Developing a recipe is one of the most challenging things for a food blogger, but it’s also one of the most fulfilling and rewarding.

The process of developing a recipe is like science. It involves hypothesizing, testing, and coming to conclusions. When you approach the development of a new recipe, you have different components, existing knowledge, and new theories to consider and experiment with. It takes time, but it’s worth the effort to have recipes you can share and truly call your own.

In this article, we aim to demystify the process of recipe development. By breaking it all down into four clear steps, we’ll guide you through and help you understand how to get the results you’re looking for. Delve into the science of recipe development and start creating, personalizing, and editing your own unique set of recipes!

Step 1: Inspiration

Every great recipe starts with an idea. The first step of developing a new recipe is to define what you want to create. You don’t have to have a solid idea to begin with. You may have tried a dish you liked, and want to see how to utilize similar flavors in new ways. Perhaps you have an ingredient you want to try using in a recipe or some flavors you want to combine.

Once you have at least a basic idea, you need to start refining it and transforming it into an actual dish. This part gives you the opportunity to solidify your vision and start considering what it might actually involve in terms of method and ingredients.

You can get your ideas from a range of sources. If you’re looking for inspiration, it’s important to draw on a variety of things, from global culinary traditions to food history and creative ingredient use. Let other people, cultures, and cuisines spark your imagination.

Some common sources of inspiration: Culinary traditions and ingredient usage

Culinary traditions are a common source of inspiration for recipe development. After all, many of them have developed over decades, centuries, or sometimes even longer. They have proven staying power and they interact with wider history and important ingredients.

Being creative is important when developing a new recipe, but there’s also an argument that you shouldn’t try to completely reinvent the wheel. Traditional methods work and can be an excellent starting point for a new recipe. For example, a base of certain ingredients is used in many cuisines. In French cooking, it’s the mirepoix, which is a combination of carrots, celery, and onion cooked in fat slowly and over low heat. The Spanish version of this is a sofrito, a mix of minced onions, garlic, tomato, and bell pepper.

Having a good understanding of these traditional bases and flavor combinations is a great starting point for new recipes. You can use them as a springboard for your ideas, allowing you to take recipes in different directions.

As you start to get creative, your ingredient selection can be a fantastic way to explore. Choosing an unconventional ingredient can allow you to be truly creative. You might spark an idea for a new recipe by spotting an ingredient you’ve never used before. Setting a goal to make use of it could be the start of something amazing.

Did you ever think chicken and banana could go together? Why not experiment with the two ingredients and come up with something unique?

Step 2: Research

Now it’s time to turn your attention to research. You can find almost anything online, and you could find that something similar to your idea already exists. However, that doesn’t have to be the end of your idea. You can still create, edit, and personalize recipes to your liking to produce something that’s truly yours.

Looking at recipes from other food creators and influencers can be excellent inspiration for your recipes. You might want to modify an existing recipe using your knowledge, creativity, and understanding of cooking techniques. Many chefs use this approach, adding their personal flair. If there’s a recipe you love, think about how you can personalize it to make it your own!

How would you personalize these Crockpot Chipotle Pot Roast Tacos by Tieghan Gerard?

It is still important to think about what’s already out there and what you can meaningfully add to a recipe. Whether you substitute ingredients or make other edits, it can help you think about ingredients, ratios, cooking techniques, and how else you can create your own recipe.

Remember the importance of proper attribution when drawing on the work of others. Keep track of your research so you can give credit where necessary. This is a must to avoid copyright infringement, but is also good for your reputation and chances of collaborating with others. Recipes can be copyrighted if they have some degree of substantial literary expression. For example, a list of ingredients doesn’t reach the threshold, but detailed explanations, instructions, and stories are likely to come under copyright rules.

You should avoid reproducing the work of others when it’s a personal expression of how they cook. Focus on building your brand with your own experiences.

Culinary ratios for baking

Getting familiar with culinary ratios is important for recipe development, especially in baking. Precise measurements can make or break a recipe, and that’s more true in baking than it is in general cooking.

Culinary ratios refer to the combination and balance of different ingredients in a recipe. For example, in a pound cake recipe, you have equal parts of flour, fat, sugar, and egg. One of the reasons it’s important to understand ratios is to help you translate a recipe to different measuring systems or to scale a recipe up or down. When you know the correct ratios, you can maintain consistency in your recipe.

Making adjustments to ratios can also change the texture, flavor, and other qualities of a bake. In bread making, the ratio of water to flour plays a crucial role in the final outcome. When making cookies, the ratio of butter to sugar will affect the texture and flavor. When you’re developing a recipe, it’s important to be accurate to maintain proper ratios, using digital scales and measuring spoons for precise measurements.

Step 3: Drafting and testing

Creating the perfect recipe is rarely something you can achieve on the first attempt. You need to try out multiple iterations to perfect the balance of flavors and develop the right method.

Recipes generally need to be tested at least two or three times. Each time you test a new recipe, taste test as you go to identify what changes to make. Persistence is key and it can take a lot of trial and error. Look at each failure as another step toward success. Once you’re happy, test your recipe once more to confirm it’s right.

Be prepared to make changes as you test your recipe. Steps such as adding more flour to a batter that looks too wet can help you work things out along the way. Just ensure you make note of the changes you’re making.

The process of testing a recipe looks different for different people. Some like to write down a draft first, while others are happy to jump straight into testing and experimenting. Find what works best for you.

Best practices when recipe testing

It’s vital to follow good practices when testing recipes. Ensure you have a way to make notes and record changes. This is important so you have a clear log of the changes you make and different iterations.

Use standard kitchen tools and equipment, both for accuracy and so that your audience can replicate your recipes at home. Start slowly, avoiding doing too many things at once. Making just one or two changes in each test will make it easier to see which change made a difference. If you’re not happy with a draft or something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to scrap it. Going back to square one can be frustrating, but it could be the best decision.

Testing a recipe isn’t just about finding the right flavors, textures, or looks. You also want your recipe to be easy to follow if your intention is to share it with others. So, once you’re done testing, consider giving your recipes to someone else to test. They can give you notes on whether they were able to reproduce your dish.

Step 4: Writing the recipe

Now that you’ve perfected your recipe, you need to write it out so that you can share it or store it. The most common format for a written recipe is a list of ingredients (and perhaps some suggested equipment), followed by a detailed set of instructions or methods.

When writing out your recipe, using professional cooking terms is always useful. Terms like sauté or fold are often shorthand for important techniques. At the same time, you need to ensure your readers understand these terms. You could refer to a glossary of important terms or, if using photos or video, demonstrate what you mean. Your recipes should be clear and easy to follow, using language that’s both explicit and familiar to engage your audience. 

If your target audience includes beginner cooks or bakers, you might need to be especially careful to write clear instructions. Try not to assume they will have the same experience or knowledge as you. Make use of images or analogies to help explain what things should look like at various stages.

Don’t forget to include additional details such as preparation time, cooking time, serving sizes, oven temperatures, etc. You can also provide other useful information such as freezing and storage advice. Help your reader out by discussing potential pitfalls or difficulties. Recognize that they’re normal and provide solutions that might help them overcome these problems.

Displaying your recipes online

It’s important for food influencers or bloggers to have a strong platform to host and share their recipes. You can stick to a primary platform, or use a combination of methods. For example, you may share your recipes on your blog, YouTube, Pinterest, and other channels. 

As a main platform, setting up a blog is crucial for food influencers. Even if you have a video channel, your audience needs somewhere to access written recipes. A written database of your recipes is a reliable way to collate and present them, which is core to being a food influencer. Although videos can provide entertaining content and visual instructions, most people are looking for written recipes.

For WordPress bloggers, WP Recipe Maker is an indispensable tool for helping you manage and present your recipes.

A recipe from Divas can Cook, a blogger that uses WP Recipe Maker

WP Recipe Maker features customizable templates that help you streamline the process of creating, organizing, and displaying content on your site or blog. You can input the relevant information for a recipe and have it displayed to your specifications so it can be easily read and shared. Other useful features include recipe collections, which allow readers to save your recipes to their own collections and quickly generate shopping lists for them too. Using professional templates will enrich the aesthetics of your recipe posts while keeping everything consistent, which is great for your brand image. Features such as adjustable serving sizes, nutrition information calculation, and recipe snippets all make your recipes highly engaging. Use glossary terms to provide context for potentially unfamiliar terms, solving the issue of potentially confusing instructions.

This recipe by Lil Luna showcases many key features available with WP Recipe Maker, including the ability to set a cook mode on recipes. 

WP Recipe Maker helps make your blog SEO-friendly with features such as recipe metadata. It’s great for monetizing your blog too. Make affiliate marketing a breeze with ingredient and equipment link features. Recommend products and ingredients you use, and earn a commission on any sales made through your links.

All of these features help you create an aesthetically inviting, professional, and monetizable food blog. Show off the recipes you have developed, with tailored features for all the key content you want to include.

Key takeaways for your recipe development success

Recipe development is complicated and approaching it can be daunting. But, like any science, you can break down the process into manageable steps to make it rewarding and enjoyable. Whether you only use a recipe for your personal use or share it with others, the process of developing it is exciting and lets you explore your creativity and show off your personal flair.

In this guide, we broke down the process of recipe development into four stages: inspiration, research, drafting and testing, and writing the recipe. Of course, this isn’t a completely fixed formula, especially as the process of creating a recipe is a personal one too. However, each stage has important steps to consider, such as checking copyright during research. Having a framework in mind helps you ensure you succeed in your recipe development.

Begin creating your own unique and delicious recipes with this guide as your starting point. Check out WP Recipe Maker for an excellent solution to making your recipes look professional and enhancing your brand.

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