Catering Trends For 2023

A pastry chef arranges catered pastries on trays.
| 11.10.22
Cecily Kellogg

Caterers need to keep on top of entertaining trends and options. Whether you’re catering a wedding, graduation, birthday party, or other events, you’ll want to wow your guests with the latest culinary delights to keep them coming back. From bite-sized reprises of homemade classics to the latest in mood-lifting beverages, the catering trends of 2023 will make any occasion one to savor and get your customers talking about your catering business!

Current Trends In The Catering Industry For 2023

More Plant-based and “Flexitarian” Options
Perhaps the most significant trend in the catering industry is a broad increase in consumer demand for plant-based meals and appetizer solutions. Even the idea of the “main course” has taken a hit, with clients often preferring to serve an array of tapas, sides, or appetizers rather than a heavy meal. This reliance on smaller portions and greater variety allows caterers to get creative while offering guests more plant-based and vegan options. Vegetarian/vegan dishes are no longer the afterthoughts of the party menu—these delicious and healthy dishes are now being fully integrated into caterers’ offerings. 

Another popular trend is to offer “flexitarian” options for select dishes. Guests could choose, for example, between a chicken piccata and the same dish made with tofu or mushrooms in place of meat. The substitutions are doable, and guests appreciate the consideration. 

Euphorics—The Alcohol-Free Cocktails Shaking up the Beverage Industry
The search for the ideal alcohol-free cocktail shows no signs of waning—and now a new class of mood-elevating drinks is turning heads. Brands like Kin Euphorics, Aplós, Ghia, and TÖST are non-alcoholic beverages that use natural herbs, spices, and botanicals to produce an emotional lift in consumers. Used in combination, these ingredients elicit relaxation similar to that produced by a cocktail, but without the hangover. 

Unlike alcoholic beverages, euphorics actually promote health through the use of ingredients called adaptogens. Adaptogens are plants and fungi that support your body’s natural responses to stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Common adaptogens—such as ginseng, ashwagandha, eleuthero, and Rhodiola—also promote homeostasis, the state of healthy equilibrium, even when our lives don’t!

Some brands, such as Aplós, are using hemp infusions to give their beverages the heath-supporting effects of cannabinoids called cannabidiol (or CBD) to produce an uplifted feeling among consumers while also taking advantage of the anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory properties of CBD.

Nostalgic Themes
Theme parties are growing more innovative than ever, and many of today’s most popular themes fondly recall some of our most familiar comfort foods. Didn’t think you’d tear up over a TV-dinner-themed party? Well, you might if the look and branding were as on point as some of today’s creations. Caterers are getting to flex their creative muscles with whimsically designed meals and decor based on touchstone retro themes. From diners to dance parties, there seems to be no slowdown in requests for nostalgic themes, so you can expect more in 2023.  

Bite-Size Classics
Imagine a bowl of mom’s homemade angel hair pasta and sauce in bite-size. That’s only one of the many options as today’s caterers reimagine our favorite comfort foods from childhood. Small portions mean more offerings and greater selection. From beef wellington bites to mom’s grilled cheese and tomato soup in a cup, these nostalgic offerings do not disappoint. Best of all, you can provide samples of three or four memory-stirring meals and shape the theme from there! 

Try a Garden Bar for Healthy Drink Options
There’s no question—some foods must be served fresh. Imagine an array of healthy herb- and juice-based beverage options, with syrups and fruit garnishes to add that splash of sweetness or tartness, all positioned in an inviting space. Fresh herbs such as mint, lavender, rosemary, and basil—along with a selection of edible orchids—combine to form unique garden-fresh flavor combinations guests can create themselves. And because there’s no alcohol, and all items are self-serve, the bar needn’t be staffed. What could be easier or healthier?

Experiential Catering & Flair Bartending
There’s no better way to engage with guests than to immerse them in the process. Chef-attended action stations allow diners to interact with skilled preparers, asking questions and selecting the specific sauces and toppings they want on their dish. It’s a personalized touch that quickly elevates any event to a gala! 

Want even more action? You’ll turn mixology into magic when you hire a skilled flair bartender to your team. Guests will marvel as your bartender pours, strains, flips, juggles, and ices down each drink like Tom Cruise in Cocktail. 

Before you serve up more catering excellence, check to make sure you have the right level of business insurance for caterers. You can try our insurance coverage tune-up if you’re not sure! 

With all these exciting catering trends, 2023 is set to make a big splash on the party scene. That’s great news for caterers! We hope these trends have inspired you to help you grow your catering business in new ways.

About the Author

Cecily Kellogg is a digital marketing expert specializing in the B2B industry—particularly in infrastructure, chemical & pharma, and technology. For over a decade, she ran the boutique marketing agency Double Good Media before joining her current team at Percepture. She's been writing online since the internet was invented with publications ranging from parenting to pet insurance to small business—garnering millions of views. She lives in Philadelphia with her long-suffering husband, her radical teen daughter, too many cats, and a heck of a goober dog. (That's the technical term.)