The Most Common Recipe Errors + How You Can Avoid Making The Same Mistakes

The Most Common Recipe Errors + How You Can Avoid Making The Same Mistakes

Nobody can deny the value of a good recipe. Not only should the outcome turn out great - the process is just as important, and hence: the importance of properly writing your recipes.

If you're a Nutrition Professional and share your own recipes, the following tips and tricks are essential to your success.


Don't take our word for it - listen to Marlene Koch, a registered dietitian, popular TV personality and best-selling author who delivers good health with great taste with her incredible-tasting recipes!

Marlene's recipes aren't only healthy and delicious - they work, and are easy to follow to replicate. She certainly knows a thing or two about how to write a recipe that has the power to be your claim to fame, and she summarized it all at this year's Today's Dietitian Spring Symposium in Austin, Texas.

Here's what you need to know...

Well Written Recipes Are:

  • Clear 

  • Complete

  • Accurate

  • Reproducable

The Most Common Recipe Mistakes Include:

  • Ingredients out of order: they should be written in the order they are called for in the recipe instructions.

  • Missing ingredients.

  • Not specific enough: for instance, when using produce, state the size of the item (e.g. large onion) and also give an additional measure reference if necessary (e.g. 3/4 cup chopped).

  • Lack of consistency: if gluten-free oats are called for in one part of the recipe and then just "oats" in another, you will confuse your readers!

  • Specifying unnecessary types of ingredients: for example, if it's not crucial that the oranges in the recipe are organic - do not list "organic oranges"!

  • Errors in spelling and punctuation. Marlene suggests hiring a professional via Upwork, to get help editing your recipes (especially if they'll be going out to a magazine or other famous publication!).

  • Recipe method not separated by either numbered steps OR paragraphs by groups of actions. This can end up looking like a cluttered (& overwhelming!) mess for your readers.

Okay, enough with the can you be sure to avoid all of the above?!

Marlene's 8 Best Resources for Recipe Writing Done Right:

  1. A recipe style guide or style sheet. (

  2. A standardized recipe test form.

  3. Cooking terminology references. (

  4. Grocery store websites.

  5. Quality nutrition software. (

  6. A list of descriptive words for foods.

  7. Handy yields and equivalents and food substitution references. (Resnick L, Brock D. Food FAQs: Substitutions, Yields & Equivalents. Tyler, Texas: FAQs Press; 2003.)

  8. The best tool? Empathy. Imagine yourself in your reader's place.

A final note; Marlene claims that "nutritional information is paramount" and that she even sells more because of it.

"It's a bit like showing your panties", she laughs. "When you include the nutritional data of the recipe, there's officially nothing to hide - whereas others might prefer to wear Spanx!".

There was lots of intrigue from the dietitian audience at Marlene's talk about software they could use to easily and quickly produce the full scientific nutritional analysis of their recipes...and I wanted to jump up and scream: MEAL GARDEN

While Marlene mentioned the tool she invested in was upwards of $500 (although it ended up paying for itself due to the success of her cookbook) - there are indeed less expensive and just as accurate (and dare I say much easier) tools available. The obvious one being Meal Garden Professional, which allows you to either upload or import your recipe, or create it directly inside the platform - either way the health algorithm is automatic and at your service.

So I, like Marlene, invite you to write recipes right - and show your panties!

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