With no sign of slowing down, burgers remain a beloved staple on menus around the world. From bold new flavours to different types of patty and bun combos, get ready for an exciting array of innovative offerings coming in 2023.
For something that’s essentially a bit of bread and a meat patty, the burger scene is highly competitive. From pop-ups to burger joints, the burger space is full of discerning foodies and chefs trying to make the next burger that will go viral on social media. But aside from ‘instagrammable’ burgers, what’s truly remarkable about burgers is how versatile they are: great for schools, cafes, pubs and restaurants alike. They’re also easy to switch-up for those who eat plant-based or are gluten intolerant.
So, to bring you all the burger inspiration you need for your business, here’s the burger food trends to take note of as you start planning the year ahead.
ALL ABOUT THE MEAT
While the cultural shift towards sustainability has meant that every menu must have a plant-based option, there’s no denying that meat still dominates the market. However, what’s becoming more important is transparency: where did the meat come from?
When it comes to beef burgers, it’s all about the quality of the meat. Wagu and dry-aged meat will always grab people’s attention, but customer house blends like chuck, brisket, and short rib are also proving popular. We have some mouth-watering examples from Babe’s Meat & Counter, in Miami, who makes a weekly changing patty based on prime chuck and brisket with trimmings like angus and wagyu.
Meat also has natural fat, and any chef will know that fat = flavour. Some chefs even save the fat from certain meats to use in other dishes – like Babe’s Meat & Counter beef fat fries.
THE BIGGER THE BETTER
Double burgers, surf and turf, toppings of pulled pork and beef brisket, just one patty isn’t enough anymore, people are hungry for more, with meat that outshines the burger patty itself. Danny’s Burgers in Bristol has turned heads with his aged beef patty with ex dairy topside roast beef, caramelised onions, gravy, horseradish truffle mayo AND gravy pot for extra dunking. And over in Birmingham, Meat Meets Bun is offering an aged beef patty topped with sweet and sticky pork belly, pickled daikon and carrot, and fresh coriander, mint, chilli and nduja mayo.
While we’re on the subject of fully loaded burgers, let’s take a look at Deli Style, a trend which takes its inspiration from deep-fill sandwiches. Cured meats, ham, pastrami, mortadella (and maybe some gherkins for good measure), are the types of meats you’d expect to find in ‘deli style’ sandwiches. Naturally, Brick Lane Pub in Italy has it nailed with their pork burger with peach jam, summer salad, Taburno Anglianico sauce, pecorino and wild boar mortadella, as does the Humble Burger in Seattle, with peppered pastrami, gherkins and mustard mayo on a scotch beef patty.
From Deli Style to Dinner Time. These burgers have no rules, as long as it can be wedged between a bun, it’s called a ‘burger’. Chefs are filling them with everything from meatballs and spaghetti to a vegan roast dinner, tomahawk steak with a fried egg and all the trimmings, and even roast pork with red cabbage, pickled red onions, truffle mayo and gravy – check out Sebastian_eats on Instagram for inspiration.
Let’s be honest, a burger is as much about the meat as it is the sauce. The sauce brings it all together, it compliments and ignites the flavours and textures. There are two types of saucy burger though: a modest splattering on a bun or full on sloppy-joe, gravy-dripping style – and it’s the gravy-dripping kind we’re interested in.
You may need a few napkins at hand but there is something delicious about gravy on a burger. Beer and Burger Store in London offers a double smashed patty bun with a pale ale onion jam, bacon, blue cheese and ‘burger gloop’. Meanwhile, one of Strip Club Street Food, in Birminghams, best-sellers is the beef patty swimming in beef dripping gravy.
Need more sauce? How about a gravy pot on the side. Taking inspiration from the French dip sandwich, some restaurants are even serving burgers with a dipping pot of gravy. Nanny Bills in Dalston has one called ‘The Dalson Dip,’ and Blue Collar in Miami serves their braised brisket burger with a side of Dijon and dripping jus.
Still not enough sauce? Put a hole in the top bun and pour it in. This technique contains the liquid a little more (until you take a bite). It looks more like a bagel than a burger, but the ‘self-pour’ fun of it is gaining quite the attraction. Look at Bibo in London’s fried chicken brioche with ras el hanout mayo on top or Bar Luca in Sydney, for its gravy ‘sinkhole’.
CHEESE, CHEESE, AND MORE CHEESE
The cheese pull still has its seductive charm and thanks to it being so ‘instagrammable’, fondue-like melting cheese that oozes down the sides of the burger will forever have people’s mouths watering. Momag Burgers & Gin, in Malaga, serves their burger with a cast-iron melted cheese dip, while others like Dirty Burger in New Zealand, drench their burgers in a smoked cheddar and gochugaru dip.
For something a little more modest, how about ‘posh cheese’ – we’re talking Italian burrata, blue cheese, comté and raclette. Frenchie in London drizzled raclette and truffle-infused honey on their burgers.
Cream cheese still holds a space in the market – it’s not just for smoked salmon bagels. It’s the perfect creamy blank canvas for offsetting other flavours like chilli. Manna in London serves their jalapeño popper vegan fried chicken with hot honey and cream cheese, and Wythies, a beef patty with thyme mushrooms, parmesan mayo, rocket and truffle cream cheese – yum!
From oozing cheese to grilled cheese – the crispy edge of a toasty really is the best bit. While many outlets melt cheese on the patties, some choose to melt it on the bun instead. The Patate in London’s grilled cheese in a burger bun is great example.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BUN FOR THE BURGER
From traditional sesame-seeded and brioche buns to more left-field buns like glazed donuts and waffles, the choice is up to the chef when it comes to what you use to encase your patty. However, our tried and tested classics are still the most popular – just with a twist.
Some chefs are infusing their brioche buns with things like masala butter, beer-glazes, or using natural food colouring (like beetroot juice or turmeric) to add a ‘healthy’ spin on their bun.
For a more alternative bun, what about croissants? Buttery and light, it’s the perfect casing for your filling. Cawsburger in London offers a breakfast-style burger with fried chicken, bacon and maple syrup inside a croissant bun. And Haché, a steak patty with truffle mayo, Gruyere, comté and Dijon.
THE ULTIMATE VEGAN BURGER OFFERING
One of the easiest vegan meals to serve in your restaurant is a burger. There are so many meat alternatives available, whether you use a brand like Beyond Meat or make your own patties with vegetables. Think smoked cauliflower with pickled fennel, dukkah and burnt garlic yoghurt (Fireyard, London), or create a patty with nuts and grains like Burgerlord’s barley, cashew, aubergine and panko burger.
Interestingly, you can get away with just salad and vegetables in their raw form. People enjoy the fresh feel of crunching down on crisp veg. Mother in Hackney (now sadly closed), used to serve an amazing carrot ‘salmon’ burger, with dill, capers, lime and chilli, pickled radishes, scrambled tofu and tomatoes.
CATCH OF THE DAY: FISH BURGERS
Fish finger sandwiches are an every-popular pub and cafe classic. But what about fish burgers? The spotlight doesn’t seem to shine on them too much but we have a feeling that might change.
They don’t quite have the same nostalgia and comfort credentials as a fried fish finger sandwich or loaded patty, but that’s the point. People enjoy them as they feel lighter and fresher.
From grilled salmon with artisan mayo and flaked almonds (Cozza Nera, Italy) to snapper with pickled cucumber and coriander lime slaw, and even a crumbed prawn patty with smoked muscle ketchup (Two Grey, NZ).
Some of the more ‘instagramable’ fish burgers we’ve seen are soft shell crab (Seafood Bar & Market, Poland) and even Octopus (Molo Seafood, London). Paired with a crunchy slaw and spicy mayo, they are a winning recipe, especially for a more premium restaurant offering.
AROUND THE WORLD INFLUENCER
French: The OG of gastronomy, France has quite an influence in cooking. Think bordelaise sauce, demi-glaces, French cheeses, beef bourguignon, and truffles too.
Middle Eastern: Spiced and fragrant flavours continue to thrive in the burger category, with spices like sumac, za’atar, harissa, ras el hanout, zhoug, Yemenite hot sauce, Lebanese garlic sauce, and toum all being popular additions to the patty and bun. WYB pop-up in the UK does a great grass fed lamb kofta burger with feta, garlic sweet chilli sauce and sumac yoghurt.
South East Asian: We have a real love for Asian food in the UK and it works remarkably well in a burger. The Fish & Burger Co. In Doncaster have got creative with their panko prawn patty with Asian slaw, nuoc mam dressing, fresh mint and coriander chilli mayo, and Burgerize in Leeds with their brined overnight chicken in spicy sauce with samba mayo in a potato bun.
INNOVATION IS THE KEY
A burger is a blank canvas for expression and experimentation. No matter what your customer-base, it’s up to you to fill it with delicious, eye-catching ingredients that they can’t resist. Think pepperoni pizza burger with marinara sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella (Cawsburger, Hitchen), and slow cooked beef bourguignon with raclette (The Patate, London).
- Onion: Raw, fried, caramelised, pickled, there’s no denying how good onion is on a burger. They add extra flavour and can help cut through more fatty patties too.
- Bacon: A classic, but make it better. Smoke it, glaze it, upgrade it with pork belly. From ‘baconnaise’ to bacon jam and maple streaky bacon, bacon really does add an extra level of flavour to your burger, whether you want it sweet or salty.
- Mayonnaise: Flavoured mayo is an easy way to upgrade your burger. From salted caramel to umami, oyster mayo, Asian-inspired yuzu koshu, citrus orange mayo and garlic aioli.
- Pickle it: Pickling and fermenting vegetables has become very prominent in the restaurant scene, and it works great in burgers – just think of it as a gherkin. Some fun ingredients being used at the moment are pickled watermelon with char siu pork, bearnaise pickles with wagyu, and kimchi with panko crusted mushrooms.
- Curry: The UK loves curry, so a burger and curry in one is a dream come true! Think coconut chutney slaw with masala spices, tonkatsu curry burger with curry mayo, and curry butter sauce to drizzle over your triple stacked beef burger.
- Sweet & Savoury: Fruit can bring a delicious sweet addition to your burger. Tropical fruit like pineapple, mango and guava are all popular choices and work brilliantly against a little spice!
BURGER TRENDS THAT WILL NEVER GO OUT OF FASHION
Cheese pulls, triple stacks and gravy-dripping burgers go in and out of popularity but there are some trends that will always stay a safe bet, and a staple on your menu.
- Stripped back: A classic cheeseburger isn’t losing favour. Good ingredients, cooked well. There’s nowhere to hide.
- Potatoes: Crispy fries, hash browns, crisps, any type of spud goes. It adds texture and contrast and goes great with a gooey cheddar cheese.
- Comfort food: Think mac ’n’ cheese, black truffle and wagyu burgers. It’s premium indulgence at its best.
- Sweet & savoury: Love it or hate it (but most people love it), combinations like fried chicken on waffles with maple syrup, beef with biscoff peanut butter sauce, Iberia ham and grilled marshmallows, and even peanut butter, strawberry jelly and fried banana!
- Dessert burgers: If you are up for experimenting, why not lean more towards the sweet side. Burger joints all over the world are using ice cream, crispy rice, salted pretzels and different spreads and sauces to bring something that resembles more of a dessert than main course. In New Zealand, Sweet Release has created a marshmallow patty, crumbed in roasted biscoff biscuit and chocolate sauce, and served it with a deconstructed cherry pie on the side.
The burger scene really is one of the more exciting areas in the foodservice business – there’s just so much you can do with a bun and a patty. At Fairway Foodservice, we have a selection of recipes, burger buns, cheese and patties to help you create a brilliant burger offering. Check out our selection here.