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Satisfy sandwich cravings with spicy flavors and seasonal ingredients

In the always-competitive lunchtime landscape, restaurants have to constantly strive to remain relevant during the midday meal. One food that reliably drives sales is the humble sandwich. By innovating on this familiar format, restaurants can pique consumers’ interest—and keep them coming back for more. Check out a few ways to update the sandwich menu with these current sandwich trends.

Turn up the heat

Technomic’s 2018 Sandwich Consumer Trend Report finds that some of the fastest-growing sandwich ingredients are spicy ones; jalapeno peppers have grown 16.7% year over year, while hot sauce is up 33% in the same time frame. Additionally, 52% of consumers say they’re very likely to try a new or unique sauce on a sandwich, with spicy or smoky flavors helping to drive the appeal.

At McAlister’s Deli, the Spicy Turkey Melt features smoked turkey, bacon, pepper Jack, avocado, chipotle ranch, spring mix and tomato on a toasted baguette, and at Schlotzky’s Austin Eatery locations, diners can order the Spicy Turkey BBQ Baxon Smokecheesy, which features smoked turkey, bacon strips, smoked cheddar cheese, red onion, lettuce, tomato, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing and is served on a toasted housemade jalapeno cheddar bun. 

Seasonal ingredients

Sandwiches represent about 27% of all lunch and dinner entrees at Top 500 limited-service restaurants, but offering sandwiches with something different can be a way to stand out from the crowd. According to Technomic, 40% of millennials strongly agree that most chains offer very similar sandwiches. To entice customers who might be looking for something different, draw inspiration from seasonal flavors to create new and delicious options.

According to Technomic’s Season’s Eatings report, trending flavors and ingredients for Spring 2020 include artichoke, asparagus, ginger and zucchini, among others. Artichoke, specifically, is on the rise, with turkey sandwiches featuring artichokes growing nearly 19% on menus year-over-year, according to Ignite menu data. Incorporating artichokes in turkey sandwiches is easy---blend them into spreads or simply marinate them and using them as toppings.

At Sandella’s Flatbread Café, a chain offering premium, better-for-you fare, the Superior Turkey Panini features sliced turkey breast, sun-dried tomato, artichokes, baby spinach, mozzarella cheese and a creamy pesto sauce.

According to Technomic’s Sandwich report, 39% of consumers—including 50% of 18- to 34-year-olds— say they would like restaurants to offer more sandwiches with new or unique flavors. Changing up the sandwich menu to include spicy flavors and seasonal ingredients can increase the appeal for those who want something outside of their usual order.

This post is sponsored by Butterball Foodservice

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