Popular Plates and Lockdown Greats: the nation's favourite recipes according to Google

Popular plates and lockdown greats:
the nation’s favourite recipes according to Google

Recent years have brought quite a few changes to people’s foodie habits. What with multiple lockdowns and the rise of social media, home chefs across the country have taken to discovering new favourite recipes, and turning to the Internet for mealtime inspiration.

To see just how tastes have changed, we’ve carried out a survey into Brits’ cooking habits and also taken a peek into the most searched for recipes across the UK, stumbling across a few quirky queries in the process. So if you’ve ever Googled “how to boil an egg”, fear not – you aren’t the only one.


You guessed it…banana bread. 

It’ll come as no surprise that, after the booming success it enjoyed during lockdown, banana bread is one of the most popular recipes with an average of 135,000 searches monthly since 2017, and 4,274,000 searches in 2020 alone! However, this lockdown favourite still trails behind recipe searches for pancakes, and the ever-beloved fish and chips.


Clearly the trend for making sweet treats is on the rise, as our research shows people searched for a simple pancake recipe up to 368,000 times a month over the past four years. But in 2021, that number rose to a whopping 522,000 searches on average, making it a major post-pandemic hit.


Other pandemic booms include ‘simple chicken breast recipes for dinner’, which saw a 4,900% increase in searches between this year and last, and ‘chicken pasta recipes for dinner’ which is up by 1,106%.


In fact, chicken remains the nation’s favourite food, as 43% of people search for chicken recipes the most, followed by pasta recipes at 32%, and curries at 31%. Chicken curry, fajitas and carbonara are among the UK’s online favourites, with an average of 49,500 recipe searches each since 2017.


Aside from the more traditional favourites, lockdown was clearly a great time for experimenting, as a number of people took to searching for mushy pea curry and cabbage soup. Marmite pasta and chicken cooked in diet coke were also amongst the more adventurous Googled recipes. Each to their own as we say!


Top 5 most searched for recipe terms online

The average adult searches for seven recipes online each month

With technology advancing so quickly and the changes to everyday life that we’ve encountered over the last year alone, it’s no surprise that the way we receive our dinner inspiration is also shifting. Birds Eye’s research showed that recent years have seen the Internet taking over the traditional cookery book as a source of inspiration and guidance, as more and more people flock to Google and social media for their recipes.


The web is now the dinnertime go-to as 62% of people find their recipes online, overtaking the 59% who prefer traditional cookbooks and the 47% who get most of their ideas from friends and family.


In fact, the Internet is such a staple in our lives that only 8% of people say they’ve never used it for cookery help. This number likely has a generational influence, as 38% of people aged 65+ never search online for recipes. A stark contrast against 18 to 24 year olds, who search for recipes online at an average of three times a week.


Where people find their recipes

The rise of food and social media (it’s not just posting pictures)

While social media may have gotten a bit of a reputation as a place to post pictures of food, rather than actually make it, attitudes are swiftly changing as people now increasingly flock to Facebook and Instagram to try out the latest tasty trends.


Our research revealed that young people are especially open to using social media for food inspiration, with 67% of 18-24 year olds being most likely to get their recipes from social media over any other source.


And while 43% of people have made a meal after seeing it on social media, it are these 18-24 year olds who are the most likely to do so. From bubble tea to sourdough, several food trends have taken the Internet by storm in recent years, with 83% of 18 to 24 year olds jumping to try out recipes they first discovered on social media – compared to just 30% of 55-64 year olds.


Despite Instagram’s undeniable appeal to young foodies, Facebook remains the most popular recipe platform, with 53% using it to seek inspiration, followed by Instagram at 38% and YouTube at 24%.

Made a meal after seeing it on social media

The average household owns seven cookery books

That being said, it’s definitely not the end of the more traditional recipe-finding methods. Our survey revealed the average UK household still owns around seven cookbooks, with three to four taking pride of place in the kitchen.


How many of these actually see the light of day however is debatable, as 6% of respondents made the shocking confession that their cookbooks are for display purposes only. This number is particularly high among men (9% compared to 4% of women), 18 to 24 year olds (21%) and Londoners (16%).


The demotion of cookbooks to the shelves may have a practical explanation however, as 41% of people say they prefer to search the internet for recipes because it's quicker than using a cookbook. In the hectic midweek when we’re often so stripped for time, it may be helpful to have the answer to dinner a simple click away.


However, dependency on the Internet for our favourite recipes differs across the UK, according to age and location. While 73% of 18 to 24 year olds think they’d be lost without the Internet when it comes to cooking, only 17% of 55 to 64 year olds feel the same. Similarly, for 40% of Londoners it would be nightly takeaways if not for Google, compared to only 17% of East Midlanders.


That said, it looks like recipe rummaging online is here to stay. If you, like the rest of the nation, are feeling motivated to try something new, then look no further than our recipes page for inspiration. Explore our huge range of fish, veggies and chicken to find the perfect match for your meals!



The top 20 most searched for recipe terms online

1. Pancakes
2. Fish and chips
3. Banana bread
4. Scones
5. Yorkshire pudding
6. Pizza dough
7. Fish pie
8. Chicken breast recipes
9. Chicken curry
10. Chicken thigh recipes
11. Fajitas
12. Thai green curry
13. American pancakes
14. Carbonara
15. Chilli con carne
16. Hummus
17. Paella
18. Chicken casserole
19. Chicken tikka masala
20. Katsu curry



Google search data: Collected from Google Keyword Planner from September 2017 to August 2021. Year-on-year search increases compare data from August 2019 to July 2020 with August 2020 to July 2021.

Survey data: Collected within the period of 14th September 2021 to 20th September 2021. Surveyed 2,000 UK adults who cook. Survey conducted by OnePoll.