Diners shouldn’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to get their turkey fix. Operators are menuing it outside the holidays to meet rising demand, as 40% of consumers say they’d order turkey more frequently at restaurants if it were available. In addition, more than 40% believe that menus should provide turkey-focused options throughout the year. Consider these ways to take this versatile protein beyond a seasonal delight:
- Savor the sauces. Turkey is a canvas that can accentuate all kinds of flavors, and sauces are a great way to bring different ones forward. Crowd-pleasing condiments—such as gravy, barbecue, cranberry sauce and honey mustard—make it easy to tap into diners’ tastes. This Southern-influenced BBQ Turkey Plate can give patrons the sweet and tangy drizzle they love.
- Dip into breakfast. About one-third of consumers would order turkey as part of their morning meal if offered, and nearly 30% believe it’s important for restaurants to serve turkey as a substitute for other meats. Turkey bacon is a traffic-driving ingredient that fits easily into the early daypart. Provide a tasty start to the day by adding turkey to morning favorites, from a lighter dish, such as this Turkey Bacon Avocado Toast, to these indulgent Turkey Breakfast Sliders.
- Mind the first course. Appetizers are great ways to experiment with turkey in new flavor combinations—smaller portions are less of a commitment for diners and make them more willing to try new dishes. Chilis, soups, stews, nachos, quesadillas and sliders are examples in which chefs can draw on turkey’s potential on the left side of the menu. Try this Grilled Sesame Turkey Kebab for another unique turkey-based starter.
- Mix up the pairings. The increasingly popular ingredients served with turkey entrées at LSRs are fruits, eggs, wrap, avocado, bun, turkey bacon and pickle. Consider bringing a few of these favorites together in this Triple Decker Towering Biscuit Breakfast Sandwich, which has turkey bacon, eggs and apple slices stacked between warm biscuits.
- Explore ethnic fare. International foods are in demand and inspire both menu innovation and greater variety. Ingredients used in global dishes can add on-trend flavor, with Mediterranean as one of the most mainstream tastes. Capture the seaside essence with this Mediterranean Turkey Burger or these Mediterranean Turkey Tempters.
- Call out claims. Highlighting nutritional attributes that diners seek, such as “natural” and “no-antibiotics-ever,” provides the transparency they value. More than 30% of consumers strongly agree that foodservice operators should give details about the sourcing of their turkey. Guests can dine confidently with recipes that feature health-minded products, as with these Banh Mi Turkey Wraps.
Turkey is a low-fat, low-sodium protein that’s also lower in calories than its red meat counterparts. Opportunities for customization make it easier to meet consumer demand for year-round turkey with its endless menu possibilities.
How does your operation serve turkey outside the holidays? Tell us about it on Facebook or LinkedIn. Visit our Resource Center for more operational insights or find new recipes in our Culinary Center.
Center of the Plate: Poultry Consumer Trend Report, Technomic, 2019.