The 10 Things We'll Be Eating, Drinking, and Cooking With in 2021

Ugly Foods, Sparkling Teas, and More

illustration of food and drink trend predictions for 2020
The Spruce / Madelyn Goodnight

'Tis the season for end-of-year lists of what we loved and what we're excited to kiss goodbye as soon as the calendar switches over. But with the dawn of a new decade, it seems especially appropriate to look forward to all of the exciting things we'll be eating, drinking, and cooking with as we stare down a new set of numerals. We're no wizards Harry, but we have a feeling these ingredients, appliances, and more will be big in 2020.

Baking With Miso

Whether or not you've mastered chopsticks, you've probably noticed Japanese cuisine has been everywhere over the past year or so—from fluffy souffle pancakes to crispy katsu sandwiches popping up on menus across the country. As we translate the trend into our own kitchens, we're reaching for a box of miso. The fermented soybean and koji paste tastes salty, funky, and umami, adding extra depth to everything it touches. You've probably tried it in soup or as a marinade, but don't be surprised if miso starts making its way into your favorite baked goods. James Beard award-winning baker Zach Golper of Brooklyn's Bien Cuit bakery infused his Thanksgiving pie with a miso caramel: "Typically, it is thought of as being used for savory applications, but with the right pairing, its umami qualities can highlight flavors that might ordinarily seem a little ho-hum," he explains. "We used it with pumpkin and caramel this year and it really did the job turning that pie into something extraordinary."

Plant-Based Everything

The Impossible Burger is popping up in everything from high-end restaurant burger to Burger King's Whopper, but Americans are going meatless outside the bun, too. While soybean-based alternatives like tofu and textured vegetable protein have been around for years, the soybean is no longer your only option. Eclipse Foods makes a plant-based ice cream that's as decadent as the dairy version and researchers from Givaudan and the University of California at Berkeley believe alternative proteins made out of oats, mung beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, flax, and sunflower seeds are all primed to become even more popular next year as we cut down on our meat consumption.

Holiday pomegranate mojito recipe
The Spruce / Teena Agnel

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Last year, Dry January seemed to explode in popularity, with more and more people giving up the sauce for a month. That led to more bartenders offering booze-free beverages at their establishments and we're seeing the trend trickle down to our options at home. At the grocery store, look for more sparkling teas, kombucha, and other creative options to liven up your teetotaling cocktail hour. And in the kitchen, try your hand at agua fresca or whip up a vinegar shrub for a drink that'll leave you refreshed and not hungover.

Ugly Foods

We may finally start moving away from requiring our food to look Insta-perfect and that's good news for the planet as well as our palates. Fruits and veggies with a face only a mother could love generally taste just as great—if not better—than their model-perfect counterparts. Just bite into a lumpy heirloom tomato and you'll see what we mean. Innovators like the Misfits Market produce delivery boxes that take that less-than-perfect produce and pack it up at 40 percent lower than the grocery store to help combat food waste and improve access to delicious, nutritious food. Bruises and all.

Homemade Fresh Fig Jam
The Spruce.

Fancy Spreads

Move over, hummus and olive tapenade. If it fits on a crostini, we're spreadin' it on in 2020. Call it an extension of our obsession with avocado toast, a natural progression of our national snacking tendencies, or just the fun of appetizer-only shindigs, but unique dips and spreads are gearing up to be even more popular in 2020. Retailers like Trader Joe's have an ever-expanding supply of ready-made spreads (cinnamon bun spread, anyone?), or try whipping up some fun ones in your own kitchen.

 Leah Maroney

Alternative Flours

Gluten-free bakers: We've got great news for you. Gone are the days when almond flour was the only option out there. We've seen a bunch of gluten-free flour choices become even more widely available, including quinoa, chickpea, and even nut and coconut flours. They all behave just a little bit differently when baking, so watch those package instructions. Expect to get out that stand mixer in 2020, regardless of your dietary requirements.

Smart Appliances

The family of Ninja blenders have revolutionized our smoothie and blended soup game. Our ever-present Instant Pot can make, well, everything. And the sous vide has introduced us to the tenderest steak we ever did taste. In 2020, even more smart appliances are poised to make our kitchen life even easier. Think everything from fridges that can look inside themselves to app-controlled coffeemakers.

 The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Smarter Snacks

Step away from the potato chips: There's a new snack sheriff in town. One saunter down the supermarket aisle and you'll see an explosion of alternative bites like lotus seed and chickpea puffs, seaweed crisps, and crackers made from rice and quinoa. These are awesome, delicious options for anyone avoiding gluten or looking for a healthier snack. They're often air-puffed or baked, making them lighter than the traditional fried foods we all remember from our childhoods. But they're still not calorie-free, so don't forget to read the serving size.

Functional Foods

If the grocery store and pharmacy are starting to look awfully similar, it isn't just you. Functional additives like collagen, CBD, and other ingredients are intended to give food nutraceutical qualities. In other words, additives give already good-for-you categories like water, cereal, protein bars, or even healthy snacks an extra boost. While the FDA does regulate the category, it doesn't provide a legal definition of nutraceuticals. So go ahead and enjoy your collagen-enhanced water or CBD coffee, but be aware it may not have the exact benefits it promises.

Sourdough Pancakes
Leah Maroney

Sourdough Goes Beyond Bread

Those of us who love the slightly fermented taste of sourdough are in luck. It's heading into even more baked goods in 2020. Yes, we all love a crusty, substantial sourdough loaf. But sourdough doughnuts (currently found at one of our favorite local spots, The Doughnut Plant) and recipes like sourdough pancakes prove there are so many more ways to use that starter living on your counter than you ever believed possible.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Givaudan. The future of plant protein.

  2. US Food & Drug Administration. Title 21--Food and drugs chapter i--food And Drug Administration Department Of Health And Human Services subchapter b--Food for human consumption (continued) Part 170: Food additives. Updated April 1, 2019.