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Best Bets for Appetizer Success

Key insights into getting more from your appetizer menu

The battle for the best appetizers is an endless contest of flavor, innovation, and profitability. No other menu category influences profitability from groups, catering, or alcoholic beverage sales.

Let Texas Pete® shine some light on the latest appetizer trends according to Datassentials.

Green, Leafy, Saucy

It might be easy to overlook the salad for those looking to beef up their appetizer menu, but never overlook the opportunity. Salads have the highest menu penetration (84%) on all American menus. Soup finishes second at 64%, followed by chicken wings at 42% and fries.

Quinoa salad has had a meteoric rise of 1,089% in the past four years. Also look at papaya, beet, broccoli, and tabbouleh salads.

Dressing up salad with a signature dressing, such as a warm dressing made with chopped bacon, white vinegar, Texas Pete® Honey Mustard Sauce, and bacon drippings, can set your salad apart from the rest.

Deep-Fried Still Rules

The mighty wing remains king of the deep-fried appetizer, along with onion rings and fries. Parmesan, Asian, bourbon, spicy BBQ, and Thai-style wings lead in growth. Other big hitters among wings include those with “wing,” “spicy buffalo,” and “hot sauce” as descriptors.

Take a look at corn fritters, fried pickles, and fried vegetables like artichoke, green tomatoes, okra, and cauliflower.

The Non-Fried Appetizer List

There are some clear winners among appetizers that don’t call for a deep fryer, led by four rising stars: lettuce wraps, meatballs, edamame, and sliders (all up by more than 30% in the past four years). Double-digit losers in the non-fried category include oysters on the half-shell, spare ribs, potato skins, teriyaki beef, and escargot.

It’s All About the Sauce

From vegetables to proteins to starches—sauce makes everything taste better. Sauces that are being chosen by more and more restaurants are aioli, up by 50%, and pico de gallo, vinaigrette, soy and sesame, balsamic, and ranch sauces, which are still in double-digit growth modes.

Dip It. Dunk It.

Dips are a winner for sharability. Guacamole and salsa are the most popular. Combining guacamole with Texas Pete® Salsa is one opportunity to set your dip apart from the rest. Another popular dip is pico de gallo, up by 34%, followed by hummus (up 30%) and queso dip (up 16%). Queso is also the best topping choice for nachos (up 91%). Stay away from spinach dip, which is down by about 28% on menus.

Order Another Round

Appetizers are essential to any restaurant, bar, or catering business. Texas Pete® sauces and salsa are the essential ingredients in thousands of great menus across America. Explore some of our extraordinary recipe ideas that call for only one or two additional ingredients to create your own signature dish.

You are invited to contact your Texas Pete® broker or distributor to sample the complete line of products.