Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

By Rob Corliss
July 11, 2022

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As morning menus diversify, hand pies can share space with breakfast sandwiches, winning in the realm of convenience and portability. Hand pies afford operators the ability to offer a large format or miniature versions, like with 7-Eleven’s three-pack of Mini Spicy Breakfast Empanadas stuffed with sausage, egg, cheese and peppers.  Innovation around new handheld forms that merge global with mainstream brings a fresh look to breakfast menu development.

Arepas, empanadas, gorditas (Mexican “pita pockets” made with masa and stuffed with cheese, meat or other fillings) or pupusas (stuffed round corn cakes from El Salvador) can reshape morning menus. While the names may not yet be mainstream, their distinctive texture, big flavor and alluring fillings are spot on and immediately relatable.

Hand pies with classic breakfast fillings pull in proven flavors, appealing to patrons wanting safer exploration of a new handheld form. Hand pies with contemporary breakfast fillings venture into more daring flavor combinations, enticing adventure-seeking patrons to forgo the common bun, biscuit or bagel for a new experience.

Here, we serve up inspiration with classic and contemporary breakfast hand-pie ideas, along with in-market sightings.



  • Brekkie (arepa): Breakfast sausage crumbles + shredded crispy hashbrowns + pepper-Jack cheese
  • Skinny Benedict (pupusa): Shaved smoked ham + hard-boiled egg slices + thin avocado slices + pico de gallo + hollandaise dip (on the side)
  • Carnitas Huevos Rancheros (gordita): Soft-scrambled eggs + refried black beans + carnitas tossed in green chile gravy + grated Chihuahua cheese


Ham, Egg & Cheese (empanada): Ham, scrambled eggs, oven-roasted potatoes, cheddar-Jack cheese, salsa

Maria Empanada, Denver



  • Southern Purple Rain (pupusa): Fried chicken tender slices + blueberry-guava compote + whipped white cheddar-cream cheese
  • Popeye (gordita): Scrambled egg whites + roasted portobello mushrooms + peppered bacon crumbles + goat cheese creamed spinach
  • Hotter Mess (arepa): Seared ground chorizo + burrata + candied jalapeno


Empanada al Caballo: Large empanada filled with grass-fed beef, organic black beans, fried sweet plantains, and Venezuelan white cheese; topped with a fried egg

Arepa Mia, Atlanta

About The Author

Rob Corliss

Rob Corliss is a three-time James Beard House guest chef with more than 30 years of experience that includes running world-class hotels, launching new concepts, working in top marketing agencies and owning the culinary consultancy ATE (All Things Epicurean) since 2009. Based in Nixa, Mo., ATE has an energizing passion focused on flavor innovation and is dedicated to connecting people to their food, environment and wellness. Rob is also a regular contributor to Flavor & The Menu.