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cut sandwich on wooden board with bowl of jam and wooden spoon

Heating Up Sandwich Menus

Grilled, baked, or panini pressed, hot sandwiches are hot sellers. Learn the flavor trends that will ignite your sales.

Building sandwiches is both wildly simple and crazy complex. That just about anything can be stacked between bread is the easy part. Less of a slam-dunk is creating menu items that dazzle, delight, and stand out as special in a crowded field of best-sellers.

In a recent report on sandwiches, food research firm Datassential dished up industry intel on megatrends in the category, some key topics shared here. Ingredients to help the builds and menu items that spotlight the trends put theory into delicious practice.1

Asian-Inspired Sandwiches:

Stock the Pantry:

Lemongrass, kaffir lime, gochujang, Japanese mayo, red, green, or Panang curry, cilantro, Thai basil, fermented bean paste

Menu Inspiration:

Cambodian prahok ktiss sandwich of marinated pork belly, grilled shishitos, and Thai eggplant bathed with a complex mixture of fermented fish paste, lemongrass, and coconut milk

Spiced lamb jian bing with cumin-spiced grilled meat folded into thin, egg-covered Chinese pancakes and layered with fermented sauce, cilantro, green onions, sesame seeds, and crispy wontons

Bold and Spicy Sandwiches:

Stock the Pantry:

Hot sauce, Calabrian crushed chiles, horseradish mayo, chipotles in adobo sauce, giardiniera, zhoug

Menu Inspiration:

Grilled Nashville Hot Sandwich with cayenne- and brown-sugar-marinated chicken breast and spicy pickles on a soft bun, six heat levels from Southern to Shut the Cluck Up

Fried bologna sandwich with hot mustard, potato chips, shredded lettuce, mayo, and American cheese on big toast

Brunch Sandwiches:

Stock the Pantry:

Honey, maple syrup, eggs, sausage, waffles to use as bread, bacon jam

Menu Inspiration:

Pulled pork egg sandwich with over-easy egg, pickled red onions, smoked Cheddar, South Carolina BBQ sauce on sourdough, baby kale optional add-on

Egg-potato hash sandwich with choice of meat, pepper Jack cheese, chipotle jelly, and chives

Fried Chicken Sandwiches:

Stock the Pantry:

Chicken breasts, thighs, patties, or plant-based alternatives, flavor-spiked mayonnaise, hot honey, dill or sweet pickles

Menu Inspiration:

Aloha chicken sandwich with hand-breaded and fried breast, grilled pineapple, bacon, cheese, and umami mayo on a Hawaiian roll

Kerala fried chicken sandwich with spicy “naked”-fried chicken, greens, spicy cucumber pickles, curry-leaf aioli served on brioche

Middle Eastern-Inspired Sandwiches:

Stock the Pantry:

Chickpeas, tahini, date syrup, za’atar, pita, sumac, Aleppo pepper, Baharat spice, pistachios

Menu Inspiration:

Za’atar smashed chickpeas with shredded beets, avocado, cucumbers, pickled red onions, cilantro, lemon harissa tahini and fresh farm greens on griddled bread

Falafel Beet L.T. with roasted beets, lettuce, tomato, and avocado “mayo” on a toasted seeded roll

Plant-Forward Sandwiches:

Stock the Pantry:

Beans, legumes, nuts, plant-based meats, quinoa, brown rice, nut-based cheeses, and condiments

Menu Inspiration:

Broccoli Melt with white Cheddar, smoky roasted broccoli, caramelized onions, chermoula aioli, and farm greens served on ciabatta bread

Magical burger with roasted beets, mushrooms, puréed black beans, brown rice, oats, pumpkin seeds, flax, and BBQ sauce served with spreadable cashew-macadamia cheddar

Source: Datassential: Inspiration, Sandwiches (March 2024)

The information provided is based on a general industry overview and is not specific to your business operation. Each business is unique, and decisions related to your business should be made after consultation with appropriate experts.

Close up healthy sandwich

Sandwiches Trend Report

Introduce new sandwiches to the menu that include consumer favorites such as breakfast sandwiches, pork sandwiches, and hot sandwiches. Recipes are included to get you started.