7 Impossible Pinterest Recipes to Avoid

Ah, Pinterest; land of a thousand DIY projects. If all those pins were as “easy!” and “simple!” as they claim to be, we’d all be headed to the beach in “upcycled” XXL T-shirts fashioned into trendy sarongs with our hand-woven picnic baskets brimming with homemade baked goods shaped like our favorite childhood cartoon characters. But, as we all know, the best laid plans of mice and men often leave us sitting in a pile of T-shirt scraps, clutching our pinking shears in desperation, and wondering where it all went wrong. Of course, some Pinterest projects are totally valid, and they can be a lot of fun (like these T-shirt ideas). So, how do we know which projects to attempt and which ones to leave to the pros? Recipes are especially tricky (particularly when you're hungry). While it’s impossible to know for sure what will and won’t work, here are some red flags to keep an eye out for the next time you find yourself bored and in possession of extra mason jars.

Desserts in a Mug

This category includes any baked goods that claim to be made in 60 seconds or less. Reports of mugs overflowing, batter remaining uncooked, and even spontaneous combustion come from the veterans of these mug projects, so even though the Pinterest pictures look amazing, you might want to skip the microwave chocolate cake.

Besides, any craving you can’t wait more than a minute to satisfy is probably one you’d be better off skipping.

Cake Pops

Whose idea were cake pops, anyway?* What was wrong with just eating a slice? Regardless, these bite-size abominations have been cropping up everywhere over the past couple of years as the perfect way to expend twice the effort for half the product. Plus, you get the added frustration of trying to make a delicate, golf ball-sized dessert somehow resemble a margarita.

Or a beach ball.

 Or the minions from Despicable Me.

 Even if they turn out perfect, each one of those carefully crafted creations will be gone in a single bite, and since most of us haven’t been to culinary school yet, we probably lack both the skill and the patience to spend hours trying to use frosting to glue little licorice whiskers onto balls of cake.

The overall rule for making cake pops (or anything edible)? If it’s supposed to end up looking like a baby animal...

...it probably isn’t worth your time.

Oven-dried Fruit

We’ve all seen the famous “strawberry gummies” recipe. Set your oven to a low heat, insert fresh strawberries, and BAM! A few hours later, you have a delicious tray of chewy strawberry gummies. 


Wrong. Plenty of Pinterest users have attempted this seemingly simple recipe, only to discover that, no matter the temperature, ovens are made for baking, not dehydrating. The juices ooze from the berries onto your cookie sheet, cooking your fresh summer strawberries into singed puddles of goo. The same rule goes for apple or banana chips. Users who’ve actually tried any of these recipes end up with a product that is somehow mushy and burnt simultaneously.

Mason Jar Projects

For whatever reason, these outdated jars have become Pinterest’s receptacle of choice. To be fair, they can have a fun, vintage look when used as drinkware for pink lemonade or iced coffee, but the line must be drawn somewhere. A good place for that line is right before you start baking with them.

Or using them to furnish your home. I’m not tabooing the odd mason jar casually used as a vase or for canning (its all-but-extinct original use), but when you start using glass jars to cook all your meals in, it’s time to admit you may have a problem.

“Healthy” Copycat Recipes

“Healthy” Mozzarella Sticks are just one of the many alternative recipes Pinterest users have dreamt up to replace the fat-soaked originals.

But somehow, they rarely turn out the way they're supposed to.

Pinterest loves to provide healthful alternatives for all your favorite guilty pleasures, but, as it turns out, the guilty part is what provides the pleasure. Sure, you can make something resembling a brownie with avocado and ground almonds instead of butter and flour, but the dense, gooey mass you’re left with is definitely not a brownie, especially since the small amount of sugar means they’re really not even sweet.

Patterned Cakes

I totally understand the appeal of a well-decorated cake, and of course fondant has its place (that place is carefully scraped off the rest of the cake and abandoned on your plate), but does your baby cousin really need a tie-dyed  cake for her clown-themed sixth birthday party? Seriously, are those colors even from this planet?

And, of course it doesn’t stop there. Rainbow tie-dye opened the floodgates to polka dots,

Zebra print,

And more. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, these elaborate attempts have less impressive results when attempted by the amateur baker just trying to make something nice for her roommate’s birthday, as this Pinterest Fail shows:

Foods Shaped like Other Foods

Cupcakes shaped like watermelons?

Watermelons shaped like cakes?

How about a massive pumpkin-shaped Bundt cake creation?

 Besides being impractical (double-Bundt slices are HUGE), these desserts are almost impossible to actually make so they look like the picture. There’s a lot of careful shaping, decorating, and fondant usually involved, which most busy collegiettes simply don’t have time for. And who really likes fondant, anyway? Rather than be frustrated when your food coloring doesn’t work just right or your watermelon "cake" disintegrates into a puddle of watery juice, stick with more straightforward recipes that don’t try to trick you about their identities.

There’s a lot of fun to be had on Pinterest, and some of those DIY projects actually are as simple as they seem. Sadly, a lot of them are total lies, too. Rather than beat yourself up when your dinner rolls don't look like perfect little Easter bunnies, focus instead on the fact that you’re an intelligent young woman whose talents and commitments happen to lie in other areas. After all, even the most flawless cake pops kind of pale in the face of your awesome internship, enrollment at an amazing university, or anything else you know you’re already proud of.

*Cake pops were apparently invented in 2011 by a blogger called “Bakerella.”