Culinary Trends - Superb Skillet Meals - Presented by Conagra Foodservice | November 2017


Cast-iron pans. Vintage bakeware. Ceramic casserole dishes and ramekins. As tools from the kitchen become a part of the dining experience, prep and presentation work in harmony to elevate a variety of dishes. "Oven-to-table" cooking works on a multisensory level: keeping hot food piping hot, adding sizzling sounds as the dish hits the table, and ensuring that delicious aromas waft through the air. And don't discount the visual appeal of a skillet to create Instagram-worthy dishes that patrons love! For example, one of the breakfast dishes taking U.S. menus (and social media) by storm is shakshuka, a North African dish of poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce, traditionally served in a cast-iron pan. The move towards sensational skillets applies to classic American comfort foods and rustic global cuisine alike. Read on to see how the trend can "pan" out across your menu!

Chef Tips

When preparing or serving dishes in skillets, the right back-of-house tools will make the job (and cleanup) easy and efficient. PAM® non-stick cooking sprays can be used across many culinary applications. Here's a handy guide to choosing the best PAM® products for your operational needs.


Meals served in skillets — whether individual or shared portions — add exciting visual appeal to the dining experience. Try these recipes or check our website for more inspiration.

Sausage and Sweet Potato Frittata

A tasty combination of crumbled Odom's Tennessee Pride® Mild Country Sausage, sweet potato, parsley and cheddar add mouthwatering flavor to this breakfast or brunch frittata.

Famous Queso Breakfast Skillet

Put a twist on a classic appetizer, as queso meets the traditional breakfast skillet piled high with hash browns, eggs, pork sausage and green onion. Don't forget to prep your pans with PAM® High Yield Cooking Spray!

Caramel Apple Crisp

J. Hungerford Smith® Sweet Cream Caramel Dulce de Leche is used two ways, in both the apple pie filling and topping of this delicious dessert. Prepare in a full hotel pan protected by PAM® High Heat Baking Spray.

By the number

Breakfast entrées, sides and desserts served in skillets are growing at an impressive rate. Though not necessarily called out in the menu description, tableside service in a skillet or heritage stoneware brings an appealing rustic quality to these dishes.

  • 19% mac and cheese
  • 29% hash
  • 154% Brussels sprouts
  • 226% skillet cookie
  • 326% shakshuka

Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2013-2017.


Quick Dish

Serve it up hot! Skillet meals continue to grow in popularity as the trend of comforting and authentic cuisine shows no signs of stopping.

  • 15%
    growth of cast iron skillets on U.S. menus over the past year
  • 10%
    breakfast skillets are up since 2013
  • 14%
    general skillet mentions over the past four years
  • 16%
    increase in the term "rustic" on menus since 2013

Datassential MenuTrends, U.S. menu penetration growth 2013-2017.


"Elotes" Corn Salsa with crème, Cotija cheese and arbol chile, served with chips

Hash House a Go Go:
Black Skillet Chicken with chili-crusted chicken breasts on pumpkin mashed with hardwood smoked bacon, charred tomato, asparagus and bbq

Dove's Luncheonette:
Buttermilk Pancake, a skillet pancake filled with cherries, topped with almond granola, lemon crema and maple syrup

Chicagoans love hearty meals; unsurprisingly the city's most famous dish is a massive deep dish pizza served in a steel pan. So, it's the perfect town to explore the latest in skillet service. Here are some of the bubbly, hot and rustic dishes found on independent and local chain menus alike:

Bar Siena:
Short Rib Hash with a poached egg, caramelized vegetables and roasted garlic hollandaise

Sidebar Grille:
Skillet Cookie in mini or full-sized portions, a baked chocolate chip cookie with caramel, chocolate, vanilla bean ice cream and whipped cream

Crosby's Kitchen:
Iron Skillet Cornbread, served hot with maple butter

America's favorite non-stick cooking spray; formulated for foodservice!*
PAM® cooking sprays deliver consistent performance, for all of your back-of-house needs. Our products are specially formulated to make your food prep and cleanup more efficient.

  • PAM® High Yield Cooking Spray: Specially formulated with twice the amount of heat-resistant lecithin, for maximum non-stick protection with less application. Perfect for heavy sautéing and pan-frying.
  • PAM® Buttercoat Cooking Spray: Rich, clean, buttery flavor — without all the added fat, calories or cholesterol of real butter.
  • PAM® Sauté & Grill Cooking Spray: An economical water/canola blend spray, perfect for light cooking and cold prep. Use on panini grills, waffle irons, meat slicers, utensils and plastic ware — and throughout the kitchen — for quick cleanup.
  • PAM® Olive Oil Cooking Spray: Enhances the flavor of food while still providing ultimate nonstick performance.

*IRI, Total U.S. Multi-Outlet, 52 Weeks Ending September 24, 2017

Fern Glazer, "Cookies get their due on dessert menus," Nation's Restaurant News, September 27, 2017.
Katie Ayoub, "Skillet Sensation," Flavor & The Menu, January 5, 2017.
Nancy Kruse, "Comfort food hash gets mixed up with modern influences," Nation's Restaurant News, September 29, 2017.