Are Carbs Making a Comeback?

New survey results may surprise you

Carbs are back and in demand. If you think potatoes top the list of popular side dishes among our clients, you’d be right (60 percent of caterers named spuds as their top choice, says a Technomic survey). But you might be surprised by the choices that follow—more carbs! We’re seeing more requests for ramen, buckwheat noodles, rice bowls (think jasmine, basmati, or brown rice), flatbreads and artisan breads. Even savory waffles to accompany that fried chicken. And let’s not forget starchy vegetables and legumes. What’s driving the trend?

Increased interest in ethnic food, for one thing, especially Asian and Middle Eastern flavors. While there continues to be consumer concern about gluten and heavy carbs, when prepared and presented creatively, carbs can be cost-effective menu choices for your special occasion. Let’s face it, carbs are what people know and are comfortable with.

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Pastas meet the demand

With a desire to cut back on white carbs and gluten, today’s guests can be satisfied with new, creative choices. Consider the following:

  • Seasoned pasta, such as basil fettuccine
  • Novelty pasta, such as chocolate spaghetti
  • Whole grain and organic pasta, such as Kamut spirals
  • Ethnic versions, such as ramen noodles 

Grains as accompaniments or small plates

A wide choice of grains can burst with big, bold flavors in bread (such as naan, tortillas, focaccia, and pita), risotto, pilaf, stuffing, and soup.

  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Cornmeal
  • Flax seed
  • Kasha
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Wheatberries
  • Wild rice

These grains can also be ground to flavor flour. Combined with dried fruits (also carbohydrates), herbs, vegetable purees, and seeds, these grains can be transformed into exotic and memorable breads, too.


Delectable decadence

Designer doughnuts can take center stage in customized displays, offering different flavor profiles, from the batter to the glaze and decoration.

French and German twists

You can delight the palates of your guests with a dish called poutine: French fries topped with savory brown gravy and cheese curds. Or, select for them pretzel buns for burgers or artisan pretzel breads. Pretzels can also make for a tasty appetizer, served with a hearty cheese and mustard dipping sauce.

Breakfast foods with a twinge of savory

Pancakes, waffles, and French toast can add new flavor to your meal as either a traditional sweet option or prepared with a twist of savory. Think of the texture a waffle sandwich can offer, maybe a hamburger or pulled pork between its top and bottom. And there’s always the classic chicken and waffles.

When planning your next special event, give your guests the treat they want: tasty and satisfying carbs!