Anatomy of a Great Recipe

One of the keys to a great family cookbook is to have great recipes that your family and friends have come to love. Here are some simple tips to help you capture the magic of the food you make.

1. Use catchy titles. Using a catchy title will make your recipe sound more interesting. It is more interesting to people when they see the title “Gooey Triple Chocolate Cake” rather than just “Chocolate Cake”. When you are writing a title for a recipe, try to think of not only what the final dish will be, but what makes it special as well. 

2. Include photos. Using images in your recipes can allow the person reading your cookbook to see what the final dish will look like and give then a guidepost to follow. Next time you make one of your special dishes, snap a quick photo and add it to your recipe the next time you log in.

3. Be specific with your Ingredients. For many cooks, include a can of crushed tomatoes in your recipe and they know exactly what you mean or maybe not. Tell them to include a 12oz can of crushed tomatoes and everyone will know exactly what your recipe needs.

4. Use step by step instructions. You might have made this recipe a thousand times, but someone new will need detailed directions for how to do it. Remember to include pan sizes, cooking times, the order that ingredients are added and how to tell when a dish is done. Also adding how many servings a recipe can make will help with meal planning. 

5. Add personal notes. One of the things that make a family cooks so important is that it helps to capture the family traditions. Include a note with each recipe about how you first were introduced to the recipe and when it is typically served in your household. It makes the recipe more interesting and more meaningful to later generations.


Chip Lowell is Co-Publisher of the Great Family Cookbook Project, a website that helps families and individuals collect and share food memories. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest!

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