Onions, tomatoes, and lettuce are the top-featured produce in chain restaurant limited-time offers (LTOs) and new introductions. This is thanks, in part, to burgers, which made up 8% of LTOs over the past year (Datassential INSIDER) and often feature these veggies as toppings to balance out meaty textures and neutral colors.
Veggie toppings are even more important for the plant-based burger trend, with top restaurant chains including lettuce, tomato, onion, and more to help add familiar burger context and flavor to a less familiar protein. In spring, The Habit Burger Grill reintroduced their Original Impossible Burger topped with grilled onions, American cheese, fresh lettuce, and sliced tomatoes. These plant-based pairings extend beyond just burgers – earlier this year, Noodles & Co. tested an Impossible Orange Chicken Lo Mein, which included snap peas, Napa cabbage, red cabbage, green onions, and cilantro to accompany and contrast their panko-breaded, vegan Impossible chicken.
In general, the addition of fresh ingredients can give restaurant LTOs and introductions an edge, as consumers place high importance on this factor: