It’s no secret: Grandparents are by and large incredible cooks. With centuries’ worth of passed-down tricks, a touch of ancestral magic and all the TLC up their sleeves, they prepare dependably delicious food for their families without breaking a sweat—even if they’re standing at the stove for hours.
What we didn’t see coming? Grandparents making their TikTok debut on their grandkids’ accounts to show off their culinary chops. Read on for more about the trend, plus our theories on why these videos are so popular with foodies.
Whether it’s whipping up homemade pasta with Nonna or noshing on dried fish Inuk-style with Mom, TikTok has seen a surge in food videos that center on authentic recipes, old world techniques and family traditions. Some show grandparents in their element, cooking and explaining their go-to recipes. Others show grandkids getting in on the action with their grandparents, learning how to prepare the dishes they’ve loved since childhood. Many of the videos have a cultural education element to them too, as the experts pass wisdom from their homelands down to their descendants.
Why Are These Recipes Trending?
If you ask us, there are a few reasons why cooking videos featuring grandparents are especially popular nowadays:
They Connect Us with Our Roots
No matter where your grandparents are from, they didn’t have limitless food blogs and cookbooks to scour before making dinner, or perhaps even well-stocked grocery stores to shop at. The recipes they made over and over again were taught to them verbally (or even better, inherited in a treasured recipe box or notebook) by their mothers and grandmothers. By now, they know them by heart, and they can whip up an impeccable ropa vieja without measuring a single ingredient. Cooking with them now not only allows their grandkids to carry the tasty torch into the future, but it also profoundly links them to their cultural heritage, even if those roots are generations away.
Grandparents Waste Nothing
If there’s anything Gen Z cares about, it’s the environment and conservation. Despite their age gap and possible differences in political views, Boomers have been waste-free in the kitchen and elsewhere for decades. (Does your grandpa keep his nuts and bolts in an old butter container? Does your abuela refill empty Keebler cracker tins with dry rice and beans and Royal Dansk cookie tins with sewing tools?) Anyone who lived through the Great Depression or poverty—or anyone raised by someone who endured their effects—is likely hesitant to throw things away, as well as adept at making a lot out of a little with the ingredients they have on hand. With the help of TikTok, Gen Z and millennials have been able to bond with their grandparents over this common interest.
We’re Craving Comfort and Quality Time
Seniors were heavily affected by the pandemic. They were more at risk for severe Covid complications andisolated from their friends and families. Many of us weren’t able to see our grandparents in person for months for the sake of their health and safety, and some of us lost our grandparents during the pandemic. Now that we’re in a post-vaccine world, we can finally spend time with them again, so from here on out, we’re not taking a single second for granted. That means we’re spending hours in the kitchen with them, not only so we can pass their recipes on to our own children, but also to make as many new memories with them as possible.
We Trust Their Knowledge (and They Cook with Love)
Whether it’s prawn fry or oladi, one thing is for sure: Grandmas make it best. Our grandparents make food the old-fashioned way: without shortcuts, appliances or fancy ingredients. (Crockpot who? Sous vide what?) They may not know what reverse-searing is, but when it comes to old-school recipes, no one does it better—and we know so, because we’ve tasted them countless times over the years. They are incredibly consistent cooks who know their signature dishes inside and out. A grandmother’s food is a comfort you can depend on, even if she always eyeballs the spices and “measures” sugar with a drinking glass. Grandparents’ recipes are simple, traditional and infused with a generous dose of love, and nothing tastes better than that.
Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.