Toast isn’t just about butter and jam anymore; it has become a versatile canvas for a variety of flavours and ingredients, from the savoury to the sweet, to the downright creative. Here are some of the most notable toast trends for 2023.
Social media has made many different toast design trends famous, from the humble avocado on toast to cheese-pull toasties and more. So, let’s look at some of the most popular toast trends worldwide right now – they’re the best thing since sliced bread…
Less is More
High-quality, thick, crunchy toast with a spongy middle, lashings of thick butter and a sprinkling of sea salt are all you need when the bread is THAT good. Sourdough or artisanal breads are the main styles we see being served and eaten like this. Some chefs make it a little fancy with whipped butter, which certainly takes it up.
Inspiration: Thick, extra-toasted local sourdough with lots of unsalted butter, seasoned with smoked Maldon and spicy Aleppo pepper, @plant_romance. Whipped brown butter on toast, @desertislanddishes.
Cheese on toast is a comforting snack that will forever remain a favourite. And while there’s still a place for the classic with cheddar and a touch of Worcestershire sauce and Welsh rarebit, creations like pizza toast and whipped soft cheese on toast are all becoming popular on the likes of TikTok and Instagram.
Inspiration: Korean cheese & corn on toast, @onlyslaggin. Cottage cheese pizza toast, @thehealthylittlepeach. Toasted sourdough with truffle and porcini butter, whipped brie, fresh winter truffles and honey, Marelli Cafe, Malta.
More Than Just Baked Beans
A British favourite, baked beans on toast is a quick and budget-friendly dish, but over the last year, beans have been taken to another level. From fava beans with mint and honey to giant butter beans laced in a zingy tahini dressing and even homemade smokey beans, pulses are high in fibre and protein and a great vegan/veggie option for your menu.
For many eateries and sustainability-focused chefs, toast toppings change with the seasons. Think of robust and hearty mushroom-on-toast creations in the autumn, spring pea toasts, or juicy seasonal tomatoes gracing summer plates. Techniques such as pickling and fermentation also add depth, tang, and texture.
Inspiration: Pan-toasted challah topped with sambal mayo, scrambled eggs, avocado, queso fresco and garnished with chives and microgreens, @lilybubbletea. Rye toast with macadamia cream, garlic and chive oil, shiso leaves and seasonal tomatoes, Florian Easter, Melbourne.
Top it with Tinned Fish
Tinned fish like anchovies and sardines have been slowly returning to menus, especially when served with a thick slice of warm toast. Some restaurants are taking it up a level with mussels, crab rarebit and air-fryer prawn toast.
Meat on Toast
From beef tartare and bone marrow toast to paté or cured ham, a meaty addition takes this toast from a snack to a showstopper.
Sweet or savoury, simple or gourmet, toast is so versatile that the possibilities for experimentation are endless. Flavour elevators in the form of sauces and seasonings help push the boundaries of classic pairings – think classic avo toast with Thai nam jim sauce, jammy eggs on toast with Japanese yuzu pickles, or bold chilli oils to pack a punch.
Inspiration: Avocado toast with fresh herb salad and nam jim sauce, Chet’s, London. Za’atar roasted sweet peppers on a crispy sourdough slice, lemony hollandaise, chopped pistachio and black pepper, and naga chilli oil, @snarkybutdelish.
Nostalgia and Comfort
Evoking nostalgia and comfort, with creative twists on classic toast pairings continue to be popular with customers. We’re talking school dinner puddings, peanut butter and jam jazzed up with a cornflake crust, cinnamon sugar toast made using single origin cinnamon, or stuffed toast drawing on simple fruit spreads.
Inspiration: Cinnamon sugar toast using Diaspora Co cinnamon directly sourced from Sri Lanka,The Mill, San Francisco. Crunchy nut cornflakes crusted honey roast peanut butter and jelly French toast topped with butter and condensed milk, Milchig, UK.
The desire to go out for brunch or want all-day breakfast options shows no sign of slowing down. For those with a sweet tooth, French toast may be the answer. The humble toast is being turned into dishes like crème brûlée, tiramisu and bread and butter pudding – and it’s absolutely delicious.
Inspiration: Bread & butter pudding baked French toast with miso & white chocolate custard, poached rhubarb compote, tahini & roasted sesame seed caramel snap, & salted dark chocolate shard, Fruit Shop, UK. Pavlova French toast, The Smug Fig Kitchen & Social, Australia.
From toasted sandwiches to 3-layer affairs, with fancy compotes, creams and sweet fillings, these sweet toasts are indulgent and delicious.
Inspiration: Chunky sourdough French toast stuffed with ricotta and garnished with miso caramel and cultured butter, Winoya’s, US. Blood orange French toast comprising blood orange compote sandwiched sourdough, topped with macadamia panela cream and polenta crumb, Esters, London.
Although French toast dominates as a sweet affair, we have also seen some delicious savoury versions. These recipes go beyond the classic sweet and salty, bacon doused in maple syrup combo and take these savoury toasts to new heights – Pizza French toast, anyone?
Inspiration: Pizza French toast – thick brioche soaked in savoury batter and fried, topped with Pomodoro tomato sauce, melted mozzarella, pepperoni, fresh basil and EVOO, Crome London Doha, Qatar. Milkbread soaked in sourdough bread sauce, served grilled with onion confit, celeriac and nori chips, Julius, Germany.
Butters and Syrups
Syrups and butter can help elevate toast to something extra special, plus a little drizzle looks great on the plate. The global larder makes a regular appearance showcasing ingredients, herbs and spices from the Middle East to Japan. Moreover, with compound butter back for another round on the socials, it’s likely we’ll start seeing an evolution of buttered toast very soon.
Inspiration: Babka French Toast with warm palm syrup and whipped Thai-tea butter, Chets, UK. Arabic coffee French toast using buttermilk soaked brioche served with sweet whipped labneh, crushed pistachios, bitter cocoa, and a drizzle of thick Arabic coffee and cardamom syrup, Akub, UK.
This flakey pastry is the latest toast upgrade from flattened, crunchy palmier-style croissants to thick loaf-shaped croissant slices. Now, the concept of croissant-shaped toast isn’t new – it’s been a signature of San Francisco bakery La Boulangerie since 2019 – but with French pastry having a moment in the spotlight, it’s no wonder the versatility of popular viennoiserie is starting to emerge.
Inspiration: Caramelised croissant loaf slice with caramel cream, Fortitude Bakehouse, UK. Croissant dough cut into toast slices topped with graham cracker frangipane, coconut, and pecans then baked, finished with caramel and chocolate shavings, Layered Croissanterie, US.
While we’re on the subject of croissants and French toast, let’s talk about Bostock. This French bread-topped-with-frangipane delicacy has been on the periphery for years, a staple menu item for many bakeries and cafes, but never really had a moment in the spotlight as such. It’s a brilliant way of using up stale bread… So why not give it a try?
Inspiration: Strawberry pistachio bostock, The Little Tart Bakeshop, US. Enriched dough bread topped with homemade raspberry jam, frangipane and a light dusting of sprinkles, Nice Times Bakery, Edinburgh, UK.
Some of these great toast creations are quite simple to do, while others are a little more tricky and time-consuming. Adding a special whipped butter to your menu is an easy, make-ahead way to upgrade your bread and butter starter, flavoured with ingredients like chilli, herbs or marmite. Alternatively, just nailing the cheese toastie, using ingredients like kimchi or pickled veg to upgrade it, will certainly get you noticed. And always leave room for something sweet…