How to sell recipes: An in-depth guide
Thinking about selling your recipe? Our guide covers how to sell recipes online and to companies, including:
- Deciding on where you’re selling: Online or to Companies
- How to create a recipe to sell online
- Where to sell your recipe online
- How to create a recipe to sell to companies
- How to sell your recipe to companies
- Legalities about selling recipes
- Marketing your recipes
If you ever felt that the world needed to try your grandma’s cookie recipe or think your version of BBQ sauce will take over the market, then maybe you should look into selling your recipe.
With more people at home because of the pandemic, there has been an increase in cooking and baking at home, in fact, a 54% increase and 46% increase, respectively.
This group wants to relieve boredom, try something new, and treat themselves to something delicious at the same time. A great audience for you!
By putting your delicious ideas out there for anyone to make, you’ll not only make money from your recipes, but depending on the route you take, you’ll also have an opportunity to create passive income, give your name authority in the food space if you’re a budding chef, and maybe even make your family name famous. (Just FYI – that last one is outside of the scope of this guide.)
Let’s get started!
Sell Recipes for Money
Can you make money selling recipes?
This is an easy answer: yes, you can.
How much do recipes sell for?
So here’s where it gets tricky to answer. It depends on where and how you get it published.
If you’re trying to sell your recipe as a one-time thing such as selling to a blog or through winning a recipe contest, it can fetch anything from $5 to $5000. (These numbers are only guidelines, it’s possible to find lower and higher prices.)
If you decide to publish your recipe in an ebook recipe collection, sell it through an on-demand interface like Etsy or eBay, or create them for clients as a recipe developer, then the price will still vary but it will likely be higher overall than a one-time sale. The price difference is because you’ve given yourself the opportunity for passive income and/or repeat business. Plus, you’re able to set the price for the recipe and not be at the mercy of someone’s budget.
How to Sell your Recipes
Method 1: Sell Recipes Online
How to Create a Recipe
Not surprisingly, selling your recipe online is the easiest and fastest way to make money. You’re in control of the entire process, from ideation to presentation to pricing.
Step 1: Figure out who you’re selling to
You can go about it in two ways: take a recipe you already have and tweak it or create a new recipe based on market trends for your targeted audience or company.
The former is probably what you’ll do if you just want to sell grandma’s cookie recipe and the latter might be more what you’re doing if you think BBQ sauce is a hot item in the market currently and want to sell it on eBay.
Tip: Discover growing recipe trends by using Google Trends. Just look at the overall growing interest in plant-based diets in the US over the past 10 years!
(August 2010 – September 2020)
Step 2: Create the recipe (if you don’t already have one)
General steps to create a recipe:
- Find recipes that attract your intended audience
- Take note of what changes you think would work like:
- Changing quantities
- Changing ingredients
- Changing cooking/baking methods
- Tip: Invite friends and family as taste-testers
Step 3: Test test test!
This is the most important part: ask friends, family, and strangers in your targeted audience to try it out!
This applies to grandma’s recipe as much as the one you created yourself.
And keep going until you have consistent results.
If the directions aren’t clear, if the test chef gets confused with the measurements, or if you’re asking a beginner to do something that requires more experience, your recipe will most likely fail or not get taken seriously.
Here are some other basic points to cover…
- Consistent cooking measurements in imperial or metric (or conversions to do both, depending on your targeted audience)
- The number of servings and estimated cooking time
- If some of your ingredients are hard to find, offer suggestions for substitutions
- Clear and precise language (Tip: if you’re not already, get familiar with the vocabulary by reading through other similar recipes)
- Beautiful food photography to show the process and the final product
How to Create a Meal Plan
It might not be the first idea you go to when you’re thinking of recipes, but meal plans are pre-packaged collections of recipes focused on a fitness goal or type of cuisine.
Because you have a target audience already in place, selling meal plans to sell your recipes could be another great way to make money consistently.
Think about it – weekly meal plans equals weekly income. Or however often you want to schedule it.
Step 1: Figure out who you’re selling to
Just like if you were to create a recipe, you need to figure out who you want to buy your meal plans.
Again, check out Google Trends, similar bloggers, or food websites that sell meal plans in the niche you’re thinking about. Or to look at it from the other direction — what kinds of meal plans is your audience interested in?
Step 2: Create the meal plan
- Determine the ideal schedule. Week-long plan? Month-long?
- Gather recipes that fit that theme and length of time
- Tip: You can also use those recipes as inspiration to create your own (see “How to Create a Recipe” above).
- Arrange the recipes according to the schedule
- Tip: Don’t forget to leave room for leftovers!
- Organize the shopping list so you have the ingredients to cover all meals
Step 3: Try and Test
Test it with yourself and others to see what works and what doesn’t.
Make notes of what’s confusing for people, where you might have miscalculated the shopping list, or if your portion size isn’t quite right yet.
Again, keep testing until you’re satisfied with the meal quality, user feedback, and consistency of results.
Other basic points to include…
- List how many meals you’ll cover
- Serving size – Does it feed a family of four? One person only?
- List the groceries required
- Estimated budget
- Estimated time need for preparation
- Everything in the “How to Create Recipes” list above
How to Sell Your Recipes and Meal Plans Online
Part 1: Do you want to publish your recipes?
If you’re trying to make money from your recipe then once you have your recipe or meal plan ready, it’s time to look into how to publish them.
There are two basic ways: ebooks and books.
The beauty of selling recipe ebooks is that you’re not limited by physical resources and your reach can be as big as you want it to be. It’s also easy to update and adjust.
Like any ebook, you’ll need to wear a few different hats or outsource to someone else that will do it better than you.
For a recipe ebook, you’ll need:
- Food Tester
- Photo Editor
- Designer (for the layout and the cover)
[If you want more details, we have a guide covering all the steps to how to write an ebook.]
Depending on how much work you want to put in, your recipe ebook can be a simple, straightforward three-page file (typically a PDF) or something that could rival a physical cookbook in scope and design.
And speaking of cookbooks…
With a real book of recipes in your hand, if you splash a little oil, there’s no moisture damage to worry about. If you look away for longer than a few minutes, you don’t need to think about how to get the screen back on again.
To make a recipe book, the list of tasks from the recipe ebook section still applies; you’ll need to cover the same responsibilities. But now you’ll also need to figure out how to print them and how to handle distribution.
There is the traditional route of getting a publisher, but it’s typically a time-consuming process and the financial payoff may not be worth the wait.
You also can go the self-publishing route, using online printers to do the job for you. Keep an eye on the fees – because they’re using their own resources to print your recipe book, you’ll get charged somehow, either through a percentage of your price or another way.
Part 2: Where do you want to sell your recipes and meal plans online?
There are lots of ways to sell your recipe! Here are some ideas:
- Your own blog/website
- Other food blogs
- Social media
- Recipe websites
- Food magazines and other publications
- Freelancing gigs (Fivver, Upwork, etc)
- Online marketplaces (Etsy, eBay, etc)
- Publishing ebook recipe collection
- Recipe contest
- Patreon membership
Let’s talk about the most likely ways that you’ll make money selling recipes online: selling it on your own blog/website and social media.
By selling it on your website, you get to dictate the text and photos you want to promote your products. You can market your recipe or meal plan wherever you’d like.
By selling it through social media, your existing photos and posts are already sharing your personality and style. You just need to add a way for people to buy your product from someone they already follow.
For both cases, you can set the price of your recipe ebook or book to whatever you want, with hardly any overhead fees, especially if you use Payhip.
With Payhip, you don’t need to learn any coding to sell your ebook or individual recipe on your website. Just embed buttons that link to your Payhip store or add pages of specific products to your website. (There are also integrations for Squarespace and WordPress users!)
Your Payhip store can also act as your website if you don’t have one yet!
The service handles the entire payment process including the checkout page, stock amount, storing customer information, and sending the bought files immediately to their inbox.
It’s a favorite among recipe ebook creators.
For instance, Tess Begg, an Australian fitness enthusiast offers vegan-focused recipe ebooks for as low as AU0+. But how does she make money? That is Tess’s brilliant way of marketing; she knows that she’ll get interested, but probably hesitant customers to download her free ebook first, ‘Vegan Shopping Kit’. Once they see how delicious and easy it is to use, they’ll probably want more recipes and she has two, higher-priced ebooks to satisfy their needs.
Lissa, a lover of the raw vegan diet, takes a slightly different approach. She’s connected her website, Raw Food Romance, to her Payhip store, customizing her the page as she wants. Since the page is a part of her website, her customer’s journey from discovery to payment is seamless.
There’s also Bianca Lixandru who’s selling her ebooks by sharing her Payhip store on her Instagram. She even has two versions of Bianca’s Delicious Protein Cookbook: English and Romanian!
Method 2: Sell Your Recipe to a Company
How to Create a Recipe to Sell to a Company
Companies are obviously a different market to sell to than the public whether that’s in-person or online. Food manufacturers, food brands, restaurants, and restaurant chains have reputations to uphold, marketing plans to follow, and a lot more people you’ll need to impress.
Be smart about how you create your recipe.
Quick steps to create a recipe to sell to companies:
- Figure out who you’re selling to and what they’re looking for
- Research recipes that could work for the company (skip this if you know they’ll be interested in your grandma’s cookie recipe)
- Adjust the ingredients, quantities, and baking/cooking methods to better align with the company’s requirements
- Taste test
- Test the actual recipe to make sure the instructions are clear
- Figure out your preferred selling price
Here are two aspects to keep in mind when you’re creating a recipe to sell to companies:
Their audience and what that audience likes to eat
If you’re creating a recipe specifically for a company, you need to familiarize yourself with who their audience is and what they tend to like.
Is it 10-minute ready dinners for the overworked college student? Or is it family-style vegan meals that all ages will enjoy?
How your recipe stands out from others
Then, what makes your recipe special?
Companies are drawn to recipes that will be attractive to their audience, so if it’s great for people following a certain popular diet or maybe only needs four simple ingredients, make sure they understand that!
How to Sell Recipes to Companies, Food Manufacturers, and Restaurants
Step 1: Widen Your Net
Keeping in mind the targeted audience of your recipe, take some time to brainstorm other companies and restaurants that might be interested in your special creation.
As much as we’re rooting for you to close the deal with your first choice, you’ll need to think of alternative options, just in case. (And, best case, maybe you can create a little bidding war.)
Step 2: Add Your Credentials
No matter if you’re trying to sell your recipe to a brand or restaurant, you need to show them that you know what you’re doing.
Along with your recipe, include relevant food background information like if you went to culinary school, have a degree in nutrition or other food-related fields, or have food service experience.
Step 3: Wrap It All Up and Send
From there, create a presentation that includes your recipe, your profile, and great photos of the finished products. Then go down your list of companies and send it out! Good luck!
Patents/Legal Aspects of Selling Recipes Online
Because we’re dealing with intellectual property, there are going to be legal aspects to selling recipes and meal plans.
Whether you’re selling to online outlets or if your services are for hire, make sure you’re clear on the rights of your text and photos and any royalties or commission.
If you’re selling on your website, this part is much easier — you just have to be clear with the customer about what they can or cannot do with your recipe.
Can you copyright recipes?
For copyrighting recipes in the US, you can copyright provided it fits their criteria. According to the US Copyright office, as long as your recipe is more than just a list of ingredients and contains “substantial literary expression”, in other words, how you explain the directions, then you can.
This copyright ruling will probably vary with other countries, so please check with a local lawyer to understand how it works where you live.
Can you patent recipes?
For the US, the quick answer is yes, you can patent a recipe.
The long answer, however, is that your recipe has to fit some specific criteria to qualify. The tricky aspects to prove are that your recipe is “novel” and “nonobvious”. This translates to: “your recipe must have never been made before” and is “not an improvement on something existing”. This will eliminate most recipes.
Since this answer only applies to the US, again you’ll need to talk with a local lawyer or your government’s patent office to understand how it works in your country.
Is it illegal to sell meal plans?
Are you a licensed nutritionist or registered dietitian? If yes, then it’s not illegal.
If you’re a personal trainer, food blogger, or otherwise not a licensed professional, then tread lightly. You’re able to offer general advice (i.e. suggesting more veggies or water into the diet) but you can’t dictate a specific meal plan for an individual.
If you’re just offering recipes and ways to, let’s say, have more of a vegan lifestyle, then that’s fine. If you say your meal plan will help with diabetes, then that’s illegal.
We’re not lawyers so please discuss this with a local lawyer so you have a proper understanding of what you can do.
Marketing Your Recipes
Not surprisingly, marketing your recipes will help you find your audience and potentially increase your sales. The smartest way is to research how similar recipes are shared, and then you can mimic their approach.
Here are some other ideas:
- Share videos of yourself making the recipe on Youtube or Instagram Live
- Join online groups for other recipe makers and food lovers
- Facebook Groups
- Provide free recipes on recipe websites or other food blogs
- Provide free chapters of your recipe ebook
- Newsletter of recipe highlights based on a specific niche
Don’t forget to involve great photos of your finished dishes since it’s the first point of attraction for many curious readers.
The name of your dish or recipe collection is important too – pick something that is unique but obvious upon reading. You don’t want to alienate your audience!
Ready to Start Cooking?
Whether you’re trying to sell your recipe to a company, restaurant, or just want to make money selling your recipes online, we hope you now have a good understanding of how to start your journey.
To recap, we covered…
- Why now is the time to start selling your recipes
- How much money you can make selling recipes
- How to create and sell your recipe online
- How to create and sell your recipe to a company or restaurant
- The legalities of selling recipes and meal plans online
- Tips on how to market your recipe online
If you’re ready for the next step, all you need to do is create a free Payhip account and get started! Time to make money selling recipes!