Spring is a time of growth and change, so it makes sense to reflect that in your menu. If you’re not sure where to start, these spring menu ideas for your restaurant are sure to brighten, refresh and rejuvenate your food offerings, attracting more guests and increasing profits.
When you think of spring, fresh vegetables come to mind. This is the perfect time of year to cultivate your garden and incorporate fresh greens into your menu. Vegetables that are at their peak this time of year include:
- Asparagus—These bright green spears can be steamed, roasted or boiled. They are great as a side for steak or salmon.
- Peas—Fresh, slightly sweet peas are great in soups. They are also surprisingly delicious when paired with mint.
- Artichokes—Common in Mediterranean cuisines, artichokes are at their peak in the spring and again in the fall. A bit of lemon juice and olive oil really brings out their flavor.
- Arugula—Arugula is spicy and peppery, so it’s great as an addition to salads or on pizzas. You might even want to try using it in lasagna instead of spinach.
- Lettuce—Everyone knows it’s great in salads, but lettuce is also a good addition to soups and smoothies. Grilled Romaine hearts are a good vegetarian option for spring barbecues, too.
- Fennel—Fennel has many uses. The seeds add great flavor to meat and the leaves spice up salads, as do the bulbs. In fact, fennel and orange salad would be a nice menu item this time of year.
- Swiss Chard—This green leafy vegetable has a mild flavor that most people find pleasant. It can have red, yellow, orange or white stems, so it’s a good way to add a splash of color to a meal.
- Green Onions—These young onions have a mild flavor and are the perfect finishing touch to soups, stir-fries, pizzas and scrambled eggs.
- Fiddleheads—The young, unfurled fronds of ferns are a New England delicacy. They can be slightly toxic, so be sure to cook thoroughly before serving.
- Fava Beans—Also called broad beans, these bright green beans are similar to lima beans but have a milder flavor. They are the main ingredient in the Middle Eastern stew Ful medames.
- Spinach—This mild green is delicious in omelets, lasagna and mixed green salads. Remember that when cooked, it wilts down significantly.
Although cooked vegetables are great, crisp and refreshing raw salads are another way to enjoy spring’s new growth. There are many salads that combine the flavors and colors of the season, such as:
- French Carrot Salad (Carottes Rapées)—Although eating a pile of shredded carrots sounds boring, it’s surprisingly delicious. Adding a lemon vinaigrette really brings this simple salad to life.
- Green Goddess Salad—Popularized by blogger BakedByMelissa whose TikTok video went viral in 2021, this salad is coleslaw with a basil and spinach pesto. Putting this on your menu is sure to draw a crowd.
- Strawberry Arugula Salad with Feta—This red, green and white salad is a flavorful combination of sweet, peppery and salty flavors. Balsamic vinaigrette dressing would be the perfect finishing touch.
- Ambrosia—This southern fruit salad has canned pineapple, mandarin oranges, marshmallows and coconut mixed with whipped cream or Cool Whip. Be sure to chill for a few hours for the flavors to mingle.
- Sugar Snap Pea Salad—Fresh sugar snap peas are deliciously crunchy, so they are a great base for a raw salad. Ranch dressing is a good addition, or you could do a ginger soy dressing for an Asian twist.
- Fruit Salad—A mixture of in-season berries, melons and citrus is a colorful and healthy dessert for guests who want something light.
Along with fresh vegetables and crisp salads, colorful fruits brighten up–and sweeten up–any spring restaurant menu. If you are looking for fruits at their peak, along with ways to use them, consider:
- Strawberries—Although strawberries are available year round, they are at their best from April to June. You can put pies and cobblers on your menu, or add strawberries to salads for a touch of sweetness.
- Grapefruit—Winter and spring grapefruits come in white, pink and red varieties. This sweet and tart fruit makes a great juice, and it’s also delicious in grapefruit and avocado salad.
- Lemon—Lemons add brightness to cheesecakes and pound cakes, as well as soups and dressings. Use both zest and juice for maximum flavor.
- Orange—Navel oranges are best in winter and Valencia oranges in summer, so spring is when both seasons overlap. Canned mandarin oranges are an excellent addition to salads, too.
- Kiwi—California-grown kiwi are in season October to May and can be served fresh or in fruit salad. You can even make kiwi sorbet.
- Cherries—Although more of a summer fruit, the beginning of the season is in April and May. Cherry pie, cherry cobbler and cherry crisp are classics for a reason: they are delicious!
- Pineapple—The sweet and tart contrast can awaken your taste buds after a long winter. Pineapple cake, pineapple and ham, as well as pineapple juice, are all good menu options.
- Rhubarb—Old fashioned strawberry rhubarb pie, rhubarb crisp and rhubarb jam are sure to pique your guests’ interest.
In addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs are a great way to rejuvenate your restaurant’s menu after a long winter. If you’re not sure what herbs are at their best this time of year, consider:
- Lavender—The purple flowers of lavender are beautiful and flavorful. Serving lavender ice cream or lavender honey is sure to be a hit.
- Mint—This fast-growing herb makes tasty tea and delicious sauce. Mint is also a great milkshake flavor to put on your St. Patrick’s Day menu.
- Lemon Balm—In the mint family, this green herb makes a relaxing tea. It is also a nice way to add both green color and lemon flavor to curries and bean dishes.
- Parsley—Parsley is more than just a garnish. In fact, putting parsley salad and Italian gremolata sauce on your menu would be a good way to introduce your guests to new ways of enjoying this herb.
- Cilantro—Cilantro is a cool season herb, so spring is when it’s at its best. Add some to salsa or make cilantro lime rice.
- Chives—The thin, green leaves of chives have a mild onion flavor similar to green onions. Sprinkle them on baked potatoes or over eggs benedict. The purple flowers are edible, too!
- Chamomile—These small, daisy-like flowers make great herbal tea. If you want to branch out a bit, try honey chamomile panna cotta or chamomile lemon bars.
- Dill—These feathery leaves are a classic ingredient in potato salad and dill pickles. It’s also an important ingredient in tartar sauce.
Warmer weather puts people in the mood for lighter meals. Besides just swapping stews and roasts for salads and sandwiches, consider replacing animal-based protein sources in your current menu offerings. Try incorporating:
- Lentils—These quick-cooking legumes have a mild flavor, so be sure to season them heavily. If you aren’t familiar with lentils, many Middle Eastern cultures have lentil soup recipes that are worth considering.
- Beans—Starchy, protein-packed beans are a great meat replacement in soups and wraps. Rice and beans is a popular combination around the world, so it’s sure to be a success at your restaurant.
- Chickpeas—Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus and falafel. Roasted chickpeas are an addictive appetizer sure to make guests return to your restaurant.
- Mushrooms—Mushrooms are hearty, so they’re a good way to introduce meat-eaters to plant-based foods. In fact, Portobello mushroom sandwiches are sure to please even the staunchest carnivores.
- Quinoa—A high-protein starch, this gluten-free Andean grain is very trendy. It’s excellent in pilafs and salads, or even served plain like rice.
- Tofu—Low in fat and rich in protein, tofu is very versatile. Whether pan-fried, stir-fried or oven-baked its uses are endless.
- Jackfruit—This fruit has a meaty texture that shreds like chicken or pork when cooked, so it’s great for vegan pulled “pork” sandwiches or tacos.
Your guests are going to need something to wash down all that delicious food, so be sure to add some spring-themed drinks to your menu. Here are a few ideas:
- Lemonade—A warm-weather classic, a tall, cold glass of lemonade is always deliciously refreshing.
- Strawberry Lemonade—Lemon brings out berry flavor, so adding strawberry juice or syrup to lemonade is an excellent idea.
- Chamomile Tea—This caffeine-free tea is very calming, so if you have a cafe where people sit and read, be sure to put it on your menu.
- Mint Tea—This classic is full of flavor. If you want to try something different, Moroccan mint tea combines mint, green tea and sugar.
- Smoothies—Whether you use fresh or frozen fruit, smoothies are colorful, healthy and delicious. Yogurt or peanut butter adds protein and richness, too.
- Sangria—Originally from Spain and Portugal, sangria is red wine with chopped fruits. It’s great served with steak or tapas appetizers.
- Mimosa—Sometimes confused with sangria, mimosas consist of champagne and citrus juice, usually orange. If your restaurant serves brunch, be sure to serve mimosas, too.
- Moscato—Named after the variety of grape from which it is made, this sweet, fruity wine is perfect for the season.
- Lemon Drop Martinis—Invented in San Francisco in the 1970’s, this cocktail combines vodka citron, triple sec and lemon juice, giving it a nice sweet and tart flavor.
- Strawberry Margarita—Citrus pairs nicely with berries, so the combination of lime and strawberries definitely works.
- Spring Blossom—This light pink cocktail is perfect for the season, the cherry brandy (kirsch), gin, sparkling lemonade and grenadine giving it tons of flavor. If you have edible flowers to garnish, even better!
Superfoods to the Rescue
As temperatures rise in the spring, people try to eat healthier. One way your restaurant can satisfy this demand is by incorporating nutrient-dense superfoods into your menu. Popular superfoods include:
- Matcha—A form of green tea that’s finely-milled and packed with antioxidants. Perfect for hot and cold drinks, and adds a sweet, early flavor to desserts.
- Tempeh—a soy-based protein made from fermented soybeans, making it a perfect option for vegetarians and vegans, but benefits the digestive system.
- Hemp Seeds—A great way to ride the CBD craze is to include hemp seeds on your menu. Not only is it popular, but hemp seeds are packed with omegas and protein.
- Turmeric—With a bright, bold flavor, turmeric is also a powerhouse. Packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, you can add turmeric to both sweet and savory menu items.
- Tahini—Made from ground sesame seeds, tahini brings a bounty of amino acids and good fats, along with other beneficial vitamins and nutrients.
- Watermelon Seeds—Rich in protein and B vitamins, watermelon seeds are another great alternative for customers who can’t have soy or nuts.
Around the World
If you really want to make your restaurant stand out, consider giving your menu an international flare. There are many traditional springtime dishes from other cultures that your guests are sure to enjoy, such as:
- Asian Spring Rolls—Called “spring” rolls because they were traditionally filled with early spring vegetables, their name makes them perfect for the season.
- Greek Artichoke Stew (Aginares A La Polita)—Artichokes are one of the first spring vegetables in Greece, so this stew of artichoke hearts, potatoes, carrots, lemon and dill makes good use of them.
- German Seven Herb Soup (Sieben Kräutersuppe)—Traditionally eaten the Thursday before Good Friday, a mix of watercress, chives, sorrel, parsley, spinach, dill, and dandelion greens gives this soup a beautiful color and delicious flavor.
- Hungarian Sour Cherry Soup (Meggyleves)—This cold soup combines sour cherries, sugar and cinnamon. Its attention-getting name and eye-catching color are sure to make it popular at your restaurant.
- British Commonwealth Hot Cross Buns—If you put these orange and spice-flavored buns on your menu, guests will want to try them out of curiosity: they probably sang a nursery rhyme about them as children.
- Italian Easter Pie (Pizza Rustica)—Sometimes known as “pizzagaina” in Italian-American communities, this double-crust pie is filled with Italian deli meats and cheese. It can be eaten either warm or cold.
- Greek Cucumber Tzatziki Salad—Tzatziki sauce is a cool and refreshing yogurt, cucumber, garlic and lemon juice sauce, so it’s the perfect dressing for cucumber salad.
Besides in-season produce and classic dishes, adding foods with soft, pastel colors to your menu is a great way to celebrate springtime. If you need menu ideas, try:
- Pink—The light pink of strawberry cupcakes or pink lemonade would be a nice touch to any spring-inspired menu.
- Purple—Think violent or lavender. Taro bubble tea would be perfect, ube cake if you want a darker shade.
- Yellow—Lemon drop candy and lemon cookies are always crowd-pleasers.
- Green—For a bright, invigorating shade of green, consider adding green tea ice cream or pistachio baklava to your menu.
- White—Coconut cake is popular at Easter, and meringue cookies appeal to guests who want something a bit more gourmet.
- Blue—Plates of sugar cookies with sky blue frosting or glasses of blue raspberry lemonade would be very eye-catching on your restaurant’s tables.
Of course, you can’t go wrong with classic springtime menu staples. Many are common at Easter brunches and parties, so these tried-and-true dishes are sure to bring a crowd into your restaurant:
- Baked Ham—Serve with pineapple to balance out the salty, smoky flavor.
- Deviled Eggs—Garnish with paprika and chives for extra color.
- Honey-Glazed Carrots—Honey makes carrots so delicious that even people who don’t like vegetables will love them.
- Carrot Cake—This Easter classic is always a hit. Consider making cupcakes to make serving easy.
- Easter Bunny Cake—Slicing and serving a white cake shaped like a bunny and covered in coconut would be great for a special Easter event at your restaurant.
- Lemon Meringue Pie—Perfect for lemon lovers, the sweet and sour combination makes this perfect for the spring.
Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, so it’s the perfect opportunity to make some changes to your menu. With these spring menu ideas for your restaurant, you can brighten up and lighten up your menu, drawing in more guests and increasing profits.