There are few times in life when we feel comfortable embracing chaos. Ideally, our schedules, homes, and email inboxes are fairly organized, as are our kitchens. But a growing food trend focuses on welcoming a pleasant amount of mayhem into your meal plan.
With more than 1.8 million views on TikTok as of mid-August 2023, those who have adopted #ChaosCooking say it now “seems to be the only type of cooking I do these days” and promote “chaos all the way!”
Everyone from award-winning restaurant chefs to those just dipping their toes into cooking basics can benefit from a little chaos cooking. It’s becoming such a popular and widely-embraced concept, that the term even arose in a plot line on the remarkably popular Hulu comedy and drama The Bear.
But what is chaos cooking, exactly, and why are so many people talking about it? Read on for the dish
What is Chaos Cooking?
Chaos cooking has existed for decades – long before the idea was given its signature nickname and hashtag last year. Since the pandemic began, cookbooks like New York Times Cooking: No-Recipe Recipes, How to Cook Without a Book, Cook-ish, I Dream of Dinner (So You Don’t Have To), and Dinnertime SOS have been inviting home cooks to get more comfortable improvising, rather than sticking to an exact game plan to the 1/4 teaspoon.
At its core, chaos cooking involves taking the ingredients that are already inside your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer and tossing them together to whip up something much greater than the sum of their parts. Essentially, it’s cooking a recipe without one, and it’s a savvy way to cut down on food waste.
Now that it has a name, chaos cooking takes this mix-and-match philosophy and adds another element: freedom. Rather than feeling fearful that you might mess up a dish or not create something ultra gourmet, by-the-book, or Instagram feed-worthy, chaos cooking is all about relatability, deliciousness, and creativity. Instead of being fussy, chaos cooking centers having fun, and trying to please your taste buds.
Think of chaos cooking as a variation of what was once called fusion cooking. Before the recipes were developed and added to restaurant menus (or magazines) around the globe, everything from barbecue chicken pizza to chicken and waffles cobb salad to sushirittos could be considered chaos cooking.
Nearly anything goes in the world of chaos cooking. Lovers of this ideology say that by bending the rules and mashing up culinary traditions, they’re able to confidently experiment, innovate, and make the most of the items on hand in their kitchen. Do you want to add kimchi and everything bagel seasoning to your omelet? Go for it. How about topping vanilla ice cream with tahini and pretzels? Sounds amazing; Count us in for a scoop.
5 Tips to Chaos Cook Like a Pro
As you can see, it’s less about chaos, per se, and more about creativity and fun. If you’re feeling inspired to invite a little more chaos into your kitchen, here are a few tricks to help you get started.
Ask Yourself What You’re In the Mood For
Whether you’re craving something crunchy, salty, tangy, cheesy, or otherwise, this question is the perfect foundation for the new dish you’re dreaming up.
Select Your Starring Cast
Round up the ingredients that’ll help you deliver an answer to the previous question. For example: creamy equals cream cheese and crunchy equals panko.
Pick a Theme Or Two
Consider a cuisine or two that might be fun to feature or blend together using the ingredients you selected.
Remember: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
The principles of Samin Nosrat’s bestselling cookbook and popular Netflix series ring true: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat are all crucial elements to bring the most delicious dish to life. Aim to include at least one source of fat (butter, oil, or nuts), saltiness (salt, soy sauce, or anchovies), and acid (citrus and vinegar are among our faves), then be sure to focus on dialing in the right level of heat and cooking time to polish up your dish.
Taste and Tinker
Taste as you go, season as desired, add in a “wild card” ingredient or two, or garnish to bring the recipe to a level that seems satisfying.
Following these fundamentals, one of our Test Kitchen recipe developers dreamed up, tested, and perfected Crab Rangoon Mozzarella Sticks, which quickly went on to become one of our most viral recipes ever. We can’t wait to see what chaos cooking creations you bring to life.
This article was written by Karla Walsh from Better Homes and Gardens and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.