The 30 biggest food trends of the last decade

InsiderActivated charcoal and meat alternatives are two of the many trends that defined the 2010s.


Rainbow bagels and pastries changed the way we eat dessert.

Max Bartick/SpoonUniversityThe rainbow bagel with cream cheese and rainbow sprinkles.

Instagram and other social-media platforms have opened the doors for more and more photogenic foods – and nothing is more photogenic than a rainbow-coloured bagel.


Avocado toast has become synonymous with the 2010s and millennials.

AlexPro9500/iStockAvocado toast.

Avocado toast is exactly what it sounds like – simply smashed avocado spread on toast. It often comes with eggs and spices.


Milk alternatives such as oat milk, soy milk, and various nut milk have spiked in popularity.

Hollis Johnson/INSIDERA carton of oat milk from Oatly.

Whether it’s more conscious consumers worried about the environmental impact of the dairy industry or those who choose to stay away from dairy for health or ethical reasons, one thing is clear – milk alternatives are here to stay.


Acai bowls topped with granola and fresh fruit became a popular wellness trend.

Oksana Mizina/ShutterstockA loaded acai bowl.

Pronounced “ah-sah-ee,” the acai bowl craze spawned the popular chain Playa Bowls, which now has 65 locations.


Kombucha has cemented itself as a popular health drink.

INSIDERA conveyor belt filled with Health-Ade Kombucha bottles.

Kombucha is made by fermenting tea, often infused with other flavours. In fact, because of the fermentation process, kombucha is slightly alcoholic, coming in at less than 0.5% ABV.


Activated charcoal turned everything from ice cream to cocktails black.

ShutterstockIce cream dyed black with activated charcoal.

At one point in the 2010s, foods made with activated charcoal began to replace those popular rainbow items. Everything from ice cream to cocktails was being made with the ingredient, and it was even the centre of the “50 Shades of Charcoal” festival in the summer of 2018.

It has since been banned as a food additive in New York City.


Matcha, a specific kind of green tea, is known for its health benefits and vivid green colour.

PixabayA matcha latte.

Matcha has been around for centuries, but the fad food began taking over menus and Instagram feeds around 2016. The flavour was soon incorporated into everything from candy to baked goods.


Poke bowls usually feature raw fish, rice, and various vegetables.

iStockA poke bowl with red onion, cucumber, salmon, masago, edamame, and sesame seeds.

The dish was everywhere in the summer of 2016, with Hawaiian restaurants popping up all over New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and several other cities.


Elaborate cocktail creations also hit the scene across the country, including smoked cocktails.

Portland Press Herald / ContributorA smoked cocktail at a bar in Portland, Maine.

Many mixologists choose to impart a smoky flavour into their cocktails by burning different herbs and wood chips in or around the glass.


Meat alternatives, such as the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Meat burger, have turned the fast-food industry on its head.

Impossible FoodsThe Impossible Burger ‘bleeds’ like real beef.

Burger King’s Impossible Whopper and Dunkin’s Beyond Meat breakfast sandwich are two examples of fast-food companies shifting to plant-based meat alternatives due to increasing consumer demand.


Coconut oil — as a cooking ingredient and as a wellness cure-all — became a popular alternative to other cooking oils.

Brianna Arps/INSIDERA jar of coconut oil from Trader Joe’s.

Though coconut oil contains lots of saturated fats, it has roughly the same amount of calories per tablespoon as olive oil and is often found in moisturizers and hair-care products.


Wild, over-the-top desserts also made a splash.

Black Tap Craft Burgers & BeerMilkshakes from Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer.

Massive milkshakes, giant sundaes, and elaborate waffle creations all made waves in the 2010s.


Latte art made a splash as coffee culture intensified.

INSIDERA latte with a stylised ‘Ta Da!’ written in foam.

Latte art, or art made using espresso, steamed milk, and frothed milk to make images in foam, took over social media for a spell in the mid-2010s.


Hard seltzer will go down as one of the biggest trends of the 2010s, with consumers flocking to the lower-calorie boozy beverage.

Natural LightNatural Light’s hard seltzer.

The summer of 2019 was the summer of hard seltzer. The boozy beverage was so beloved that there was even a national shortage of White Claw, the most popular brand of hard seltzer.


The fast-casual explosion hit its stride with chains such as Sweetgreen and Shake Shack.

INSIDERA worker holding a bowl at Sweetgreen.

Fast-casual restaurants lie somewhere between fast-food and full-service, meaning they usually don’t offer table service with a waitstaff but are generally regarded as having higher quality food than the average fast-food restaurant.


Soylent and other meal replacement shakes got a face-lift in the late 2010s.

Melia RobinsonSoylent bottles in a refrigerator.

With its modern, minimalist branding and marketing, Soylent caters towards a younger crowd that’s looking for quick, on-the-go meals.


Though they have been around for hundreds of years, macarons saw an uptick in popularity in the states in the 2010s.

Michal Osmenda/Wikimedia CommonsAn assortment of macarons.

The French cookies are made using whisked egg whites and sugar to make meringue, the main ingredient in macarons.


Food trucks have become hotbeds for chefs who might not have the resources to open a brick-and-mortar kitchen.

stupid systemus/FlickrFood trucks in Washington DC.

The mobility of a truck allows entrepreneurs to reach a large audience and announce their location on various social-media platforms.


Kale, a nutritious leafy green, became a popular smoothie additive.

Cynthia SassA bunch of organic kale.

The leafy green became so popular that Beyoncé was even seen wearing a “kale” sweatshirt stylised in the collegiate format of Yale University.


Edible gold leaf has become a widespread decoration for fine-dining dishes.

Edible GoldA pile of gold shavings.

From $US2,000 gold-covered pizza in Manhattan to an Australian burger made with 24-karat buns, the fancy ingredient has become an over-the-top addition to a variety of foods.


Natural Wine has both divided the wine community and spurred a new wave of young enthusiasts.

Primal WineA few bottles of natural wine from Primal Wine.

Natural wine, a broad term for wines that are produced with minimal intervention from the winemaker, has become a popular drink option in recent years.


Juicing fruits and vegetables became a popular trend in the wellness scene.

ShutterstockA juicing machine churns out some kiwi-lemon juice.

Juicing vegetables including celery, kale, carrots, and beets, made raw vegetable consumption cool and easy. However, home juicing has lost a bit of steam as many fast-casual restaurants and grocery stores have started offering pre-juiced vegetables in bottles.


Cold brew coffee is everywhere these days, as iced coffee lovers flock to the highly-caffeinated coffee beverage.

StarbucksA cup of cold brew from Starbucks.

Cold brew is made by steeping ground coffee with cold water for hours, creating a coffee “concentrate” that often has more caffeine than your average cup of joe.


Negronis made a comeback, as cocktail lovers have embraced the bitterness of various Italian liqueurs.

Jonathan Wong/South China Morning Post via GettyA Negroni in a rocks glass garnished with an orange peel.

The Negroni is made with gin, vermouth, and the bitter Italian liqueur Campari. It’s also the staple cocktail of the world’s best bar of 2019.


Though smoked and cured meats never go out of style, charcuterie boards dominated the 2010s.

Flickr/StewartA charcuterie board.

Charcuterie boards often feature a selection of smoked or cured meats, various cheeses, and a sweet component – whether it be dried or fresh fruit, honey, or sweet vegetables.


Session beers, or beers that are brewed to have a lower alcohol content, are becoming popular for their drinkability.

FoundersFounder’s All Day IPA, a low-ABV session beer.

Low-ABV session beers are meant to be enjoyed in larger quantities. The lower alcohol percentage allows people to drink more of them in a “session” without getting too intoxicated.


Mocktails and nonalcoholic beers, such as Heineken’s 0.0, also made a sober splash in the 2010s, as more consumers become “sober-curious,” or give up booze altogether.

HeinekenHeineken’s 0.0 beer, which contains no alcohol.

Mocktail bars are also opening all over the country to cater to customers looking for a way to socialise at the bar without drinking alcohol.


Fermenting foods made a huge impact on small and large restaurants.

REDA&CO / ContributorA bowl of kimchi, or spicy fermented cabbage, is a longstanding staple in Korean cuisine.

Fermenting food, or allowing bacteria and yeast to break down carbs in order to preserve food, became a huge trend in the 2010s, as fine-dining establishments and mum-and-pops alike got into the practice.

The Noma Guide to Fermentation, a guide to fermenting pretty much everything, was also released by the team at Noma.


Farm-to-table restaurants, or restaurants where the aim is to shorten the distance between ingredients’ sources and the restaurant, were popular.

Smith Collection / Gado / GettyTerrain Cafe, a farm-to-table restaurant affiliated with the Anthropologie clothing and home furnishings store.

Though its actual meaning is often hard to define, farm-to-table became a popular phrase in the 2010s as consumers tried to eat more locally grown, organic products.


Zero-waste cooking has become a trend as professional chefs and home cooks alike try to lower their carbon footprints.

SiloSilo: The Zero Waste Blueprint, a book by UK-based chef Douglas McMaster.

Cooking with as little waste as possible – whether it’s leftover food or plastic packaging – has become a goal for many restaurants as the industry becomes more and more conscious of its environmental impact.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.