The next bacon on breakfast menus


For the last handful of years, bacon has ruled the breakfast scene. But that’s beginning to change—over the past five years, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, instances of ham at breakfast have increased by nearly 4%. And while its pairings are often the usual suspects—eggs, cheese, pancakes and other traditional breakfast fare, ham is showing up on breakfast menus in new and innovative ways. 

Here are some ways to adopt this breakfast protein, from combining it with trending flavors, lightening up breakfast classics and more.

Trending flavors for breakfast ham dishes

From omelets stuffed with peppers and onions to breakfast sandwiches topped with premium cheeses, operators have unique opportunities with ham. Growing flavors in ham dishes, according to MenuMonitor, include white cheddar, ranchero sauce, tomato pesto, parmesan cream sauce, cotija cheese, guacamole and more. This hints at the potential for additional savory breakfast dishes to take off, while flavors just appearing, such as syrup and brioche, indicate that there may be room for upgraded breakfast sandwiches and sweet-savory items.

For instance, Einstein Bros. Bagels serves up a Croque Melvyn bagel sandwich, which in addition to bacon and ham, features cage-free eggs, Swiss cheese, raspberry jam and mustard. It’s a sweet-and-savory combo that’s instantly craveable.

Riffing on classics

Breakfast sandwiches are a morning must for many consumers. And for those who are trying to eat a little healthier, ham is a great option. In fact, according to Technomic’s 2017 Breakfast report, one of the top health claims on Top 500 breakfast menus is low-fat, and when consumers want a savory, smoky protein without the fat, ham is a great substitute. Additionally, 56% of consumers say they are more likely to purchase breakfast options that are high in protein.

For this reason, riffing on classics and swapping in ham where sausage or bacon traditionally appear is becoming more common. For instance, Hannah’s Bretzel serves its Morning Melty Delight, a riff on a classic breakfast sandwich featuring French jambon de Paris breakfast ham, Wisconsin farmhouse cheddar, vine tomatoes and fresh black pepper. This option, with its high-quality ingredients and lower fat protein, fits the bill for a diner who wants something classic, but a little healthier without having to give up flavor. And for the 48% of consumers who say they’re more likely to purchase breakfast items that are premium, this sandwich and similar iterations are a win.

New and exciting options

For consumers who are looking for delectable options without bacon in them, there’s certainly no shortage. Take, for example, Another Broken Egg Café’s recent Asparagus, Ham and Brie Frittata LTO. Offering tons of flavor without the need for bacon, this dish is an elevated breakfast favorite with premium cheese and crisp green veggies.

In the mood for pizza? Some operators are offering a breakfast pizza that’s perfect for brunch (and Instagram). Dolce Carini in Philadelphia menus its Breakfast Pizza, available topped with eggs and mozzarella, with ham offered as an additional topping.

Ham is gaining popularity among diners who want lighter fare for health reasons as well as diners that are a bit burned out on bacon. Ham offers a tasty, savory flavor and a high protein boost to any dish, from updated classics to brand new options.

This post is sponsored by Sugardale