Washington, DC – The sizzle of plant-based proteins and the pop of sweet heat will fill restaurant kitchens across America, according to the National Restaurant Association What’s Hot survey.  In collaboration with the American Culinary Federation (ACF), the National Restaurant Association asked more than 600 ACF members nationwide to rank “What’s Hot” in 2020. The results forecast the top food, beverage, and culinary concepts that consumers will find on menus this year.

Topping the list of food trends are plant-based proteins, scratchmade, and healthy bowls, while sweet heat came in as the flavor trend to most watch for.

“When it comes to food trends this year, look for bold flavors and new alternatives for proteins in main dishes,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research and knowledge for the Association. “Consumers are craving unique dining and taste experiences and want to sample cuisine that goes beyond the traditional dishes. Creative uses of under-utilized cuts of beef and pork, new produce like caulilini, and especially the plant-based proteins diners are excited to try will bring in new customers – and keep regulars coming back.”

The survey asked the chefs to rate trends in eight food categories, including flavors, protein, and produce. Sweet heat topped the flavors trends, while mushrooms topped the list of on-trend produce. When it came to proteins, plant-based proteins was top, followed by specialty burger blends.

Look for complete results of the 2020 What’s Hot survey on January 13.


Founded in 1919, the National Restaurant Association is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which comprises more than 1 million restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 15.6 million employees. Together with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to lead America’s restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence and participation, enhancing the quality of life for all we serve. For more information, visit us at Restaurant.org.

Contact: Vanessa Sink (202) 331-5900