things Y2K. A glitzy backstory of a model requesting a drink from legendary British bartender Dick Bradsell that would both keep her awake and get her drunk helped to cement the espresso martini's original mystique, but it might just be its adaptability that gives the sip its staying power.

Restaurants across the U.S. have put a spin on the classic cocktail, adding everything from chocolate and horchata to even cheese, like in the viral Parmesan espresso martini. While not all of these sips are winners (we'd skip the Starbucks olive oil espresso martini), we'd still gladly toast to 2024 with a classic espresso martini in hand.

— Sarah Bisacca, features contributor

3. Pistachio milk gains a foothold

If you've been down to get a latte at your local coffee shop lately, you may have noticed there's a new plant-based milk on the block. Pistachio milk, made from those rich, nutty green nuggets, is making the other dairy alternatives green with envy in 2023. Although humans have been snacking on pistachios for thousands of years, Táche claims to be the first brand of pistachio milk to hit the U.S. market and only began gracing the shelves with its presence in 2020.

Pistachio milk has a slightly bolder flavor than its alternative milk cousins, namely oat, soy, and almond, which is one reason why pistachio was the flavor of 2023. The slightly sweet taste of pistachio milk is perfectly suited to counterbalance the robust, bitter notes in coffee, making this plant-based milk a favorite for espresso drinks. It also contains potassium, protein, calcium, and zinc, and it doesn't have added oils like oat milk (additives have been out since the 2010s).

Also, since another theme of 2023 is existential angst about the world's changing climate, it's important to note that pistachio trees require less water than almonds and are more drought-resistant. So this New Year's Eve, say goodbye to 2023 with a tall, cold glass of pistachio milk.

— Fletcher Huntley, features contributor

2. Functional beverages for anytime

In the current beverage marketing lingo, the category of functional beverages refers to products that have added ingredients with purported wellness benefits. More and more companies are developing drinks with bonus ingredients like CBD, mushrooms, turmeric, and others, to alter some aspect of your mental or physical body.

Some additives are naturally occurring compounds known as adaptogens, whereas others, like nootropics, are synthetic. With promises of enhanced mental clarity or stress reduction, each ingredient is said to have its own secret power. Of course, drinks typically contain small quantities of any active ingredients, and therefore, effects can vary widely depending on the blend and the person. Although the result may not be as noticeable as imbibing, functional beverages are designed as another way to slightly modify your state without alcohol.

Since the industry is still new, regulations vary widely and some products must be classified as dietary supplements. If you're experimenting with these drinks, be sure to read the label to ensure you savor them in optimal conditions. Aside from the variety of ingredients you can choose from to elevate your state, these beverages come in an endless range of flavors.

— Lucia Capretti, news contributor

1. The year of the humble pickle

Pickles come back in vogue year after year in the same way that black "returns" to fashion or maximalism reaches a new generation of homeowners. I indeed love a myriad of fermented vegetables and have been known to eat kimchi straight out of the jar. But, in 2023, I welcomed the return of humble wedges of pickled cucumber delivered with a burger, briny discs placed on a crispy chicken sandwich, or an entire side of dill pickles to replace (or complement) your French fries. 

Of course, I won't turn my nose to an appetizer of pickled green beans, radishes, or carrots, but there is something so simple and endearing about noshing on a dill pickle without the frills. When it comes to pickle-flavored products, I will skip the pickle hard seltzer (gross) but devour the Trader Joe's Chips in a Pickle. Still, it's hard to turn down the satisfying crunch of a classic dill pickle recipe. Get in on the quick pickling if you're also convinced this food trend is here to stay — at least until we all remember how we can't live without sauerkraut. 

 — Katherine Peach, lead editor