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Versatile ingredients make menu innovation easy

Photograph: Shutterstock

When operators want to update the menu, one thing can hold them back from getting creative— the fear that customers will resist unfamiliar options. A way around this, though, is by incorporating familiar, favorite ingredients into new dishes, so that customers can find something recognizable enough to encourage them to branch out from their usual orders.

According to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report, 70% of consumers eat chicken dishes at least once a week, and a full 93% of restaurants have it on the menu. As a food that consumers eat all the time, chicken lends itself particularly well to innovation, both with flavors and format.

Because chicken has a neutral, mild flavor, it can be dressed up or dressed down—breaded, seasoned and fried for a crispy, craveable appetizer, or poached and chopped for a fresh and healthy salad. No matter what consumers are in the mood to eat, chicken is a reliable, comfortable protein to choose, and that’s precisely why operators can use it to experiment with classic favorites and come up with all-new options.

Dips, sauces and condiments

Operators who want to innovate on their chicken dishes have a lot of breathing room when it comes to using dips and condiments. Trending flavors and ingredients, including globally inspired options, can completely change the taste of a dish. For instance, chicken wings offer customers a tasty new adventure when tossed with Thai coconut curry sauce instead of traditional Buffalo sauce. Barbecue chicken can get a whole new twist when operators mix in exciting new ingredients into the sauce—think sriracha, bourbon, ginger or even pineapple-lime purée. What’s more, operators can offer customers multiple dip options for customization, or a trio of dips to further customize their meals. This can eliminate consumers’ reluctance to try a new sauce for fear of not liking it.

Fun new formats

Since chicken is so universally adored, it’s no surprise that it’s often used in interesting formats across dayparts. For instance, Einstein Bros. Bagels recently introduced a French Toast Chicken Sandwich as a limited-time offer. This sweet and savory sandwich features cage-free eggs, crispy chicken, cheddar cheese and honey almond shmear on a French toast bagel. Operators can experiment with breakfast sandwich toppings for the morning menu or offer popcorn chicken and waffle bites—perfect for a kids’ menu.  

Innovating with chicken makes upgrading appetizer offerings easy, too— for example, use chicken chips instead of tortilla chips for a protein-packed plate of nachos, serve chicken tenders with a flight of signature sauces, or offer loaded chicken fries topped with cheese, bacon, scallions and other toppings typically found on French fries.

No matter what operators have in mind, chicken acts as the perfect canvas for their creativity, and when using Tyson Red Label®No Antibiotics Ever Chicken products, operators can also feel confident that they’re offering their diners high quality poultry that tastes great every time. – Tyson Red Label® Sweet Classic Chicken, for instance, features the perfect balance of breading and flavor, allowing operators to put their own spin on a tried-and-true classic.

To learn more, visit TysonFoodservice.com/Tyson-Red-Label-Sweet-Classic

This post is sponsored by Tyson Foodservice

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