Recipe Review

I Tried the Baked Feta Pasta That’s Taking Over TikTok (Yes, You Should Make It Immediately)

published Feb 2, 2021
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image of tomatos tofu and greens on the left, and baked feta pasta in a bowl on the right
Credit: Sara Tane

Some might argue that time spent on TikTok is time wasted. I disagree. My time on TikTok is immensely valuable — I pick up clever hacks to help me trim my dog’s nails, I collect free workouts that I pretend I’ll eventually do at home, and I’m constantly inspired by new and exciting recipes. Lately, I couldn’t get through my daily TikTok scroll without seeing this baked feta pasta, and since I’m not planning on doing any of the TikTok workouts I’ve saved anytime soon, I figured I’d give this pasta a try.

First, I had to get to the bottom of where this recipe originated. Turns out that Finnish food blogger Jenni Häyrinen developed the viral dish back in 2019, naming it “Uunifetapasta,” which translates to oven-baked feta pasta. But the beauty of TikTok is that old content can randomly resurface in a truly epic way (“Potential Breakup Song” making a viral comeback in 2020 was probably the greatest thing to happen to me last year, TBH). So recently everyone from @feelgoodfoodie to @grilledcheesesocial have hopped on the feta fandom. Because I can’t resist baking an entire block of feta, I’m joining the rest of TikTok and taking this pasta recipe for a spin.

Credit: Sara Tane

How to Make the TikTok-Famous Baked Feta Pasta

This recipe is super straightforward. To start, you’ll place cherry tomatoes in a large baking dish and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I immediately loved this recipe because it calls for 1/2 cup olive oil. This might seem like an excessive amount, but it really isn’t considering you’re making a tomato confit of sorts. There are lots of people (especially on TikTok) that will tell you 1/2 cup olive oil will kill you, but I can confirm it is one of the keys to success in this recipe. It keeps the tomatoes from drying out and burning, which, I assure you, would be very sad.

Credit: Sara Tane

Oil rant aside, once you have your tomatoes tossed and seasoned, you add a block of feta to the center of the baking dish and place it in a 400°F oven. After 30 minutes, you’ll increase the oven temperature to 450°F and cook until the tomatoes are bursting and the feta is golden-brown, another 10 or 15 minutes. While it’s baking, you’ll cook your pasta to al dente — I chose cavatappi a la @feelgoodfoodie, but the original recipe uses spaghetti.

Credit: Sara Tane

After you remove the baked feta and tomatoes from the oven, you’ll add chopped garlic and fresh basil and stir it all around. This was by far the best part. The feta was super creamy and immediately turned into a luscious sauce that blended seamlessly with the bursting tomatoes. The warmth of the cheese and tomatoes slightly cooked the raw garlic, so between that and the fresh basil, my kitchen smelled like an Italian dream. Once the cheese, tomatoes, basil, and garlic were completely mixed, I added the cooked pasta and tossed until the cavatappi was coated in the cheesy tomato sauce. I gave it an extra drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil (the more the merrier) and it was ready to be served.

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review of This Baked Feta Pasta

This dish was delicious, and I must admit that baking feta was a game-changer for me. When I think of feta, I think of a cold, crumbly cheese used for salads, dips, or toast. The idea of baking it as a whole block and then mixing it around with jammy, roasted tomatoes is a thought I wish I had in 2019 (thus making myself a viral TikTok sensation … sigh).

Because this recipe has been adapted by so many food bloggers, the ingredient amounts and techniques — including oven temperature, bake time, and proportion of feta to pasta — vary from video to video. Some versions have you add garlic cloves, chili flakes, chiles, and honey to the tomato mixture, which speaks to the endless riff-ability of this recipe. I used an 8-ounce block of feta for a pound of pasta, which is what the original recipe calls for, but if I did it again I would probably use less pasta so it was a little bit cheesier. 

One thing that struck me about this pasta is that it required very little salt. The saltiness from the feta alone was enough to season the dish. I also usually finish off pasta dishes with a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of vinegar, but this didn’t need that, either, because the cheese and tomatoes provided more than enough acidity. All in all, this gem is worth the hype not just because it’s tasty, but also because it uses feta in a way I never even thought to try. Thanks for yet another life hack, TikTok!

Credit: Sara Tane

If You’re Making the TikTok Pasta at Home, a Few Tips

  1. Halve the amount of pasta: I wanted this to be a little bit cheesier, so I’d recommended using 8 ounces feta and 8 to 12 ounces pasta instead of a whole pound.
  2. Reserve some pasta water: I’m a firm believer that as little as 1/4 cup pasta water can turn a lackluster sauce into a glossy, creamy delight. I think this feta sauce would definitely benefit from a small pour of starchy water just to round everything out. Before you drain your pasta, reserve a cup, knowing you probably won’t need all of it, and mix some in when you add the cooked pasta to the tomato sauce.
  3. Add butter: Call me extra, but I’m not interested in eating a pasta dish that *isn’t* finished with a knob of butter. All it needs is a tablespoon or two for a little extra creaminess.

Have you tried this famous TikTok pasta? Tell us what you thought!

Credit: Kitchn