Where I was once skeptical, I am now a convert: TikTok is fantastic for people who love cooking, eating, and learning about food.
There are a lot of talented cooks and creators on the app — a personal favorite is chef @sad_papi — but there are those singular dishes that transcend the platform to become global trends in and of themselves. This year, certain TikTok recipes, somehow, someway, ended up just as popular as the renegade dance. We’re talking “ingredients became hard to find” popular.
With 2021 coming to a close, let’s a take a moment to remember the viral recipes that went from our FYPs to our dinner tables this year.
1. The folded quesadilla
Remember this sucker? Basically, all you do is cut a slit in a large tortilla, load each quarter of the wrap with different ingredients, and then… fold it. The result is essentially a quesadilla sandwich. It’s a useful culinary trick from TikTok if you want a quesadilla on the go.
Look at this fried chicken quesadilla — a hot n’ saucy, cheesy monstrosity made by user @woodfireandwhiskey. 10/10, absolutely would eat again.
Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @woodfireandwhiskey
2. The baked feta pasta
If you didn’t see this trend, on or off TikTok, I honestly don’t know what you were doing this year. It was nearly impossible to get a block of feta in February and March because everyone was trying this recipe at home.
Part of its appeal is the simplicity: You bake garlic, cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and a whole block of feta in the oven for roughly 30 minutes. Throw in some herbs when it’s finished baking, and then toss in your favorite cooked pasta. Bam, you have the viral pasta. (Spoiler alert: It’s actually really good.)
3. Air fryer pasta chips
I actually tested this recipe out for Mashable’s weekly series AirFryDay and found it to be meh at best. Yet, it was undeniably popular. In effect, you boil some pasta then air fry it, creating crunchy pasta chips that you can use a vehicle for more flavorful dips and spreads.
But ultimately, I found the snack to be far too heavy and neither airy nor crisp like a classic potato chip. Though, there’s nothing a generous helping of dipping sauce won’t fix.
4. The ubiquitous Gigi Hadid vodka sauce pasta
Is it kind of weird that a lot of TikTok users probably think that model Gigi Hadid invented penne alla vodka? Sure. But she did show people how to make a very tasty, super easy pasta dish. Those people then posted it all over TikTok.
There are a number of variations of the dish, but pretty much every version starts with sautéing oil, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Then, you stir in some tomato paste, deglaze with a glug of vodka, douse with heavy cream, and plop in a pad of butter before tossing your cooked pasta into the sauce. It’s easy and delicious.
5. Emily Mariko’s salmon and rice bowl
If you don’t know and love Emily Mariko, the patron saint of farmers’ markets and soothing cooking TikToks, then stop what you’re doing and read my story on the queen of salmon bowls right now. Her leftover creation — which involves microwaving rice (don’t forget the ice cube!), shredded salmon, then topping with Kewpie mayo — took the world by storm.
And it’s since afforded Mariko with a passionate following of aspiring home cooks and people who generally want to feel like they have their lives together.
The recipe that took over the world.
Credit: TikTok / @Emilymariko
It was such an approachable, healthy, but actually filling recipe that inspired so many others to follow in her footsteps.
6. Nature’s cereal
I’m going to be honest: I did not try this one. Nature’s cereal, as TikTok called it, was a trend where people put berries and fruit in a bowl, topped it with coconut water, maybe some ice, and then dug in with a spoon. It originally went viral from a post by @natures_food but really took off after Lizzo endorsed it.
Berries and coconut water…OK then.
Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @Lizzo
This trend definitely benefitted from having a catchy name. Nature’s cereal just sounds fresh and tasty. The Cut‘s verdict was that while it was pleasant to snack on a crunchy fruit bowl, nature’s cereal was not as delicious as, you know, actual cereal.
7. Air fried corn ribs
And finally, our last recipe is a pretty odd one. It became a TikTok trend this year to cut corncobs into quarters (roughly the shape of a pork rib), add a healthy amount of seasoning, and air fry. The end result was a crispy, curly, appetizer-sized corn rib. This February recipe from @spicednice racked up more than 14 million views and helped spark the corn rib craze.
These do look tasty, to be honest.
Credit: Screenshots: TikTok / @spicednice
Is it odd to put in that much extra effort to make air fried corn? Sure. But I could actually see this being a great party snack, and the folks who made it seemed to really love it.
It just goes to show, don’t knock any food trend from TikTok in 2022 until you’ve tried it. It might seem silly, but you could discover a new favorite dish.