How to Write a Recipe
Learning how to write a recipe takes a little practice, but with these 20 tips, you’ll be an expert in no time at all!
If you’re going to have a food blog, you need to know how to do recipes and how to do recipes well. I didn’t and am now going through the painstaking process of editing and fixing all my recipes so they are actually usable and don’t look like something my 4-year-old wrote.
Of course I’m still not perfect, but I’ve learned a lot about how to write a recipe over the last four years.
Here are 20 tips to keep in mind when writing your recipes:
- Always cite your source if the recipe is not your original creation.
- List ingredients in the order used in the recipe.
- List all ingredients separately (give each their own line).
- If possible (and sensical), write ingredients measured in two ways, for example:
- 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)
- 1 cup finely chopped celery (about 2 large stalks)
- If there are different components to the recipe (for example, filling, crust, etc.), list ingredients and directions separately.
- Make sure directions/measurements are very clear – note the difference below:
- One cup walnuts, chopped (means 1 cup measured and then chopped)
- One cup chopped walnuts (means they are chopped prior to measuring)
- Write out measurements (tablespoon, teaspoon, cup…) instead of using abbreviations. If you choose to use abbreviations, make sure you are consistent (for example, don’t switch between Tbsp. and Tbs. for tablespoon). Also, if you use abbreviations, it is a good idea to have a guide somewhere on your site so that readers can refer to it if they are confused.
- If possible – write out directions in more than one way. Usually a amount of time and a visual cue is good for this.
- For example: “Sear for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.”
- If possible – give tips or adaptations/substitutions for readers. This will help make your recipes more approachable to different tastes/diets. For example, if you used a ground turkey in a recipe, but it would be good with beef, make sure to mention that! It’s also good to let your readers know if certain things won’t work. (For example, “This recipe won’t work with fat-free cream cheese — make sure to use full-fat for the best result.”)
- Don’t forget to tell readers to preheat their ovens — this should be in the first step unless the recipe takes a significant amount of prep time or needs to chill.
- If you’re cooking something on the stovetop, make sure to mention what type of pan and what level of heat.
- If you’re cooking something in the oven, make sure to tell your readers how to check for doneness. Golden-brown? Internal temperature of ____?
- Include serving details. Should it be served immediately? Is it best the next day?
- Include storage details. Room temp? Fridge? A week? A month?
- If the recipe is best served along something else, make sure that ingredient is mentioned in your ingredient list. For example, if you’re making meatballs, make sure to mention some pasta or whatever you want the meatballs served with. It can be mentioned as “Cooked pasta for serving,” or something along those lines.
- If there is an ingredient used more than once in the recipe, make sure that is indicated in the ingredient list. For example, “1 cup granulated sugar, divided.” And then in your directions, indicate how much to use and when.
- Include number of servings.
- Include prep and cook time.
- Be concise in your directions but very clear.
- Don’t be afraid to go back and clarify something or add notes! Nothing is set in stone.
Did I miss anything? What do you look for when you’re reading a recipe? Or if you’re an experienced recipe developer, what tip would you add to this list of how to write a recipe?
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