7 Foodie Tips We Learned from TikTok StarsCookbook author and creators Valentina Mussi and Poppy O’Toole dish on everything from must-have appliances to the perfect cheese pull.JULY.16.2021FOOD + ENTERTAINING

By Amy Grief

The Unofficial TikTok Cookbook

Did you make creamy Dalgona coffee in March 2020? If so, you took a sip of a TikTok recipe. The beloved video-based social media platform has been responsible for a plethora of viral recipes over the past year. Creators like Valentina Mussi (@sweetportfolio on TikTok) and chef Poppy O’Toole (@poppycooks) have invented their fair share of them. In the The Unofficial TikTok Cookbook, Mussi shares the secrets behind what makes a recipe go viral, while O’Tooles’ forthcoming cookbook features her signature comfort food recipes. Here are seven delicious tips from these foodie creators.

1. Start with a well-stocked pantry

At the front of most cookbooks, authors provide a list of must-have ingredients—Mussi’s list looks a lot different from what you’d normally see. “The point of TikTok recipes is to create extravagant dishes the easiest way possible—with little cleanup,” she writes. Her ingredients are decadent: whipping cream (for whipped drinks, like fluffy whipped strawberry milk), string cheese (think: Cheetos-coated mozza sticks), pancake mix (for pancake cereal), and many more.

2. Rethink your small appliances

When it comes to kitchen tools, Mussi says an air fryer is a non-negotiable for all sorts of kitchen tasks—it bakes and fries with less oil. Look for one with at least a 3.5-quart basket and experiment with what you can crisp up. She also recommends having a waffle maker and electric mixer on hand for quick and easy frothing.

3. Master the art of food styling

TikTok is a visual medium and the recipes that go viral look over-the-top delicious. When filming your own recipes, think about how to make them ultra-tantalizing. If your recipe is cheesy, for instance, including a cheese pull is a non-negotiable. For the stringiest cheese, Mussi says to wait two to three minutes after your food is done. Have your phone ready so you can capture that fromage stat.

4. Don’t be afraid to experiment

On social media, controversy is gold—and #FoodTok is no different. “One of the secrets to having a recipe go viral on TikTok is controversy,” writes Mussi. That baked tomato feta pasta? It launched many a think piece with some loving it and others deriding it as overly simplistic—and salty. A recipe that gets users commenting, questioning, and curious (and cooking) will gain more traction than something that may be universally loved.

5. Tell a story

As Mussi writes, TikTok is not like your typical cooking show. Instead, you have one minute to capture your audience’s attention. She says to start by showing your ingredients and ending with a finished product. In between, tell a story and make it fun with music, sounds, voiceovers, and whatever else you can dream up to create your very own TikTok food trend.

6. Find Your Niche

For Poppy O’Toole, recipe virality comes down to finding your niche. “TikTok loves a niche,” she tells Indigo. “It’s finding that one thing that as soon as they see the first five seconds of your video, they’re going to think… ‘I know what’s coming now and I like it.’” O’Toole’s niche: potato recipes!

7. Master the Basics

Some of O’Tooles most viral videos teach her followers recipe basics—like how to make a simple tomato sauce. And she hopes to do the same in her debut cookbook. “I’ve set it out as 12 core recipes … you will remember and use forever,” she says, explaining how readers will learn how to use theses staples in all sorts of dishes from brunch to dessert.

Crave More from TikTok Stars?
Check Out These Forthcoming Cookbooks:

Poppy Cooks: The Food You Need

by Poppy O’Toole

Poppy Cooks: The Food You Need by Poppy O’Toole

Chef, and potato recipe master, Poppy O’Toole trained at Michelin-starred restaurants but made a pandemic pivot to TikTok where she’s amassed an enormous following. Her debut cookbook releases Nov. 9.

The Korean Vegan by Joanne Lee Molinaro

The Korean Vegan
by Joanne Lee Molinaro
Lawyer Joanna Lee Molinaro stands out on TikTok because she pairs delish-looking demos with family stories and political and social advocacy. Her tome for vegans, and the vegan-curious, is out Oct. 12.

Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook by Joshua Weissman

Joshua Weissman: An Unapologetic Cookbook
by Joshua Weissman
For recipe videos with tons of personality, join Joshua Weissman’s 5.5 million TikTok followers—and learn how to make McNuggets from scratch. His sophomore cookbook comes out Sept. 14.


Butterscotch Apple Crumble by Poppy O’Toole

Butterscotch Apple Crumble

From Poppy Cooks by Poppy O’Toole

Serves 4–6


  • The core
  • • 1 recipe quantity of Perfect Custard (see below)

  • For the topping
  • • 150g/5 ¼-oz plain flour
  • • 90g/3-oz dark brown soft sugar
  • • A pinch of salt
  • • 100g/3 ½-oz butter, cubed and chilled

  • For the filling
  • • 50g/2-oz butter
  • • 150g/5 ¼-oz dark brown soft sugar
  • • 100ml/scant ½ cup double cream
  • • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • • 2 large cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • • A large pinch of flaky salt


  1. 1: Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/375°F/Gas 5.
  2. 2: Make the topping. Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Then, a few cubes at a time, add the butter, using your thumbs and fingertips to rub it in until it looks like lovely, chunky breadcrumbs (you don’t want it too fine—some lumps are good for extra crunch once it’s cooked). Set aside.
  3. 3: Make the filling. Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Leave to melt, then add the sugar and stir. Leave to dissolve, stirring every so often, just so that the caramel doesn’t burn. Meanwhile, pour the cream into a jug and stir in the vanilla.
  4. 4: After about 3–5 minutes, reduce the heat under the pan to low and, using a whisk, carefully pour in the vanilla cream, whisking as you go.
  5. 5: Add the apples and flaky salt, and gently stir them through so that the apple slices are completely coated in the thick butterscotch. Transfer this mixture into a medium oven dish.
  6. 6: Scatter the crumble evenly over the top. Bake for 30–40 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and the filling is bubbling.
  7. 7: While the crumble is in the oven, warm up your custard: place it in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes, until it’s warm and silky. Be patient–don’t rush it, as we don’t want it to split.
  8. 8: Serve the hot crumble in bowls smothered in lashings of custard—and vanilla ice cream, because I love it with that, too. So, yes, both.



  • • 300ml/1 ¼ cups double cream
  • • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • • 3 egg yolks
  • • 3 tbsp caster sugar (berry sugar)


  1. 1: Set yourself set up. If you are not using the custard immediately, then you will need something big enough for the custard to be strained into. If you are using the custard straight away, place a sieve over a jug, or whatever it is you’re serving it in.
  2. 2: Pour the double cream into a small saucepan and add the vanilla. Place the pan over medium heat and slowly bring it up to the simmer–just so that bubbles are forming around the edges of the cream. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  3. 3:In a bowl, beat together the egg yolks and sugar, until the colour has turned pale.
  4. 4: Stirring the whole time, little by little, pour about half the cream from the pan into the sweetened yolks–this will gently bring the yolks up to temperature so that they don’t scramble when they go into the rest of the hot cream.
  5. 5: Then, pour the yolk mixture in the bowl into the pan with the remaining cream and return to a low–medium heat, stirring continuously for about 7–10 minutes, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  6. 6: Strain the thickened custard through the sieve into your chosen receptacle. If you’re keeping it until later, cover the surface of the custard with cling film (make sure it’s actually touching the surface), which will stop a skin forming on top.

Excerpted from Poppy Cooks by Poppy O’Toole. Copyright © 2021 Poppy O’Toole. Photography ©2021 Louise Hagger. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

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