How to Spot Red Flags in Tiktok Recipes

Zali Steiner
September 25, 2021

What makes a trustworthy TikTok recipe?

[TW : Calories]

TikTok tutorials have become the new cookbooks. Whipped coffee kept us busy and caffeinated during the initial 2020 lockdown and the viral baked tomato feta pasta of 2021 became the comfort food that has been getting us through the latest Sydney lockdown. However, even after going through all the effort of getting special ingredients and switching imperial measurements into useful metrics, some recipes simply can’t be made.

To keep myself busy during the second lockdown, I started a series on my Instagram account called “Catfish Cooking”, where I cook recipes from Instagram Reels and post the final result on my story. The first was a no bake Twix, then a raspberry cheesecake, and most recently zucchini fries. Here are some examples below:

After countless hours of cooking and trawling through Instagram trying to find new recipes to make, this series I started has not only warped my Reels algorithm, but has also taught me what to look out for when following a recipe.

1. What you see might not be what you get 

When you are cooking along with these recipes, sometimes your mixture doesn’t match what’s on the screen even if you follow the steps exactly. That could be from a range of factors including different humidities, ingredient qualities or that the recipe they gave you isn’t the same as what they are using. I think that this is more prevalent in recipes that are advertised as low carb or low calorie, so just be wary when following these recipes. 

You can always experiment by adding extra ingredients to make your dish look more like what you are seeing on the screen. 

2. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is

To be honest this is pretty self explanatory. If you think even for a second "wow that doesn't seem like it will work" - It won't.  However, if you like an experiment, go for it.

In all the recipes, especially ones that are too good to be true, it is important to think about food waste. You want to pick recipes to try that you’ll be able to salvage and eat by pairing it with some ice cream or covering it in tomato sauce, even if they don't turn out quite right. If you're interested in tips on how to lead a zero waste lifestyle and some baking, courtesy of the author, follow @bin.and.tonic on Instagram.

3. Not all chefs are created equal

Everyone’s ovens, stoves, fridges, tools and ingredients are different. As a student I live in a sharehouse full of slightly dodgy appliances.  It’s namely the stove that’s really on its last legs, but this can really affect my final product.  So don’t be disheartened if your final product is a bit different; all that matters is if it tastes good.

4. Cookbooks are the way to go

If they have a cookbook they probably know what they are talking about . If they don’t then be cautious. Some chefs I like are :

  • Joshua Weissman - An unapologetic cook book
  • Max La Manna - More Plants Less Waste
  • Pippyeats - Bowls & Broths

In summary, you don’t know unless you try but if you follow these not-so professional tips, maybe you can save yourself some TikTok recipe heartache.