How to Make a Family Recipe Book + 12 Ideas


In the past, it was common for families to store recipes on handwritten cards. They might be scribbled in the pages of a journal or on a family letter. They were usually kept somewhere safe and secure until it was time to pass them down to the next generation. 

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However, this isn’t always practical. Not only are these handwritten recipes easy to misplace, but they don’t always tell the full story. Your family’s recipes are part of your best family stories. They’re a special tradition, reappearing for Sunday dinners, holidays, and birthdays, and they remind you of your loved ones and your cherished memories. 

One way to honor your family tree is by creating a family recipe book of your own. There are so many ways to do this, and you don’t need any complicated skills to get started. Stop trying to recreate favorite recipes from memory and start building on old classics.

Here’s how to get started and some ideas to spark your own cooking creativity.

Steps for Making a Family Recipe Book

If you’ve decided to make a family recipe book of your own, it’s never been easier to do so. With simplified communications and tech tools, gathering your family’s favorite eats in one place is as simple as following these tips below. 

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1. Request your recipes

The first step, of course, is to gather your recipes. To do this, get in touch with your family members and loved ones. Ask them to send you their favorite family recipes. You might limit these to one side of the family, but you might also cast a wider net with more extended relatives. 

Remind your loved ones they aren’t giving up their favorite recipes for good. Let them know you have a special project underway and make sure they get a copy of the completed project.

You can choose to preserve either the original recipe card or handwritten recipe. You might also ask for it to be delivered electronically or typed. There are no right or wrong options as long as you get the recipe you’re looking for! 

This is when you might also consider adding any new recipes. If you have a new favorite recipe that you think makes a good addition to your family story, feel free to include it with the others. Your family’s legacy is always growing and changing, so these recipes don’t always have to stay the same. 

2. Organize your recipes

Next, organize your recipes and make sure you have everything you need. Create a list of ingredients, any optional extras, and special tips. Also include the original source of the recipe (e.g., Grandma Jane or Uncle John). This is all about leaving a legacy

From there, organize the recipes how you’ll want them to appear in your family recipe book. Most cookbooks follow this type of format:

  • Appetizers
  • Soups and salads
  • Entrees
  • Condiments or sides
  • Desserts

However, this is your family’s recipe book. There are no rules. Follow whatever order makes the most sense to you, whether chronologically, by recipe source, or holiday. 

3. Create your family recipe book

Now it's time to actually create the recipe book. Thanks to modern technology, this has never been easier. Here are some of your options, depending on how tech-savvy you are:

  • Scrapbook: If you like scrapbooking, piece together the recipe cards or handwritten recipes. From there, add photos, notes, and decorations to make it special. 
  • Photo album: If you have the original, handwritten recipe cards, these are the perfect addition to a photo album. 
  • Professional prints: There are many drag-and-drop or template cookbook makers online today. For a reasonable fee, they’ll even professionally print your book just like any you’d find in the store. 
  • Website or blog: Finally, for something collaborative and accessible, consider making a blog or website for your family recipes. This can be as simple as a list of recipes on a digital page. Better yet, give the whole family access so they can add their own posts and ideas in the future. 

You can make your family recipe book as complex or as simple as you want. You might add a tribute to a loved one, a family photo, photos of the cooks, or even step-by-step visuals to guide readers through each recipe. 

The more personal, the better. Don’t shy away from leaving personal notes, family sayings, stories, or failed attempts at a family classic. This is all part of the process, and you’re just adding onto your family’s growing tree. With so many questions to ask your family, think of how this book will impact loved ones years from now. 

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4. Share with friends and family

Last but not least, share your completed book with friends and family. This is easiest when you create a professional print or website, but you can still share a handcrafted recipe book as well. Either way, it’s built with love. 

You’d be surprised how many people love these recipe books. They make wonderful, cherished gifts. Perfect for holidays, weddings, and birthdays, this is a family heirloom you’ll want to hold onto for years to come. 

12 Family Recipe Book Ideas

There’s so much room to be creative with your family recipe book. This is your opportunity to tell your family’s story. There’s no reason to worry about more “professional” cookbooks and fitting the status quo. Try these fun family recipe book ideas on for size. 

Cover ideas

The saying might be to never judge a book by its cover, but your cover is actually the first impression. It’s what you see when you first look at your recipe book, so make sure it’s special and meaningful. 

  • Family photo: Of course, the easiest, classic choice is to use a photo of the whole family. 
  • Favorite recipe: If you have any photos of a shining recipe, this is a great place to include it. 
  • Family collage: For those with a collection of photos, particularly vintage and new photos, creating a collage is a gorgeous cover idea. 
  • Your family name: Finally, if you don’t want any photos on the cover, feel free to use your family name. 

Theme ideas

As mentioned above, there are no rules when it comes to this cookbook. Using a theme might help you organize your list of recipes or select which ones you use. You might wish to add to your family recipe book in the future with more collections, so here are some theme ideas.

  • Vintage: If you have recipes from back in the day, put all of these vintage recipes together to walk back in time. 
  • Holiday: Holidays are a time for food and fun. This is where many of the family recipes really shine, so create a collection just for these holiday specials. 
  • New favorites: Not all family recipes go back generations. Dedicate one family cookbook just to new ideas. 
  • Desserts: Who doesn’t love dessert? Create a cookbook just for the best part of every meal. 

Title ideas

Last but not least, include a compelling title. Since this is something you’ll likely just share amongst family members, don’t worry about making it perfect. Here are some ideas to spark your creativity. Family 

  • “Johnson Family Recipes”: The simplest choice is to use your family name as the title. 
  • “Secret Recipes”: For recipes that have long been kept a secret, reveal them once and for all with this title. 
  • “Family Favorites”: Another simple choice is to just label this cookbook as your family favorites. 
  • “Grab a Plate with the Johnsons”: Lastly, get creative by inviting the reader to grab their own plate and pull up to the table. 

Make a Special Cookbook for Your Family

It’s important to cherish your memories with loved ones. To many families, food is a way to share something between generations and keep memories of the past alive. Protect these recipes with a family recipe book you’re all sure to love for years to come. 

Whether you have old classics or new favorites, a family cookbook preserves these memories spent around the table. Complete with handwritten messages, photos, and everything in between, this is more than just a meal to remember. 

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