How I Create Recipes And How You Can Too

Jun 4, 2018 | Cooking Tips

Where do they come from? Those recipes you see in all those cookbooks and all of those websites, how do people create them? I can’t tell you exactly what other people do but I can tell you the three techniques that I use to write recipes. And I can tell you how to use my techniques to create your own recipes at home.

Like I said there are three main techniques that I use to create recipes. They are all very different and they all have strengths and weaknesses. In all honesty, a hybrid version of all three techniques is likely going to yield the best results, so that is what I would recommend to you.

Why write recipes?

Before I get into my techniques you may be wondering why it’s important for you to know this? Why do you need to know how to write a recipe? Well, you don’t necessarily. But, the more you get into cooking, the more you want to experiment. Sometimes those experiments will be really good and you will wish that you had a recipe to go along with it. Also, even though this whole post is about writing recipes, the techniques I’m about to describe will help you be able to cook without a recipe as well. So, let’s get into it.

Recipe Research And Development

Very often when you use a recipe from the internet, or even from cookbooks they don’t exactly match the idea you had in your mind. The dish may fall short in some ways. And so the first technique I’m going to describe to you is essentially research and development.

I use this technique when I know the dish that I want to make, it’s very specific or complex, and I’ve never made it before. This technique is actually how I wrote my butter chicken recipe. The idea is that I research and develop my recipe based on a culmination of all the recipes I find.

The first place I start is actually researching what the dish is. What makes butter chicken, butter chicken? Where does it come from, what are the dominating flavours? I want to know as much about the dish as I can. This will help me understand what parts of certain recipes I want to keep and what parts I want to get rid of.

The second thing I do is read as many recipes for that dish as I can find. I look for all the things that are common among all the recipes. I look at the ingredient ratios and I think about how they play off each other and how I think that they will taste together. And I look at any ingredients that may only show up in a small number of recipes. These ingredients may be completely unnecessary, or they may be the key to totally unlocking the recipe. Essentially, it comes down to trying to figure out what makes sense and what doesn’t. Get rid of all of the clutter and you are left with some semblance of a recipe.

Based on all of the information I have gathered, I write a recipe and then I cook it. Sometimes it works perfectly, and sometimes it needs adjustment. Either way, it is a great starting point and it puts me much further ahead than I would have been had I just started making random recipes off of the internet. So, I have my starting recipe. As I cook and taste I adjust some measurements, some cooking times. Usually, if the dish isn’t exactly what I want the first time I make it, it’s on point the second time.

Go With The Flow And Write It All Down

The second way I write a recipe is really pretty easy. I start with some idea of what I want the dish to be. Then, I just start cooking and write everything down as I go. I like this technique for just playing around in the kitchen, coming up with new things. This technique works well because you can adjust as you go and just change measurements and stuff on the paper.

The downside I find to this technique is that it disrupts the rhythm of cooking when you have to constantly stop to write things down. And, I also find that because I am writing things down, I’m not actually committing the steps to memory like I normally would. This can throw a wrench in things if I forget to write down an ingredient or step. Also, taking the time to measure everything out, which I normally wouldn’t, can get tedious. This is especially true when you are adding little bits here and there to adjust the flavour.

Recipe Mind Games

The third and final technique I use to develop and create recipes is to build them completely in my mind. Generally, when I do this I have an idea of what I want. I sit down with that idea and I imagine it inside and out. I make the dish in my mind from start to finish over and over until I get it exactly the way I want it. Once I’m happy with what’s in my head, then I’ll write it down, and then I’ll cook it.

I’m able to do this just because of experience. I know how ingredients play off of each other. I have a vast flavour library in my head that allows me to imagine new and different flavour combinations. And I know what cooking techniques will yield what results. Because of all of this, by the time I actually make the dish in real life, it comes out pretty much exactly how I wanted it.

This is definitely the technique that I use more than anything else. I generally use it on its own or in combination with one of the other techniques to create recipes. I use it for things as simple as thinking of a cool sandwich idea, or as complex as coming up with a really high-end dish.

Conclusion

Those are the three main techniques that I use to write recipes. Like I said, for you at home, a combination of the three will likely yield you the best results. There is one thing I should say about writing recipes that I haven’t yet.

When writing a recipe be consistent. Use consistent measurements. If you weigh everything, weigh it all in the same units. Don’t write a recipe that has one ingredient measured as 14 g and one as 2 lbs. The same goes for volume measurements. Keep it consistent. Try not to mix weights and volumes either. Choose one or the other and stick to it.

Write as concisely as you can. Even if you’re just writing the recipe for yourself, assume that the person reading it has no cooking experience at all. There is nothing worse than trying to figure out some weird shorthand you decided to use once in some random recipe years ago. Trust me.

 

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