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How to Create A Recipe Book - A Step by Step Guide

Author profile imageLars Salling·May 16, 2023
A person holding a recipe book

Creating your own recipe book can be a great way to either remember and write down your own recipes to use yourself later down the road or to share with friends, family or even the rest of the world. A DIY recipe book can also be an amazing gift for a person that you care about that might enjoy cooking.

One of the many benefits of making a recipe book is that you may pass it on to children or friends in order to let your recipes survive through time - who hasn’t used old recipes that have been passed down by great-grandparents and had an effect on what would be served on the family table?

This article is a basic guide on  how to make your own recipe book that you can share with the people around you.

01. Planning your recipe book

A close-up photograph of a hand writing a todo-list on a notepad

Before you start putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, you first need to make some initial thoughts about which direction you want to take your recipe book in. Some of the main thoughts to do before starting to create your cooking blog are:

  • What is the purpose and target audience of my cooking book? Having an idea about who you are writing a book for and why is an essential part of figuring out how you should approach creating your recipe book. Say for example that you are creating it for yourself, then there is less need for you to go into explicit detail about everything and you also need to be too formal. If you on the other hand want to share your recipes or even publish your cooking book, it can be a good idea to cover your thoughts and decisions behind your cooking more and also keep a more formal tone.
  • Which recipes do I want to include? Like with the previous question, asking yourself which recipes you want to cover in your book can differ depending on the purpose of your cookbook. If you are writing a family recipe book there might be less need to have an overall theme whereas if you wish to publish a book publicly, it can be a good idea to have an overall theme or specific cuisine in order to keep your recipes within a certain scope.
  • What will I include in the recipe book? There are many different ways that you can structure and create your content for a recipe book - for example by keeping every recipe short and concise or by having a lot of background information and history included segmented into different chapters. Before you start creating your cookbook, it is a good idea to figure out with yourself how you want to go forward with the content of the book.

These thoughts are of course not something that should hold you back for months in order to get started with writing, but it can help you be more confident from the start and have a vision of how your end result will look. Creating a short outline from these questions to yourself can help you be more consistent throughout writing and keep your eye on the goal without drifting.

02: Selecting and refining your recipes

A cookbook is only as good as the weakest recipe in the book… or something like that. While you might have already done some initial thoughts about which recipes to use in your cookbook from step 1, now is the time to get real and make sure that the recipes that you’re gonna include in your cookbook are solid and well tested.

This again depends on what you eventually want to achieve with your end result, but say you’re looking to make your recipe book public and want to help or impress your audience with your recipes. Here is your chance to make sure that you feel that your selection of recipes are something that is worth collecting in a cookbook and if not, you can go back to experimenting and adding personal touches to the recipes which will make them worth sharing with others. Recreating your recipes multiple times can also be a good way of making sure that they yield consistent results all the time and are possible to recreate. While you recreate and refine your recipes, it is also a good idea to write down notes for yourself about the steps you take and what some of the thoughts behind your decisions are. These can help you later on in writing and be included for more thorough explanations about your recipes.

03: Creating the recipe

After you have made sure that you are happy with your selection of recipes, it is time to start creating your recipes which both include:

  • Photographing both the process as well as the end result
  • Writing down instructions, ingredients and notes
  • Formatting and structuring the recipe
A person whisking eggs in a glass bowl

When creating a recipe, it is a good idea to create it a final time while you write down and photograph as you go - you can then later on refine and proofread the finalized recipe and structure it nicely with accompanying images.

A good way of making nice looking recipes is by using a prebuilt recipe template as a base. You can find a lot of different free recipe templates online and for different text programs such as a recipe template for Word or Google Docs. Using a template will make it easier to drop in your instructions and ingredients and even group them by the different components in your recipe to make it more intuitive.

If you have additional notes or remarks from previous steps, you can add these to the bottom of a recipe or at the appropriate instruction points so that your readers can get more insights into your thoughts behind the recipe.

04: Structure, design and presentation

After having written and formatted your recipes in a nicely manner, it is time to make sure that your cookbook is presentable and consistent throughout. It is a good idea to pick an overall visual theme and design for your cookbook that you’ll use throughout the whole book - it could for example be using a “scrapbooky” look with taped-on images or you could go for a more professional and minimalistic look with nice typography.

This is also the time for arranging and ordering the recipes in your book, so that there is a logical flow throughout the pages, for example by keeping starter dishes in the beginning of the book and ending with desserts or drinks - this will make it easier for your readers to predict and search through your book when looking for particular recipes.

05. Proofreading and final touches

Have yourself or an acquaintance read through your newly created recipe book in order to spot inconsistencies and grammatical errors. This is also a good time to make sure that the flow of the book is intuitive and that the recipes are easy to follow for whatever target group you had in mind when doing your planning.

06: Putting it out

Again depending on what you initially wanted to do with your own cookbook, it is now time to finalize your recipe book. You can either keep and save your recipe book as a PDF if you already created it on a computer and want to keep it there now that you are finished, or you can print it out either using a standard home printer or if you are feeling fancy go to the nearest print shop and have it printed out in a format and material that suits your needs. 

A cookbook laying open on a table top

You now have a cookbook that you can either use yourself and store on your shelf for time to come or you can share copies with friends and family that might appreciate cooking recipes that you have spent time coming up with and collected.

Final words

I hope you enjoyed this guide and found it useful in how to make your own cookbook. If you are interested in similar articles, you can find more food-related articles on our blog, for example on how to write a good recipe.

If you are eager to start sharing your recipes online, you can try out Wasabee, an all-in-one platform for creating your very own cooking blog which will get you up and running with your own hosted blog in minutes.

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Frequently asked questions

How do you organize a cook book?

A good way of organizing and structuring the recipes in a cook book is by ordering the recipes like you normally would in a menu card or through a multi-course meal. This means starting out with starters and side dishes and ending with desserts or drinks recipes.

How do I make a handwritten cookbook?

To make a cookbook with recipes by hand, it is a good idea to download and print out a recipe template sheet that you can use to format your recipes in an orderly fashion. This can speed up creating your recipes and also make your pages more consistent throughout the book.

How many recipes make a cookbook?

The number of recipes in a cookbook depend largely on what kind of cookbook is at hand. If it's a collection of recipes for a family cookbook, there really isn't a minimum. If you on the other hand want to publish a recipe book publicly, it is usually adviced that you include around 70 to 120 recipes, which is an average number of recipes in a cookbook. This again may vary on the type of cookbook and should not be followed blindly

Can I use other people's recipes in my cookbook?

While it may not be explicitly illegal to include other people's recipes in a cookbook that you intent to publish publicly, it can be seen as very unethical - especially if there is not provided any credit. You should instead feel inspired by other people's recipe and try to put your own twist and personality into it in order to create something new that people might enjoy.