Pantry Heroes: Spice Up Menus
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No pantry or kitchen is complete without a spice rack. Updating a menu item or enhancing flavor can be as simple as adding a dash of seasoning. 
 
Spices can also transform a meal into an adventure for diners. Consumers can taste spices that haven’t made it into their pantries—or that they’ve never even heard of. When restaurants are pressed to innovate their menus without substantial resources, they can reach for their spice jars and give consumers the experience they crave.
 
We couldn’t have a Pantry Heroes series without spices. We’re highlighting three spices that are rapidly gaining popularity across restaurants. 

 

Tajin
 
Few, if any, spices have seen as much growth as Tajin in recent years. Invented in Mexico in 1985, its presence has surged on U.S. menus by over 486 percent in the past four years according to Datassential SNAP!. Consisting of red chilies, sea salt, and dehydrated lime juice, Tajin has a mild heat and citrus flavor that works on just about anything, even fruits and frozen treats. 
 
Tajin Menu Inspiration
 
  • Use in spice rubs or marinades for chicken or fish
  • Sprinkle across a fresh fruit salad
  • Coat the rim of margarita or Bloody Mary glasses 
  • Add spice to coffee or make Mexican hot chocolate 
  • Give side dishes like corn or fries an extra kick
  • Spice up popsicles or shaved ice 
 
Paprika

 

With its rich red hue, paprika adds a vibrant dash of color to dishes. While there are different varieties of paprika, including Spanish and Hungarian paprika, it usually consists of a mild blend of bell peppers and chili peppers. Its brilliant color and subtle flavor make it fitting for a range of savory menu items.
 
Paprika Menu Inspiration 
 
  • Garnish deviled eggs or potato salad
  • Top macaroni or soup
  • Use in fried chicken batter
  • Create a traditional paella with smoked paprika
  • Include in a creamy sauce 
  • Sprinkle on seafood dishes 
 
Turmeric
 
Turmeric is most known for giving Indian curries their yellow hue and powerful flavor. It’s also responsible for mustard’s color. Earthy and bitter, the spice should be balanced with other strong flavors so that it doesn’t overwhelm the dish. Datassential SNAP! found that turmeric’s appearance on U.S. menus has grown over 190 percent as restaurants look to add depth and color to their offerings. 
 
Turmeric Menu Inspiration
 
  • Infuse into milk for espresso beverages
  • Whip into butter
  • Use in sauces, dressings, or dips
  • Add to rice or other grains
  • Season roasted vegetables 
  • Include in a chickpea stew or carrot soup
 
Your Sourcing Solution 

 

Even when restaurants are pressed for resources, they must prioritize menu innovation. Ingredients such as tortillas, honey, sauces, and spices can be repurposed across several offerings, simplifying sourcing and preparation. That’s why it’s always good to have these pantry heroes at the back of the house.
 
Spice up menu offerings by exploring spices on Dot Expressway.