Diving into the Dips and Sauces Trend on K-12 Menus

July 2024

Diving into the Dips and Sauces Trend on K-12 Menus

Students look forward to lunchtime as a chance to connect with friends, take a break from the classroom and, of course, enjoy a delicious meal. But even their favorite dishes may benefit from an update. K-12 foodservice directors can add dips and sauces to their menus to help renew the excitement around popular meals and even encourage healthier choices.


Why Add Dips?

Dunking food in a special dip or sauce adds an element of fun and interactivity to kids’ meals. This approach can also help encourage students to choose more nutritious items. Carrot sticks, bell peppers or proteins like chicken strips become more enticing when paired with interesting dips.


Trending Flavors Today and Tomorrow

Social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok have become powerful influencers in shaping food trends, particularly among younger audiences. Today, 72% of all consumers say they’re curious to try new foods, flavors and dishes after seeing them pop up on multiple platforms. With so many students plugged into social media trends, they will likely have seen and been curious about tasting something new.


Adding dips can also be a way to introduce students to new and exciting foods from around the world. According to Datassential, the top foods among students include za’atar, yuzu, harissa (dubbed the “new sriracha”) and ponzu. Spicy and floral flavor profiles, as well as shawarma and mustard seeds, are expected to become more popular. On the horizon, research predicts students will be open to even more adventurous ingredients like amba, shiso, gooseberry and sunomono.


Recipe Inspiration

We partnered with Kikkoman and Joe Urban of School Food Rocks to develop delicious recipes featuring trending flavors. Consider including extra sauce on the side for dipping and drizzling!

  • Sweet Thai Chili Turkey Over Fried Rice: Sweet and spicy, this dish combines protein-rich turkey with plenty of veggies for a satisfying and nutritious lunch option.
  • Spicy Orange Turkey Over Fried Rice: This colorful, veggie-forward rice dish combines savory soy sauce, hot chili sauce and orange sauce.
  • Sweet & Sour Turkey Wrap: Take the old turkey wrap to the next level with sweet and sour sauce and Asian-style coleslaw.
  • Teriyaki Burger: Add a little something extra to the classic burger recipe with a teriyaki glaze featuring soy sauce, pineapple and a touch of brown sugar.


Today’s students are looking for more adventurous flavor options, and offering a variety of interesting condiments on the side is an easy way to refresh recipes and even add nutritious value to dishes. How would you use dips and sauces to make your K-12 menu more exciting? Share your ideas with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.










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