Image courtesy of McCormick
On Tuesday, December 5, global flavor leader McCormick released its much-anticipated Flavor Forecast for 2018. The annual report looks at what will be hot in the culinary world in the coming year.

A major theme in this year’s forecast is the convenient and adventurous nature of food. Street food flavor fusion is big across the globe, as carts, trucks, and food halls are making an impact in local food cultures.

The innovative idea has become big with many bakeries in 2017, and that will look to continue in 2018. High-flavor fillings are merging with crepes, breads, and buns to create unique street fare. One of those items expected to be popular is dessert bao buns.

These soft, steamed buns first gained traction in China, where they are typically served in a savory fashion. We’ve even seen it make a great casing for sandwiches, at places like New York City’s Black Seed Bagels and BaoHaus. The former recently featured a combination of a bao bun and bagel, “The Baogel,” which was filled with Chinese restaurant Nom Wah Kuai’s signature sweet pork belly. The latter specializes in the Chairman Bao, an open-faced bao filled with tender and fatty pork belly, topped with Haus Relish, crushed peanuts, and Taiwanese red sugar.

McCormick predicts that bao buns will feature a sweeter side in 2018. To create a product more akin to a handheld dessert, they can be made with a simple dough and classic pie fillings. The flavor forecast gives the example of the British banoffee pie bao, which has bananas, cream, cinnamon, and toffee.

Other trends on the Flavor Forecast include cuisine from East Africa, Japanese Izakaya eats, wellness beverages and soups, and hot pot dishes. Learn more about these flavor trends for 2018 here.