How to write recipes worthy of publishing

Recipe card 525

One of the real pleasures of learning to cook well is the creativity that comes from creating your own recipes. And while sharing those triumphs with family and friends is great, it can also be fun to submit original recipes to cooking contests or food magazines. In an article from the blog Will Write for Food, Kristine Kidd - the former food editor for Bon Appetit - gives the Secrets of Writing Recipes for Big Food Magazines.

Here is a condensed version of her insights (see the article for the complete list) - and, as she says in the last point, Diane Jacob's blog and book is a great source for further advice and tips.

  • Write the recipe immediately after testing so that you are certain to remember all the fine points.
  • Think about a specific friend who represents the people who will use your recipe, perhaps someone who enjoys cooking but isn't a pro. Provide all the information that person will need to have success with the recipe.
  • Make it easy for the test kitchen and readers.Shop for the ingredients by using recognizable names and correct can or package sizes. For obscure ingredients, offer information about the ingredient, how to find it, and substitutes whenever possible. Online resources are fine. 
  • Use a scale and standard measuring tools when cooking, and list amounts accurately.
  • Describe exactly how you cut the ingredients, both size and shape.
  • List the ingredients in the order they are called for in the directions.This is true even if doing so puts the most important ingredient near the bottom. 
  • Specify both time and visual clues for each step because equipment and ingredients are rarely consistent. Include the size and weight of pans and the temperature settings you used. Variation in equipment and ingredients will influence the time it takes to cook, so the visual clue gives a roadmap.  The word "about" is invaluable when giving times.Use a timer when testing, and record the times accurately.
  • Divide the recipe into components if that makes it easier to follow or understand. It can be daunting to see a long list of ingredients and a big block of text describing the steps. 
  • Use accepted recipe-writing conventions. Dianne offers lots of information on her blog and in her book, Will Write for Food

And have fun and good luck!

1 Comment

  • susan g  on  6/8/2013 at 11:41 AM

    First tip should be 'spell carrot correctly!'

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