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How to Sell a Recipe

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If you spend almost as much time perfecting your recipes as other people do earning money in their careers, it might be time to stop giving away your best recipe ideas and start selling them. Although not everyone can become the next celebrity chef, your cooking knowledge might just pay for the knife set you've been eyeing for the past year. As you hone your recipe writing and selling skills and reputation, your income can grow to a living wage.

Perfect Your Recipes

When you market recipes, your product is not food, but words. Test the actual recipes, not just the food you cook, on your friends and family, by watching silently while someone else tries to follow your written directions. Before you send out a recipe to a potential buyer, edit carefully for grammar, spelling and style, making sure you follow the potential buyer's measurement systems and recommended abbreviations. A misplaced comma is as fatal to a written recipe as an extra tablespoon of salt is to a cake.

Money-Making Ingredients

Food-manufacturing companies buy recipes that use their products. Visit food company websites to find brand-specific recipe contests and other opportunities. For example, if you enjoy Italian cooking, you might develop a series of recipes using a specific brand of pasta sauce for sale to the company that makes that sauce. Manufacturer-sponsored recipe contests are another source of brand-specific recipe sales.

Develop Your Credentials

The better your credentials, the more likely people are to buy your recipes. Obtaining a culinary arts degree, taking classes from well-known chefs, working in a restaurant or other food preparation industry or having a popular food blog can all build your credibility.

Find Your Niche

The most successful food writers specialize. Julia Child, one of the earliest celebrity chefs, popularized French home cooking to an American audience. Emeril Lagasse creates delectable Cajun dishes. While Jamie Oliver is known for healthy cooking, Paula Deen emphasizes traditional country cooking. Whether you focus on low-cost family meals or gourmet catering, meals for vegans or cooking the deer you hunt, what matters is marketing the right recipe to the right audience.

Types of Markets

Recipes are everywhere. You can sell recipes to websites, magazines or book publishers. Some recipes are printed on food packaging and others are available in ebooks. You can start your own cooking blog or contribute to existing blogs. Many general lifestyle magazines, newspapers and websites buy recipes, or you can contribute to specialized food or recipe venues. You can break into smaller local publications or specialized websites, where you are competing with fewer other writers to build your reputation.


Carol Poster began writing professionally in 1974. Her articles have appeared in "Outdoor Woman," "Paddler," "Ski Magazine," "Women's Sports & Fitness," "Dance News," "Show Business," "The Athenian," "PC Resource" and "Utah Holiday," among other publications. Poster holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from Eastern Washington University, as well as a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri.

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