As an avid baker, I’ve always hated to Google a recipe and then wade through the baker’s extensive backstory to find it. It’s like a buried treasure hunt – only it’s painfully slow. However, one thing I love is how concise video recipes from TikTok and YouTube are.
I never have to wonder what the food looks like on these apps; I see and hear almost every step in a way that I know I can replicate. And I learn a lot more from it than written recipes teach me. So that got me thinking: what’s the best way to bake with video recipes? Will using a short one minute video from TikTok be enough, or will a more in-depth 10 minute recipe from YouTube be better?
On the one hand, I’ll probably save time with TikTok, but YouTube’s recipe is 10 times as long, and it could give me more information. More importantly, what’s actually going to give me the best food? And which one will make me a better baker?
How I Tested My TikTok and YouTube Bins
When people think of TikTok, recipes aren’t the first thing that comes to mind. It probably wouldn’t be on their guesses list either. YouTube is however the platform to search video recipes. People rarely look elsewhere, but should they?
To give both apps fair competition, I decided to compare a one-minute sugar cookie recipe on TikTok with a 10-minute sugar cookie recipe from YouTube. I wanted to play around with the strengths of what both apps offer and see if those differences in food delivery show up. Cookies seemed like a perfect middle ground. They are simple with a touch of complications. To my surprise, the two recipes came apart a lot more for reasons beyond taste.
It all starts with finding a recipe
YouTube is the champion of intuitive design. It doesn’t make searching for videos difficult, although it can be a bit more difficult to narrow down your specific preferences. For sugar cookies, that was not such a problem.
TikTok, on the other hand, has its search function as more of a second choice from the usual scrolling. While I found sugar cookie recipes quickly enough, a lack of good thumbnails and floating/sample videos (like YouTube listings) meant I had to check out a few recipes to find one that was actually worth using. In addition, the short, replayable nature of a TikTok was a huge bonus while cooking. While it’s getting old to listen to the same TikTok over and over, I never had to stop what I was doing to adjust anything.
This is one area where YouTube has — surprisingly — struggled. The long format didn’t fit the idea of following recipes at all. I would follow a single step and land my fist deep in cookie dough, and the next step of the video would go by too fast, causing me to miss it. Then I would have to stop what I was doing, wash my hands and rewind to the part I was doing. It made the whole process long and maddening.
Creativity vs Simplicity
While searching for recipes on both platforms, TikTok was so fast at sliding content in and out that it gave the least information and nothing more. At the most, the content creators would do anything to make their video look flashier, but at the cost of teaching me how to make more beautiful food.
YouTube didn’t have that problem. With the sheer amount of time available in a video, it was almost always available to have a time slot to fit the decorating. Not only did it explain what would look nice, but it also left it open enough that I could try what I thought would look good. It provided examples and I felt inspired to make my own.
Your baking/cooking skills are important
The YouTube recipe had a ton of great tips for beginners during every part of the process. They were organically processed and didn’t bore me and didn’t seem strange.
TikTok is the opposite. It would skip steps commonly known to bakers and almost never offered tips or explanations. It made a lot of assumptions about what I needed to know instead of actually showing me what to do.
However, the YouTube recipe was difficult when it came to decorating. While it was incredibly in-depth, the skill and equipment the recipe expected of you for “easy” sugar cookies wasn’t easy at all. It wanted me to have a stand mixer, piping bags and food coloring. It also expected me to have some knowledge and experience with piping cookies. Despite all those tips it had, it didn’t offer anything easier to decorate as a beginner.
TikTok’s food community is second to none
YouTube seems to lend itself more to the idea of baking and the entertainment surrounding it than the actual cooking process. While I’ve found some recipes from the app that I like, the longer format keeps me from wanting to return. When I read comments about the app, I always see people saying the food looks good, but rarely do they mention making it yourself.
When I’m on TikTok getting recipes, the comments are usually littered with people who have made the food and can attest to it being terrible or downright the best they’ve ever found. The TikTok food community seems a lot more invested in actually making the food, and I agree. The app’s easy and fast format doesn’t scare me – it encourages me.
Which recipe tasted the best?
After some extensive persuasion (such a difficult act really), my family tried the two different cookies. It was a very exciting race, but the TikTok recipe won in the end. The more simplistic but classic flavor was a hit. I personally enjoyed the more complex sweet-salt flavor of the YouTube cookie, but if you give it to other people, basic is better. That’s not to say that both weren’t bad in any way. Both cookies were delicious on their own.
I’ve found that, more often than not, I get some of my best and now cherished recipes from TikTok. I am fortunate to have more experience cooking and have reached the level needed to make recipes work flawlessly, but for your less experienced baker that may be more difficult.
So who is the best then? YouTube may be reluctant to make me the better baker, but TikTok has the better recipes. If I want to learn it, I go to YouTube; if I want good food, I go to TikTok.
Where do YouTube and TikTok recipes compare to what Google could give me? I looked – and it made me disappointed and annoyed again. Google gave me endless recipes to choose from. The content of the recipe itself was almost identical to the video apps. But I still had to scroll and scroll and – you guessed it – scroll to finally find the information I was looking for. It’s so full of useless information that it sucks the urge to cook out of me.
If you’re new to baking and want clear directions that teach you along the way, YouTube is what you’re looking for. It may take longer to do than a TikTok recipe, but it’s worth it. And if you decide to check out TikTok, I beg you to find the coveted recipe for loaded potato bacon soup. It’s absolutely amazing.