The Evolution of a Dish:

What Are the Components of a Well Written Recipe? 4 Tips for Chefs

Creating a culture of competency means giving your staff the tools they need to succeed. In the recipe training world, this means having a recipe that has all essential information baked in from the very beginning. The last thing you want as a chef is for your crew to be confused and have to ask you (or each other) the same question over and over again. 

Let’s take a look at the key components of a well-written recipe.

TL;DR  When writing a recipe, make sure it has:

✔️ Units Of Measure
Be specific by using measurable units like grams or cups instead of subjective units like slice, cube or piece.

✔️ Consistent Language
Write your ingredients and methods the same way every time.

✔️ Prep-Action Details
Say whether you’re chopping, slicing, etc. in your ingredient list.

✔️Pictures and Videos
Add visuals to your prep steps to improve training time and consistency.

Tip #1: A well written recipe has specific units of measure

When writing recipes for your back of house staff, it's very helpful to have quantities and units of measure in your recipes. These need to be as specific as possible while simultaneously being sensitive to the culture of the kitchen. For example,  if you only have one digital scale for your whole team, you might want to add a note that 120g diced onion is “about one medium onion.”

Why is having both important? Say you’ve peeled and chopped an onion that weighs 100 grams but the recipe calls for 120 grams. Instead of peeling another onion and cutting off 20 grams worth, it would be nice to let your cooks know that the quantity is approximate and those 20mg of onion aren’t going to make or break the dish. On the flip side, if you only have one jumbo 250-gram onion available, your cook will know how much to account for when chopping the ingredient. They won’t simply replace a medium onion with a jumbo one in the recipe. 

If you have specific units of measure and fabrication details (see below), converting to different units is significantly easier. In meez, simply select which unit of measure you’d like to use and watch the conversion math happen instantly. 

Tip #2: A well written recipe includes prep actions (ingredients fabrication)

If you want to accurately convert an ingredient from grams to cups, or any other measurement, it’s important to include fabrication details in both your ingredient list and prep actions.

If you only say “sliced onions” in your prep instructions, but the ingredient list just says “5lb onion,” your cooks may not know if they should slice the onion before or after weighing. Including fabrication in your ingredient list will help them get their mise en place ready to go.

While reading the recipe all the way through before you start is important, it doesn’t always happen. Your cook should be able to treat your recipe like a shopping list and a prep list at the same time. In meez, adding prep actions (ingredient fabrication) to your ingredient list is as simple as typing up your ingredient name. Our built-in ingredient database contains hundreds of pre-defined prep actions for the most common produce, such as peeling, chopping and trimming. 

Tip #3: A well written recipe is consistent with ingredient naming

Don’t mix and match nomenclature or ingredient names for the same ingredient. This is confusing for new cooks or staff whose first language isn’t English. 

For example, someone might not automatically know the difference between a thumbelina carrot and danvers carrot and accidentally grab the wrong ingredient. If you say “thumbelina carrot” the first time in a recipe, always refer to it as thumbelina carrot in your prep steps or sub-recipes. 

Being consistent also means giving everyone on your team access to all important training docs. From food safety training to kitchen rules and scoop charts, meez centralizes this information alongside your recipes so onboarding new kitchen staff is easier than ever. 

When writing recipes, you need to come from a place of empathy and consider how something could be misinterpreted by one cook versus another. Inconsistent language can also give you trouble down the line when you’re trying to cost a recipe. It might take a while to figure out which ingredient you’re buying. 

Sarah Hassler
Director of Customer Success and Support, meez

Learn more about recipe costing and meez.

Tip #4 - A well written recipe has pictures and/or videos

A picture (or video) is worth a thousand words when you’re talking about recipes. One of the most resource-intensive parts of recipe training is just showing people what a dish should look like when it's done right.

If you have a specific recipe requirement, whether it’s related to plating, portioning, ingredient spec, or something else, being able to put a picture or video in front of someone is a huge training advantage. Your staff can revisit it as often as they need.

When you’re developing a recipe, take pictures as you go through the different prep steps. Then add them to your recipe however you can. Having pictures and videos added to every prep step can improve training time and consistency. That's why we’ve made it easy to upload your own videos and photos in meez. We want your recipes to train your team so you can focus on other things.

“I love how you can enter videos into the prep method… For us it’s really valuable if we’re trying to show someone how to top a cookie. When I say a “drizzle” I know exactly what I mean, but you might mean it’s something different. meez allows the recipe to show the exact technique.”

Steph Sellers

Founder @ Cookies & Dreams

⭐Bonus Tip: How to Introduce New Menu Items 

For a lot of chefs, introducing new menu items happens right before service starts or when the first order comes in. To train your staff on a new item, be clear and literal about the quantity of each ingredient or sub-recipe on the plate because it's really easy to over or under-serve. Be descriptive about flavor and seasoning beyond phrases like “well-seasoned” since it varies from person to person.

You must focus on the plate itself and pass long assembly instructions so your staff knows what a dish looks like in the end. Nobody has a scale on the line. They’re not weighing out how many grams of roast turnips or how many ounces of mashed potatoes.

To successfully roll out new menu items, you have to build a foundation with your team. A lot of new menu items are just variations of old ones. All you have to do is pull out the old recipe and say “use this protein and this sauce” instead. Being able to refer back to recipes that are already documented, and that your team has already executed, is a real advantage.

Let meez transform your recipes into interactive training materials. 

While labor shortage continues to be a top challenge for the restaurant industry, one way to combat this is by standardizing your recipe training process with meez. Our digital recipe tool empowers your team to master your recipes quicker, saving you both time and money.

With meez, you can:

  • Add videos and photos to your recipe to avoid misinterpretations of instructions
  • Keep important documents organized and accessible to your team at all times
  • Improve execution by writing recipes in a familiar easy-to-follow format
  • Stop wasting time and let your recipes train the kitchen staff for you

Want unlimited recipes & recipe books, scaling, prep steps, built-in yields, and more?

Want unlimited recipes & recipe books, scaling, prep steps, built-in yields, and more?

Sign up for a FREE meez account or book a demo today.