How to Write a Recipe: Simple Living in Practice

I have come across a lot of recipes that have a beautiful picture of the finished dish… yet when I make the dish it doesn’t look the same or taste quite the way the cook described it to be. Now at this point in my life I am pretty sure that I can follow a recipe, and I am also confident that the person who wrote the recipe did make an excellent dish… something got lost in the translation.

I have been told that my recipes are pretty clear and easy to follow and that results are good… so let me share with you how I put a recipe together in hopes that these tips will help you to better communicate your delicious dishes to others, whether you are writing them for a blog or for friends and family.

1) Title: Include 2 to 3 main ingredients and/or cuisine type in the title of the recipe. This helps a person know immediately if the dish is something she will be interested in making without having to read the ingredient list. For example the last recipe I wrote was called: Asian Seafood Mushroom Noodles. Not the most exciting sounding recipe, but you know the type of cuisine and 3 of the main ingredients just from the name.

2) Source: Especially if you are posting your recipe on a blog it is important to include the name, source and webpage of the original recipe. State if the recipe is:

Adapted from: Which means you made minor changes to ingredients and/or preparation technique. 
Inspired from: Which means you used the stated recipe as a guide or inspiration for your own recipe which may include some of the same ingredients and techniques.

3) Preparation time and serving size.  I often find this isn’t included on recipes. It is a really important piece of information for someone to be able to decide if she has enough time to prepare the dish, and if it will feed the number of people she is having for dinner that night.

4) List Ingredients: Clearly state the exact amount of each item in the recipe (not just a bag of this… or a can of this)… state the ounces or pounds that are written on the container. It is helpful for a person following a recipe to list the ingredients in the order they will be used. Also note in the ingredient list how the item is to be prepared such as chopped, minced, grated… then you will not have to mention it later. This enables a person to be able to prepare all the ingredients before she begins cooking.

5) Directions: Number your directions and do not spread them out between pictures of the dish. It makes it very hard for a person who wants to print out your recipe to do so if there are many photos dividing the directions.

Be as specific as you can in your instructions. Note the size and type of pan that you are using and at what heat. Also state about how long each direction should take and what the outcome the cook is looking for. For example: In a large skillet on medium high heat saute the onions in the olive oil for about 2 minutes or until they wilt and are lightly golden.

2) Pictures/Videos: I know the Pioneer Woman has made photos of every step of cooking a dish popular, but honestly I find many photos distracting, unless it is a complicated dish to prepare, and I need to see the technique that is involved in making the item. It is one thing to show photos or a video of how to braid an intricate bread, but it another thing to see several pictures and a video of a stir fry.

Also, from a technical stand point, many photos/videos slow the load time of your blog… especially to mobile devices.

OK, well these are my 2 cents on writing recipes. Please share any other tips you can think of… I would  love to hear from you.