A bowl of oatmeal.
Unsplash/Margarita Zueva

Within the top 20, seven items could fall under the breakfast daypart.

20 Foods on the Rise During COVID-19

Dishes that were once a delivery afterthought are surging during the pandemic; breakfast and Mexican dishes emerge as favorites.

The dining landscape has shifted dramatically since the coronavirus entered the U.S. Not only have consumers largely shifted their habits from dine-in to off-premises, their food preferences have also changed. Americans are sick of cooking and preparing foods at home, which has led to some interesting orders.

Last week, third-party delivery provider DoorDash released its Deep Dish report, which synthesized data from orders placed between January and June and from a poll of 2,000 Americans. The study also compared orders in those six months to the same period the prior year. Of the 20 items that have experienced the most growth year-over-year, several are ones that would likely not make the list were it not for the pandemic.

Top 20 Food on The Rise (Increase YoY)

  1. Oatmeal - 1,768%
  2. Queso Blanco - 1,735%
  3. Iced Caramel Coffee - 1,660%
  4. Grilled Chicken Taco - 1,502%
  5. Create Your Own Pizza - 1,501%
  6. Cinnamon Rolls - 1,400%
  7. Cheese Nachos - 1,130%
  8. Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie - 1,193%
  9. Spinach and Artichoke Dip - 1,092%
  10. Iced French Vanilla Coffee - 1,028% 
  11. Shrimp Tacos - 997%
  12. New York Style Cheesecake - 843%
  13. Strawberry Banana Smoothie - 822%
  14. Biscuits with Gravy - 818%
  15. Vegetable Samosa - 788%
  16. Blueberry Muffin - 779%
  17. Plant-based Burgers - 433%
  18. Chicken Fajitas - 318%
  19. Churros - 260%
  20. Horchata - 200%

Within the top 20, seven items could fall under the breakfast daypart: oatmeal, iced caramel coffee, cinnamon rolls, iced French vanilla coffee, strawberry-banana smoothie, biscuits with gravy, and blueberry muffin. And while these foods experienced astounding growth, other breakfast staples took top honors in terms of sheer order volumes rather than order increase. The 10 most popular foods ordered in the first six months of 2020 included iced coffee at No. 5 and a breakfast burrito at No. 7. The latter also bridges two of the hottest categories in pandemic-era takeout: breakfast and Mexican food. Similar to the early daypart, Mexican/Latin American dishes took seven of the top 20 slots (queso blanco, grilled chicken taco, cheese nachos, shrimp tacos, chicken fajitas, churros, and horchata).

Consumers’ predilection for Mexican eats can be attributed to two broader trends. First, many of these dishes fall into the realm of comfort foods, which Americans currently gravitate toward over healthy foods at a 3-to-1 ratio.

The second speaks to kitchen fatigue. According to DoorDash, seven out of 10 Americans have increased the amount they cook between January and June with nearly half (47 percent) reporting that they are weary of the activity. In terms of category, Mexican has become the most-missed cuisine with 40 percent of respondents reporting they miss it because of the difficulty in preparing such dishes at home. Seafood was the second most missed cuisine, followed by sushi and Italian, which tied for third place.

Another thing consumers are missing from Mexican restaurants? Margaritas. Twenty percent of respondents said it was the alcoholic beverage they were most excited to order once life returns to normal. It’s a healthy margin between the next most coveted drinks, classic cocktails and beer, which were each top picks for 11 percent of consumers.

DoorDash also shared the top food items ordered so far this year (from January 1 to June 30).

Top Foods of 2020 To Date

  1. Chicken Sandwich + French Fries 
  2. Mac and Cheese 
  3. Spicy Shrimp Tacos 
  4. Make Your Own Pizza 
  5. Iced Coffee 
  6. California Roll 
  7. Breakfast Burrito 
  8. Chicken Fajitas 
  9. Spicy Tuna Roll 
  10. Fish & Chips 

And condiments:

Top Condiments of 2020 To Date  

  1. Ranch
  2. Sour Cream 
  3. Soy Sauce
  4. Hot Mustard 
  5. Spicy Mayo 
  6. Ketchup
  7. Hot Sauce
  8. Honey Mustard 
  9. Salsa
  10. Honey BBQ