According to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, just about two-thirds of all restaurants (65.6%) have sandwiches on their menus. And that’s great for diners—Technomic’s 2018 Sandwich report finds that 61% of consumers eat a sandwich at least once a week, with 37% of them eating a sandwich more than once a week.
But sandwiches of today are going above and beyond the standards. Sure, it’s not hard to find a club sandwich or an Italian sub to satisfy a specific craving, but more operators are branching out to include unique and innovative sandwiches on their menus.
Want to shake up your menu? Find out how operators are riffing on classics and introducing new favorites.
Bringing sandwiches to the breakfast menu
With all-day breakfast trending up, it makes sense that sandwiches would hit morning menus—and not just in the standard egg-and-cheese format. Rather, breakfast-inspired sandwiches such as fried chicken sandwiches with waffles as the bread, or offering brisket in place of sausage, are both becoming more common.
For instance, at Einstein Bros. Bagels, diners can enjoy the Chorizo Sunrise Signature Breakfast Sandwich, piled high with savory chorizo sausage, avocado, pepper Jack cheese, cage-free eggs and Jalapeno Salsa Shmear, all on a Green Chile Gourmet Bagel.
Increased protein variety
Sandwich meats are a staple on the lunch menu, but other proteins are proliferating, making for more unique sandwich offerings. From vegetable-based meat substitutes to smoked salmon, meatballs to charcuterie like salami or capicola, diners have more options than ever for sandwich proteins.
Some of the more offbeat choices include pickled herring, jackfruit and even venison—Arby’s reintroduced its Venison Sandwich at the end of 2017.
Sides as toppings
Technomic’s Sandwich report finds that 34% of consumers say they like to add sides as toppings to their sandwiches, and operators are taking note. Au Bon Pain’s Turkey Mash Up sandwich features mashed sweet potatoes as a topping, for instance, and other chains have experimented with topping their burgers with onion rings or French fries instead of serving them on the side.
Consumers have more choices to make than white or wheat when it comes to the bread for their sandwich, and we don’t mean swapping a lettuce leaf in for those treasured carbs. Rather, operators are offering sandwiches made with naan, an Indian bread, as well as dosas (a more pancake-like wrap) and roti (similar to a pita). Other options popping up on menus include pretzel buns, featured at Dairy Queen on the chain’s Kansas City BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich.
Trending sandwich flavors and ingredients
According to the Sandwich report, 50% of 18- to 34-year-olds would like restaurants to offer more sandwiches with new or unique flavors and ingredients.
On breakfast sandwiches, flavor and ingredient trends to watch out for include cucumber, thyme, sage, oregano, smoked gouda, guacamole, manchego, Cajun, chili and mango.
As for lunch and dinner sandwiches, be on the lookout for citrus, poblano and gruyere, which are in the growth stage, as well as curry, muenster, truffles, cherry, Hawaiian flavors, ricotta, maple and lemongrass, which are at the introductory stage and are expected to grow in the coming months and years.
This post is sponsored by Sugardale