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Chefs often introduce new concepts as appetizers to create menu variety on a smaller scale than full entrées require.  

Shredded or melted on top, as a sauce, as a crucial ingredient or as center-plate items, cheeses of all types are widely used in appetizers around the world.  

Dairy products from the United States help chefs keep on-trend with innovative new menu ideas tailored to suit increasingly-sophisticated consumer demand. Learn more about U.S. dairy products in the Product Section.

Appetizer Trends

appetizersCheese is a feature in the majority of full service restaurant (FSR) chains' appetizer offerings in the United States (Technomics' Top Ten FSR's). From health to indulgence, the hottest U.S. foodservice trends offer international opportunities to increase use of cheese and dairy products.  

The rapid appetizer menu expansion in flatbread offerings and popularity of "small plates" cater to health-conscious patrons who opt for items perceived as nutritious. Cheese provides high-quality protein and essential minerals as well as taste and sensory appeal.   

Traditional, more indulgent fare continues to appeal to many consumers as well, and cheese plays a central role. From long-standing favorites like fried mozzarella sticks and buffalo wings with blue cheese to the resurgence of cheese dips, particularly paired with the newly rediscovered pretzel, cheese is a key component in many popular U.S. appetizers.  

Healthy Appetizer Offerings

The flatbreads trend combines a universal love of pizza with a rise in consumer demand for healthier, more nutritious foods. Flatbreads feature vegetable and salad toppings, and cheese further widens the range of texture and flavor profiles. From creamy and mild monterey jack to crumbly and more robustly flavored feta, cheese can bolster the opportunities created by special flatbreads offerings and frequent recipe changes.  

Small plates 

Multiple appetizer platters are a feature at seven of the top ten U.S. FSR's, and nearly half offer specific "small plates" selections in addition to regular appetizer menu items. Consumer demand for variety and healthier options fuel the trends, as small plates are perceived as lower in calories than full entrée offerings. Small plate items that contain dairy products help deliver rich, creamy mouthfeel and promote satiety with important proteins and broad nutritional spectrum availability. 

Formulas & Recipes

Protein-powered Curry Hummus

Protein-powered Curry Hummus

Spicing up widely popular hummus with the power of U.S. dairy ingredients demonstrates how blending dairy proteins with vegetable-based options multiplies the benefits. The addition of high quality milk protein doubles the protein content while complementing the flavor and texture.


Savory Asian Protein Granola

Savory Asian Protein Granola

This savory mix is perfect for consumers looking to capitalize on the adventurous flavor and texture trend. A worldly combination of Sriracha seasoning and soy sauce is complemented with crunch from U.S. whey protein crisps, packing 6g of protein into each serving.


Savory, Soft Protein Pretzel

Savory, Soft Protein Pretzel

This delicious snack provides a good source of protein for an authentic soft pretzel flavor experience.