The Best Salads of 2021 Were on TikTok
Now I can really start dressin’
Salad discourse is alive and well on TikTok. Sure, you can read text about the Caesar and the niçoise on any recipe aggregator, but TikTokers have made an art of the original creation, fusing basic members of the genus brassica and bagged lettuce with ASMR and smooth transitions. And yet, these healthy bites have not achieved the same level of breakthrough fame outside the app as other 2021 hits, like baked feta pasta and Emily Mariko’s salmon bowl. But that hasn’t stopped these salads from racking up millions of views and likes on TikTok, the only app that matters.
1. Warm Kale Chicken Salad
One of the most-liked TikTok salads of the past year is @violet.cook’s Warm Kale Chicken Salad. Salad creator Violet Witchel starts her video by telling viewers that her mother “grew up on a commune in Northern California in the ‘70s so she’d make a lot of salads for us growing up,” and for this she has been extensively mocked in the comments which wonder what communes have to do with salads. The dish itself packs peaches and strawberries into the mix, which is not my kinda thing, but I didn’t grow up in a California commune. If you can get past the unwashed kale in the video, you might be inspired to whip one of these up for yourself.
2. Green Goddess Salad
Baked by Melissa’s green goddess salad was a cultural shift. The salad consists of a base of chopped cabbage, onion, and cucumbers topped with a vegan herby blended dressing that looks like guacamole, made creamy with the addition of walnuts and cashews. The twist? Baked by Melissa founder Melissa Ben-Ishay scoops up the salad and eats it with corn chips like a dip. All salads should come with chips.
But at 18.1 million views, the green goddess is only Ms. Baked’s second-most-popular salad. The first is a finely chopped mix of tomato, cucumber and onion with olives that strongly resembles the same chopped salad that is popular all over the Middle East, although it is only identified as “the reason I married my husband.” What it lacks in originality it makes up for in looks. The salad resembles a large, refreshing bowl of vegetable confetti, which is probably why the video of Ben-Ishay making it has 33.5 million views.
3. Cheesecake Factory Caesar Salad (with mods)
Not all salads are homemade. One of the biggest salad trends this year was a Cheesecake Factory hack. I have never been to a Cheesecake Factory, but it’s not a place that I would associate with greens. And yet according to TikTok, it is the home of the world’s best Caesar Salad. User @majortraeger’s friend says to “sub out the regular chicken for Louisania style chicken and then you add caramelized onions.” I didn’t give it much thought until the subsequent videos of people testifying to its greatness appeared on my For You page.
4. Kylie Jenner Style What I Eat in a Day Sesame Chicken Salad
And for endless salad content, head over to @thesaladlab’s page, if only for the concise overhead visuals and perfect mise en place. They upload a new salad every few days or so, and while it is already a very popular account, it should come as no surprise that their most viewed video this year is for “Kylie Jenner Style What I eat in a Day Sesame Chicken Salad” based on the salad in a TikTok Kylie posted, captioned “what i eat in a day.”
5. Gourmet Fruit Salad
For dessert, this salad by celebrity chef Susur Lee combines my two favorite things: fruit and extravagance. He says it’s the salad he used to make for his kids, but you could easily serve it at the end of an expensive restaurant meal. It’s a fine dice of ripe mango, red dragon fruit, Asian pear, strawberries and more swimming in a smoothie of passion fruit, tangerine, and freeze-dried lychees served in the hollowed-out dragon fruit half. Yum.
As with many, many things, TikTok takes something that is otherwise boring (salad) and makes it so much better (TikTok salad). Eat your heart out, but stay heart-healthy while you’re at it.