How to Film Cooking Videos

23 October 2022

You could be an absolute whiz in the kitchen, but whipping up mouthwatering cooking videos is a separate skill set. Cooking videos have taken the cooking world - and the Internet - by storm, and for good reason. There’s a simple formula to making a great cooking video: short, sweet, and filmed from above. Good cooking TikToks and Reels are so captivating because the viewers can visualise themselves cooking the dish.


Here’s how to film a cooking video that’ll hook your viewers.

Go for bright, soft light

Just like bakers need flour to do their job properly, videographers need good lighting. To make your food look delicious, film your video in bright, soft light.

If you’re relying on natural light, position yourself near a large window so plenty of light streams in.

If you’re open to using artificial lighting, a portable LED lighting kit will do the trick. For the most natural look, buy a kit with ‘soft’ LED bulbs. These will diffuse light and leave you with clean, crisp colours. On the other hand, those old-school fluorescent bulbs will give your food a greenish hue – which isn’t appetising.

One of the perks of artificial lighting is that you can film at any time, even if it’s dark or cloudy outside.  It makes editing easier, too, as the lighting stays consistent throughout the video.

Whether you’re filming in artificial or natural light, it’s a good idea to use a reflector. This will illuminate the food and eliminate any deep shadows. It’s a small investment, but will make a big difference in the quality of your videos.

How to Film Tasty-Style Cooking VideosHow to Film Tasty-Style Cooking Videos

Use a microphone

How to Film Tasty-Style Cooking VideosHow to Film Tasty-Style Cooking Videos

While you could film an “ASMR-style” cooking video and let the mouth-watering cooking sounds do the talking for you, a cooking video with voiceover can be helpful to list all of the steps of the recipe. But if your voice is muffled or hard to hear, your viewers will get frustrated and may skip your video altogether.

Your camera probably has a built-in microphone, but an external mic will do a much better job at capturing audio. It will also suppress any background voice and sharpen your voice so it comes across clearly.

There are two popular options to choose from: You can mount a hotshoe to your camera, or clip a lavalier-style mic to your clothing. These are also known as lapel mics, and you’ll find that many professional YouTubers use them. If you’re planning to add voiceovers to your video later, a USB microphone is a worthy investment too.

Pro Tip: Are you using background music? Be sure to adjust the volume accordingly so that viewers don’t have to strain to hear what you’re saying. When in doubt, leave it out! You can always add music during the editing stage.

Take advantage of a tripod

To free up your hands and make sure you end up with blur-free, steady footage, mount your camera on a tripod. This will reduce camera shake, level out your scene, and help you to hone your composition skills – which is always a bonus.

For cooking videos, choose a tripod with a video or fluid head. Designed with a sealed fluid, these tripod heads pan smoothly for a controlled and cinematic finish. Even if you’re filming cooking videos with an iPhone, a phone tripod will be great to capture smooth footage from above.

The best cooking videos are shot from above, so you’ll need a tripod that’s taller than you or the surface you’re filming. If you’re using one tripod, be prepared to move it around a bit. For example, if you’re pouring batter into a tin, you may want to get one shot from an overhead angle, and then adjust your tripod to get another shot from the side.

How to Film Tasty-Style Cooking VideosHow to Film Tasty-Style Cooking Videos

If you’re serious about your cooking videos, you may want to eventually invest in two cameras and two tripods. That way, you can film an overhead and side-angle video at the same time.

Clear the clutter

How to Film Tasty-Style Cooking VideosHow to Film Tasty-Style Cooking Videos

A cluttered surface screams ‘amateur.’ Before filming, clean your surfaces and get rid of any random items, such as paperwork.

Once your surface is clear, you can turn your attention to making it aesthetically pleasing. To start, you could add props that relate to the recipe you’re making. Whipping up an apple pie? Place a few crisp apples on the table. Baking Christmas cookies? A little tinsel or gift-wrap will set the stage. Otherwise, a flower arrangement or neat stack of recipe books will enhance any video you’re filming.

Props can also make the scene more visual during the ‘blander’ steps of the video, such as when you’re whisking eggs. The key to a professional cooking video is a high-contrast background. If your surface is distracting, consider popping butchers paper, a white foam board, a pastry board or even a faux marble sticker on top of it.

Plan your video sequence

Cooking videos may look spontaneous, but we can assure you that a lot of careful planning goes on behind the scenes! Before pressing ‘record,’ make a simple storyboard of the recipe, or jot down the steps in a notebook so you’ll have something to refer to while you’re filming. While you’re at it, map out the stage – where will the ingredients, bowls and measuring cups go? Make sure everything you need is within reach, even if it’s not in the frame. Then, muse over the ‘money shot,’ that photo that gives viewers a sneak peek of the recipe you’re about to cook.

How to Film Tasty-Style Cooking VideosHow to Film Tasty-Style Cooking Videos

Plan for mistakes and technical issues, too. Do you have spare ingredients (and spare batteries) you can use in case something happens and you need to start over? Between the cooking, talking and prepping, cooking videos are all about multitasking. You might not always get it right the first time, and that’s okay!

Your basic plan might look something like this:

Scene 1: Explain the backstory of the recipe I’m cooking today.

Scene 2: Take an overhead shot of the ingredients that will be used.

Scene 3: Film a bird’s-eye view of the vegetables being sautéed in the pan.

And so on.

With a little planning, you’ll reduce the risk of realising you’ve forgotten to film a key element in the editing stage.

Pro Tip: The best cooking videos are full of motion shots. Think pouring, whisking, and stirring. They make your video more visually appealing and encourage hungry viewers to stop scrolling and watch. On that note, viewers love to see vibrant food, so if your recipe uses drippy chocolate or gooey cheese, you’re onto a winner!

Edit your video in post-production

How to Film Tasty-Style Cooking VideosHow to Film Tasty-Style Cooking Videos

The best cooking videos are quick (usually about 60 seconds long) and useful. After watching your video, the viewer should have the know-how and confidence to go ahead and cook the dish on their own.

That’s where editing comes in. Before buckling down to edit, watch a few of your favourite cooking videos and identify what you love most about them. Some videos speed up scenes, and others have text and voiceovers that walk viewers through the steps.

Once you’ve decided what you like, edit your cooking video using software like iMovie (which is free), Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro. Stick to short scenes, and add extra elements to make the video more interesting, such as background music. You can add free music under a Creative Commons license.

Remember, the food is the star of the show. So, include plenty of close-ups during the cooking stage, as well as the big finale: a shot of the delicious, finished product.

Get the gear you need to film cooking videos

Whether you’re just starting out or hoping to turn your cooking videos into a career, the right camera gear can make your footage stand out. Drop by your local Ted’s Cameras store and our experts will be happy to advise you.  

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