The recipe post. It seems simple enough, right? List some ingredients, some instructions, shoot off a few pictures and you’re done! Not so much. In order to create a recipe post that keeps your readers coming back for seconds, it requires an eye for detail, meticulous methodology and great photography.
Whether you’re a dedicated food blogger or want to mix up your content, your recipe post should ultimately reflect the style and voice of your blog. Listed here are the basic tips to make sure your recipe post isn’t just a bowl of lumpy mashed potatoes.
Keep Your Eye on the Pie
In its most basic form, a recipe post must include three essential components—an ingredients list, a prep/method section and at least one photograph of the final dish.
Your ingredients list is one of the most important aspects of your post, so it is important to not only quadruple check your measurements for accuracy but to also be sure that your descriptions are not confusing or misleading. Your ingredients list should include no more than one ingredient per line. Follow these guidelines and bookmark this recipe writing cheat sheet:
The preparation and methodology section comes immediately after the ingredients list. Your prep section can be written in paragraphs using your own language, but you should avoid confusing words that people who are not master chefs may not understand, such as “sweat” or “poach.” If you do use these terms, link to a glossary or give an explanation.
Your instructions in this section need to be very articulate and clear. If your recipe involves the oven, the first step should be to preheat the oven. This is not the section to be brief. The reader needs to know information like what size pan or dish to use, how hot the pan should be, whether to whisk or stir, simmer or boil. Use descriptive terms such as color and touch in addition to timing since some ovens and stovetops run hotter or cooler than others. If you say in your post “grill for three minutes on each side,” then be sure to add “or until golden brown” so the reader understands what to look for.
(Photo courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)
This probably goes without saying, but you absolutely MUST include a picture of the final product! We’ve talked a lot on this site about the importance of images in your blog posts, and that couldn’t be truer for recipe posts. If your images have poor lighting, off colors and doesn’t pop, then there’s not much incentive for the reader to use your recipe if your images come across as unappetizing. Kate, from the food blog Cookie + Kate, has these tips for food photography:
If you tend to blog by night and taking daytime photographs doesn’t fit your schedule, The Simple Sweet Life Shows you how to shoot food photos at night.
The Proof is in the Pudding
There is no right way to post a recipe, but there are plenty of wrong ways. These seven tips will keep you on the right side of copyright law and your readers coming back for seconds.
Test, Test, Test
The biggest sin you can commit when it comes to recipe posting is not testing your recipe. The recipe you choose to post should be replicable, so once you feel that you’ve perfected it yourself after some test runs, pass it along to some of your friends, family and colleagues, who will be the real test as to whether your ingredients, terms and method is clear or confusing.
Proofreading your recipe, especially the ingredients list, will save you a lot of headache and may even save your reputation. If you post a recipe with the wrong proportions, such as listing a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon, you will lose all credibility from your readers.
Just because you make some changes or adaptations to a recipe doesn’t mean it’s your own unique recipe. If you make changes to someone’s recipe that you are posting on your own site, simply add a note that states, “Adapted from x.” It’s that simple and it doesn’t ruin your credibility.
Food is personal, and if you don’t typically post a recipe, then add a backstory for posting it. Maybe it’s your grandmother’s birthday and you want to recreate the ice box cake that she always made for special occasions. Or maybe you want to highlight your family’s ethnic heritage by paying homage to your own modern take on a traditional dish.
If the first two or three times you made the recipe and it didn’t turn out just right—your cheesecake deflated in the middle or your sourdough starter wasn’t strong enough to get two full rises—let the reader know. Trial and error is a positive learning experience, and sharing that experience with others will not only give a little humor, but also make you more relatable.
Respond to Any and All Comments
Recipe posts tend to generate a lot of comments, and sometimes those comments aren’t exactly positive. Your readers will be sure to tell you when the recipe doesn't come out as planned, and sometimes you may have to go back and make some points of the recipe more clear or even change the recipe altogether. Your readers will also give tips about substitutions they used when they didn’t have particular ingredients on hand. If someone is being particularly spiteful about your recipe, saying “Bless your heart” is the southern lady’s charming way of turning the other cheek.
Make it Print Friendly
A print-friendly recipe is always a great rule of thumb so your readers don’t have to worry about gunking up their tablet, run back and forth between the kitchen and the computer or risk copying your recipe incorrectly. The easiest way to create a print-friendly recipe is to use clear formatting to keep your post simple and clean.
If you want to add more flair to your post, then there are a couple options to create a print-friendly recipe. One way is to install the Print Friendly widget. In just a few easy steps, you can copy and paste the embed code into your HTML. Another option is to create a recipe card through PicMonkey by following this step-by-step tutorial.
(Photo courtesy of PicMonkey)
A recipe post is a great idea for new content when you’re feeling in a rut and is sure to generate a lot of engagement among your readers. Have you ever posted a recipe before? Tell us in the comments below your tips and tricks for food writing and photography, and follow our Pinterest board, Recipe for Success, for actionable resources to make your next recipe post sizzle!