The internet’s cookbook

How TikTok recipes have influenced teens’ relationship with food


Photo Jessica Strauss

TikTok recipes and food

As you walk into the dining room on Christmas Eve, a pit begins to form at the bottom of your stomach. It was your turn to bring the dessert, but due to your lack of baking experience and knowledge, a store bought box of cupcakes sits in your hands.

Thankfully, your niece walks in with a tray of tasty looking home baked goods. Instead of struggling with a cookbook like you did, she followed a viral recipe video on TikTok. 

Originally, TikTok came to the U.S. in 2017 when it merged with, a short-form video sharing app. Although it wasn’t a hit right away, its popularity eventually grew to over one billion worldwide users. According to, the app’s user base is made up of nearly 60 percent Gen Z, leaving a very young and impressionable audience for creators on TikTok.

Despite starting as a short lip sync video app, TikTok has evolved to include many different types of videos. One of the genres that has taken over the app is cooking videos. As of November, the #recipe had over 25 billion views on the app. 

It’s no doubt these food videos are popular and TikTok’s overwhelmingly young audience seems to know why. James Silechia, a junior at WHS, enjoys watching these recipe clips and said, “I like how relaxing TikTok recipes are. Plus I like to cook so they give me a lot of inspiration.” 

Compared to cookbooks, many teens prefer following a video on TikTok when attempting a new recipe. Noelle Shih, a senior at WHS, said, “Myself and lots of other teens are visual learners so it’s really helpful to see what people are physically doing and be able to copy them.”

Not only has TikTok increased teens’ experience with food, but it has also impacted their knowledge of different kinds of foods. TikTok’s wide user base of nearly 150 countries gives a platform for many cultures to showcase their food that normally goes unappreciated.

 Silechia said, “TikTok has given me insight into how other cultures make their food because of the variety of foods I see on my FYP (for you page).”

This display of cultures also helps to expand teens’ palates.  Shih said, “Seeing all these different cultures makes me want to try new foods.”

TikTok content creators have also noticed the increase in popularity of recipes on TikTok and have taken it as an opportunity to begin posting recipes.

Violet Witchel, a Tik-Toker with over 1.8 million followers, began posting recipes over quarantine and quickly gained popularity. She didn’t start out posting recipes, however, her passion for cooking caused her to begin posting food-related content. Witchel said, “I’ve always loved cooking and enjoyed making food content, so TikTok was a very easy, low risk and low stress way to test the waters and have fun with it.”

Although a lot of other recipes exist on the internet, Witchel believes that recipes have grown so popular on TikTok because of its unique reach . “Prior to TikTok there wasn’t a lot of content directed towards teens and unless you sought out cooking content, you weren’t going to see it. I think TikTok has done a really good job of reaching a whole new audience for cooking content.”

Just like many WHS students, Witchel believes her content helps expose teens to new kinds of food. “Due to my allergies, I make a lot of foreign foods, so I think that the people who follow me are exposed to many more styles of food than they normally would be.”

TikToks’ wide user base and unique sharing style has not only made it a popular tool for sharing recipes, but a bridge between the culinary world and teens.