Is TikTok ruining recipes?

The super-popular social media app is making a mockery of cookery, says writer Josh Barrie – and the joke is on anyone who cares about making good food…

Is TikTok ruining recipes?

Some might suppose the human race will end when a great flood comes, churning us into swirling seas that envelop all we have built. I think it’s more likely that we become so consumed by TikTok recipes, we lose all purpose; that we eat so many ‘yorkshire pudding profiteroles’ there’s nothing left but to lie down and never get up again.

Many have succumbed to the powerful draw of TikTok dinners. Preparations such as ‘carrot bacon’ and ‘yogurt toast’ appear innocuous and encourage billions of views. Not so long ago, a recipe for feta pasta, where a slab is baked with cherry tomatoes and herbs before the resulting mixture is engorged into farfalle, sparked shortages of the Greek cheese. Almost 5 million people watched a video on ‘ramen lasagne’ – packets of noodles baked with ready-made tomato sauce – and I challenge you to find anyone with a propensity to be healthy’ come Monday morning who hasn’t made a ‘goddess salad’.

What worries me about TikTok is that it’s an all-powerful culinary force. And so many of the food videos uploaded are for food that’s almost good but really isn’t: trivial dishes that first appeal in a novel, sometimes amusing way but are ultimately just a piece of cheap ham strapped to a cabbage, deep-fried and sent into space. It’s going to reach a point where millions of people forget how to actually cook.

It’s the terrifying speed at which TikTok has taken over cooking, too. Once, it was an arena in which Delia Smith prepared toad-in-the-hole; where Simon Hopkinson shared the intricacies of roasting a chicken. Today’s young learners are more likely to put a Snickers bar inside a large pickle and call it dinner. This is not conducive to a functioning society.

Classic lasagne
Josh will take classic lasagne over TikTok’s hot take


I’m not suggesting food needs to be earnest or academic – it’s just dinner, after all – but when you consider that TikTok’s #foodtok hashtag has been viewed 64 billion times, you begin to wonder whether we’re posting ourselves into oblivion. TikTok’s key is virality. And by promoting cooks who are less adroit, more ridiculous, it leads to ‘dishes’ like watermelon pizza. We’ll be left with a diet of cloud bread, overnight oats and nonsensical butter boards.

We’ve always enjoyed fun cooking videos: Keith Floyd slurping red wine; Jamie Oliver and his bish-bosh accessible pastas; Nigella Lawson flirting with a ‘meecro-wah-vay’. TikTok, to that end, is no different. But, come on: pouring cottage cheese over everything (one of many short-lived trends) is hardly inspiring. Nor is it educational. Preparing a ‘beef wellington’ with a large cucumber in lieu of beef isn’t far off a war crime in my book.

Are we entertained? When the dishes are preposterous, yes. Or when they’re actually decent, which is rare but happens. When food is in that middle ground between the two – the primary ingredient in a viral TikTok video – we should all be raising an eyebrow. Gigi Hadid’s recipe for pasta isn’t the groundbreaking dish you think it is. It’s just prosciutto and pine nuts. And emptying an entire slab of feta into a baking tray doesn’t deserve all this attention.

Give it another decade and we’ll have an entire generation who think custard is made by adding an egg to yogurt; whose signature dish is pesto eggs. TikTok recipes might yet kill cooking entirely.

Are TikTok recipes the death of cookery culture as we know it, or are they just a bit of fun? Log in or register and let us know in the comments below…

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