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What "Done" Looks Like, and Everything Else to Include in Your Recipe's Instructions

What does “done” look like? The answer to this is the key of every recipe! Whether you’re a stickler for writing down cook times, or just prefer the “poke to know if it’s done” steak test, here’s everything you should include in your recipe’s instructions below!


What are the first steps to take before cooking can begin? These are ideal for anything and everything your reader needs to do before beginning the recipe; steps like allowing butter to reach room temperature or preheating the oven. Check out The Kitchn’s article on everything you should do before turning on the burner!

E.g. Before you begin, preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.


The order of your recipe’s instructions should help, not hinder, the efficiency of cooking it. This means that if your recipe has multiple components (like our community recipe for Pilchards Curry with Dombolo), consider starting with the section that has the longest cook time. The easier it is for your reader to plan, the less time they have to spend idly waiting for each stage to cook.

E.g. While the stew simmers for 30 mins, get started on the dumpling mixture.


Does your oven run hot or cold? The temperature of appliances can vary between brands, but household environmental factors like heat or humidity can also affect the outcome of recipes. This is why it is common for recipes to use high / medium / low temperatures for stovetops, as a #4 on your stove might be someone else’s #6. CNET wrote a great article on how to test how hot your oven runs using a cheap oven thermometer.

E.g. Fry the eggs in a large frying pan set over medium-high heat. Cover with a lid and reduce to medium heat until the whites are cooked.


Time indicators are great to give your reader a rough idea of how long to wait or when to plan to start. Adding prep and cook times at the start of your recipe is optional, but we encourage including timings in the instructions as a guide. Remember: timings may differ depending on the temperature output of the cooking appliance or the reader’s skill level.

E.g. Cook the steak on one side until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side, another 3-5 minutes.


You should always provide visual cues in your instructions to show what “done” looks like, as that can be more reliable than exact times. It takes into account differences in temperature and the volume of the food your reader is cooking.

E.g. Char the bell pepper over the flame until it begins to blister and turn black.

Do you have any other tips for how to write a recipe? Share them with us on our socials, and tag us with #MyJikoni to join our growing community of recipe creators!


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