Do you post recipes to encourage consumers to buy and use your products?
Recipes are a great way to showcase imaginative ways to use your product. But did you know there are well-established rules for recipe writing? They are designed to help consumers end up with a tasty dish instead of a headache. Here are a few tips the professionals know that could help you too.
According to The Recipe Writer’s Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostermann and Jane L Baker, a recipe should include:
- The headnote (this is the introduction that sets the scene for the dish. It’s not compulsory to have one but this is where you can ‘talk up’ your branded ingredient and inspires consumers to cook it)
- The name of the dish
- A list of ingredients
- The method to follow to prepare it
- How much the recipe makes (in servings, or jars or whatever it makes)
- Notes – about unusual ingredients or techniques
- Variations – ideas for changing up how to serve the dish
Here are some tips to make your recipes irresistible and ensure they work hard to promote your products.
- Create a style guide for your recipes. This is simply a guide to how you will write certain content so that all your recipes are consistent. For example, it could ensuring your logo is added as a watermark to all your recipes, how you want photographs of your food to be styled, and which abbreviations for measurements you will use.
- List your ingredients in the order they will be used in the recipe. This helps avoid confusion (and helps budding MasterChefs to do their mise en place!) When listing ingredients, be careful about how you include your instructions for preparation. “A cup of chopped parsley” will not the same amount of parsley as “a cup of parsley, chopped”.
- Give quantities in grams or millilitres as well as cups and spoons. Quantities given by volume such as cups, are less precise, and if a cook has to substitute, then weights are much safer to use. (Think of the busy mum who finds out at the last minute that she has to substitute caster sugar for ordinary sugar to make your cake recipe.) If the ingredient is used in different places in the recipe, make sure you say how much gets used, and when, in the method. There’s no need to list the same ingredient multiple times in the ingredients list.
- Keep the method simple. For most consumers (even those budding MasterChefs), simple directions work best. That includes explaining how to undertake certain tasks, such as toasting spices and ‘cooking out’ flour for example. Explain what the process is doing and what the cook should be looking for.
- Always give a realistic indication of the time each step will take (many recipes are infamous for wildly underestimating the time needed to properly sauté onions!) You can give times as an estimate (“about x minutes”) or as a range (“15-20 minutes”). It helps to also give visual clues, such as “sauté onions for about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden”. It helps to include an estimate of total preparation and cooking time at the start of the recipe too.
- Test your recipe! It sounds obvious, but it isn’t. If you assemble all your ingredients and work your way through the method, you are probably going to find something you’ve missed along the way. If you are testing more than one recipe in a session, make your notes after each one rather than relying on memory later.
- Include a photo of the finished dish. Again, it sounds obvious – we all eat with our eyes, after all. But your image should be working hard too. It should show a suggested way to serve the dish and give an idea of finished quantities. And consider photographing the finished dish with a pack or bottle of your ingredient also in shot – after all, that’s the story the recipe is supposed to be telling for you.
And last but not least, if you are a member of Food South Australia, share your recipe with us! It’s a great way for us to be able to promote your products via our social media platforms.