New research has revealed that a cheeseburger produces more grams of carbon dioxide equivalent (gCO2e) than any other trending food, followed by mozzarella sticks and then banana bread.

With My Emissions revealing that 25% of greenhouse gas emissions coming from food, Uswitch has analysed each ingredient of the top trending food and drink to discover which recipes are having the most impact on the planet. The research involved running the ingredients of 72 recipes through My Emissions Food Carbon Footprint Calculator and adding up the grand total emissions number for each one to discover the highest and lowest emitters of the top trending food and drink. 

The results reveal that a cheeseburger (which has over 780 views on TikTok) is the worst emitter amongst top trending foods; comprising of a hamburger, a bun, ketchup and cheddar cheese, the American-favourite meal produces 5,768 gCO2e which is the equivalent of driving your car for over 14 miles! The second-worst offender is mozzarella sticks producing 2,346 gCO2e, and the third on the list goes to the recipe seen on everyone’s social media in lockdown – banana bread. 

Viral TikTok recipes make up 40% of the top 20 highest emitters list; baked feta pasta is fifth producing 1,929 gCO2e, DIY hazelnut spread is seventh with a total of 1,658 gCO2e, whilst the TikTok breakfast sandwich (bread, cheese, eggs, and butter) is in ninth producing 1,506 gCO2e. Outside of the top 10 are the famous tortilla wrap (12th), mini pancake cereal (16th), floral focaccia (17th), pesto eggs (18th), and ice cream bread (20th).

Top 20 Foods With Highest Emissions

  Trending Dish Views on TikTok Total Emissions (gCO2e)
1 Cheeseburger 780.4 million 5,768
2 Mozzarella Sticks 12.6 million 2,346
3 Banana Bread 283.9 million 2,332
4 Mac and Cheese 1.3 billion 2,060
5 Tiktok Feta Pasta 1 billion 1,929
6 Hot Chocolate Bomb 131.2 million 1,858
7 DIY Hazelnut Spread 1.8 million 1,658
8 California Rolls/Sushi 1.4 million 1,573
9 TikTok Breakfast Sandwich 169.1 million 1,506
10 Camembert Fondue 44.3 million 1,241
11 Fettuccine Alfredo 13.9 million 1,209
12 TikTok Tortilla Wrap 44.2 million 1,184
13 Chicken Quesadilla 9.2 million 1,058
14 Breakfast Charcuterie 103,000 1,054
15 Souvlaki 28.1 million 1,031
16 Mini Pancake Cereal 1.6 billion 1,006
17 Floral Focaccia 27.6 million 964
18 TikTok Pesto Eggs 220.4 million 955
19 Poke Bowl 96 million 944
20 Ice Cream Bread 9.4 million 894

Top 20 Foods With Lowest Emissions

The trending food with the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions is spicy pickled garlic, which is yet another TikTok sensation. Simply by adding 16 garlic cloves, hot sauce, thyme and chilli flakes to a mason jar you can jump on the internet craze without worrying about the impact on the planet, as spicy pickled garlic emits just 83 gCO2e. This means you could make this recipe nearly 5 times before it had the same environmental impact as taking your car for a one-mile spin. The second-lowest emitter amongst the trending foods is corn ribs – this simple recipe’s total emissions are 289 gCO2e, whilst third place acai bowl has emissions totalling 354 gCO2e.

Interestingly, only two of the meals on the list are meat-based, while the rest are either vegan or meat-free; this compares with a total of nine foods featuring on the top 20 worst emissions list that are meat-based. Chilli and garlic scallops round off the top 10 list with 522 gCO2e total emissions and the only other meat-based meal is the American breakfast choice of bacon and pancakes, emitting 583 gCO2e ranking the 14th lowest emitter of trending foods.

Just like the top 20 highest emissions, there are many recent viral recipes amongst the foods with the lowest emissions; TikTok pasta chips (literally pasta baked into chips) is the sixth lowest emitting just 468 gCO2e, three-ingredient creme brulee is 12th on the list, followed by the colourful sweet treat Cloud Bread which has a total emission of 582 gCO2e.

Trending Dish Views on TikTok Total Emissions (gCO2e)
1 Spicy Pickled Garlic 215.7 million 83
2 Corn Ribs 11.7 million 289
3 Acai Bowl 215. million 354
4 Beetroot Hummus 84.5 thousand 375
5 Smashed Brussels Sprouts 227.6 thousand 428
6 TikTok Pasta Chips 897.4 million 468
7 Grazing Boards 34.6 million 476
8 Homemade Bread 70 million 484
9 Baked Oats 803.3 million 501
10 Chilli Garlic Scallops 85.2 million 522
11 Bruschetta 136.7 million 541
12 3-Ingredient Creme Brulee 95.5 million 564
13 Cloud Bread 3.2 billion 582
14 Bacon and Pancakes 85.5 million 583
15 Vegan Buffalo Wings 50.3 thousand 642
16 Cream Tea 2.4 million 643
17 Potato Galette 182.3 thousand 647
18 Sunday Roast – Nut roast 89.5 thousand 702
19 Chilli Oil Eggs 2.7 million 713
20 Eggs Florentine 62.3 thousand 735

Full research can be found here: https://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/food-carbon-footprint/

By Jim O Brien/CEO

CEO and expert in transport and Mobile tech. A fan 20 years, mobile consultant, Nokia Mobile expert, Former Nokia/Microsoft VIP,Multiple forum tech supporter with worldwide top ranking,Working in the background on mobile technology, Weekly radio show, Featured on the RTE consumer show, Cavan TV and on TRT WORLD. Award winning Technology reviewer and blogger. Security and logisitcs Professional.