Recipe Detail – How Much is Enough?


I was making my buttermilk waffles the other day and I started thinking about how different recipes are written. Some lay out absolutely every step, down to getting out bowls and utensils. Others assume you know how to do everything and just give you bare bone instructions. And most are somewhere in between.


I like to write detailed recipes, without talking down to the reader, but I wonder how much is too much? Or how much is enough? For instance, in my recipe for waffles I call for melted butter in the ingredients, as well as separated eggs. I assume you know how to do both of those things and you will do them as you are gathering your ingredients.


I go into greater detail with some recipes, especially ones where doing certain prep steps in a certain order makes things easier, or helps with timing. I include more steps and hints with things that everyone might not be familiar with, like yeast dough or pie crust.

Which do you prefer – details galore, or just the basics?

14 thoughts on “Recipe Detail – How Much is Enough?

  1. I’d prefer somewhere in between. Because that’s probably how I write. While I do not really mention how to’s for the common techniques, I do mention how to’s for unique techniques like may be how to braid the challah or making the right kind of batter for something unique. Nowadays I am trying to post more pictures that are relevant hoping it will help in some way

  2. That’s a very relevant question you’ve raised. When I started blogging, I did not even know that you had to list ingredients in the order they are used in the recipe.
    I think you need to find a happy medium. For others who might not know say, how to sieve flour, there’s Google!

  3. Of course it all depends who is looking at your blog. An inexperienced baker might want complete instructions. So if you want to appeal to more people , I think you need to be as detailed as possible.

    • I find the details so helpful. I think I kind of figure that those who are really experienced in the kitchen will just scan the directions and use them for reference, if at all. But I want the directions to be detailed for those that need them.

  4. I think it’s best to usually go with somewhere in between. I’m like you when I post recipes, I assume that for the simple things (melting butter, etc.) that those things need no explanation. However, like you, if I feel that something may need to be more detailed or if I have any special tips I like to toss them in. I think I got lazy somewhere along the line and stopped telling people simple things like to wash their vegetables. I hoped that common sense would speak for itself, haha.

    • You do always hope that common sense will prevail. I think the line is what is common sense and second nature and what is learned from experience in the kitchen? I would rather include too many details and instructions than not enough.

      • I agree with you there; all too often what many of us consider common sense are actually things that we may have learned through experience. 🙂

  5. Id prefer a detail recipe. If I could make a suggestion, if you are repeating lots of the basics you could have a definition page to refer us readers to. Or a link to a technique…

  6. i can say without a doubt i’m the WORST person to weigh in on this. 🙂 As you well know, i tend to ramble in recipes on the blog, b/c i add in any troubleshooting tips and probably write from the perspective that although most people would know the basics, perhaps some do not, because i truly have no idea about the majority of people who read the blog. I know more often than not when i was learning to cook, i had to google things like “how to toast walnuts” or “how to melt chocolate” so i don’t mind a little tutorializing in recipes: i think it’s helpful and i STILL gather new tricks from it when others do it.
    but that’s when i’m writing for something online, b/c i have unlimited space. I’d say if you’re writing for eventual print publication, or you are writing for what you know to be an audience who’s had experience cooking/baking? less words = better. but i’ve had to really practice doing that with recipes because it’s not easy to go from one style to the other, and i’m more comfortable with long-winded versus straight to the point.

    *sigh* which, ummm…made itself even more obvious with this comment. 🙂

    • Shannon, you aren’t the worst person to comment! Thanks for your perspective. I do appreciate the detail in your recipes and in your posts. You cover all the bases and anyone, novice or expert, can know they will be able to make your recipes and have them turn out well. I asked the question, but I like to err on the side of too many details and tips rather than not enough. I know that expert cooks and bakers can skip past the details they don’t need and that novices will appreciate the tips.

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