Ah, recipes! They’re hot commodity on just about every blog. However, if you don’t know how to properly execute them, you could be in trouble. Today’s post is all about how to develop, write, and share recipes on your blog.
How to Develop a Recipe
When developing (i.e. inventing) a recipe, there are two major routes you can take: original or adapted.
- Original. This is precisely as it sounds. Using your general knowledge of what foods go well together plus the science behind creating dishes, you start from scratch. When inventing a purely original recipe, you often go through some trial and error. Personally, when I invent an original recipe, I often test it anywhere from 2 to 10 times to ensure consistent results and to adjust ingredients to achieve optimal flavor. When developing an original recipe, be sure to write down EVERYTHING you do, from how much of a certain ingredient you tried to how you incorporated it into the dish (mixed it, sprinkled it, etc.). Then, if you continue to test the dish, tweak what you have written down as you discover what is better or best.
- Adapted. An adapted recipe is one that was originally invented by another cook that you think might have room for improvement. Here on Measuring Flower, we sometimes adapt classic recipes specifically to swap the unhealthful ingredients with healthful ones. In this instance, I am improving upon the recipe for those with good health in mind. When adapting a recipe, you are not required to ask the original author for permission to adapt his recipe, but doing so might give you kudos in the original author’s eyes. Additionally, it is not legally required to give attribution to the original developer. However, if you wish to be respected by being honest, it is common courtesy to give a link back to the original recipe and mention that your rendition is an adaptation of their work. When writing your adaptation, however, it is illegal to copy-paste the directions as this is considered plagiarism. If you do adapt a recipe, completely rewrite the directions in your own words (and be sure to change the ingredients in some way to make it a legal adaptation).
How to Write a Recipe
When writing the final draft of the recipe, here are some items to keep in mind.
- Format. Keep the format for your recipe easy-to-follow and consistent. If you begin by writing “1 c. this ingredient” do NOT write the next ingredient as “2 cups that ingredient.” Consistently use either the abbreviation (c.) or the full word (cup or cups). This makes the recipe easier to read and better to look at.
- List ingredients in order. To make your recipe easy-to-follow, list all of the ingredients in the order they are used in the directions. This prevents readers from having to scan through all the ingredients to find the one you’re referring to.
- List larger volumes first. List the ingredients in order of use (as emphasized in the previous point) THEN from larger volume to smaller volume (for example: 1 c. milk, 1/2 c. water, 1 tbsp. sugar; NOT: 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 c. milk, 1/2 c. water).
- Indicate sizes. If your recipe calls for a can of something, mention what size of can (14 oz., 2 lb., etc.) or if it calls for a package of cream cheese, mention 8 oz. or whatever size is needed. Since there are often multiple sizes of many items, indicating the size is very helpful for your readers, especially the amateur cooks.
- Pre directions. If your recipe needs the oven to be preheated, mention this in the first step. If any dishes need to be prepared by spraying them with nonstick spray, mention this in the first step as well. Also mention dish sizes and types such as an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish.
- Aim your directions at all levels. Write your recipes in a way that anyone can understand and follow them, from an amateur cook to a world class chef. This means avoiding certain lingo that some readers might not get (such as EVOO) and briefly explaining what some lesser-common terms mean.
- Short and sweet. Keep the recipe succinct and to the point. Unless it’d be helpful to the reader, don’t mention things like “I like to use this” or “I do it this way.” The recipe, when read alone, should sound direct and bland. This is because when a reader is doing the recipe, they don’t want to have to read through a bunch of irrelevant information to get to the nitty-gritty of the directions. Personalize the post about the recipe with your unique voice, not the shared recipe itself.
- Use steps. A recipe that has multiple actions in it is far easier to read and follow along with when it is divided into steps.
How to Share a Recipe
Once you have created the perfect dish and written out the perfect recipe, it’s time to share it on your blog! To make your recipe a hit, remember these 4 things: illustrate it with an image, make your readers drool, make it printable, and share it effectively.
- Illustrate it. Try to snap a beautiful image of the final product to share in the post along with your recipe (a tutorial explaining the steps is good for more complicated recipes, but if you have to choose one image, make sure it is of the final product). Take the image in full, natural daylight if possible so that it is well illuminated without harsh shadows. Snap it when it’s fresh such as still steaming from being pulled from the oven. And make the image more colorful or more interesting by adding garnishes; using pretty plates or bowls; or by arranging cloth napkins, silverware, serving utensils, or other relevant props (but keep the food the star of the photo, not the props). Many people are visual creatures–they want to see what yummy creation your recipe results in. Plus, having an appealing image makes it more pinnable on Pinterest.
Make your readers drool. Before delving into the recipe, reel your readers in by explaining how the dish affects your senses. Describe the individual flavors, how the cheese is gooey, how the texture of the crust feels, how the aroma fills your kitchen with reminiscent odors. Put your readers in the kitchen with you.
- Make it printable. It is very frustrating to come upon a recipe that you have to copy-paste into a word document in order to print it out. Your readers do NOT want to spend even two seconds longer than they have to. Not presenting a way to easily print your recipe might be preventing your audience from trying it. And the thing is, it’s so easy to make your recipe printable. If you have a Blogger blog, follow the directions that this blog post presents to use Google sites to make your recipe printable. If you have a WordPress blog, I highly recommend utilizing the ZipList recipe plugin as this plugin helps with recipe SEO (search engine optimization) and it can be customized to match your website’s design.
- Share the recipe effectively. Having a pleasant image makes the recipe optimal to share on various social media websites. Try to include the image where you can to capture visual learners. Also, take full advantage of hash tags. Some that I use on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and G+ are #recipe, #food, #goodeats, and #whatsfordinner. Including these hash tags in your shares makes them easier for people to find when they search for these hash tags.