2022's Best And Worst TikTok Food Trends, From Butter Boards To NyQuil Chicken

Some are here to stay, while others we can't wait to leave behind.
Illustration: Benjamin Currie/HuffPost; Photo: Getty

TikTok plays a huge role in the food dialogue these days, and professional chefs, influencers and casual users alike pay close attention to the food-related posts on the platform, ready to add new recipes, creative techniques and easy shortcuts to their culinary repertoires. This year brought us a plethora of foodie TikToks, some of which are sure to remain popular for years to come... and some of which we should try to forget ASAP.

We asked professional chefs, recipe developers and TikTokers to name their favorite and least favorite TikTok food trends of 2022. Here’s what they had to say.

THE GOOD

Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville hot chicken, a Tennessee staple that consists of fried chicken slathered in both hot sauce and a scorching blend of dry spices, had a major presence on TikTok this year. Creators posted videos inspired by classic Nashville hot chicken sandwiches and by fast-food twists on hot chicken, like KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders.

@tasty @gidsgids makes a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich! #chickensandwich #nashvillehotchickensandwich #foodie ♬ original sound - Tasty

Stathis Antonakopoulos, the chef and owner of Carnegie Diner in New York City, views Nashville hot chicken as a lasting force on national menus, saying that “everyone loves spicy chicken, and it’s a dish that will always be an American classic that chefs love to put their own spin on.”

Lemon Pasta

TikTok superstar Emily Mariko posted a recipe earlier this year that featured an easy, straightforward and incredibly delicious version of spaghetti al limone, a hugely popular Southern Italian dish of pasta tossed in a sauce made with butter, cream and lemon juice.

Boston-based food influencer Brittany DiCapua of @bostonfoodjournal thinks Mariko’s pared-down lemon pasta recipe ― which includes only pasta, lemons, butter, pasta water and a hefty amount of Parmesan cheese ― “will last because it’s delicious, super easy to make (three steps), and somewhat healthy for a pasta dish.”

TikToker Harrison Hill of @chefharrisonhill added that “it’s kind of always been a sleeper hit – it’s just finally getting its 15 minutes of fame! This recipe has remained in my heavy rotation for an easy weeknight meal ever since I was a college student a decade ago at NYU. The flavor-to-effort ratio makes for a virtually unparalleled payoff that comes together in one pot and in 10-15 minutes flat.”

Salmon Bowls

Another favorite from Mariko that gained viral traction in 2022, salmon bowls present an easy way to use leftover cooked salmon while adding ingredients associated with sushi, like nori and spicy mayo.

@emilymariko

Always how I eat leftover salmon

♬ original sound - Emily Mariko

Connecticut-based personal chef Crystal Reinwald believes that salmon bowls are in it for the long haul. “The Emily Mariko version of a salmon bowl with spicy mayo takes all of the flavors that you love about sushi (which most people would never attempt to make) and puts it in a bowl,” she said. “She also took the raw fish aspect out of it, which [makes it] a lot easier for a home cook to feel comfortable preparing themselves.”

Chopped Green Goddess Salad

Chopped Green Goddess Salad originally showed up on the popular Baked by Melissa recipe blog. But TikTokers quickly took and ran with it in early 2022, posting viral video after viral video about this slaw-like spin on typical Green Goddess salad that can be served as a dip for tortilla chips.

@positively_paige Reply to @lemonpepstep sure did ! You have to chop until the cows come home but I’m addicted to this recipe by @Baked by Melissa #greengoddess ♬ Could You Be Loved - Bob Marley & The Wailers

While some naysayers have criticized the amount of time and energy required to put this salad together, recipe developer and avid TikToker Yumna Jawad of Feel Good Foodie said it’s “innovative and eye-catching, but also allows for personal creativity and many types of iterations” from influencers and TikTok viewers alike.

Avocado Dessert

A sweet treat that’s made by combining ripe avocado slices with crushed ice and condensed milk, avocado dessert was a huge hit on TikTok this year. Executive chef Carlos Anthony of Herb & Wood in San Diego pointed out that it’s far from a new creation: “[This] dessert has been around forever, especially in the Philippines and Vietnam.”

@iankewks Avocado dessert (avocado and condensed milk) 🥑 #avocado #condensedmilk ♬ Chillest in the Room - L.Dre

However, he feels that its recent ubiquity on TikTok will help chefs and home cooks to expand their view of avocados. “Most of the world is used to eating avocados in savory dishes, but TikTok has introduced a new way to enjoy them. Avocado desserts will become a trend, similar to how ube was considered ‘the new matcha’ a few years ago,” Anthony predicted.

Perfectly Round Cookies

Rather than introducing a new recipe or a dramatic variation on a classic, the trend ― which involves placing a mug or glass over a warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie and gently swirling it in a circular motion until the pliant dough becomes a perfect circle ― helps home bakers improve a beloved treat that they’re likely making already.

@recipes The secret to making your cookies perfectly round 🍪 @enhancedboards #viral #cookinghacks #recipes ♬ YUH IM A MOTHHAA - Bacarbiana

Because of this practicality, the perfectly round cookie technique has “to have the most staying power in the food world because it’s actually useful and has proven to work,” said chef, host and TikToker Tway Nguyen. She added that “everyone loves cookies, and I think that any trend that has to do with dessert has staying power because desserts are just so eye-catching.”

THE BAD

‘Healthy Coke’

When we asked our experts to name the most eyeroll-inducing TikTok food trend of 2022, they overwhelmingly came back with one answer: ”Healthy Coke.”

A trend that rose to prominence this summer, “healthy Coke” is a combination of balsamic vinegar and carbonated water. While some TikTokers claimed that this elixir mimicked the flavor of Coke with far less sugar, recipe developer and TikToker Kelsey Riley of Planted in the Kitchen said that the reality falls far short of the hype. “I tried this trend using a variety of different sparkling water flavors and brands but couldn’t find a combination that didn’t taste like salad dressing,” Riley said. “I also saw very mixed reviews around TikTok of others trying this trend.”

Jawad also pointed out the inconclusive results of TikTok taste tests, saying “the drink looks refreshing with the ice cubes and the color resemblance, but taste test after taste test by different influencers revealed that it was nothing like the real thing. This naturally brought the trend to a halt, because every video started to look the same with the same two ingredients being used and similar reactions [being yielded].”

Grated Egg Avocado Toast

Grating hard-boiled eggs over avocado toast was a popular move on TikTok this year, but Nguyen is “really glad [that this trend] didn’t stick around that long, because it just isn’t the most ideal way to enjoy a hard boil. It went viral because of how cool it looks to grate the egg, but I’ll pass.”

The grating process might be cinematic, but it also makes a mess on your hands and on your grater. Plus, adding a grated hard-boiled egg to avocado toast is the definition of gilding the lily, Hill said. “All that good avocado toast really needs is a solid glug or drizzle of olive oil, some lemon juice, and as many chili flakes as you can possibly fit on that avocado-smeared toast,” Hill insisted.

‘Sleepy Chicken’

“Sleepy Chicken,” a “trend” that started a bit of internet buzz late this year, was really more of a hoax than anything else. The idea of cooking raw chicken in NyQuil wasn’t actually taking the culinary world by storm, and media concerns about young people jumping on this “trend” after seeing it on TikTok were massively overblown. TikTok even took the remarkable step of removing any and all “Sleepy Chicken” videos from the platform ― not that there were many to begin with. But the “Sleepy Chicken” debacle proved the power of TikTok as a food-related communication tool.

THE CONTROVERSIAL

Butter Boards

TikTokers in 2022 couldn’t stop talking and posting about “butter boards,” or slathering different kinds of butter onto a charcuterie board. “You then top the butter with different foods and garnishes before dipping a generous slice of bread into the butter,” Riley explained.

Riley is an enthusiastic fan of the butter board. “I think that the butter board trend was one of my favorites and is the most likely to stick around,” she said. ”[It’s] a fun and unique way to entertain moving forward in lieu of or in addition to a classic charcuterie board. There are a ton of ways to make a butter board to perfectly compliment your favorite foods and flavors.”

@naughtyfork Butter board is my new fvaorite thing. Idea by @Justine Doiron !! #fyp #butterboard #foryou #tiktokfood #viral ♬ Chill Day - LAKEY INSPIRED

But we also heard plenty of critical feedback on the butter board trend from our experts, especially in regard to cleanliness and the spread of germs.

“There’s nothing more unappetizing than having multiple people’s fingers accidentally schmear a communal board with crackers/bread. Totally unintentional, but also totally gross,” said TikToker Dani Mathews of @healthyishdani.

Chef Jordan Rubin of Mr. Tuna in Portland, Maine, agreed with Mathews, saying that “it’s nasty to see folks smear things all over a board. Something like that makes sense for one or two people, but not a bunch of people sharing in this giant schmear. After two minutes, it looks completely disgusting ― not to mention the COVID germ-y concerns!”

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