TikTok recipes are fun, versatile and surprisingly delicious

TikTok exposure helped us bring you these recipes: (clockwise starting at top left) Baked Feta Pasta, Cloud Bread with Strawberries and Cream, and Crunchwrap Tortilla Hack. Styling by Kate Williams / Chris Hunt for the AJC
TikTok exposure helped us bring you these recipes: (clockwise starting at top left) Baked Feta Pasta, Cloud Bread with Strawberries and Cream, and Crunchwrap Tortilla Hack. Styling by Kate Williams / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

It was the moment I wrote down the note, “looks like shaving cream,” that I really started to question the intelligence of cooking through popular TikTok recipes. Lucky for me, this cornstarch-stabilized meringue, which is baked into what is known as “cloud bread,” didn’t turn out terribly at all. In fact, when served with the right toppings, cloud bread can be downright delicious.

Cloud bread is only one of many TikTok recipes to have gone viral since the pandemic started more than a year ago. There was the “nacho table,” where nachos are built directly onto a kitchen counter or dining table (181.7 million views). There were riffs on Dalgona coffee, a frothy, whipped mixture of espresso powder, sugar and cream (494.6 million views). And there was, of course, pancake “cereal” — essentially just teensy versions of that food served in a bowl with milk (1.6 billion views).

TikTok is, for the unfamiliar, a social media app in which users share short, snappy videos from 15 seconds to 1 minute long. Users can include popular music clips and add text and countless filters to their videos.

According to TikTok’s 2020 trend report, the app’s recipe content was one of the four most popular categories of content for U.S. users last year. Whether they’re doing it out of boredom, curiosity or genuine enthusiasm, culinarily inclined users fueled a 57% increase in growth across cooking-related hashtags such as #recipe, #tiktokfood, #foodies and #masterchef. TikTok’s star recipe developers are now part of a pilot program to add fully written recipes to their feed through a partnership with a recipe app called Whisk.

Still, despite the fact that most of the viral culinary creations from the past year don’t have a traditional recipe to follow, some are surprisingly good.

Take that cloud bread, for example. In its most basic form, it isn’t exactly flavorful; the baked meringue isn’t much more than egg whites and sugar, with cornstarch as a stabilizer. The account credited with popularizing the bread, @linqanaaa, dots the surface with almonds, and many other TikTok recipe developers flavor the bread with extracts and dye it various shades of pastel. Most videos show loops of tearing the bread open to reveal its pillowy interior, so even with extra flavorings, cloud bread is mostly about looks.

However, when you think of cloud bread as a vehicle for other, sweeter ingredients, it can be turned into a plated dessert that looks restaurant-worthy. The light, airy and spongy texture of the bread is an excellent counterpoint to whipped cream and berries, especially when served with a sprinkling of chopped salted pistachios. Or try using it as an oversized bun for an ice cream sandwich, or as a layer in an ice cream cake or trifle.

Even more versatile is the tortilla wrap “hack” that blew up at the end of 2020. TikTok creator @crystalscookingfun is credited with being the first to share the technique, with a fried chicken cutlet wrap, but it wasn’t until @ellcarter1 shared a breakfast food version that it really took off. More a technique than a recipe, the hack is to fold a tortilla wrap into triangular quadrants instead of a roll and then to pan-fry it. The genius of this strategy is that you’ll get fillings evenly distributed throughout the wrap along with an abundance of surface area to crisp and brown.

The tortilla trick is also an excellent method for making homemade Crunchwraps, Taco Bell’s quesadilla-tostada hybrid. Layer in ground beef, tortilla chips, refried beans, tomatoes and cheese, give it a few minutes in hot oil and you’re well on your way to skipping a trip to the drive-thru.

Other popular TikTok recipes are less like hacks and more like, well, recipes. Take the relatively recent sensation of baked feta pasta. This dish originated in Finland and then was first popularized in the U.S. in 2019 by MacKenzie Smith on the food blog Grilled Cheese Social. Early this year, it had a resurgence in popularity on TikTok after Smith posted it to her feed and it spread like wildfire.

@grilledcheesesocial

Baked feta pasta viral recipe! Inspired by #uunifeta via @liemessa & @tiiupiret #learnontiktok #foodtiktok #foodie

♬ She Share Story (for Vlog) - 山口夕依

It is, like cloud bread, super simple: combine cherry tomatoes, olive oil and feta in a baking dish and let it all cook together in the oven until the tomatoes melt into a sauce and the feta blisters and browns. Tossed with hot cooked pasta, it is an easy, hands-off weeknight recipe that doesn’t taste like it originated on the internet.

RECIPES

These three recipes were all inspired by viral dishes shared on TikTok. As befits internet creations, they’re all quite easy, and, with the exception of the cloud bread, make for excellent weeknight dinners.

Cloud Bread with Strawberries and Cream. Cloud bread isn't really a bread, but it has many fans on TikTok and it can be a perfect component of a dessert. Styling by Kate Williams / Chris Hunt for the AJC
Cloud Bread with Strawberries and Cream. Cloud bread isn't really a bread, but it has many fans on TikTok and it can be a perfect component of a dessert. Styling by Kate Williams / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Cloud Bread with Strawberries and Cream

Cloud bread is, essentially, a baked stabilized meringue, and its texture is similar to angel food cake. The following recipe uses the bread as a component in a dish with strawberries, whipped cream and pistachios. Feel free to substitute other seasonal fruit and nuts if you prefer. The recipe is adapted from I Am a Food Blog, which adapted it from one by @linqanaaa.

Cloud Bread with Strawberries and Cream
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup halved or quartered strawberries
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted, salted pistachios
  • Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually pour in 2 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar. (This should take about 30 seconds.) Turn off the mixer, remove the bowl, and sift in the cornstarch. Return to the mixer, and beat on medium-high until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks, about 1 minute. The meringue should be the texture of shaving cream.
  • Scoop out the meringue mixture onto the prepared pan and shape it into a round loaf.
  • Bake until golden brown, springy, and 175 degrees in the center, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.
  • While the bread bakes and cools, wash the mixer and whisk attachment. Toss the strawberries with an additional 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Let sit at room temperature.
  • When you’re ready to serve, combine the cream with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in the now-clean mixer bowl. Beat on medium speed, again using the whisk attachment, until the cream forms soft peaks, 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Split open the bread or tear into bite-sized pieces and serve with the strawberries, cream and pistachios. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 183 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 4 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 11 grams total fat (7 grams saturated), 34 milligrams cholesterol, 50 milligrams sodium.
The Crunchwrap Tortilla Hack found on TikTok can save you a trip to the drive-thru. Styling by Kate Williams / Chris Hunt for the AJC
The Crunchwrap Tortilla Hack found on TikTok can save you a trip to the drive-thru. Styling by Kate Williams / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Crunchwrap Tortilla Hack

More a technique than a recipe, the TikTok tortilla “hack” creates a triangular wrap that is pan-fried until crisp. While you’ll find all sorts of fillings used in recipes on the social media platform, the technique is perfect for showcasing a twist on Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme. Again, feel free to adjust the fillings as you’d like, keeping the volumes and cooking times the same. This recipe is adapted from @ellcarter1.

Crunchwrap Tortilla Hack
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 (12-inch) flour tortillas
  • 16 to 20 plain tortilla chips
  • 1 cup canned refried beans
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the taco seasoning and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and continue to cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the water and bring to a simmer, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the liquid has evaporated, 1 minute, then remove from the heat. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Clean out the skillet.
  • Place 1 tortilla in the center of a cutting board. Use a small knife to cut a single slit from the center out to the edge. Arrange the slit so that it is pointing toward you.
  • Spread 1/4 cup of the beans across the tortilla quadrant to the left of the slit. Top with 4 to 5 chips. Working clockwise from the bottom left, place about 1/2 cup of the beef in the quadrant above the beans. Spread 1/4 cup of the tomatoes in the quadrant to the right of the beef, then 1/4 cup of the cheese below the tomatoes.
  • Starting from the quadrant with the beans and chips, fold the tortilla up and over the beef, then over the tomatoes, then over the cheese, working carefully so that the ingredients don’t fall out. Place on a baking sheet, cheese side-up, as a staging area. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and fillings. You may have some leftover beef.
  • Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the now-clean skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, place the tortilla wraps in the skillet, cheese side-up. Cook, carefully flipping once, until browned and crisp on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Adjust the heat as needed to make sure the filling is warm and the cheese melted by the time the tortillas are crisp.
  • Serve topped with lettuce and sour cream. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 713 calories (percent of calories from fat, 53), 33 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 42 grams total fat (14 grams saturated), 90 milligrams cholesterol, 1,429 milligrams sodium.
Baked Feta Pasta has enjoyed renewed popularity thanks to TikTok. Styling by Kate Williams / Chris Hunt for the AJC
Baked Feta Pasta has enjoyed renewed popularity thanks to TikTok. Styling by Kate Williams / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Baked Feta Pasta

Baked Feta Pasta may have been recently popularized on TikTok, but it first went viral in the U.S. via the food blog Grilled Cheese Social. The recipe below is inspired by that one, but it is given a saucier texture using the pasta cooking water and a crisp top under the broiler. Upping the amount of fresh herbs enlivens the finished dish.

Baked Feta Pasta
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for boiling the pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) block feta cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound short dried pasta
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees with one oven rack placed in the middle and another in the second-highest position.
  • Combine the cherry tomatoes and 1/2 cup of the oil in a broiler-safe 2- to 3-quart baking dish. Toss to coat the tomatoes evenly with the oil, then season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Nestle the feta cheese block in the center of the tomatoes, then flip it over to coat all sides in the olive oil.
  • Bake on the middle oven rack until the tomatoes have burst and the feta is very tender, about 30 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees and continue to bake until the feta browns, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in the garlic and pepper flakes. They should sizzle a bit. Transfer to a large bowl, but don’t clean the baking dish. Turn off the oven and set the broiler to high.
  • While the tomatoes and feta bake, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until just al dente, 6 to 8 minutes, then drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
  • Add the drained pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the tomato-feta mixture and stir aggressively to create a sauce with the tomatoes, cheese and pasta water. Stir in additional pasta water, if needed, 2 tablespoons at a time, to form a creamy sauce. Return to the baking dish and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Transfer to the higher oven rack and broil until the top is crisp, 1 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 4: 839 calories (percent of calories from fat, 44), 24 grams protein, 93 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 41 grams total fat (12 grams saturated), 50 milligrams cholesterol, 901 milligrams sodium.
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