Cookbooks are one of those things that, theoretically, the Internet could have done away with. Sharing and searching recipes online is incredibly easy—if I want to cook something my go-to resource is Google. Luckily, even with an endless supply of recipes online, cookbooks are as popular as ever. Possibly even more so.
The simple reason is that we can now compile recipes to share something unique—whether that means a carb-counting cookbook for dieters or a collection of Grandma’s pie recipes as a holiday gift. The lynchpin for these new kinds of cookbooks is, you probably guessed it, print-on-demand!
Historically, cookbooks have been expensive, artfully designed books that only a specific niche of publishers handled. No longer! Print-on-demand allows you to create your cookbook however you’d like and have it printed in whatever quantity you need.
Being able to create and print just one copy of any book opens up a lot of possibilities. That versatility (and minimal investment) makes it possible to create and sell cookbooks like never before. In fact, the only thing that is holding any of us back from creating a cookbook (aside from having the recipes) is understanding how to lay out a cookbook.
Luckily, that’s what we’re all about today!
Make Your Own Cookbook
Cookbook layouts can be complicated, but we’ve created some templates for Adobe InDesign or Affinity Publisher to help you design.
Before we start laying out your cookbook, we need to gather all the necessary ingredients right?
Unlike the many recipes you find online, our recipe for a cookbook is just the ingredients and instructions, along with a little encouragement to spice it up. I’m not a fan of scrolling through someone’s life story just to find out what temperature to cook tamales at, are you?
Recipe for Creating a Cookbook
Start with the recipes! Gather together your chosen recipes. I suggest at least 20 to make a decent-length cookbook, but since this is all print-on-demand, it’s entirely up to you!
Remember that you’ll want to allow at least 2 pages for each recipe. Most likely one page with the picture of the finished meal and maybe a nice little backstory (keep it short!). Then another page or more with the ingredients and instructions. Flavor to taste with various family favorites. Be sure to either stick to a theme (The Smith Family Breakfast Extravaganza) or provide a nice balance of recipes: 5 appetizers, 8 main courses, 10 sides, 4 desserts, etc…
One super important rule: if this cookbook will be a gift for family members, make sure you get all the important family recipes in there. You do not want to face a family dinner after forgetting to put your Aunt’s famous souffle in the family cookbook. Trust me, it won’t be pretty.
A Recipe For Your Recipes
You’ll need to use an advanced design tool like InDesign or Affinity Publisher. You can lay out a cookbook in MS Word, but I don’t advise it.
We offer templates in three popular sizes for cookbooks:
8.5 x 11 in
7 x 9 in
6 x 9 in
These sizes both work well for full color and are our most common sizes. While I encourage our cookbook creators to stick to these sizes, you can always create your own template.
Add A Generous Helping Of Images
Everyone knows their Grandmother’s apple pie is the best apple pie. Don’t even try to argue with me on this one.
But wouldn’t it be even more awesome if the cookbook immortalizing Grandma’s recipe had a picture of the finished product? Preferably before everyone dives into it. Or even better; you could get a picture of Grandma herself slicing apples or displaying the pie, hot and steaming out of the oven. Give your Gram a shout-out. She deserves it.
Doesn’t that sound delicious?
You got those recipes – probably a combination of handwritten on yellowing paper and email or text messages from your tech savvier family members. And you’ve got pictures of various recipes and family members. Now you just have to fire up the Kitchen Aid™ mixer and blend it all to perfection.
Wait. No. Don’t do that.
My recipe metaphor is getting a bit strained. Do not—I repeat do not—put your Grandma’s Apple Pie recipe into a blender.
Moving on…let’s get into those templates!
8.5 x 11 in
7 x 9 in
6 x 9 in
Using Lulu’s Cookbook Templates
We’re ready to start putting together our cookbook! I suggest typing out all the recipes first using Word or Google Docs. This will allow you to standardize the formatting, fonts, and other text elements. While you can use design software to write out your recipes, I strongly recommend typing it out elsewhere and pasting it into the template.
Pro tip: Once you have your recipe written out, read your instructions and try and make it! You’ll know right away if you missed a step.
Take a minute to get all your digital images together too. Resize them to fit the page. Ideally, each recipe will have an image of the dish and those should be the same dimensions. Get the resolution standardized too (300dpi for print). We really want to be able to see the texture of your Mom’s mashed potatoes.
Put It All Together
You’ve got the recipe and instructions typed out and your images sized. It’s time to make that cookbook!
Here’s a look at the basic spread from our templates:
There it is! As you can see, we’ve included a page for your image. You could make a collage with a few images, but I suggest making the final image sized to fit your page. The last thing you want is for an image to look stretched or grainy!
The second page contains the recipe – title, times, ingredients, back story, and instructions. Our template prefills these sections as you see in the image above, but since it’s just a template you’re free to rearrange the elements however you like.
As an example, I used Affinity Publisher and the template to create a sample. I moved the elements around to make a recipe page for my favorite white bread recipe:
I used stock images for the bread. If I was planning to publish my cookbook, I’d use a picture or two of some real loaves I baked. I also moved the ingredients and prep times to a two-column section and made the instructions wider. I didn’t change the elements, just moved them around on the template page.
The Finishing Touches
Cookbooks make a great book that can be an amazing gift or the perfect product to diversify your revenue. If you have an audience, selling a cookbook can lead to some incredible profits. And thanks to our templates and print-on-demand, using Lulu to create your cookbook is easy and affordable.
Just getting these recipes together and compiling them is an award-winning idea. Your extended family and even friends will love receiving something that reminds them of the meals you’ve shared.
Next time your Mom wants a recipe, don’t let her waste time scrolling through the beautiful rabbit hole that is Pinterest. Instead, take that opportunity to remind her why you’re the favorite child as she flips through the masterpiece you created just for her. Because you’re awesome.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.