Who needs the Food Network or Pinterest or a cookbook these days when you've got Facebook?
If it seems like you can't scroll through your social media feed without seeing dozens of well-edited short videos showing you quickly how to make some crave-worthy meal — usually involving cheese or chocolate — you're not alone.
A Tip Hero tutorial on how to make apple roses has been viewed almost 500,000 times, going viral on social media with each share. BuzzFeed Food videos have 3 billion views on Facebook since August 2014, with 14 million average views per food video, according to data compiled by Tubular.
A BuzzFeed recipe for BBQ Chicken Pizza Dippers — using simple ingredients like store-bought pizza dough, barbecue sauce and sliced red onions — has been watched more than 83 million times by Facebook users alone. For Liz Lowell, of Great Barrington, Mass., online tutorials make cooking easier.
"I prefer to view recipes online," said Lowell, who cooks as often as she can. "The video of how to make it helps. You can pause to add ingredients and rewind if you miss something."
The videos, often less than a minute in duration, usually show only the cook's hands dumping pre-cut ingredients into a pan, skillet or onto a pre-made dough or pastry. The process is sped up with time-lapse editing and sometimes fun music plays in the background. For specific directions, users look to the first comment on the video, where the host usually lists the whole recipe.
Kylia Rice, of Pittsfield, Mass., said she loves finding new recipes online so much, she started following pages that offered recipe videos like Tasty, another BuzzFeed page that touts "snack-sized" videos with "food that'll make you close your eyes, lean back, and whisper 'yessss.'"
That's where she found a recipe for Mozzarella-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs — a basic meatball recipe kicked up a notch when 3/4-inch cubes of low-moisture mozzarella cheese are stuffed into the center of the meatballs then cooked on high for two hours in a slow cooker with sauce.
"I loved it," Rice said. "The meatballs hold together really well."
Lowell made BuzzFeed's Spinach Artichoke Garlic Bread after her daughter sent her the link requesting she make it. The cheesy goodness has more than 70 million views on Facebook.
"It was delicious," Lowell said, adding that she made one adjustment by using an icing gun to fill the hollowed out bread with the artichoke mixture instead of a spoon, like the video suggested.
Not all viral tutorials end up earning a spot on the menu rotation. Robin Martin, of North Adams, Mass., said the pretty pictures and fun videos make recipes look good, but that's not always the case. She tried making an indoor s'mores recipe that simply requires melting chocolate chips with marshmallows layered on top in a cast iron skillet in the oven. Glossy pictures show a gooey, delicious looking dip that, of course, goes perfectly with graham crackers.
What Martin got, she said, instead was a rock-solid skillet that tasted like burnt chocolate.
"I don't care if it's the middle of winter," she said. "I'm starting a fire outside if I want s'mores at my house. It was awful."
Martin suggests looking at other sources, like old-fashioned, trusty cookbooks, if you're not sure a viral recipe will work. Reading the comments below the shared video will also quickly tell you if it's worth buying the exact ingredients or if substitutions should be made.
Rice said she has had some "fails" too when it comes to trying these recipes, but still can't get enough of them.
"People are so used to cooking and eating the same old boring things ," she said. "This shows you different ways to make things more interesting."
This reporter decided to make things more interesting and tried one of the recipes shared by BuzzFeed Food — an Easy Apple Pie Tart that has been viewed more than 7 million times. Not at all a baker, I was enticed by the simple ingredients and easy steps. While the video is a fast 21 seconds — who can peel an apple that fast? — it took me closer to 30 minutes to get it in the oven.
I also found a discrepancy between the ingredients shown on the video and what the actual recipe called for. It doubled the recipe, so I was able to make two tarts, which worked to my advantage because I burned the first try. I told you I wasn't a baker. Despite my worst efforts, the end result was indeed an easy tart that tasted buttery, seasonal and even made my husband request I make it again.
Easy Apple Tart
Courtesy of BuzzFeed Food
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
4 small (6 ounce) apples
1/2 stick (2 ounce) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
1/4 cup brown sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon (an addition from online comment suggestions)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Remove stems and cores of apples with a sharp knife and a melon baller. Peel and cut them in half through the stem. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch slices. Place slices of apples diagonally across pastry, switching directions with each row. Sprinkle the apples evenly with the sugar and dot them with the butter.
Bake for 35 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
Spinach Artichoke Dip Stuffed Garlic Bread
Courtesy of BuzzFeed Food
Mix cream cheese, mozzarella, spinach, artichoke hearts, and garlic powder in a bowl. Cut baguette into thirds or fourths, and hollow out the insides using a knife. Stuff the hollow baguette pieces with the spinach artichoke dip, using a spoon to press down. Slice filled baguette into 1-inch rounds and reassemble on a baking sheet lined with foil.
Melt butter and mix with minced garlic and parsley. Brush the garlic butter generously over the baguette rounds, letting it drip through the slices.
Cover with the foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then try not to eat the whole thing.