food trends of the past 25 years

Keep or Toss? The 25 Food Trends That Defined the Past 25 Years.

From avocado toast to zoodles, these were the biggest food trends of the last quarter century since Allrecipes began.

As the saying goes, food trends may come and go, but banana bread is forever. Okay, that's not really a saying. But it's true (you'll find out why, below). Here at Allrecipes, we've been thinking about food trends a lot because we're celebrating our 25th anniversary and a quarter century has given us a front-row seat to the foods, ingredients, and even cooking techniques that have captured America's fancy (cronut, anyone?).

We may all remember the cronut, but to make sure we didn't miss a trend, we turned to science (okay, we turned to Google). With their help, we used search data for recipes, techniques, and foods, factored in your activity on Allrecipes, and added the deep food knowledge of our editors. We argued, we laughed, we can't believe we fell for some of these! Now it's your turn: Check out the 25 biggest food trends in the last 25 years and let us know which ones you're still into (and which ones you'd rather forget).

Instant Pot
Getty Images

1. The Instant Pot

Slow cookers have been around for decades. Ditto pressure cookers. But when the Instant Pot hit the scene in 2010, home cooks realized they could invest in a kitchen appliance that did both… and much more. To say the Instant Pot changed the game for home cooks would be an understatement: Food writers, recipe developers, and cookware companies all began scrambling to find ways to keep up with the multicooker fad.

You can now find Instant Pot recipes for everything from mulled cider to an entire Thanksgiving dinner. And although you'll encounter Instant Pot fans all over the country, according to Google its biggest fans are located in the West: Idaho, Montana, Utah, Alaska, and Wyoming have been driving the highest search traffic for "Instant Pot Recipes" since 2004.

cake pops
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

2. Cake Pops

We've got to hand it (ha!) to cake pops for turning crumbly baking into a nationwide phenomenon. Created by molding pieces of cake – the crumblier the better – with buttercream frosting, sliding the whole thing on a stick, then dipping it in melted candy or icing, cake pops' search popularity peaked in 2011 due in large part to their appearance in Starbucks (which earned the number two spot in searches related to cake pops that year).

And while cake pops certainly have their naysayers, it does look like they're here to stay… with a few creative takes on the original, that is.

Air Fryer
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3. The Air Fryer

The air fryer is hot – literally and figuratively – and it's only getting hotter. These spaceship-looking countertop appliances use convection heat to cook food to golden-brown perfection in minutes with minimal oil.

Like the Instant Pot trend a decade earlier, the air fryer ushered in a new, massive wave of recipe creation. From restaurant favorites like French fries to America's favorite weeknight dinner option, home cooks are wild for recipes that take advantage of their new favorite appliance. Even actress-turned-lifestyle-guru Drew Barrymore has jumped (stylishly!) on the air fryer bandwagon.

kale
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4. Kale

Who wants a kale salad? If we time–traveled back to 2014, the answer would likely be "all of us." As any farmer could tell you, kale's been happily growing in gardens for a long time. But as food began its slow merge with elite wellness, nutrient-dense kale began to show up everywhere. From salads to smoothies to juices to, um, chips, you couldn't open a cookbook or order lunch at a national restaurant chain without bumping into the leafy green.

Undeniably bitter and fibrous, kale isn't beloved by all. But as kale the food was gaining momentum (Vermonters Google it more than anyone else, by the way), kale the lifestyle was touching every corner of society. Peak kale moment? It came from Beyoncé – of course – who wore a collegiate sweatshirt that spelled out K-A-L-E (sorry, Yale) in her "7/11" video in 2014.

pumpkin spice products on a board
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

5. Pumpkin Spice Everything

Have we reached peak pumpkin spice, or is this monster trend just getting started? Your deep feelings about pumpkin spice may vary, but there's no denying this annual fall trend is everywhere (and often as early as July).

Before we go any further, let's get one thing straight: Nope, there's no real pumpkin in pumpkin spice. Instead, it's a blend of warm and sweet baking spices (commonly cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves) closely linked to fall treats like pumpkin pie.

Once again, we can thank Starbucks for making pumpkin spice happen with its pumpkin spice latte (known among fans and haters simply as the "PSL"). The invention spread like seeds on a harvest wind: Dunkin's pumpkin spice latte is a close second in related Google queries and we can find pumpkin spice everything at the grocery store. Only you can decide whether pumpkin spice dog treats and Goldfish crackers are a heck yes or a no way.

avocado toast
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

6. Avocado Toast

Sure, it's an easy brunch dish. But avocado toast is so much more, surging over the past eight years into a restaurant staple, a meme, and even a kind of status symbol. At its most basic, avocado toast is so easy, you don't really need a recipe to make it (here are a few just in case). But food is rarely ever "just" a meal, and avocado toast may be Exhibit A.

That meant lots of Googling of avocado toast recipes and homemade versions (Kylie Jenner goes for chili flakes and honey, in case you were wondering). It also led, because of the fluctuating cost of the avocado itself, to symbolizing what some critics felt was the fiscal irresponsibility of an entire generation. So whether you thank or blame Millennials for avocado toast's ubiquity, this toaster-fueled glow-up seems here to stay.

Cronuts
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

7. The Cronut

You may not remember everything that happened in 2013, but we're pretty sure you didn't miss the arrival of the Cronut. Part doughnut and part croissant, this dessert mashup invented by pastry chef Dominique Ansel featured sky-high layers and a sugar-high rush, thanks to syrupy glazes and sweet fillings.

Ansel may have created the Cronut, but Instagram made it famous. Until replicas hit the market, the only place to get your hands on a Cronut was at his NYC-based bakery. With Instagram newly on the scene, it was the perfect opportunity to snap a photo and hit send. Was this the beginning of insisting that our phones eat first? Possibly!

hard seltzer
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

8. Hard Seltzer

When it came to partying at the beach, a concert, or cookout, the portable question was two-fold: Wine or beer? But then came hard seltzer, and White Claw Summer, and everything changed.

While Google says that search for hard seltzer spiked – ahem – in 2019 (with Connecticut's party-hearties leading the way), the marketplace says different. Hard seltzer brands just keep coming, including ones from the biggest names in beer. And while hard seltzer is surprisingly easy to make, there seems to be no stopping the canned cocktail revolution on supermarket shelves.

Bagels
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

9. Everything Bagel Seasoning

When it comes to food trends (and legends), you can often spot them starting at Trader Joe's. The fan-favorite grocery store's Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend was a hot item as soon as it appeared on shelves in 2017. Blending garlic, onion, poppyseeds, and salt, it was everything fans loved about an everything bagel (minus the bagel, of course), itself a bit of a cult favorite since the 1980s.

As the trend exploded, folks began creating their own blends and restaurants followed suit. Soon, it seemed like everything was flavored like, well, everything bagels. The seedy sprinkle graced the tops of other baked goods like savory croissants and baguettes, showed up in flavored cheeses, and became a trendy topping on – wait for it – avocado toast. Mind. Blown.

Brownie
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

10. Salted Caramel

Don't get salty, but we're inclined to say that this delicious sauce is even better than hot fudge. Caramel sauce is a rich and sweet concoction of butter, sugar, and cream – we're already lining up with our spoons. But add a pop of salt to the mix and you're talking peak indulgence.

And virality. It won't surprise you to learn that Starbucks is also a salted caramel pusher; one of its popular seasonal drinks is the Salted Caramel Mocha, a chocolatey dream mixed with toffee nut syrup and topped with whipped cream. In fact, Starbucks' salted caramel flavor is so popular, you can even buy coffee beans flavored like the drink.

mason jar meals
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

11. Mason Jar Meals

Mason jar meals, also known as mason jar salads, solved a frustrating dilemma for workers who wanted a healthy lunch but didn't want to spend big on expensive salads. The key was construction: Heavy/soggy ingredients like chicken, humus, or salad dressing on the bottom; mix-ins like nuts and dried fruit next; and lettuce at the top. When you're ready to eat, just shake up the jar.

Mason jar meals' popularity peaked about seven years ago, according to Google's search data, but their impact lives on. With their colorful, eat the rainbow aesthetic, jar salads have become a touchstone in the #mealprepinspo canon. P.S.: As home cooks and restaurant pastry chefs can attest, mason jar desserts are also a clever, make-ahead way to end a meal.

feta pasta
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

12. Baked Feta Pasta

To borrow (and tweak) an adage: Instagram food influencers walked so TikTok could sprint. As social media users' tastes moved from artful photos to high-energy videos, TikTok became a surprising source of recipe inspiration for cooks of all stripes.

Perhaps no dish demonstrated the platform's popularity (and power) better than Baked Feta Pasta. When the recipe's original creator shared her video to TikTok, it quickly gained speed with shares and remixes from popular influencers. Practically unheard of on Google until early 2021, search for this recipe skyrocketed in April as the cheesy pasta made its way to other social media platforms. Not long after that, major news organizations like The Washington Post and the New York Times covered the trend… and created recipes of their own.

cauliflower products
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

13. Cauliflower Everything

Until recently, adhering to a gluten-free or grain-free diet meant sacrificing many of society's favorite comfort foods (or settling for a cardboard-like replacement). But when cauliflower began its glow-up a decade or so ago, suddenly the world was a GF foodie's oyster (or rather, pizza crust).

Since then, cauliflower has been cropping up as a replacement for just about everything, with rice leading the way. It's virtually tasteless, which helps explain why a cruciferous vegetable has become such a culinary chameleon; with enough garlic, cheese, or salt, cauliflower can be anything you ask it to be. Perhaps that explains why people aren't just searching the internet for cauliflower wings, steak, gnocchi, and popcornthey're cooking them, too.

plant-based groceries
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

14. Plant-Based Everything

At the turn of the century, a meat-free diet was pretty similar to how it looked 50 years prior: lots of vegetables, with nuts, seeds, and beans standing in for the protein. But as veganism and vegetarianism adopted a new, gentler moniker of "plant-based diet," suddenly it seems that everyone wanted in on the trend.

Grocery stores began offering pre-made, packaged versions of DIY vegetarian staples. Folks began experimenting in the kitchen with plant-powered milk and meat. Now it's all the easier to go plant-forward, whether it's for environmental, moral, or health-related reasons. And guess what? With all these new products and recipes, it's a tasty way to live.

chocolate cupcakes
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

15. Cupcakes

If you passed on our earlier trend, cake pops, perhaps you're more into cupcakes. A mere 10 years ago, it seemed like everyone was a cupcake fan.

Our collective enthusiasm for these individually-sized desserts peaked in 2012, when search traffic spiked not just for recipes (including gluten free), but for bakeries where you could buy extravagantly decorated versions. Sprinkles, considered the first cupcake-exclusive bakery, launched in Beverly Hills in 2005 and went on to dominate Google's search bar.

When we weren't eating cupcakes (or posting pictures of them on social media), we were watching other people bake them: The Food Network's immensely popular baking competition show, Cupcake Wars, launched in 2009 and still airs today.

Meal Kit
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16. Meal Kits

Ask your parents if they would have considered a meal kit to feed their busy families, and you'll probably get a blank look. But home cooks today treasure these convenient services that help get dinner on the table.

Meal kits, which span all diets, budgets, and delivery frequencies, have one thing in common: They take the labor and guesswork out of cooking. With pre-portioned ingredients and an easy-to-follow recipe, these meals are almost as no-brainer as ordering a pizza.

Blue Apron, Home Chef, and Hello Fresh lead the way in name recognition (and search traffic), and devotees love the option for convenience and reduced food waste, not to mention a ready answer to the question, "What's for dinner?"

banana bread
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

17. Banana Bread

If you visited the internet during the early days of the pandemic, banana bread was there to greet you. With time on our hands and a forced proximity to our kitchens, many of us turned to baking this comfort food classic.

But banana bread is far more than a flash in the (loaf) pan. In fact, it's the number one searched recipe, period, since Google began tracking in 2004. It's one of those tried-and-true staples that tastes good and makes us feel cozy – maybe it even reminds us of bakers we know and love. For those reasons, it's no surprise search traffic spiked in April of 2020, along with its comfort food cousin, sourdough bread.

Luckily, the internet has no shortage of banana bread recipes, including gluten-free or paleo versions. But if you're anything like the bakers we know, we're betting your favorite recipe is the one you've been making all along.

Espresso Martini
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

18. Espresso Martinis

For purists, a martini is gin or vodka, vermouth, and an olive (or maybe a lemon twist). For the rest of us, it's an invitation to get creative. The 1990s saw an explosion of colorful, fruity, and sweet martini-adjacent cocktails, like the brilliantly green appletini or Carrie Bradshaw's favorite drink, the Cosmopolitan.

One of these specialty cocktails had a very recent resurgence, thanks to social media and a barrage of think pieces on the drink. We're talking about the Espresso Martini, a deliciously dangerous mixture of vodka, espresso, and coffee-flavored liqueur.

Espresso martinis aren't difficult to make, if you have the right tools (they're shaken, not stirred!). But thankfully for fans, many bars and restaurants serve them. In fact, one of Google's top-related queries was for "espresso martini near me."

Zoodles
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

19. Zoodles

2018 was a banner year for zucchini. As plant-based diets surged and keto cooks shunned carbs, vegetables stepped up to the dinner plate. One of the most creative and impactful ways we ate our veggies was as zoodles, a catch-all term for noodles made from veggies (named for the OG version using zucchini).

Making zoodles is easy with a spiralizer – a small hand-powered tool that turns just about any firm vegetable into ribbons – but clever cooks without the equipment found that a sharp knife or mandoline did the job.

Although this trend had a *moment* a few years ago, it's still very much alive and well. In fact, these days you don't even need a spiralizer to join in on the fun; many grocery stores sell spiralized zucchini, carrots, and even winter squashes, like butternut.

jalapeno popper
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

20. Jalapeño Poppers

This may be the party snack to rule them all – it's one of the rare trends on our list that's dominated Google search for decades, particularly at Super Bowl time. Let's unwrap the magic: At the core, a jalapeño popper is a cheese-stuffed jalapeño pepper that's then deep fried. It's gooey, cheesy, spicy, crunchy, and salty. Once the mainstay of brewpubs, this bar food is now a part of many home cooks' repertoire.

But when jalapeño poppers teamed up with another fan favorite, bacon, eaters everywhere agreed this collaboration was a touchdown. They're now so mainstream, you can buy frozen versions – which, we're betting, would be pretty tasty when prepared in, say, a trendy air fryer.

Mug Cakes
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

21. Microwave Chocolate Cake

Microwave cake, also known fondly as "mug cake," is another pandemic darling. This serves-one dessert is practically perfect in every way, according to devotees: It's rich and indulgent, made with pantry staples, and is ready in less than 10 minutes.

Fans of the mug cake praise it for its responsible serving size. "I was DESPERATE for chocolate cake, but as I'm the only chocolate lover in the family I needed something small," explained one reviewer on this recipe. The gooey, molten center is also part of the allure. (In fact, it may help explain the popularity of spoonable baked or microwaved oatmeal, which made the rounds on TikTok earlier this year).

Quinoa in a bowl
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

22. Quinoa Salad

This nutritional superstar has captured the curiosity of home cooks for years – "how to cook quinoa" is the third-highest How-To search on Google since the platform began tracking. "Quinoa salads" and "Quinoa salad recipes" also consistently rank high on internet search. Thanks to its versatility, quinoa pairs well with vegetables, cheese, and crunchies like nuts and seeds… in other words, everything that makes a salad fun!

Subgenres of this trend come and go (most recently, a salad inspired by the actress Jennifer Aniston made the rounds), but we're betting quinoa salads are sticking around for the long haul. You could even tick off two trends and pack yours in a mason jar.

Greek yogurt
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

23. Greek Yogurt

High in protein, low in fat, and abundant in healthy probiotics, thick, creamy Greek yogurt has held court in our breakfast bowls for decades. (It's even good for cooking.) And thanks to popular brands like Chobani and Fage, the word "Greek" is often synonymous with this strained type of yogurt. That said, Icelandic skyr has been gaining market share, thanks to brands like Siggi's and Icelandic Provisions.

Since hitting American supermarkets, strained yogurt has made its way into every meal, including dessert. Thick and creamy frozen yogurt is so popular, there are entire shops devoted to it (not to mention packaged treats like flavored bars).

bacon
Allrecipes / Victoria Jempty

24. Bacon Everything

Bacon: It's not just for breakfast. As we're sure you know, bacon has been having a bit of a moment since, oh, forever. Despite the fact that some foodies insist the "bacon everything" trend is over, it's a consistently high performer on Google's search metric.

But you don't need Google to tell you bacon is trendy. This salty cured meat shows up everywhere, from the innovative (it's surprisingly popular as a pairing for Brussels sprouts) to the creative (it just can't seem to stay away from cupcakes). But us? We just want to toss a whole pan of it in the oven.

cold brew
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25. Cold Brew Coffee

It's no surprise that iced coffee is HOT in places like Arizona and California. But when chillier states, like Washington and Massachusetts, lead the way in Google searches, there's evidence of something trendier brewing.

Cold brew coffee, which is made by slowly steeping coffee grounds in water and straining them, has been gaining popularity since a spike in 2015. We can yet again give Starbucks a hat tip here: The chain's version of cold brew inspired countless knock offs and spin offs, including bottled versions that are now as commonplace in supermarket refrigerators as milk and eggs. And you can imagine the fan service when Starbucks announced that its Fall 2022 lineup included Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew!

In Conclusion…

Revisiting all of these food trends has been fun, but it made us realize one important thing: Like all treats, they're meant to be enjoyed occasionally. As home cooks, you know the value and power of a trusted recipe that's simple, satisfying, and – of course – pleases your family. While we're looking forward to seeing which trends the next 25 years bring, we'll be watching them all from our favorite spot: In our own kitchens, cooking the tried-and-true dishes that get us through each week. While munching on a piece of just-baked banana bread.

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