12 Fun Cooking Trends in 2018 - SALTER College
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12 Fun Cooking Trends in 2018

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Persian lamb kebabs on homemade flat bread and pomegranate seeds, cold brewed coffee with a cinnamon stick 'straw'

Be aware of these popular dishes and ideas if you’re interested in culinary arts as a career

If you like to cook and are interested in food, then you’re always on the lookout for fun new trends that are taking restaurants and cooking shows by storm. If you’re interested in making the culinary arts your career, then these take on even more importance, because you can learn to integrate them into your training and your professional life. Students at the Salter College Culinary Arts program and other chefs and chef-wanna-be’s: take note of what’s happening in the food world right now. These could be your next source of inspiration!

1. Hearty hot pots

Maybe you’ve had one of these flavorful broths, chocked full of meat or fish and veggies, at a Chinese restaurant. Now you can add Mexican or Caribbean flavors to the same kind of dish for a fascinating and satisfying combination. (The spice company McCormick lists this as no. 5 on their list of flavors for 2018.)

2. Middle eastern flavors

Whether stemming from Persia, Syria, Morocco, Israel, or Lebanon, these taste profiles are making their way into lots of mainstream food. If you’ve enjoyed falafel or hummus, look for variations and other dishes that feature rich and tasty Middle Eastern spices, as well as mint and parsley. Grilled meat is also a staple of this kind of cooking. (This was on The Daily Meal’s list of predictions, as well as no. 4 on the Whole Foods’ list of top trends.)

3. Colorful food

The Unicorn Frappuccino may have started this trend, which carries fun and bright colors into more than drinks and dessert.

4. Tacos without the tortilla

Taco-inspired fillings now are a staple of breakfast and dessert plates everywhere. People eating paleo or just trying to cut down on the carbs are leaving the taco shell or soft tortilla behind. (This was no. 8 on the Whole Foods’ list.)

5. “Root to stem” cooking

This uses every part of the fruit or vegetable and leaves nothing to waste—kind of the same idea as “nose to tail” butchery. Even the stems and leaves are part of the dish, introducing new textures as well as flavors.

6. “Gut-friendly” food

The connection between food and medicine has never been stronger, and now some chefs are even thinking of their food as medicinal. For example, cooks are using different varieties of mushrooms that have traditionally been considered “functional.” Ingredients like apple cider vinegar and turmeric, as well as fermented elements like kefir and kimchi, might find their way into foods where you wouldn’t normally expect them. These health-boosting ingredients are supposed to help with fatigue as well as inflammation and routine tummy troubles.

7. Kitchen byproducts in cocktails

You might find your beverage adorned with vegetable trimmings or fruit that’s left over from making some other dish. It’s decorative, colorful, and adds flavor as well as vitamins.

8. Healthy kids menu items

Rather than just offering macaroni and cheese, pizza, and chicken tenders, restaurants are trying to create kids’ menus that parents can feel good about—if they have slightly more adventurous eaters! Meats can be baked instead of fried, and veggies can be worked into unsuspecting dishes that are still pleasing in flavor. The possibilities are endless. (This was no. 18 on The National Restaurant Association’s list of Top 20 Food Trends.)

9. Sparkling beverages

LaCroix started a trend, but now there are lots of sparkling beverages that are taking center stage. No added sugar is part of the appeal here. Perfect to serve with food or to make cocktails or mocktails! (This made The Daily Meal’s predictions and is no. 10 on the Whole Foods’ list.)

10. Flavored cold brew coffee

This new trend benefits from the addition of flavor profiles like lavender or hazelnut—which might not appeal to coffee purists!

11. Environment-friendly trends

Some of the trends on the scene right now are about reducing food waste and making choices that are environmentally sustainable. An example is an ice cream flavor that uses leftover movie popcorn from a local theater—which would otherwise be tossed out. This trend complements the existing focus on using locally sourced meat, seafood, and produce.

12. Plant-based meats

These might look, and even taste somewhat like meat, but they use wheat and vegetable proteins (no. 8 on the BBC’s list of trends) and fat from sources like coconut oil. They’re formulated to have a meat-like texture, so you get that satisfying experience of biting into a burger without all the fat and guilt.

For a look at other trends, check out the National Restaurant Association’s list of “What’s Hot in 2018.” They offer a PDF that breaks their list down into food trends and concepts, as well as beverages, brunch/breakfast, condiments, global flavors, and more. There are ideas to last you well into spring!


Now that you have a sense of what’s on the culinary scene in the coming months, perhaps give some thought to exploring cooking as a career. Salter College prepares students to work in this exciting industry, whether it’s in restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, or in private homes as a personal chef. You might report to a head chef, prepare and season foods at a station, arrange and plate dishes before they head out to the dining room, engage and interact with customers, or handle orders and supplies by interacting with representatives of food and equipment companies. One of the advantages of this field is that culinary workers can assume many different roles and responsibilities.

How our program prepares you

We have experienced instructors who offer the foundation students need, in terms of concepts as well as hands-on skills, to begin work in the field. Our instructors teach topics including food production but also nutrition, sanitation, how to control costs in the kitchen, and marketing specific to the food industry. In our hands-on labs, students gain experience in cooking as well as baking and catering. This could lead to entry-level positions as a line cook, prep cook, or even pastry assistant, and over time, with additional skills and experience, to positions including sous-chef, head chef, short-order cook, pastry chef, or restaurant manager.

Find out more about our Culinary Arts program, offered at our West Boylston campus, and read about whether you have what it takes for a culinary arts career. You could build a career in the kitchen or in the restaurant business—and both options offer a number of possibilities. This could be the beginning of an exciting change!

This post is part of Salter College’s weekly blog. We’re dedicated to supporting all our students attain their professional goals. Contact us today to learn more about our various career training programs, or to request more information. Or call our Chicopee campus (413-206-0300) or our West Boylston campus (774-261-1500) to schedule a visit.

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