Although the burger’s prolific run on top menus doesn’t appear to be coming to an end anytime soon, consumers continue to clamor for the next big thing. To keep diners interested, chefs are experimenting with new, craveable burger offerings.
These four on-trend ideas can help operators keep up in the burger world.
1. Blended burgers
Burger patties made from a blend of ingredients are gaining popularity among consumers. The top pairings for beef-centric burgers are beef-and-bacon and beef-and-mushroom burgers, according to Technomic’s2017 Burger report.
Beef and mushroom blends also are a way to provide a healthier burger while boosting sustainability—which is especially important for a growing number of consumers. According to Technomic’s 2017 Seafood & Vegetarian report, 23% of consumers say that sustainability factors into their decisions to order vegetarian-friendly options, up from 16% in 2014. Additionally, 41% of consumers are willing to pay slightly or significantly more for sustainable menu options, the report found.
Many operators have jumped onto this trend. Bareburger, a N.Y.-based fast-casual burger concept with 21 units, offers a Porchetta burger blended with wild mushrooms, fennel, garlic and rosemary. Similarly, Cedar’s Café of Melbourne, FL, recently offered its Brevards Taste of Summer burger featuring blended Florida-grown Monterey mushrooms and lamb on an apricot and liquid smoke-glazed bun, sour cherry mustard, basil, brie cheese and an herb-lemon-caper-walnut relish.
2. Toppings, toppings and more toppings
More consumers now than in 2015 say toppings are the most important burger component, according to the Burger report, but the toppings they prefer varies widely. More women than men prefer healthy burger toppings such as avocado and spinach, while younger consumers are driving the demand for unique toppings such as kimchi or fried eggs.
Other indulgent toppings such French fries and even brisket or pulled pork are showing up on menus, too. Kuma’s Corner, a burger-focused concept with four locations in the Chicagoland area and one in Indianapolis, features a plethora of burgers that aren’t shy about being stacked high. Its namesake burger, the Kuma, features Applewood smoked bacon, cheddar, a farm fresh fried egg, lettuce, tomato and red onion, and each month it offers a unique “Burger of the Month” which features any number of toppings, from specialty cheeses to extra meat to one-of-a-kind offerings such as a blackened rosemary funnel cake topping.
3. Plant-forward bites
Veggie burgers are nothing new, but their modern-day takes are miles away from the plant-based burgers of yesteryear. Rather than trying to offer meat-like alternatives, today’s veggie burgers play up the vegetable aspect, highlighting fresh flavor and vitamin-rich ingredients including beets, kale, mushrooms, grains, carrots or legumes.
This shift aligns with consumer preferences toward vegetable-blend patties—the Technomic report found that 75% of consumers say they prefer this type of veggie burger over traditional veggie patties made with soy-based protein, which just 42% say they prefer. Operators have noticed this trend, too—garden/veggie burger mentions are up 11% year-over-year on top 500 menus, the report found.
4. Global flavors
While the burger is considered all-American fare, global influence is making its way into this menu category, too. According to the Burger report, 42% of consumers aged 18-34 years old say they are interested in eating or trying exotic burgers made with unique meats such as venison, buffalo, alligator or ostrich.
As for what types of ethnic-inspired burgers consumers are most interested in, Italian, Cuban and Asian flavors come out on top, but other emerging cuisines are showing up on burger menus, too. Filipino burgers, for instance, like the one offered at Jeepney in New York, are made with a sirloin beef and longganisa (a Spanish sausage similar to chorizo or linguica)patty, spicy banana ketchup, Maggi aioli, challah bread, archaea pickles and hand cut kamote (sweet potato) fries. And of course, diners can add a fried egg for an additional cost.
Phillips Blended Burger: Eat Better. Eat Smarter.
Phillips’ chef-tested, clean-label blended burger delivers big flavor in a ready-to-cook 4-ounce patty that provides unmatched flavor, texture and value. Operators can easily offer endless on-trend options for diners and promote the burger’s great sustainability story, resonating with consumers across segments.
Rather make it yourself? No problem—Phillips offers moisture-reduced mushrooms that are pre-roasted and diced, making them the perfect ingredient for a house-blended burger offering. Find more menu inspiration here.