5 Secret Ingredients of Deliciously Engaging YouTube Cooking Videos
Create a cooking video for YouTube that’s perfect for sharing. These 5 production tips and techniques will help you whip up your tastiest content yet.
Whether you’re a casual vlogger with a taste for foodie content or a professional chef with a video side hustle, knowing how to film the right coverage of your cooking demonstrations is a sure-fire way to keep viewers coming back for more.
There’s a lot that goes into making engaging cooking videos; components like lighting, frame rates, color, and more have to come together perfectly to create an easy-to-follow, appetizing final product.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a cooking-content recipe that features our favorite on-set and post-production techniques. Combine the ingredients in your video, add a healthy pinch of personality, and salt to taste. Bon appétit!
Watch the video above to learn how some of YouTube’s biggest culinary stars produce their clips, and then explore the techniques at your own pace in the transcript below.
1. Medium or Medium Close-Up Shot
Be tasteful, but not too artsy. I find that shots of food look the best from a relatable angle, like a medium or a medium close-up. If you have it, try a 35mm lens or a 50mm lens. This should give you that clean, medium presentation that you often associate with cooking videos.
This “medium aesthetic” mimics the perspective of how we view food while eating it. With anything closer or wider, you run the risk of the food losing its appeal.
2. Big Diffused Light
When it comes to lighting your dish, you want to make sure that its key details are shown and not hidden in dramatic shadow. For this example, we shot our prep during the day and used a large, soft light — like the Aputure 120 — with a light dome diffusion as our key. We then seasoned the rest of the settings with natural daylight spill.
Now, obviously, you don’t need an Aputure 120. Whatever your lighting, just make sure you’ve got a nice, evenly diffused scene, as you’re not trying to make it look like Blade Runner 2049.
3. Keep Your Color Grade Straight Forward
Despite how stylish you probably want to get with your cinematic food sequence, you’re better off playing it natural. When coloring your food shots, keep it simple. I find that a simple white balance adjustment and an S curve paired with a minimal (natural) LUT works deliciously. Below are a couple of free LUT packs you can download to try out on your footage. Some are a little fierce, so you might consider turning down the intensity.
4. 24 or 120 FPS?
When filming anything food-related on the fly, I bounce my frame rate between 23.976 fps to 120 fps. I believe frame rate diversity is vital to keeping videos interesting, and one is no better than the other.
The golden rule to follow is this: If it’s moving fast, film it in slow-motion, and if it’s moving slow, shoot it at regular speed. When you start piecing it all together in your edit, you’ll likely find the changes in pace help keep your video from becoming stale.
5. Capture Every Step
Your cooking video has to be a cohesive story that guides your audience from one ingredient to the next. The strongest piece of advice I can give is to create a shot list and methodically work through it, making sure you grab and check off every shot.
Really, this is best practice for any kind of video shoot. With cooking content specifically, a shot list can help you avoid comments that claim you didn’t explain every step of your culinary demonstration.
Stay focused on your YouTube dreams with these helpful resources: