Restaurant chains tap into flavor trends.
Dunkin’ is debuting a slate of new menu items ahead of the summer season. New beverages include the Mango Pineapple Dunkin’ Refresher, an iced beverage that may be made with green tea, coconut milk or lemonade, and the Cake Batter Signature Latte, topped with whipped cream, a mocha drizzle and rainbow sprinkles. Returning beverages include butter pecan iced coffee and a limited-batch iced coffee made with a blend of beans sourced from Kenya and Latin America. New food items include a tomato pesto grilled cheese sandwich and a cornbread donut, which has a sweet and savory corn cake base.
“We want our guests to get more out of every day with Dunkin’ in each hand,” said Jill Nelson, vice president of marketing and culinary at Dunkin’. “We absolutely love the pairing of our new Mango Pineapple Dunkin’ Refresher with the delicious Tomato Pesto Grilled Cheese sandwich, and the ability to enjoy a pick-me-up from Dunkin’ at any time of day. The flavors are as bold and bright as the days ahead.”
Casual dining chain TGI Fridays has unveiled Chicken Slammer Boards, featuring chicken fingers tossed in sauces and tucked into a miniature New England style roll. The Whiskey-Glazed Chicken Slammer Board includes two whiskey-glazed big ribs, coleslaw and seasoned fries. The Buffalo Chicken Slammer Board has four boneless wings tossed in Frank’s RedHot Buffalo sauce with ranch, diced celery and crumbled blue cheese, coleslaw and seasoned fries. The Italian Chicken Slammer Board has garlic Parmesan sauce with marinara and Parmesan-Romano cheese paired with four mozzarella sticks, coleslaw and seasoned fries.
New at Papa Johns is a pepperoni-stuffed crust pizza, featuring dough packed with pepperoni and cheese, baked into a seasoned crust. Additionally, Papa Johns is introducing spicy pepperoni rolls, which has pizza sauce and pepperoni rolled up with jalapeños and cheese in dough that is cut, baked and served with spicy garlic sauce for dipping or drizzling.
“Our Epic Stuffed Crust made with our original, fresh never-frozen dough is already a fan-favorite, and now we’ve hand-stuffed it with our signature pepperoni to make it even better and more indulgent,” said Scott Rodriguez, senior vice president of menu strategy and product innovation. “Pepperoni is a classic pizza topping that our customers order time and time again, and the addition of Epic Pepperoni-Stuffed Crust Pizza and Spicy Pepperoni Rolls to our menu offers consumers more ways to savor their favorite topping, making Papa Johns the ultimate pepperoni destination.”
White Castle’s first new permanent menu item in several years is the 1921 Slider, inspired by the very first hamburger offered by the restaurant chain the year it opened. The 1921 Slider has a thick beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, grilled caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce and pickles.
“My great-grandfather came up with many brilliant ideas as he launched White Castle in 1921 and in the decades to follow," said Lisa Ingram, chief executive officer of White Castle. "Thanks to him, innovation has been part of our DNA from the very beginning, and he would be so pleased to see that our team members’ drive to innovate is as strong as ever.”
California Pizza Kitchen is rolling out a new menu nationwide. Items include a wild mushroom and brie soup, Baja crunch salad, Catalina chicken sandwich and California caprese sandwich. New beverages include the Golden State Lemonade, blended with turmeric and mint, and a desert pear lemonade featuring prickly pear cactus and mint. The expanded Lunch Duos collection pairs new sandwiches or pizzas with a salad or soup.
“Our new spring menu items creatively combine California-inspired flavors and fresh, seasonal ingredients to produce a distinctly West Coast culinary experience for our guests,” said Brian Sullivan, senior vice president of culinary innovation. “The new lunch additions capture the California sense of place by incorporating ingredients favored throughout the state and are the perfect excuse for our guests to visit CPK for their mid-day meal.”
Sonic Drive-In is introducing the Big Dill Cheeseburger, with crispy pickle fries, crinkle-cut pickle slices and a creamy dill-infused ranch sauce, plus a beef patty, lettuce and American cheese on a toasted brioche bun. The restaurant chain also is serving pickle fries, which are dill pickle spears that are fried and served with a side of ranch sauce for dipping.
“Our Sonic guests know that they’ll be able to find something new, unexpected, and totally craveable every time they visit their local drive-in,” said Mackenzie Gibson, vice president of culinary and menu innovation at Sonic. “As we roll into summer, we wanted to make pickles the star of the show with these two new items that provide the ultimate pickle experience. We take pride in creating unique products that consumers crave, and the Big Dill Cheeseburger and pickle fries are sure to be the perfect combo for pickle indulgence.”
Krispy Kreme, Inc. is partnering with General Mills, Inc. cereal brand Cinnamon Toast Crunch to launch three donut flavors in a new Cinnamon Milk Glazed product line. The new items include a cinnamon milk glazed donut, a cinnamon milk glazed donut topped with cream cheese icing and cereal pieces, and a cinnamon milk glazed donut topped with dulce de leche and cereal pieces. The cream cheese and dulce de leche flavors also feature a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top.
Carvel Ice Cream is introducing Strawberry Crunchies, described as bite-size pieces that may be used as a topping or layered in ice cream cakes. Strawberry marks the third new Crunchies flavor introduced in the past year and joins chocolate and vanilla flavors.
"Strawberry is one of our most popular flavors, and we knew putting a familiar twist on Crunchies, a classic that has been an integral part of Carvel’s history, would be perfect for making new memories at all types of celebrations, ‘or Carvel-ebrations,’ this spring,” said Jessica Osborne, vice president of marketing for Carvel. “We heard our fans who asked us for even more delicious opportunities to enjoy their favorite tastes through new offerings, and we are excited to continue to be a part of their life moments with our lineup of Strawberry Crunchies-filled treats.”
Mexican quick-service restaurant chain TacoTime has partnered with Impossible Foods to introduce the Impossible Nacho Burrito for a limited time. The item includes Impossible Foods’ plant-based crumbles, black beans, cheese sauce, jalapeños, sour cream, salsa fresca and tortilla strips.
“We are thrilled to feature a new item on our menu during the spring and summer months,” said Kim Heath, senior director of marketing for Kahala Brands, parent company of TacoTime. “With more and more customers craving new and exciting protein options, our Impossible Nacho Burrito delivers just that and offers the same satisfying and flavor-filled experience TacoTime is known for.”
Mongolian chicken nachos are returning to the menu at Pei Wei Asian Kitchen. The dish combines Mongolian sauce with crispy wonton chips, ground chicken, sriracha mayo, cilantro and scallions.
Fast-casual pizza concept MOD Super Fast Pizza Holdings, LLC is introducing limited-time spring menu offerings. The Jasmine pizza is Thai-inspired with a pesto base, red Thai curry chicken, pineapple, kale, broccoli, shredded mozzarella and a sriracha ranch drizzle. The Zesty Asian Pineapple Salad has spinach, kale, broccoli, pineapple, cucumbers, pickled red onions and crunchy wonton chips, tossed with a Greek herb and tahini dressing and drizzled with a honey soy-ginger glaze.
Tim Hortons is launching a cinnamon sugar oat milk latte made with non-dairy Chobani Oat, which froths and foams, offering a creamy texture and light sweetness, according to the company. The new beverage is available hot or iced.
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream has reformulated its non-dairy frozen dessert offerings. The recipes are made with oat milk and include coffee chocolate chip, chocolate raspberry truffle and mint chocolate chip flavors.
“Our customers’ loyalty and experience are what drives us,” said Jim Sahene, chief executive officer. “We were excited to initially launch our first non-dairy dessert with coconut milk; but today, our new oat milk option offers a superior taste and recipe. We know that many of our customers either follow a strict vegan lifestyle or deal with different dietary restrictions, and it is important for us to be able to offer them something wonderful with the variety of flavors and premium ingredients in which Bruster’s is known.”
Western-themed quick-service restaurant chain Roy Rogers Restaurants has introduced the Mushroom Jack Burger, with portobello mushrooms, garlic aioli sauce and Monterey Jack cheese.
“With burgers, beef and chicken as our staple menu items, we have a lot of room to get creative with toppings and pairings to take our offerings to the next level,” said Mark Jenkins, senior director of marketing at Roy Rogers. “We are thrilled at the excitement observed during the initial testing of the Mushroom Jack Burger and can’t wait to share portobello mushrooms with our royalists for the first time.”
The newest addition at self-serve frozen yogurt brand Yogurtland is strawberry banana, described as a “refreshing springtime treat” made with strawberries and bananas.
Recent menu additions focus on relaunches of fan favorites.
Seasonal launches lean into sweet and spiced flavors.