How to Develop Recipes: Our Process

by | Apr 1, 2021 | Nutrition, Promotion, RD Careers

Recipes are one of the most useful tools nutrition and wellness brands can provide to their customers and they’re always a fan favorite.

Whether a recipe is used to highlight a seasonal ingredient, product, or meet certain nutritional or diet criteria, recipes help customers understand the possibilities and value that a product or brand offers. A recipe that prompts a customer to exclaim “I’ve got to try that!” is a genius marketing tool that sparks inspiration to use your product or service.

Whether you want to publish recipes on a blog, share a weekly recipe with your email subscribers, or create a recipe e-book, you need well written recipes that produce consistent results.

How to hire a recipe developer

The importance of recipe development

Once you understand the importance of sharing recipes with customers, you have to think about how to develop those recipes.

There are a lot of potential barriers to creating good recipes, with lack of time, space, and culinary skills being the most common. This is why hiring a dedicated recipe developer, like the ones on our team, to execute menu and recipe development is invaluable. 

We understand the process and importance of creating recipes that not only look and taste great, but also deliver the message that you, as the brand, want to showcase to your customers.

Recipes may seem intuitive and commonplace to write since everyone eats. But there’s a lot of behind the scenes research and work that goes into writing a great recipe that delivers on taste, convenience, cooking know-how, and nutrition—or all of the above!

Here’s a walkthrough of what’s involved in our recipe development process.

How to develop recipes

For us, the process of developing a recipe begins with an idea. Our inspiration can come from anywhere, whether it be an ingredient that’s in season, a style of eating or type of diet, holiday or special occasion, or a traditional recipe that’s in need of a flavor or nutrition makeover. 

Once we have a general idea for what recipe we’d like to make, the research begins. We might research ingredients and cooking techniques native to a traditional dish or cuisine, what equipment is needed, and/or study the best flavor and texture pairings for certain ingredients.

The next step is to draft the initial recipe with an ingredient list, estimated ingredient amounts, and the steps involved in preparing and cooking. 

Then it’s time to gather the ingredients and hit the kitchen to give the recipe it’s first run through. The initial recipe acts as an outline and will be modified and edited as needed. 

As recipe developers we are constantly assessing the taste, colors, and textures of a recipe as we test it and make adjustments to the amount of ingredients and cooking time as we go.

Other information that is usually added to a final recipe include the amount of prep and cook time required, the number of servings, nutrition information per serving, tips for how to garnish and serve the dish, and how to store leftovers.

Frequently, we rely on recruits (usually friends, family, or coworkers) to taste the recipe and provide feedback. If the recipe isn’t quite right, it’s back to the drawing board where they’ll review notes and tasters’ feedback and remake the recipe with a few changes.

Sometimes a recipe turns out perfectly on the first try, but most recipes need to be made more than once to ensure the recipe works. Testing a recipe multiple times is critical to produce a final recipe that is consistent, delicious and useful to the final user.

Importance of food photography

The importance of photographing a recipe

Recipes are more valuable when they’re accompanied by original photography. 

The best way to understand the importance of food and recipe photography lies in the old saying “you eat first with your eyes.”

Imagine flipping through the pages of a cookbook with very few photographs versus a cookbook that features a full-color photo of each prepared dish. Which book is more eye-catching, enjoyable to read, and more likely to make you think “I need to make that”?

Of course, the answer is the book loaded with photographs!

You can have a great recipe that the world needs to know about, but without photos, readers won’t have as clear of an understanding of where that recipe will take them. 

Photographing food and recipes is its own art form. The goal of crafting a beautiful recipe photograph is to make the viewer imagine what it’s like to sit down and eat that food.

The process begins with setting the scene. We start by selecting backdrops or a shoot location and then style the food so it’s aesthetically pleasing and appetizing.

Food styling highlights the most important visual elements of a dish like freshness of the ingredients, colors, and textures. It involves choosing dishes, bowls, glasses, utensils, linens, other props and details, and garnishing the final dish to tell the story of a recipe.

Many recipe photos feature the finished dish, but action shots of ingredients being prepped and the steps involved in cooking and assembling a recipe help provide visual instructions to pair with the written steps. 

Of course, photography is a skill that requires specialized equipment including cameras, lenses, and editing software. If you don’t have access to these tools, hiring a freelance photographer can produce professional food photos to publish along with your recipes.

Recipe Development and Photography Services 

Not all recipe developers also offer food photography services, but our team of registered dietitians are a one stop shop for recipe development. We offer both recipe development services and food and recipe photography.

I am the primary freelance recipe developer and photographer on our team. I am available to help nutrition and wellness brands brainstorm and bring original recipes to life, provide nutrition analysis for new or existing recipes, and style and photograph the finished product.

If you’re ready to offer valuable recipe content to your customers, connect with us today for a quote. We’d love to work with you!


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