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Recipe Writing and Development

Updated: May 17, 2023

Chef, are you like me? When someone loves a dish and they ask for the recipe is your response a lot like mine? “I don’t really know, I just kind of threw it together.” My favorite is when they ask how long something should cook and all I’ve got is: “until it’s done”. 🤷‍♀️

I typically have no clue how long something has cooked, what temperature the oven was on and don’t even begin to ask how much kosher salt I added. I know you get it!

I get you because I was you and I continue to work along side you on a daily basis. Recently my chefs are either in the process of writing a cookbook or have written one in the past, and it’s clear the purpose for my culinary journey is to support yours.

About seven years ago I wrote a cookbook and defining the measurements and writing the detailed instructions was the most challenging part for me. To be honest, the book still has not been published and it sits in a drawer to this day. But it’s about 95% complete. Why? Take 1 part imposter syndrome and vigorously mix it with 1 part perfectionism and you’ll find your answer. Jokes aside I am still working through it, but this cookbook experience is actually what pushed me into Food Photography. In the process of writing my cookbook, I got a ‘taste’ of my gift for photography combined with my love for styling the perfect dish and the rest is history!

No matter what, time and after time I find the greatest obstacle for those of us who create recipes on the fly and intuitively is “writing” the recipe. There is no easy-to-use formula and at some point you just have to do it. However, there are some things I have learned along the way that make it easier. Keeping the process clean and consistent is obvious advice but I also created an easy to use spreadsheet to copy and put to use when you are recipe testing.

Quick Tips:

  • Research your ingredients.

  • Simple titles are the best.

  • Use straightforward and clear language that anyone can understand.

  • An informative photo clearly showing what the results should look like. (This is when we should chat!)

Fine-tuning your recipe testing:

  • Recipe headnote

  • Timing

  • Recipe yield

  • Ingredient list

  • Method of preparation

  • Nutritional information

  • Recipe notes

  • Additional elements

  • Recipe development resources

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1 Comment

Monica Thomas
Monica Thomas
Apr 27, 2023

Thanks, Amanda! What a great resource.

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