Crafting the Perfect Recipe: A Checklist

Recipe book and various spices on blue wooden background

If you publish and share recipes as often as we do (or even half that), you’ve probably found yourself wondering what makes a good recipe great. Whether you’re a business trying to spark fan engagement, or a home cook trying to preserve a fantastic recipe you scribbled down on a napkin, use this checklist to ensure you’re producing top-notch recipes that are ultra-usable and will live on to be cherished forever.

☐ A Beautiful Recipe Image

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to produce great food photography. Check out our guide to DIY recipe photography for simple tips (think lighting, camera angle, props…) that can help make your dish look just as good as it tastes. Food Network also has a great food photography guide worth peaking at.

☐ Description & Notes

A brief but well-crafted description of your dish will not only entice other cooks to give your recipe a go, but provides a great opportunity to point out less-obvious details about your recipe. Think prep methods (a mandoline may be preferable to a knife), ingredients (need to visit a specialty store to find something?), serving details (maybe your recipe makes 8 appetizer servings but only 4 entree servings)…you get the idea.

☐ Recipe Source

This is a biggie, especially in the world of online recipe publishing. Make sure you always credit the original recipe source, whether that’s a website, an individual, a cookbook, or one of many more source types. Here’s an interesting read on recipe copyright, specifically as it pertains to online sharing.

☐ Recipe Time

I’ve been shocked over the years at how many recipes neglect to state how long you’ll be in the kitchen. Giving an overall time estimate is immensely helpful for people like me who are bouncing all over the place and need to know if a recipe can be completed in 30 minutes versus two hours. Dividing the total time into prep time and cook time wins you bonus points.

☐ Servings

Ever finish cooking a dish and realize you have enough food to feed a small village? Or have the opposite experience, and end up with barely enough food for one? Providing an accurate serving count can solve these problems. Note any possible exceptions in the recipe description or notes area.

☐ Ingredients

Forgive me for getting real elementary here, but let’s review the basics: each ingredient in your recipe should have a quantity (“2”), a measurement (“tablespoons”), a name (“butter”),  and any necessary pre-preparation instructions (“melted”), listed in that order (“2 tablespoons butter, melted”). Make sure to keep your measurements consistent (don’t switch between metric and imperial, for example), and be as specific as possible.

☐ Steps

Make sure to break your recipe down into digestible steps, and write clearly and concisely. If you’re using our app to publish your recipes, you’ll notice we lay steps and ingredients out side-by-side to make the recipe as clear and kitchen-friendly as possible. If you’re not doing this, make sure to note when ingredients are being split between steps.

☐ Bonus: Recipe Categories or Tags

Now more than ever, recipe tags like “gluten-free” or “vegetarian” are key in quickly allowing users to identify which recipes will be relevant for them. It’s also handy to identify the course or dish (“breakfast”), cuisine type (“Mexican”), associated occasions (“Game Day”), or even taste (“spicy”).

There you have it! Even for the pros out there, it’s always a good idea to review the basics and make sure your recipe content is the highest quality possible. Feel free to check out our recipe publishing tools if you need a place to start, and remember to have fun with it! Until next week, folks!

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