Graphic Recipes

As I journey further into recipe development and helping others learn how to cook, I have discovered a few crucial things:

  • Many recipes appear far more complicated than they need to be.
  • Most recipes are very simple (especially when using tools like electric pressure cookers).
  • There is very little consistency around recipe formatting.

I decided to work with a technical writer so we could tackle some of these issues and see if we could come up with a much more user-friendly recipe concept.

It was suggested that most recipes could simply be presented as graphics, and it would still make sense. By using pictures and symbols instead of words, it would be easier to reference actually cooking the recipe.


So we decided to do just that: make recipes using as few words as possible.

Through the process, I also came to realize that this recipe format could be applied to practically any recipe.

This introduction will briefly explain how to properly read these types of recipes. Once you “get it”, you will find that they are easier to follow than traditional recipe formats.

Anatomy of a Recipe

The Ingredients list looks very similar to most, with one big exception – Shapes.

  • Shapes are partnered up with each ingredient
  • Ingredients with the same shape are used at the same time in the recipe

The Tools graphic show which tools are required.

The Storage graphic indicates whether it is possible to store it in the fridge, freezer, or both, as well as how long it will keep.

Directions

This is where things get interesting.

Recipes are designed to use as few words as possible. The key is to follow the graphics instead of reading a list of directions.


Let’s see this in action.

SAMPLE RECIPE #1

Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwich

The best way to learn how to read this new recipe style is to see it in action. Let’s write out the directions as they would be done in a traditional recipe and compare it to the new format.

  1. Place one slice of bread on a plate
  2. Spread jelly on this piece of bread
  3. Now spread peanut butter on bread
  4. Place the other slice of bread on top
  5. Cut the sandwich in half

You can easily follow along with the pictures in the graphical recipe.

SAMPLE RECIPE #2

Chicken Stir Fry

  1. Add oil to wok
  2. Heat wok over medium/high heat until wok is hot
  3. Add chicken pieces and saute until cooked through
  4. Remove chicken to another plate
  5. Add onion to wok and saute until onions are soft
  6. Add carrots and saute until soft
  7. Add garlic, mushrooms and bell peppers and cook until mushrooms and peppers are soft
  8. Add chicken back into the wok
  9. Once combined with the other ingredients serve.

This recipe shows how a new symbol is used – the container symbol. In this format, containers are also treated as ingredients.


The wok has a dedicated symbol and so does the plate used to hold the cooked chicken. This makes it easy to show how a container of ingredients in used in a recipe.

SAMPLE RECIPE #3

Vanilla Custard

Let’s see how this will work with an even more complex recipe – Vanilla Custard

  1. Place milk, sugar, and salt into the electric pressure cooker.
  2. Hit the “Saute” button and select the “Normal” setting.
  3. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  4. Once dissolved, hit “Cancel”.
  5. Pour the milk, sugar and salt into a separate bowl to cool until it is just warm.
  6. In a separate bowl whisk together the 3 eggs.
  7. Slowly drizzle the warm milk mixture into the bowl with the whisked eggs. Add vanilla to this mixture.
  8. Strain the milk-egg mixture twice through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.
  9. Set up pressure cooker by putting 1 Cup of cold water into the bottom. Then add the trivet.
  10. Pour mixture evenly into 4 ramekins. Cover ramekins with aluminum foil. Place ramekins onto trivet inside the electric pressure cooker.
  11. Lock and turn the pressure gauge to “Sealing”
  12. Select “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” and set the timer to 1 minute.
  13. Let the pressure release naturally and do not allow the cooker to hold warm.
  14. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Notice how the electric pressure cooker and the two bowls are represented by shapes, just like ingredients.

Once you get used to reading recipes this way, you will find it much easier than following along than with written directions.

Full Cookbook

Here is a link to the full cookbook in .pdf format.

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