Viral recipe videos are all the rage on TikTok – a short-form video-sharing app that has become too big to ignore.
A few months ago, Tuan Duyen — a 25-year-old office worker in Phu Nhuan District — stumbled upon a TikTok video of a creator making a spicy kumquat sauce meant to be eaten with rice paper.
With a rumble in her stomaching, Duyen headed into her kitchen to try her hand at making the sauce.
She did not care that it was already after 9:00 pm.
Though it was not quite as easy as the TikTok video made it look, Duyen successfully recreated the sauce.
Since then, she has been addicted to TikTok's endless stream of culinary content.
The app’s 'For You' page uses an algorithm that keeps recipe videos in a seemingly infinite stream that Duyen just cannot seem to escape.
Duyen’s TikTok journey has so far taught her to cook South Korean tteokbokki (spicy stirred-fried rice cakes) using Vietnamese rice paper, muffins in a rice cooker, and soy-sauce-pickled eggs.
TikTok’s rise in popularity has also led to an overflow of its video content onto other platforms.
Viral recipes, such as Dalgona coffee (whipped coffee), that were first uploaded to TikTok have been reposted all over Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and even news sites.
Cooked in 60 seconds
TikTok videos are generally 15 to 60 seconds long, thus cooking videos on the platform need to be fast, neat, and focused on the basics of a dish rather than the fine details.
Most importantly, successful videos tend to have at least one 'kitchen hack' that home cooks can employ to prepare complex dishes.
“Much of the current food and drink content on TikTok is focused around hacks…there’s a lot of content right now that’s about simplicity and using ingredients that you already have in your home, rather than a really elaborate recipe or cooking tutorial like you’ll see on YouTube,” Mary Keane-Dawson, group CEO of influencer marketing platform Takumi, which advises clients on food and drink content strategy on TikTok, told Business Insider.
Some examples of the most popular videos include hacks on cutting large watermelons or freezing herbs and olive oil in ice cube trays for easy storage and meal prep.
Many of these tips and tricks have floated around the Internet for years, but TikTok’s bite-sized videos that let users add text, voiceovers, and other effects lend itself perfectly to sharing content to massive audiences.
Nguyen Ho Tra My, a Vietnamese woman who runs the TikTok handle @myumminess, has netted more than 7.1 million likes on her cooking videos.
The trick, she says, is keeping videos short and easy to understand with beautiful visuals.
“Since the videos are only 60 seconds, I always make sure to describe each dish in detail and offer up a few hacks for making the dish,” My said.
“After four months of creating videos on TikTok, I’ve become confident that my videos are meeting my original goals — [teaching people how to cook] healthy, simple, modern, and creative [dishes].
"These are also the adjectives viewers most often use when commenting on my videos after watching me cook.
"People often say that my videos are so easy to follow."
For My, TikTok is not just about likes, it is about empowering her followers through the food she cooks.
“I am very happy that there are viewers who have followed my recipe and given me feedback. One of my viewers cooked for her mother-in-law and husband and was praised for the delicious food. Another of my viewers used my recipes to cook for her crush.”
And of course, her learning how to make viral videos did not just happen overnight. My has taken tips from her fellow content creators.
“Personally, I have also learned many good tips from foreign TikTok accounts. The visualized and short content on TikTok is usually really interesting and captures my attention,” My added.
|Nguyen Ho Tra My shoots a TikTok cooking video.|
In order for viewers to immediately learn a recipe within TikTok’s 60-second limit, Pham Thu Huong — who manages the TikTok account @babykopohome with 3.9 million followers — tries to keep her content short and only selects important details to include in her videos.
“The time people spend on a TikTok video is equivalent to the duration of a finger swipe. If people don’t like it, it's easy for them to move on to the next one,” Huong said.
Huong also shared that her videos can help viewers “take care of little meals for their family instead of only keeping their eyes on the smartphone screen.”
“Most of the recipes on my account are fast, neat, quick, and easy to follow. Whether it is a student, a new mother, a man, or a woman, they are all able to work on the recipes in order to succeed,” she confidently said.
Quynh Tran, whose TikTok channel @muonanngon boast a combined 2.3 million likes, shared that she calculates and considers every 0.1 second of her video so that she can cut videos as long as 35 minutes down to just 48 seconds.
Repeated steps, such as kneading dough, that typically take about five minutes are usually trimmed to just a few seconds on TikTok.
“The advantage of TikTok videos is that they are not boring to viewers,” she said.
Rekindling a love of cooking
A big issue for many TikTok users is finding videos again after they have been scrolled past in the feed.
Oftentimes, this leads users to scout other platforms for recipes they have found on TikTok but cannot find them again.
Thu Huong said that her viewers often save her cooking videos and search through their refrigerator to start working on her recipes the next morning.
“The ingredients [in my videos] are always extremely simple and available in almost every Vietnamese kitchen, so there’s no need to go out and buy more,” Huong said.
“Once they find the ingredients, they just have to follow my simple recipes.
“I think that’s what makes my TikTok so attractive to viewers. It’s like going to an acquaintance’s house to ask how a dish is cooked and then just copying them.
“On TikTok, there is such a diversity of cooking accounts. Each is unique in its own way and I often watch others’ videos to find inspiration for my own."
Huong also runs an Instagram account where she receives a lot of feedback from her TikTok viewers.
“When someone makes a certain dish successfully, they give me feedback by showing off their finished product [on Instagram]. Each of my recipes receives about 100-200 responses. During the COVID-19 pandemic [in April and May], everyone had a lot of free time, so they used my recipes a lot,” Huong said.
Likewise, Quynh Tran says her cooking videos not only provide recipes for viewers, but also entertain them with music, beautiful footage, interesting captions, and 'weird' cooking tips.
|Pham Thu Huong films a TikTok cooking video with her son.|
Quynh Tran posts a new recipe to her TikTok account nearly every day in order to keep up with trending dishes.
Most recently, she uploaded a video herself making mooncakes when the hashtag #banhtrungthu (Vietnamese translation of 'mooncake') was trending.
The hashtag has reached over five million views on TikTok and it is still more than a month until the Mid Autumn Festival on October 1, when people typically eat the dish.
Currently, Quynh Tran is preparing videos for the seventh month of the lunar year, when many Vietnamese people often spend 15 days following a strict vegetarian diet.
Tra My, who spent much of her childhood watching cooking shows, used YouTube cooking channels and Facebook cooking groups to hone her skills.
The TikTok chef says that food- and cooking-related hashtags are “like a sky of good internationalized knowledge.”
The latest video on Tra My’s account is a recipe to make salted egg meatballs — one of the trending dishes on TikTok and other social networks in Vietnam.
In the international TikTok world, the ‘bread omelet’ is a viral hit. The hashtag for this food has hit more than 50 million integrated views since the @mrs_dee_penda handle with 1.2 million followers made it in a video posted in late September last year.
‘Cloud bread’ has been even bigger with hits on its hashtag having surpassed 2.5 billion views in roughly a month since the video on how to make this dish was uploaded on the @linqanaaa account on July 27.
Anneta Konstantinides, a lifestyle editor at Insider who reports on TikTok, said that she is “definitely seeing miniature tutrials as a huge trend for these TikTok pieces,” and influencers have said the same.
At the time of writing, videos with the hashtag #MiniTutorials have 3.1 billion combined views.
A particularly popular mini food idea, #PancakeCereal, has 1.5 billion combined views and has inspired scores of spin-offs, including cookie cereal and donut cereal.
Konstantinides believes the trend works because it is cute and reflects nostalgia and people’s current mood.
“Cookies, pancakes, and cereal are all things we had as kids when we were living at home with our parents, and now we’re making them for ourselves while in quarantine. I think it brings us back to our childhood a bit, especially those of us who can't be with our parents right now,” she told Business Insider.