Food trends 2023: Oxtail, TikTok recipes and the spiraliser's new twist

Make room for creative pasta alternatives, experiential dining and all things pickle, too

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Pickling, oxtail, TikTok recipes and the return of the spiraliser — next year's food trends are hot out of the pan.

Here are the buzzwords, ingredients and ways of eating differently that look set to spice up the culinary landscape over the next 12 months.

It's all about oxtail

Oxtail ticks a whole lot of on-trend boxes. It's thrifty yet substantial, falls in line with nose-to-tail eating ideals and moves away from a reliance on prime cuts (move over beef fillet, it's not 2019 any more). As such, the tail is likely to be one of the most popular meats of the year.

It might not be a looker, but cooked right — simmered low and slow for hours — ripe-with-collagen oxtail develops a rich, deep flavour and pleasingly sticky texture. Keen cooks can embrace the trend with hearty, wholesome vegetable-packed soups, soothing stews and belly-warming braises.

Expect to see oxtail dishes with a forward-thinking or fine-dining twist making their debut on restaurant menus all over town (think oxtail miso, bao buns and smoked Wagyu oxtail).

Pickled everything

A nifty trick for making a super-quick salad dressing by blending dill pickle brine with hummus (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) has pickles on everyone's lips. From the relatively unremarkable (pickle-flavoured dips, chips, crackers and the like) to the rather more questionable (pickle-infused sweets), 2023 could be the year when everything gets pickled.

That means tangy picklesicles (frozen ice lollies made with pickle brine) sitting alongside more traditional flavours in the shops, creamy pickle soft-serve going mainstream, pickle popcorn stealing Cheetos’ crown and cans of pickle brine becoming a non-alcoholic beverage sensation.

Getting experiential

Experiential dining is likely to be huge in 2023. The year is all about getting more from your meal — that means memorable moments and out-of-the-box experiences, as well as great food.

From long-term special-occasion destination Ossiano at Atlantis, The Palm (where progressive Michelin-starred food is served in stingray and shark-filled surroundings) to an ever-growing clutch of cool supper clubs — Dream Dubai, with its Mediterranean menu and beguiling performances that fuse music, theatre, art, acrobatics and more, is a prime example — the UAE is not just here for the trend, but arguably leading the charge.

In 2023, we predict the dining ante will be upped. Old favourites will be given a makeover — for example Nobu Dubai is moving to the Royal Bridge Suite on the 22nd floor of Atlantis, The Palm and launching Nobu After Hours, a late-night lounge in which female DJs will lead the charge.

Additionally, Marta Bar at Louvre Abu Dhabi, with its reservations-only rule, secret-door access and speakeasy vibe, could prove to be a winning formula that inspires other venues to follow suit.

TikTok turn up the volume

It's difficult to make predictions without mentioning the ubiquitous TikTok. Even harder is identifying the recipes that will ignite the social media platform — after all, who could have foreseen a watermelon and yellow mustard mash-up going viral?

With that in mind, we think that in 2023, food content with audio will be hugely popular.

Autonomous sensory meridian response-style recipe videos, featuring plenty of impactful sizzling, appreciative slurping, enthusiastic chewing, rustling, popping and crunching are likely to continue their growing trend. While these videos, frequently posted under the ASMR acronym, are specifically intended to promote feelings of comfort with viewers, anyone with misophonia, the term used to describe those who are irritated or emotionally affected by the sounds of eating or repetitive noises, should look away.

Food and culture fuse

Eating and culture are likely to be a winning fusion in 2023 — especially when combined with a market or food hall.

Cultural food halls or hubs embody the ethos of the food market, not only bringing a curated collection of artisans, restaurateurs, chefs, baristas and mixologists together in one space, but also serving up a slice of live music and DJs, workshops, games, shows, film screenings or comedy on the side. The result is a communal dining experience that delivers both culinary variety and cultural enrichment.

Time Out Market Dubai offers an increasingly varied roster of pop-up performances, poetry readings and art installations, for example. The brand is also expanding its markets to Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, with further details and opening dates to be announced.

In addition, the no-frills Neighbourhood Food Hall in Dubai’s Motor City is small, but all the better for it, with home-grown concepts and a hawker-style setting offering something of a cultural experience in itself.

Return of the pasta alternative

Zoodles and courgetti circa 2015 are likely to make a comeback, so dust off the spiraliser.

Whether due to people increasingly enjoying a lighter-on-carbs or gluten-free way of eating, or simply seeking to up their fruit and veg intake and keep things interesting, the popularity of pasta alternatives is on the rise. Popular options include squash, plantain, lentils and seaweed, as well as the breakout star of the bunch lupin, or lupini beans, which are rich in protein, low in carbohydrates, free of gluten and vegan-friendly.

Surprising soft drinks

The zero-alcohol trend is by no means a new one, and yet sipping soft drinks is set to become evermore interesting.

Following the Dirty Soda craze (if you’re not adding coconut syrup to your Dr Pepper, you’re not doing it right), recipes for mocktails and slushies are on the up. Gourmet non-alcoholic drinks that fuse different flavours and premium ingredients could dominate drinks menus next year.

Vegan options improve

Being vegan no longer means missing out — not even on cheese. Next year, plant-based cheeses made by artisanal producers using traditional cheese-making techniques (think truffle-infused faux Camembert, dairy-free aged cheddars and creamy goats’ cheese-like concoctions) may well make an appearance on a cheeseboard near you.

Mock meats, meanwhile, could win new fans with improvements in the variety on offer, flavours and texture and sustainability credentials.

Brands are likely to continue efforts to make vegan products more affordable. According to Veg News, 2023 will be the year when popular plant-based meat brands such as Impossible and Beyond become less expensive than animal meat.

Even the youngest generation of plant-based eaters is being taken into consideration, and we think a number of lunch-box-friendly products — think pea protein sausages, quinoa breakfast bars and beetroot puffs — are likely to appear in supermarkets in 2023.

Updated: May 31, 2023, 10:24 AM