How To Write A Recipe Like A Professional (2024)

  • Skills
  • Dish Types
  • Desserts

Sara Kate Gillingham

Sara Kate Gillingham

Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.

updated Dec 10, 2022

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

How To Write A Recipe Like A Professional (1)

I write recipes, among other things, for a living. It may seem easy, but it isn’t always. It takes practice and adherence to a few rules.

Knowing how to write a recipe is something even an amateur cook can benefit from knowing.

There are two main parts of a recipe, the Ingredient List and the Preparation Method. I’ll take you through some basic guidelines for writing both parts.

This is our own style guide and loose list of rules. Of course, there are endless exceptions and little side-rules. There are also styles that certain publications use that you may be used to and that may be different from what we present here. If you have a question that isn’t addressed in the below guidelines, please ask in the comments.

Before the ingredients, comes the title, number of servings and serving size if appropriate. Then the ingredient list and the preparation method. If the recipes is adapted from another recipe, a credit is due (“Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s World Peace Cookies”) below the text of the method.

The Ingredient List

  • List all ingredients in order of use, as described in step-by-step instructions.

  • List the most important ingredients first, if it can be consistent with order of use.

  • Spell out everything: tablespoons, ounces, etc.

  • If the recipe has different elements (a pie, for example has a crust, a filling), break up the ingredient list with headings such as “Crust” and “Filling.”

  • When several ingredients are used at the same time (in the case of baking, often all the dry ingredients are sifted or mixed together at once), list them in descending order according to volume. If there is an issue over preparation, list in order, so for example if you need the zest and juice of a lemon, list the zest first and then the juice since that is the order you will do the preparation.

  • Do not use two numerals together. You need to set off the second number in parenthesis. This comes up with sizes of packages. For example, “1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese.”

  • If an ingredient begins with a letter instead of a number, freshly ground black pepper, for example, capitalize the first letter, as in “Freshly ground black pepper.”

  • If the preparation of an ingredient is simple, place that technique in the ingredient list, as in “2 eggs, beaten” or “1 stick butter, softened.”

  • If an ingredient is used more than once in a recipe, list the total amount at the place in the ingredient list where it is first used, then add “divided.” In the method part of the recipe, indicate the amount used at each step. For example “1 cup all-purpose flour, divided” then in the method “Sift 3/4 cup of the flour with the…” and later “Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of flour on top of…”

  • Use generic names of ingredients (semi-sweet chocolate chips, not “Tollhouse chips”

The Preparation Method

  • Where helpful, indicate the size of bowls and cookware. For example, “In a large mixing bowl….”

  • You do not have to write complete sentences. Be as short and concise as possible.

  • With instructions for the stove-top, indicate level of heat. For example, “Simmer over low heat.”

  • State exact or approximate cooking times, with descriptive hints for doneness, if appropriate. For example, “Sear 1 minute on each side,” and “Bake 18-22 minutes, or until crust is light golden brown.”

  • As in the ingredient list, if there are different elements to the recipe, as with the crust and filling of a pie, separate out each element in the method. Begin with the crust and write a header “For the Crust” and give the method. Then do “For the Filling” and give filling instructions.

  • Separate each step into a different paragraph. If you are mixing dry ingredients in a bowl, for example, use one paragraph for all the instructions for that step.

  • Finish with serving instructions including how to plate, what temperature to serve, how to garnish.

  • The last instruction should be regarding storage, if applicable. For a cookie recipe, for example, “Cookies will keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days.”

A Final Note

You must test your recipes to make sure they work, the amounts and serving sizes are correct, and that they taste as great as you intend. If you are “testing as you go” make sure to take perfect notes. For beginners, and most of us pros, repeat testing and revision are needed. It helps to have other people follow your recipes to see if they actually make sense.

Filed in:


Ice Cream

How To Write A Recipe Like A Professional (2024)


How do you write a professional recipe? ›

Tips for recipe writing
  1. Write ingredients in the order in which they'll be used! ...
  2. Write the directions in an order that makes sense. ...
  3. If your recipe has multiple "recipes" within it, separate the ingredients and step for each. ...
  4. Offer additional methods or substitutions. ...
  5. Share when to know a recipe is ready.
May 4, 2022

What is the correct format for a recipe? ›

Tips to keep in mind when writing recipes:
  1. List ingredients in chronological order. ...
  2. Separate ingredients for major steps in a recipe. ...
  3. List steps in order, keeping instructions short and to the point. ...
  4. Give specifics about doneness. ...
  5. Include storage suggestions. ...
  6. Offer extra methods or substitutions (when tested).
Nov 19, 2020

How do you write a standard recipe? ›

Your standardised recipe should include:
  1. Menu item title.
  2. Yield – (this is the usable amount obtained for the recipe)
  3. Portion size.
  4. Serving instructions and presentation.
  5. Ingredient list.
  6. Quantity (QTY) of each ingredient.
  7. Cooking time and temperature.
  8. Special equipment needed to produce and serve it.
Nov 4, 2019

What are the 5 elements in a standard recipe? ›

  1. Yield. The yield tells the number and size of servings the recipe will make.
  2. List of Ingredients & Amounts.
  3. Step By Step Directions for Mixing & Handling.
  4. Equipment (Container Size & Type)
  5. Temperature & Time.

What are the seven 7 parts to a well written recipe? ›

  • Using BLUE write the seven components to a recipe in the boxes provided. Underline the component. Look them up on my webpage under “7 Components to a Recipe”.
  • 7components'16.
  • YIELD:
  • 7 Components to a Recipe.

What is the major difference between a professional recipe and home based recipe? ›

Explanation: The major difference between a professional recipe and a home-based recipe is that professional recipes are created for use in a commercial kitchen and are usually formulated to serve large quantities, using measurements that might not be familiar on a household scale.

What are the three ways that recipes are written? ›

Most recipes are written in one of three forms: standard, narrative or action. The standard form (shown on the next page) first lists ingredients, then directions.

What are the 4 required parts to have when writing down a recipe? ›

A recipe really only needs either ingredients or directions ( the preparation method) to be considered complete. At a minimum most recipes have a title, ingredients list, and preparation method. If you need a more robust look at recipe writing we highly recommend The Recipe Writer's Handbook.

What are the characteristics of a good recipe? ›

A good recipe has two parts
  1. Ingredients listed in the order of their use.
  2. Exact measurements (amounts) of each listed ingredient.
  3. Simple, step-by-step directions (steps listed in sequence)
  4. Cooking time.
  5. Cooking temperature.
  6. Size of correct cooking equipment to use.
  7. Number and size of servings the recipe makes.

What does yield mean in a recipe? ›

Yield in culinary terms refers to how much you will have of a finished or processed product. Professional recipes should always state a yield; for example, a tomato soup recipe may yield 15 L, and a muffin recipe may yield 24 muffins.

What is step 3 of standardizing a recipe? ›

3. Determine serving size. The serving size is 1 cup. Using an 8 fl oz ladle, 1 gal = 16 servings.

What are the 7 common recipe categories? ›

Recipe Categories
  • Breakfast recipes.
  • Lunch recipes.
  • Dinner recipes.
  • Appetizer recipes.
  • Salad recipes.
  • Main-course recipes.
  • Side-dish recipes.
  • Baked-goods recipes.

What is the most important part of a recipe? ›

Ingredient List - The ingredient list is one of the most critical parts of a recipe. The ingredients should be listed in chronological order, with the ingredient used first at the very top of the list (Palmer, 2020).

What is the most important element of a recipe? ›

The 5 essential components of a recipe are:
  • Recipe Title.
  • Number of Servings.
  • Preparation Time, Cooking Time, Total Time.
  • Ingredient List.
  • Step-by-Step Instructions.
Mar 28, 2023

How do professional chefs organize their recipes? ›

One of the most common ways of keeping recipes organized is with recipe binders. Rather than keeping recipe books to flick through for recipe referencing, chefs will have the recipes they need collated in binders. This means that they can quickly and easily find necessary items without other recipes getting in the way.

What are chef recipes written in? ›

###Recipe Format Chef recipes are written using Ruby. A recipe is basically a collection of resource definitions that will create a step-by-step set of instructions to be executed by the nodes.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Amb. Frankie Simonis

Last Updated:

Views: 6613

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Amb. Frankie Simonis

Birthday: 1998-02-19

Address: 64841 Delmar Isle, North Wiley, OR 74073

Phone: +17844167847676

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: LARPing, Kitesurfing, Sewing, Digital arts, Sand art, Gardening, Dance

Introduction: My name is Amb. Frankie Simonis, I am a hilarious, enchanting, energetic, cooperative, innocent, cute, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.