Whether it is an endless scrolling session of watching people make feta cheese pasta or a skilled Japanese chef cutting sashimi on Instagram, it’s no doubt that food videos are a hit on social media. Now, the top types of cuisine people like to see online were revealed by Chef’s Pencil, an international food magazine based in Australia, recently.
In recent years, social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok have become increasingly popular places to share and explore food content. From decadent desserts to healthy meals, social media users love to share and discover new food trends and cuisines online. Let’s explore the most popular cuisines on Instagram and TikTok, and what makes them so appealing to foodies around the world, as per the report.
The report revealed that Italian, Indian, and Japanese cuisine does best on Instagram, whereas Korean, Chinese, and Mexican food gets the most views on TikTok.
From classic dishes like pizza and pasta to more modern creations like Italian-inspired street food, Italian cuisine is a hit with social media users. One of the reasons that Italian cuisine is so popular online is that it is visually appealing.
The bright colours of fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, combined with the golden hues of perfectly cooked pasta or pizza, make Italian food look almost too good to eat. Italian food is also hearty and comforting, which makes it perfect for sharing on social media platforms that are all about indulging and treating yourself.
Indian food is currently the second most popular cuisine on Instagram, with roughly 13 million hashtags as of March 2023. With 2.2 million new mentions on Instagram, Indian food’s use of ample spices and various steps that go into creating a dish can be credited for its popularity.
In addition, a lot of the dishes are vegetarian-friendly, gaining popularity amongst a large group of people who follow a plant-based diet. The hashtag ‘#curry’ was mentioned in a total of 10 million posts on Instagram until March this year, and its popularity continues to grow.
Indian cuisine also topped a poll we ran on Gulf News’ official Instagram account, in which followers voted for the cuisine that they liked seeing the most online. The choices were between, Indian, Korean, Japanese, and Lebanese food.
Japanese cuisine is another popular type of cuisine on Instagram and TikTok. From sushi to ramen to bento boxes, Japanese food is known for its artful presentation and fresh, healthy ingredients. Japanese cuisine is often shared on social media platforms because it is visually stunning and offers a glimpse into a culture that many people find fascinating.
One of the unique things about Japanese cuisine is the attention to detail that goes into every dish. From the perfect arrangement of sushi rolls to the precise slicing of sashimi, Japanese cuisine is all about presentation. Japanese cuisine is also known for its use of fresh, seasonal ingredients, which makes it a hit with health-conscious foodies who are always looking for new ways to eat well.
Inspiration for home cooks
Another reason people enjoy watching food-related content is to get inspiration. Social media platforms provide a wealth of information on all kinds of food and cuisine. Users can search for specific types of food or recipes, or discover new food trends and cuisines. Remember when everyone was rushing to recreate the Gigi Hadid pasta, Dalgona coffee, and Birria tacos?
Dubai-based marketing instructor Vidhi Sharma is one such person. The Indian expat likes watching food content in her free time and recreating recipes at home.
“My favourite cuisines to watch online are East Asian like Thai, Chinese, and Singaporean food,” the 36-year-old said.
For Sharma it’s the way recipe videos are short and broken down into step-by-step processes that make it easy for her to follow. “The most appealing thing about food content on social media is that these videos are easy-to-follow. We don’t need to spend a long time reading instructions or watching the chefs make small talk while chopping veggies. They get to the point. Most of the recipes are less than a minute,” she said.
The most appealing thing about food content on social media is that these videos are easy-to-follow
Oftentimes Sharma recreates the recipes she watches. Just like Sharma, a student based in Dubai, Ali Khalid also enjoys cooking in his free time and gets his inspiration from social media videos.
“I look for all sorts of recipes online and it’s great when I discover a healthy twist to a meal that is usually considered unhealthy. I love recreating recipes like that,” the 25-year-old Iraqi expat said.
Speaking about the types of cuisines he likes to see online, he said: “I enjoy watching food videos around contemporary and Japanese cuisine on TikTok. I like seeing recipes as well as virtual street food tours – it gives people a sense of being there.”
For Khalid, it’s also the art that goes into presenting the food and showcasing that in visually pleasing videos. “I find the use of high quality ingredients very appealing, and the beautiful presentation of the food is great to look at. They say we eat with our eyes, and food-related social media posts totally help with that,” he said.
They say we eat with our eyes, and food-related social media posts totally help with that
Fun to watch
Besides watching as an aspiring cook, food content on social media is simply a form of entertainment for many. Cooking and eating shows are popular on social media platforms, and many users enjoy watching food-related content as a way to relax and unwind.
For British expat based in Dubai Emaan Asad that’s just the case. “I like watching food videos in my free time. I even start craving things when I watch these videos, they make them so well,” she said.
I like watching food videos in my free time. I even start craving things when I watch these videos, they make them so well.
The web developer said that she also finds the newest food spots to try out in the UAE from social media. “Just the other day I shared a video of a new burger spot with my husband and we ended up going there, and they were the best burgers I’ve ever tried,” the 26-year-old said.
For 26-year-old e-commerce professional Firuse Shahana, it’s not about eating out but about getting new recipes, ways to present food, and decorating tables when she invites over guests.
“I can scroll for hours especially when the content is made creatively. When I am hosting, I get so many ideas from pictures and videos I see online,” the Bangladeshi expat based in Dubai said.
I can scroll for hours especially when the content is made creatively.
Shahana also said that food-related posts online have opened her up to cuisines from across the world. “So many videos are so educational on the food of all cultures. For instance, I watch a lot of Italian food and pasta videos – who knew there are so many ways to make pasta alone,” she said.
K-pop, K-drama, and now K-food
Another cuisine that is highly popular online is Korean. So much so, that it emerged as the most popular cuisine on TikTok with an astounding 15 billion views under the hashtag #Koreanfood, as per a report released in March, earlier this year. This beats Italian, Japanese, and Indian, despite being the top cuisines on Instagram. Surprisingly, dishes such as bibimbap and kimchi have become more popular on TikTok than well-known favorites like pizza, pasta, and sushi. What makes Korean food so irresistible to TikTok users?
The answer could be linked to the recent rise of Korean culture in the media, with K-pop sensations like BTS and viral Netflix hits such as Squid Game leading the charge. As Korean culture gains traction online, so does its food, with Korean dishes finding their way into the vocabulary of social media users, and Korean chefs gaining the recognition they deserve.
Another factor that might explain the popularity of Korean food on TikTok is the platform's demographics, with Gen Z being the primary users, a generation that has been exposed to Korean cultural exports from an early age. Mexican food comes in third place in popularity on TikTok, followed by Indian and Italian cuisines.
While these are currently the popular cuisines online, do you see a pattern of any emerging food cultures on social media? Which cuisines will dominate the web in the future? Share your thoughts with us on firstname.lastname@example.org