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Design Matters (4): a recipe for trouble

How you prefer recipes to be organised is probably a matter of taste, but there seem to be a lot of badly designed ones out there.

I suppose the information architecture of a recipe depends a bit on how you’re going to use it. Is it primarily a shopping list or a guide to how to cook something? (clue here)


No marks for random arrangements of ingredients.
Quarter marks for arranging ingredients alphabetically, by colour or quantity – at least you tried.
Half marks for a categorisation by fresh / dry / dairy etc – you tried and had a reason that made sense.
Full marks for arranging ingredients in procedural order, so that (say) if you mix wet and dry ingredients separately they are grouped accordingly.


Nigella’s American Pancakes: no marks.
BBC Good Food Chili Con Carne: full marks.
Fucshia Dunlop’s Fish Fragrant Aubergines: full marks.
Delia Smith’s Irish Stew with Parsley Dumplings: full marks.
Nigel Slater’s recipe for brown basmati, courgettes and tomatoes: three-quarter marks (no recipe list, good order).
All Recipes Carrot Cake: full marks.
Ottolenghi Slow-Cooked Chicken with a Crisp Corn Crust: full marks.
BBC’s Madhur Jaffrey’s Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding): no marks.
Jamie Oliver’s Scruffy Aubergine Lasagne: full marks.


Reports of terrible recipe information architecture have been greatly exaggerated. Internet, I have wronged you.

Nigella and the BBC should feel free to justify their decisions in the comments.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...