Key Ingredients for Winter Flavor

January 2019

Spring is considered the peak season for many fruits and vegetables, but winter can be too. It also brings the opportunity to adjust menus to consumers’ changing tastes. By using trending, versatile ingredients, restaurant operators can meet the demand for limited-time-offer favorites. Stay cozy with these popular winter ingredients and recipe inspiration:


  • People crave warm and home-style foods to beat the cold-weather blues. With less fat and fewer calories than other protein options, turkey can be a better-for-you alternative in all kinds of winter meals. Try recipes such as Lasagna di Carnevale or Queso Mac & Cheese to provide the same comfort but with a healthier twist.
  • Sweet potato is a useful ingredient in winter cooking. Not only is it an abundant plant, but it also has many uses. In soups and stews, sweet potato skins add a creamy texture and sweet taste. Dark red and purple assortments that originate from Asia tend to have less moisture. These can be used in ethnic cuisines or simply cut and cooked.
  • Increased mushroom sales during the months of December, January and February are due largely to holiday recipes that call for mushrooms. While white mushrooms remain the favorite among consumers, unique varieties, such as shiitake, king trumpet, maitake and enoki, are becoming more popular. Diners want restaurants to offer these fungi in ways beyond pizza and salad toppings, seeking dishes such as a Wild Mushroom Turkey Burger.
  • To add color to any winter dish, incorporate kale, clementine, pomegranate, date or pear. Kale is low in calories while still full of vitamins and antioxidants. It can be served as kale chips to offer diners a lighter option. For a splash of bright color and sweet taste, add a clementine to a chocolate dessert or sprinkle pomegranate seeds over a Mesquite Smoked Turkey and Red Quinoa Sedona Salad. Dates and pears also inspire twists on classics. Pair them with savory foods—for instance, grilled cheese sandwiches with pear slices or bacon-wrapped date appetizers.


Try these recipes with key winter ingredients to keep up with the demand for differentiation.

What are some of your favorite winter ingredients, and how do you use them? Share your seasonal specials on Facebook or LinkedIn. To keep a pulse on what’s trending in the world of foodservice, visit our Resource Center.



Cobe, Patricia. 5 winter comfort food recipes, Restaurant Business, November 2018.

Dooley, Beth. The winter staple of sweet potato offers versatility, Star Tribune, January 2018.

McDonald, Sophia. Be Prepared for Winter ‘Shroom’ Season, Produce Business, January 2018.

Kelly, Taylor. Incorporate These Key Winter Ingredients into Your Restaurant Menu This Season, SinglePlatform, November 2018.

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