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How to Test Cookbook Recipes

Having solid recipes in your book is critical to making readers happy and gaining good reviews. Recipe testing is a crucial part of this process.

Who Should Test

There are many ways to handle recipe testing, starting with testing your own recipes, and moving through recruiting friends, family and readers up through using professional recipe testers. Most recipes are tested at least once by the writer of the recipe and then by at least one other person to double check they work as desired.

Testing Yourself

It's always a good idea to test your own recipes at least once before asking other people to test them. It's easy to have a typo in the ingredients or leave out a step that you don't notice before you test it.

Having Others Test

When you are having other people test your recipes it is best to have people that are in your target audience (your avatars) testing your recipes. This way the knowledge and skills of your testers will coincide with the knowledge and skills of you readers.

Friends and Family

If they are in your target audience, friends and family are a great source of recipe testers. They are usually happy to help out and give good feedback. You can also do recipe testing together with some friends, it makes a long and sometimes tedious process much more fun.

You can often ask them to test specific recipes, or let them see the draft of your book and pick out recipes that would be of interest to them.

Your Readers

If your cookbook is related to your blog, you can reach out to some of the more visible members of your community to help test recipes. You can usually offer them a free copy of the completed book as payment. This also doubles as a great form of promotion.

Professional Testers

If you want to get real serious about recipe testing you can turn to professional testers. They will be willing to test any recipe you want and give detailed feedback for a price.

General Testing Guidelines

Regardless of who is doing the testing, there are several guidelines to keep in mind to get the most out of your testing.

What to Look For

When recipe testing there are several things you are looking to check.

  • All the ingredients are accounted for in the ingredient list
  • The flavor and seasonings are balanced
  • The directions are clear and easy to follow
  • Any odd ingredients or equipment needed is called out ahead of time
  • The recipe makes as many servings as it said it would
  • The timing works out correctly
  • The food looks and tastes great

Write Down Everything

When testing a recipe you will find things you want to change. Make sure you write down every single change you want to make. It's easy to believe that you will remember the changes, but unless you write them down you will forget some of them. It's very frustrating to go through the testing of a recipe and not remember the tweaks you had wanted to make.

Some people recommend saving all of your testing notes, even after you have updated your recipe. This allows you to go back through your changes and see why you changed the recipe and what it was before you got started.

We provide many recipe testing worksheet templates that you can either use directly or create your own from them.