These comfort foods are skyrocketing in popularity this year

These comfort foods are skyrocketing in popularity this year
·3 min read
A mac and cheese skillet.
Americans turned to mac and cheese and other classic comfort foods during the pandemic. LindasPhotography/Getty Images


  • The comfort foods growing the fastest in popularity are a mix of international foods and American dishes.

  • Some of the fastest growing comfort foods are elote - a Mexican corn dish - and Cacio e Pepe.

  • According to Dataessential, these are the foods that are surging in popularity.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

#10 Pork rinds

Utz pork rinds
The Utz brand of pork rinds. Utz

Pork rinds, which are made out of fried or roasted pig skin, are a popular snack among people practicing the keto diet. According to the company Dataessential, they're 20% more popular now than they were four years ago and are the tenth fastest-growing item in popularity on Dataessential's list.

#9 Shakshuka

shakshuka
Shakshuka is a tomato and egg dish originally from North Africa. Thesomegirl/Getty Images

Shakshuka, a North African dish made by poaching eggs in a pan full of spiced tomato sauce, is gaining popularity in the U.S., especially among vegetarians and people looking for healthy dishes that are low on carbohydrates.

#8 Cheese curds

cheese curds culvers
Cheese curds are popular throughout Quebec and in Midwestern states in the US. Culvers

Cheese curds are pieces of curdled milk that are often eaten alone, fried, or as part of dishes like burgers. They're most popular in Quebec and Midwestern states in the U.S., particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota and can be found on 3% of restaurant menus in the U.S.

#7 Steamed buns (baozi)

bao zi/steamed buns
Steamed buns, also called baozi, are a popular Chinese dish. Wow Bao

Steamed buns, also called baozi, are a classic Chinese dish consisting of a bun filled with meat and vegetable stuffing, or a sweet stuffing like custard or chocolate. The dish is becoming more well known in the US, where it can be found in Chinese restaurants and national chains like Wow Bao.

#6 Korean barbecue

korean chicken skewers
Korean barbecue has climbed in popularity. ALLEKO/Getty Images

Korean barbecue, a method of grilling mostly marinated meat, is now seen on 40% more restaurant menus compared to four years ago.

#5 Tater Tots

Loaded Tater Tots
The fast food dish tater tots is pushing its way up the rankings. Liz O'Connor/Business Insider

Tater tots, another classic fast-food dish, are made out of deep-fried, grated potatoes and have also seen a surge in popularity over the past few years. It's listed on 40% more menus now than four years ago.

#4 Gnudi

naples gniocchi iphone x
Gnudi, an Italian dish, is similar to the better-known gnocchi. Matt Weinberger/Business Insider

Gnudi is an Italian dumpling dish similar to gnocchi that's made with ricotta cheese and semolina and features a light and fluffy texture. This dish appears on 50% more restaurant menus this year than it did four years ago.

#3 Chicken and waffles

Chicken and waffles
Chicken and waffles is a classic American comfort dish. Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Chicken and waffles, which usually consists of breaded and pan-fried chicken layered over buttermilk waffles, is a classic American comfort dish that has also jumped in popularity in recent years.

#2 Cacio e Pepe

nello cacio e pepe
Cacio e Pepe is a simple Roman pasta dish. Ashley Collman/INSIDER

Cacio e Pepe, a minimalist Roman pasta dish made with black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese, and spaghetti or tonnarelli, is the second fastest growing menu item on Dataessential's list. It's listed on double the amount of menus compared to four years ago.

#1 Elote

Elote
Elote is a popular Mexican snack often sold in restaurants and by street vendors. La Hacienda

Elote is Mexican-style corn on the cob that's often covered in cheese, mayonnaise, chile powder, and lime. Elote is the fastest-growing comfort food on restaurant menus across the country. Dataessential classifies elote as a dish that's in the process of being adopted nationwide, though now it's only served by trendy and specialty restaurants and grocers .

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