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The 2020 Trends We’re Already Experimenting With

Created December 4, 2019
Stir Fry
We’ve got a feeling you’re going to like what’s coming.
We’ll admit that we love reveling in the past and making classics relevant to modern cooks. But as the cooking and baking landscape continues to evolve, we’re just as excited by what the future holds. As we look forward to the start of a whole new decade, these are the trends—big and small—that we see on the horizon.

Cooking Consciously

Stir Fry

There’s no denying that the world is paying more attention to being kinder to the planet, and one of the easiest places to start making a difference is in your kitchen. By taking steps to reduce food waste—like learning to make meals using ingredients that are lingering in the fridge and pantry, or shopping from a list—you’re doing your part. We’ve created recipe frameworks that’ll help you learn to improvise everything from one-pot pastas to sheet-pan dinners using what you have on hand, so less of it goes to waste. Plus, our Taste Not Waste guide provides simple info and ideas that you can realistically apply to your household. Like many earth-conscious choices, taking care to buy just what you need and use what you buy can have the added benefit of keeping your bills lower—less food wasted means more money in your pocket!

Classics Get a Modern Makeover

Upside-Down Fruit Cake

Many dishes and flavors have stood the test of time, but there are certain ingredients and styles of cooking that have fallen by the wayside. Tastes evolve and change, and we’re in a moment of casual-but-fun cooking that has pushed formal-and-fussy firmly into the past. We’ve been playing with this idea in the Betty Crocker Kitchens in a number of ways. Take fruitcake for instance. The leaden loaves of the past have become the butt of many jokes, but we thought that the heart of the concept—deeply sweet dried fruit and warm spices—was worth not just saving, but re-exploring. Turns out, we when we went to work on new ways to play with those flavors, we loved them so much that we made two new recipes—Fruitcake Cookies and Upside-Down Fruitcake. Peoples’ preferences today favor softer textures in baked goods, so we made that a priority; the cookies are chewy and the cake crumb is nice and tender. Because we have a huge cache of classic recipes in our archives, those are just two examples of modern makeovers—and we plan on keeping the streak going.

Meal Prep Gets Simplified

Slow Cooker Make Ahead Beef

Meal prep is everywhere these days. For some people, spending the better part of a Sunday portioning out the coming week’s grain bowls and salad jars is a way of life, and for others, it’s way too much to commit to. But there’s no question: Having food ready ahead of time makes life easier—and dinner more doable—for the many times when life gets hectic and making a meal from square one is the last thing you want to do. So how to solve the conundrum? We put forward this idea: Prepping big batches of one central meal element that you can use in countless dishes and riff on what’s hanging around your cupboards and crisper drawers. With that in mind, we developed a big-batch chicken thigh recipe and another for a beef roast—and we wrote instructions for both the oven and the slow cooker. It’s all freezer-friendly, so you can have a stash that makes it easy to create dinner on the fly whenever you need to, in a fraction of the time it’d normally take.

Sausage as The Weeknight Dinner Secret Weapon

sheet pan kielbasa and vegetables

It’s always been there, hiding in plain sight: sausage. Whether it’s links or ground, this powerhouse protein has come up more and more often as we discuss fast, easy and delicious ways to get dinners done on busy weeknights. Whether it’s an already cooked version or raw, sausages bring big flavor to any dish, without making you tinker too much. It works in a skillet, on a sheet pan, in a one-pot pasta, in a casserole—basically anywhere your mind can take it (even back to a basic bun if you want!). We like that with the huge variety of sausage populating deli and refrigerator cases, you can get creative and build around the particular flavors available—go Cajun with some andouille, make an outstanding spaghetti sauce with hot Italian, or try some Moroccan when you find a merguez. Or, bring home a versatile and adaptable version like kielbasa and discover the many things you can make with one humble ingredient.

Regional Flavors That Tell a Story

pimiento cheese

Food has become much more than the thing we eat—but it always has been, hasn’t it? Well, there’s truth to that, but these days, the stories that used to be told regionally about food are now told globally, and we’re all the better-fed for it. The traditions, origins, mythologies and cult followings around certain foods make them that much more interesting and when we get a taste of something like pimiento cheese (which plenty of Americans in Northern states didn’t grow up with), we get to know a little bit more about the people who came up with it. It’s as true for regional American food (like fluff salads from the Midwest, black and white cookies from New York) as it is for global fare (like Scandinavian-influenced apple-cardamom cake or Massaman curry from Thailand, which itself represents a confluence of cultures). Sharing food and stories about food brings us all that much closer together, so as more and more regional recipes have their time in the spotlight, we say pull up a chair and dig in.

Zero Tolerance for Light Food with So-So Flavor

lighter tomato alfredo pasta bake

It seems like there are as many different opinions about eating well (or “healthy,” or “clean”) as there were days in the soon-to-be-past decade. For the future, it seems likely things will carry on in much the same way: fads will come and go, new science will emerge, and we’ll all ride the rollercoaster. One thing that we think is certain, though: There’s no more room for flavor to suffer in lighter fare. With all the information at our fingertips, there are more recipes than ever that pare back calories, carbs, sodium and other items of concern—all while still putting flavor first. No one wants to eat a bleak and bland diet, no matter what their dietary restrictions, and we’ve been experimenting with ways to make certain ingredients go farther and how to recreate craveable flavors while keeping things light. One of our favorite examples is our Lighter Tomato Alfredo Pasta Bake that’s made with a cauliflower Alfredo sauce that’s creamy, rich and won’t cause a moment of missing the cream-based version.