Some fall traditions never get old: apple picking, eating cider doughnuts and baking pies. But when it comes to your Instagram feed—and your cocktail menu—things are about to get interesting. (And we’re not talking about PSLs, promise.) From mezcal to seed milk, here are the fall food trends we predict will dominate in 2022.
1. Mezcal Cocktails
You may have already noticed mezcal popping up on menus, but prepare for its official takeover. While it’s already seen growth in 2022, Bloomberg predicts that by 2023 it will be the most purchased spirit in the U.S., ousting tequila, whiskey and even vodka. The agave-based liquor has obvious applications in margs and palomas, but it’s also a surprisingly versatile spirit to have in your bar cabinet for everything from negronis to spritzes. Plus, the smoky notes are a match made in heaven for classic autumnal flavors like apples and cinnamon.
2. ‘Swicy’ Flavors
Summer 2022 saw the rise of sweet and spicy flavor combinations (aka “swicy”), and they’re not showing signs of letting up. The pairing is everywhere—the Maille and Mike’s Hot Honey collab Hot Honey Dijon, Sweet Hot Mister Mustard, and even sweet and spicy sunflower seeds.
3. Chewy Candy
’Tis the season for all things sweet, sour and sure to rot your teeth (we kid, kind of). According to Food Business News, chewy candy accounted for 50 percent of all non-chocolate sales in 2021, and the category is poised to grow even more if the array featured at the Sweets & Snacks Expo is any indicator. Look out for new treats on shelves, like SweeTarts Gummies Splitz (layered, fruit-flavored gummies with a sweet and a sour side) and Nerds Very Berry Gummy Clusters (basically, small pieces of Nerds rope in a berry flavored medley). This year’s Halloween candy haul is going to be good.
4. Vegetarian and Vegan Cooking
Plant-based innovations will continue to soar (think plant-based seafood, like tuna), but we predict even the staunchest carnivorous home cooks will incorporate more vegetarian and vegan meals into their rotation. With rising inflation causing food prices to soar, maxing out on vegetables and filling meatless mains (like pasta) will be an easy way to lower grocery expenses. True, dairy and meat products have seen the biggest increases in price since they require more time, people and resources to produce.
5. Mushroom Mania
At the start of 2022, The New York Times named mushrooms the “ingredient of the year,” but who could predict the humble fungi would usurp even cauliflower? (Spoiler: We did.) The trend is only gaining steam—according to Bloomberg, one reason is that a wet, damp spring in the Pacific Northwest has made popular varieties such as porcini more available and less expensive than usual, defying the supply chain issues we’ve seen with other ingredients. Varieties like Lion’s Mane and Flower Shiitake are popping up on restaurant menus across the U.S.
Beyond culinary applications, some unconventional couples are even serving psychedelic mushrooms at their weddings, as micro-dosing psilocybin continues to gain attention in the scientific community and beyond.
6. Seed Milks
Once oat milk took over the aisles, we thought the contest for “it” alt milk was over. Not so, apparently. At this summer’s Fancy Food Show in New York, seed milks made their debut. Hope and Sesame’s sesame milk boasts extra protein, and Lattini’s sunflower seed milk is dairy, gluten, nut and soy free. Both brands say they are more sustainable than other alternative milks (sesame seeds are pest-resistant and require less water, while sunflower seeds attract pollinators and are drought-resistant).
Katherine Gillen is a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City restaurants. She used to sling sugary desserts in a pastry kitchen, but now she’s an avid home cook and fanatic baker.