Street food trends continue to flood our Instagram feeds and influence the demands of consumers, who want to see the latest food fads replicated on mainstream menus.

It’s a fast-paced and frenetic environment, and many caterers find it hard to keep track of what’s currently in vogue. Here, we look at street food trend predictions for the coming year, along with tips and advice on how to achieve them…

Pubs advised to ‘keep it street’

Street food continues to grow in popularity and operators can widen their customer base as well as please regulars by embracing it, according to the CGA British Pub Market 2019. CGA’s research with the British Beer and Pub Association indicates that nearly two thirds (61%) of infrequent
users – those who visit pubs once every two to three months or less – are female. They are also more likely to live in suburban areas and have often been lured away from pubs by casual dining restaurants and bars.
CGA’s research with the British Beer and Pub Association advises pubs to target ‘infrequent’ pub goers (those who visit pubs once every two to three months or less) with street food offerings. Nearly two thirds (61%) of infrequent users are female and have often been lured away from pubs by casual dining restaurants and bars.

Emerging cuisines
for 2020 as predicted by thefoodpeople

  • Modern Korean mixing up Korean flavours with other cuisines to create dishes such as short rib taco, kimchi falafel and bingsu (shaved ice dessert)
  • Filipino a fusion of Spanish, Malaysian and Chinese flavours, including Lechon (slow-roasted suckling pig) and Lumpia (pork and vegetable spring rolls)
  • West African dishes full of vegetables and ancient grains with tangy and hot spices, including Jollof rice and Puff-Puff doughnuts
  • Central Asian mostly meat-based dishes, such as Plov, cooked over hot coals from the five ‘Stans’ (Kasazhstan, Uzbekistan etc). Often served with dumplings or bread.

Take a bao

Bao buns (or hirata buns as they are sometimes referred to) are fast becoming a street food staple. “An Asian street food staple, these steamed and folded, soft and pillowy bread buns are usually served warm filled with slow-cooked meat, crunchy salad and pickles, and sticky sauce for delicious, tasty bite-size snacks,” explains Gordon Lauder, MD of frozen food distributor Central Foods. “They’re really versatile and can actually be served as sweet or savoury options, which makes them a great product for foodservice operators.

“Japanese flavours and foods are growing in popularity – a trend that’s likely to strengthen with the Rugby World Cup taking place in Japan at the moment and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo next year.”

Try filling bao buns with BBQ pork and pickled vegetables or sautéed mushrooms, onions and veg of your choice. For a sweet option, try chocolate hazelnut spread with sliced banana or cream cheese, sliced figs and honey.

Fisherman’s Friends

The growth in pescatarian dining delivers fantastic opportunities for chefs to net profits from seafood-based street food. Adam Williamson, account manager at Pacific West, says:

“Whilst the influence of Asian cuisine remains strong across the street food category, we are seeing inspiration from South American countries, including Peruvia and  Brazil. The emerging trends for citrus and charred flavour profiles can be seen in both of these cuisines and translate well into seafood, as seen with our Salt and Pepper Shrimp Bombs and Calamari Cheese Nests.  “Fish finger sandwiches are also enjoying a street food makeover,”

says Joel Carr, development chef at Young’s Foodservice.

“Restaurants and chefs are doing wondrous things to transform this modest childhood staple into street food extravaganzas. Of course, the foundation of every fish finger sandwich is having the best fish fingers for the job. For those customers looking for something more than just a coating of tartare sauce and a squeeze of lemon juice, there are many simple adaptions that can be made to make fish finger sandwiches all the more exciting. The options are endless but for the ultimate fish finger sandwich, why not add squid rings and jalapeño mayonnaise for a fiery kick or serve in hotdog-style bun for a simple yet more modern take? Alternatively, why not try adding a Mexican flair with a zingy red slaw and chipotle mayo for a perfectly balanced flavour combo?”

Aim for the Middle Middle

Eastern cuisine is gaining momentum at speed in street food, fast casual, BBQ and fine casual dining. Robin Dudley, business development chef for Essential Cuisine, says: “With its vibrant colours, bold flavours and warming sweet spices, this trend fits well with both meat lovers, vegetarians and vegans from trending grilled meat kebabs to vegetable shawarma through to sauces, dips and salads.

“Middle Eastern cuisine is perfect for sharing, social events, and for customers just wanting a new experience.”

Shawarma is meat or vegetables marinaded in warming spices such as paprika, cumin and ground coriander, barbecued and served with sauerkraut on flat bread. Visit for the full recipe.

Pizza goes Indian

The consumer demand for Indian street food is providing the perfect opportunity for innovation, and caterers can make the most of this trend by creating hybrid dishes such as paneer and aubergine pizza, as created by Dr Oetker Professional. They’ve created a series of pizza recipe booklets to help inspire caterers and profit from the latest street food flavours, which is available to download at www. oetker-profess

Skin deep

School kitchens are faced with a dilemma: keeping pupils interested in the food on offer, while ensuring it’s healthy and nutritious. “Adding a few elements of ‘street food’ to familiar favourites can be a good way to introduce new flavours to the school menu,” says Marie Medhurst, sales director at Bannisters Yorkshire Family Farm.

“Try serving baked potatoes with a choice of barbecue pulled pork, Mexican chicken, or a mild Moroccan chickpea stew. “For a satisfying spin on fajitas or nachos, try baked potato skins loaded with cheese, bean chilli, soured cream and guacamole; or topped with mildly spiced chicken and sliced peppers, mushrooms and babycorn.”

Baked potato pizzas bring together the classic street foods of Italy and Britain – and they’re also a nutritious, fibre-packed alternative to the ever-popular dough-based favourite.
Top baked potatoes with a tasty tomato sauce full of puréed vegetables, then add mozzarella cheese and cooked sliced veggies, with pepperoni as an option for those who like it. Return to the oven to melt the cheese and crisp up the pepperoni, and serve with salad sticks and dip – either on a plate for eating in, or in a carton for older pupils to enjoy off-site.

What a carry on

Every great street food dish needs a suitably, on trend carrier so make sure your disposables are up to scratch. “Look for disposables that are sturdy, greaseproof, and versatile for a range
of hot and cold food,” advises Teresa Suter, sales director at Vegware. “People buy with their eyes, so choose smart plant-based packaging that enhances your menu, boosts sales and enables higher margins. More and more consumers are demanding alternatives to conventional plastic packaging, so look for plant-based packaging to showcase scrumptious curries, crispy churros or creamy mac ’n’ cheese.”

Sweet street treats

One of the biggest emerging street food trends, according to thefoodpeople (Foodwatching, July 2019), is sweet street food – particularly with Asian flavours such as chilli, ginger and lemongrass. Matcha, plum powder and sakura all feature on the hippest sweetstreet menus, along with outrageously indulgent ice cream sandwiches made with croissants, burger buns, or slices of brownie.
Sarah Moor, brand manager for Lion Sauces at AAK Foodservice, has the following suggestions:

  • Fill a buttery brioche bun with rich chocolate ice cream topped with Black Cherry Compote and drizzled with Lion Thai Honey Sticky Sauce for a deep, sweet chilli kick.
  • For a tropical take, try coconut ice cream with Mango, Passionfruit & Lime Compote – perhaps mixed with a tot of rum for the late-night crowd!
  • Waffles have broken free of the breakfast club and taken to the streets, too. Pile them high with ice cream, fruit compotes full of whole berries and cherries, chocolate shavings, marshmallows, chilli flakes and chopped nuts.
  • Try a pot of plant-based vanilla ice cream teamed with Mango, Passionfruit & Lime Compote; or strawberry ice cream drizzled with Lion Blueberry Coulis.

“These indulgent desserts offer diners the chance to splurge when they’re busy and on the go,” says Samantha Rain, development chef at HB Ingredients. “We combined two trends to create a banana fritters recipe that is luxurious and vegan, using our Madagascan vegan Milc chocolate.  “For busy chefs it’s important that speed and consistency are the main priority. Being able to make a vegan friendly batter with just two ingredients is a winner in our eyes.”

For the full recipe visit