First things first: Does the world really need a TikTok cookbook? After all, the key to the platform’s success and time-suck appeal is that you’re consuming videos, over and over again, on a screen. Put viral recipes on a page, and the energy stops cold.
Still, TikTok dishes represent a global economic force. After @grilledcheesesocial (blogger MacKenzie Smith) posted a short video of baked feta pasta in early 2021, sales of the cheese skyrocketed. The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association estimated that feta sales increased by an additional 4 million pounds in February and March of last year. Dalgona coffee mania kicked in during the pandemic because the four-ingredient whipped drink, originally from Macao but famous in Korea, highlighted instant coffee, a handy pantry item.
People put these recipes on repeat, because so many of them are good, they solve problems, and they’re also fun to make and share. Perhaps it’s helpful to flash back to the cooking trends of the past few years.
If so, here’s your book. “If you love to cook, a phone has become just as important as a sharp knife,” declares the intro to “As Cooked on TikTok” (Clarkson Potter, $20). Within the pages are a few famed dishes – for instance, the fun mashup of butter chicken pasta from UK-based creator Rene, aka @renes.cravings. (The book doesn’t list last names.) There are also tweaks on TikTok’s hall of fame dishes: baked feta ramen and baked feta pasta soup among them.
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Pancake cereal falls in the classic TikTok category and seems prime to try for a weekend family breakfast, when we all have a little more time for morning indulgences. The dish was created by @sydneymelhoff, who was inspired to turn the drips from making pancake into little rounds that could be thrown into a bowl just like cereal. Then My Nguyen (@myhealthydish), who has 4.1 million TikTok fans, took it a step further: She made an engaging tutorial video, emphasizing the importance of a squeeze bottle to make the adorable rounds, as well as a griddle.
Having neither, I made them in a skillet with a resealable plastic bag with a corner cut off. The result undoubtedly takes a lot longer, both to cook and clean up. But pancake cereal is a very fun way to eat your breakfast.
The tender rounds with a buttery browned crust are perfect mini pancakes. It might be my imagination, but they seem to hold on to the maple syrup better than the larger version. It’s definitely easier to cook them; when the top has enough bubbles you just scoop them up with one or two metal spatulas and keep cooking. You can put extra butter on the cereal (you should) and milk (I wouldn’t). It lights up your morning – or evening, in my case – no matter how you serve it.
It also happens to be an ideal family breakfast, a dish that’s homemade, a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, and easy enough for even the little ones to cook without much fuss. “It is so fun to make for the kids, and you’re incorporating something from TikTok, which is basically their culture now,” Nyugen said via email. Plus, she continues, “it’s actually really good.”
In the foreword to “As Cooked on TikTok,” Gordon Ramsay (@gordonramsayofficial; 32.7 million TikTok fans) writes that the book “displays innovative cooking and fun dishes to make at home.” He goes on: “Nothing in this book is worthy of my reaction on TikTok … unless you turn it into a mess.” The response from his daughter and co-author, Tilly (@tillyramsay; 10.2 million fans): “I can’t wait to share with some real TikTok chefs.”
The following recipe, from My Nguyen, is adapted from “As Cooked on TikTok.”
Serves 4 or 5
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
1⅔ cups milk (dairy or plant-based), or more as needed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, or more as needed
Maple syrup, butter (optional) and milk (optional), for serving
In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, then milk until smooth. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until smooth. If the batter is too thick and isn’t pourable, mix in more milk, a splash at a time.
Transfer batter to a squeeze bottle or resealable plastic bag with a corner cut off. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot, melt 1 tablespoon butter and spread it evenly. Squeeze small coin-size dots of batter onto griddle, leaving some space for pancakes to spread, but fitting as many as you can to reduce cooking time. This should be about one-third of the batter.
Cook until the tops of pancakes are dry and bubbles form, about 2 minutes, then use two spatulas to stir and toss them. Continue cooking until pancakes are golden brown and crisp on the edges, about 2 more minutes. Lower the heat a bit if necessary.
Transfer cooked pancake cereal to a plate and repeat with remaining butter and batter. When all pancakes are cooked, divide cereal among bowls and drizzle with maple syrup, add a pat of butter and/or a splash of milk, and serve right away.