Recipe Revelations: What Recipe Data Tells Us About Food Culture in 2019

Whisk is powered by 500 million recipe interactions each month, giving us the ability to learn a lot about our relationship to the food we eat through the recipes we view and cook from.

Getting fresh with your cooking

In the US there’s an emphasis on fresh ingredients with herbs & spices and fruits & vegetables appearing in at least 15% of recipes. Pasta, rice and beans (staples of yesteryear) only occur in 1.4% of recipes. Maybe we are finally eating our vegetables!

In the UK, we see similar trends, but much more of a reliance on condiments to add flavor to the overall dish, as the second most common ingredient type.

A look into today’s staples

When it comes to most frequently occurring vegetables, onion and garlic come out on top. No surprise as they are the foundation of many great dishes. Root vegetables are another key player, beating out classic standbyes broccoli and cauliflower. Chicken is king in both the US and UK, but those in the UK seem to prefer pork to beef. Also of note, parmesan cheese appears more frequently in US recipes. Perhaps it reflects the deep influence of Italian immigrants on American food culture.

Understanding seasonal cravings

When it comes to seasonal eats, many of the favorite dishes are to be expected. Soups are more popular in the autumn and the winter while salads pop in spring and summer. The biggest surprise? A sweet tooth is completely seasonless.

Healthy habit breakdown – UK versus the US

Whisk’s technology is able to quickly evaluate just how healthy a recipe is through our Health Score, which augments recipes with a holistic assessment of the nutritional content based on USDA and National Health Service Guidelines. Each recipe is given a score from 1 to 10. Overall, views of healthy recipes have increased in the last year and while many view the UK as the home of delicious baked goods, they’re balancing it all out with views of more healthy recipes than their US counterparts.

The data doesn’t lie. We start out healthy and slowly incorporate more indulgent items as the months pass. Last summer, we saw an interesting dip in the Health Score, which may be tied to a rise in popularity of especially indulgent ice cream sandwiches. Let’s just say sandwiching your ice cream with doughnuts really has an impact.

Interestingly, while the UK tends to search for healthier recipes, more of the recipes viewed in the US meet the needs of those with diabetes, perhaps reflecting the high rates of Diabetes in the US.

According to the media, you’d think everyone is eating plant-based, vegan everything. Based on the recipes people are searching, that’s not the case. In both the US and the UK only about 2% of recipes viewed are categorized as vegan, Both Pescatarian and vegetarian meals seam to be a much more approachable way to incorporate more plants into your diet.

We see in the data that the US reputation of being protein crazy is justified. Approximately 40% of recipes viewed contain at least 20% of their calories from protein. The only dip occurs towards the end of the year when searching for the best casserole and side dishes becomes nearly a part-time job. In the UK, protein consumption is much lower, hovering around 30% all year long.

Allergy anxiety

The US is much more allergy-conscious, leading to a much greater demand for soy and peanut-free recipes.

A peak into techniques

Raw food and pickling-preserving techniques are on the rise while pressure cooking and freezing techniques are on the decline. We’re celebrating the freshness of our food more and more and this is reflected in the cooking techniques or lack thereof.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about the recipes Whisk users in the US and UK searched, viewed, and enjoyed in 2019. Here’s to lots of cooking and eating in 2020!

If you’d like to learn more, collaborate on future insights with us, or have any feedback, contact us:


The Whisk Team

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