How to Make Addictive Cooking Videos for Social Media

Cooking videos are some of the most addictive content on the web. Tasty, Buzzfeed’s food-video offshoot that coined this particular type of short, bird’s-eye cooking videos, topped Shareblee’s 2018 list of the most socially engaged U.S. branded video publishers with 6.5 million engagements on Facebook alone. Who wouldn’t want a slice of that engagement pie?! To get the skinny on how to craft one of these captivating videos, we teamed up with indie food publication GFF Magazine to bring one of its most decadent, beautiful desserts to news feeds everywhere. See this magazine star make its video debut:

Editor-in-Chief Erika Lenkert founded GFF Magazine to show that eating gluten-free doesn’t have to come at the expense of taste. Since its successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014, Erika has spun the quarterly high-end print publication into a website, newsletter, and commerce site all centered around Good Food (Forever) that happens to be Gluten-Free (Forever). And now she’s using video to help her content go further and engage potential readers and shoppers.

You can get your social media engagement cookin’ with gas, too. Read on for the winning recipe of viral food videos. (As in food videos that go viral … we don’t recommend viral food.)

Visually enticing ingredients: Cooking videos are about as close as you can get to literally eating with your eyes, so it’s important to keep the aesthetics of your ingredients and overall meal top of mind. In general, dishes, like soups, stews, and some meats, don’t have enough color contrast in order to be as visually enticing as bright desserts, cocktails, or anything with gooey cheese or drippy chocolate.

A doable recipe: If the goal of your cooking video is to entice your viewers to click through to your site from social, then the video needs to be snappy and easy, as well as visually engaging. Erring on the simpler side of the culinary spectrum will encourage participation and increase the odds your viewers take the next step (or click). Erika’s individual chocolate cake recipe fit the bill perfectly with its simple steps and elegant presentation that wows with little effort.

An uncluttered, pleasing workspace: A clean, organized workspace supports the visual appeal of your video, but it also enhances its instructional value. As in any classroom, clarity and organization are key. Clear off counters or create a high-contrast background by using construction paper or fabric. In GFF’s case we chose simple butcher paper as our workspace.

Camera-ready tools: Bright colors translate best on screen. At the very least, make sure your pots and pans look shiny and clean. Before you start shooting check your materials for any labels, price tags, or anything you don’t want in the shot. Check twice; film once.

A camera or two: (We probably didn’t need to tell you this.) We used an iPhone 7 for the aerial view and a DSLR camera (Canon 5d) for the side view, but a second iPhone will work just as well. You can also get away with just one angle—it all depends on how much variety you want.

A tripod: Most cooking videos include a bird’s eye view of the action. Some tripods have a reversible center post that will create an aerial shot. Or you can buy a tripod arm attachment. For super crafty producers, you can even make your own out of a PVC pipe for under $10. The most important thing to remember is to avoid moving your camera so you capture a seamless shot. If you are attempting two views, consider investing in two tripods.

Bright, soft lighting: Lighting is to photography as flour is to baking: It’s essential, but you don’t necessarily need anything traditional or fancy to pull off your desired effect. Make sure your light sources match in color: Natural daylight is bluish in color, while indoor lighting tends to be warm or yellow. In order to get clean, crisp colors at production, choose one source. For indoor, buy “soft” LED or CFL bulbs. Be sure to look for the word “soft” on the label and definitely avoid using old-school fluorescent bulbs—those energy-suckers will cast your food in an unappetizing green hue. Rather than shining your subject directly in a spotlight and casting harsh film-noir shadows, cast a diffused glow. One cheap option is to buy a “China ball” paper lantern, found in any Ikea and most dorm rooms, and pop that on the light source. This brilliant hack is even used by professional filmmakers.

Now that you’re armed with the basics, you can start storyboarding, musing on your money shot to preview the dish, and thinking on all the extras, such as music, visual theme, and fine-tuning your call to action for the final frame of your video. You may also want to use images or icons to communicate steps that aren’t that visually appealing or are kind of boring to watch. Check out another example featuring just still images, text, icons, and narration to see what we mean:

Try whipping up one of these mouth-watering videos with Spark Video today! Don’t forget to tag #adobespark when you share it for a chance at getting featured.