Culinary Trends - Load 'Em Up!-Presented by Conagra Foodservice | July 2017


The phrase "carbo-loading" takes on another meaning when you think about the fries, tots and mashed potatoes commonly topped with bacon, cheese and gravy. But the "loaded" trend is making its way across dayparts, menu parts and segments, with everything from hot dogs to Bloody Marys to poke bowls piled high with offbeat and colorful ingredients. Whether it's an Instagram-worthy smoothie bowl or made-to-order avocado toast, loaded dishes can add excitement and a signature touch to your menu offerings.

Chef Tips

Loaded dishes are often synonymous with indulgence, so don't be afraid to get creative. Shareable appetizers and family-style sides are perfect for adventurous diners looking for a unique meal experience. Patrons looking for more healthful options can still enjoy loaded dishes with fresh produce, nutritious whole grains and flavorful spices.

  • Find a balance between salty and sweet when you add walnut sundae topping to your favorite poutine recipe
  • Take hummus to new heights with added layers of fresh and pickled vegetables
  • Double the cheese—and the fun—with nachos made from quesadillas instead of plain tortilla chips
  • Stack waffles with fresh fruit, whipped toppings and even caramel corn to add eye-catching height to breakfast offerings
  • Hot dogs, veggie burgers and chicken sandwiches are just a few of the classic dishes that can be reinvented with stacks of toppings
By the number

A look at restaurant menus makes it clear—bigger is better! Loaded dishes, jaw-dropping piles of ingredients and personalized items reflect the preferences of today's patrons.

  • 52% growth of the term "loaded"
  • 322% growth of the term "customization"
  • 60% growth of the term "extreme"
  • 32% growth of the term "double"
  • 30% growth of the term "triple"

* Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2005-2016


The NEW Reddi wip® features natural vanilla flavor with real sugar and Grade A cream. That means no artificial flavors, no artificial sweeteners, no high fructose corn syrup and no hydrogenated oil! Try it on all of your loaded desserts, breakfast offerings, coffee beverages and more.

Great Food.
Bright Future.

Learn more about Congra Foodservice, your partner in cullinary innovation..


Start with a base like pancakes, grits or fries and build unique flavor profiles inspired by classic dishes or ethnic cuisine. Try our suggestions below and visit our website for even more recipe ideas.

Loaded Cheesy Grits

This zesty recipe features Rosarita® Mild Ground Tomato Salsa, fried eggs, spicy pepitas and more. Perfect for DIY meals and breakfast stations.

Fully Loaded Sweet Potato Fries

RO*TEL® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies are the star of the show, but classic baked potato toppings like bacon, sour cream and scallions add an element of familiarity.

Irish Pub Nachos

Smoked sausage and whiskey cheese sauce made with RO*TEL® Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies give these potato "nachos" signature flair.

S'mores Pancakes

A loaded breakfast (or dessert) with a nostalgic twist—alternating layers of Krusteaz® Chef Supreme Grande Pancakes, J. Hungerford Smith® Marshmallow and Milk Chocolate Fudge Toppings and crushed graham crackers.


Quick Dish

Traditional finger foods, such as potato tots and fries, are moving into fork-and-knife territory as the foundation of loaded dishes.

  • Tots are hot! They're up 106% on menus in the past four years alone.
  • 62% of consumers are interested in trying loaded fries
  • Waffle fries provide great plate coverage, and they've grown 38% since 2012.

1, 3 Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2012-2016.
2 Datassential, "On the Menu," March 2017


Fun and funky loaded dishes are making an impact in the casual dining segment. Here are some of our favorite examples showcasing the trend.

  • New York City's BLACK TAP pioneered the "crazy milkshake" trend with such offerings as their Cotton Candy Strawberry Shake—including a vanilla-frosted rim with blue, pink and pearl chocolates topped with a pink lollipop, rock candy, whipped cream and cotton candy.

  • SCRATCH KITCHEN & LOUNGE in Chicago serves full one-pound servings of fries with unique topping combos, including a Mediterranean option with feta, lemon, oregano, Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, cucumber and tzatziki.

  • THE RUBY SLIPPER CAFÉ in New Orleans takes brunch to the next level with towering takes on the classics, such as their Shrimp Boogaloo Benedict with sautéed gulf shrimp served over fried green tomatoes and a buttermilk biscuit, topped with poached eggs and a Creole tomato sauce.