Is burger boredom taking hold at your operation? While regulars might revolt if you ditched their favorite bacon cheeseburger, some customers may be ready for trendier choices on the menu. Technomic data provides insight into the cheeses, toppings, buns and condiments that are emerging. Here’s what’s happening in burgers.
1. A wider world of cheese
Cheddar is still the leading cheese on burgers, followed by American. But operators are beginning to tempt customers with other types, such as Gruyere (up 10% as a burger topping, per Technomic’s MenuMonitor). Fresh mozzarella and Muenster have each risen 8% in menu mentions, and goat cheese is close behind with a 5% increase.
2. Ketchup downslides
Although ketchup is still the burger condiment of choice, interest in it is down, especially among younger consumers, finds Technomic’s Burger Consumer Trend Report. Ketchup no longer leads in menu mentions either—in fact, it’s slid to fifth place in the ranking of classic condiments. Mayonnaise comes in at No. 1, followed by barbecue sauce, mustard and aioli.
3. Ethnic condiments on the radar
While there will always be demand for classic condiments, operators are increasingly putting ethnic sauces on burgers. Harissa is up 40%, and teriyaki glaze has grown by 33%. Sriracha is also trending upwards, increasing by 20% year over year. Other emerging burger sauces include poblano and sweet chili.
4. Rolls on the rise
Operators are swapping out standard buns for carriers that can set a burger apart from the crowd. Brioche and potato rolls have gained traction in every segment, and now pretzel buns are the carrier to watch. Mentions of pretzel bread have gone up 23% on quick-service burger menus and 11% in the fast-casual segment. These artisan buns not only are a differentiator, but they also offer an opportunity to price a burger at a premium.
5. Pick a theme
Burgers themed to a particular cuisine or flavor profile are a hit with consumers—especially 18-to 34-year-olds. Forty-eight percent of burger eaters in this younger age group find themed burgers appealing, Technomic reports. Cajun, Southwest, Italian, Philly and Cuban burgers ranked in the top five.
6. Put an egg on it
Burgers topped with eggs are attracting more fans, a trend in sync with the growing interest in burgers for breakfast. Denny’s, IHOP and other chains have introduced breakfast burgers, and 33% of consumers in the 18-to-34 age group would choose a fried egg as a burger topping, though lettuce, bacon and tomatoes still lead the pack in topping popularity.