Elevating Comfort
Food Dishes
for the Winter Season

As winter begins, customers’ culinary cravings shift toward cozy, indulgent dishes. The winter season brings with it a unique culinary opportunity to elevate traditional comfort foods to new heights. Get inspired with the following three trends to enhance classic comfort dishes this winter.

Trend 1: Upscale Comfort

In the beginning of the season, decadence is the name of the game, as consumers desire sumptuous dishes that provide comfort and satisfaction.1 Taking humble comfort foods and elevating them with seasonal flavors and elevated ingredients are a great way to invoke the upscale comfort trend.

Incorporate seasonal ingredients: From produce to dairy, there are many ways to incorporate what’s on-trend during the winter. For example, according to Datassential, winter comfort food enthusiasts gravitate toward cheeses like feta, mascarpone, Asiago, and shredded cheddar, which add a rich and creamy dimension to dishes.1 Consider menu items like this comforting Apple-Cheddar Squash Soup, which leverages winter squash along with sharp cheddar cheese and creme fraiche.

Use fiery preparation methods: Winter conjures the desire to eat by the hearth. Flame-grilled, flame broiled, slow-braised, and oven-roasted are all top-indexing preparation methods during the winter, enhancing the flavors and textures of comfort classics.1 For winter comfort food dishes, consider grilling the protein for an upscale touch, such as this Creamy Mushroom Grilled Pork Loin with Egg Noodles

Elevate with luxury: Taking any classic comfort food dish and including a premium ingredient, such as adding Cabot Clothbound Cheddar to macaroni and cheese, creates a luxurious and indulgent feel.2 These Truffled Squash and Chestnut Tartlets, for example, combine the earthy winter flavors of roasted squash and chestnuts with the indulgent aroma of truffle oil.

Trend 2: U.S. Regional Food

While Southern cuisine has been popular for a while on menus, other U.S. regional styles, flavors, and dishes are gaining ground. Preparations such as Detroit style, Kansas City style, and Alabama style are fast-growing terms on menus (3).

Take a trip to NOLA: Creole and Cajun cuisine, including etouffee, gumbo, and fried okra, are rising regional favorites.4These comforting dishes and enticing flavors are ripe for elevation and modernization. 

Think Southern comfort: Southern comfort dishes provide great opportunities for modernized takes. For example, this savory version of a classic pecan pie combines butter pecans, caramelized onions, and a Cabot Vermont Sharp Cheddar Cheese-infused pie crust.

Trend 3: Mexican Comfort

The popularity of Mexican cuisine has surged in the United States, overtaking Italian food in takeout orders.5 Winter brings with it an opportunity to explore new versions of these comforting dishes.

Bring the heat: Mexican chiles and spices are a great way to bring the heat to your winter menu. Trending flavors for the winter include chile verde, cilantro sauce, and spicy chipotle, adding a touch of warmth to your dishes.1 These Shrimp, Poblano, and Pickled Jalapeno Quesadillas provide a perfect balance of heat and creaminess thanks to poblanos and jalapenos combined with cheese and sour cream. 

Consider rising stars
: Latin American flavors continue to shine on menus. Mangonada, birria, aguachile, and elote are a few of the dishes projected to grow substantially over the next four years.4 Incorporate these exciting tastes into familiar formats, like tacos and burritos, to make them approachable for your customers.

Innovate on the classics: Dishes like gooey quesadillas, hearty pozole, and loaded nachos are perfect examples of how Mexican cuisine can be transformed into a comforting dining experience. For example, these Skillet Layered Enchiladaselevate the classic combination of chicken and mushrooms by placing them in enchiladas with melty Monterey Jack cheese and green chiles.

Get Inspired For Your Seasonal Menu

Winter is the season of comfort food, but it doesn’t have to be ordinary. Embrace the trends of upscale comfort, regional American flavors, and Mexican cuisine to elevate your dishes to new heights of warmth and indulgence. 

Get inspired by more recipes from Cabot Creamery Foodservice. 

1 Seasonality Report, Datassential, 2023

2 The World of Comfort Food, Datassential, 2023

3 Forecasting the Future - U.S. - 2025 Trend Predictions - Q2 2023 - Technomic

4 Menu Trends: What’s New, Datassential, April 2023

5 Kingson, Jennifer A., “Latin and Tex-Mex overtake Italian as America’s go-to food order,” Axios, April 15, 2023