Creating Safe Recipes: A Hands-On Experience that Teaches Valuable Skills!


In the age of COVID-19 when so much of students’ time is spent online, building recipes is a valuable opportunity for hands-on learning.

Cooking and building safe recipes incorporate math, science, nutrition, and food safety in a real-life setting that allows students to explore their creativity.

Whether you’re helping young cooks develop a recipe or writing your own, the steps are the same to create a delicious, safe recipe.

  • Look for inspiration. This can come from anywhere but can be as simple as adding a unique twist on a favorite dish or using up ingredients in the fridge or pantry.
  • Do some research. Find out what’s out there to get an idea of ingredients, ratios, techniques, times, and temperatures.
  • Decide what makes your recipe different. Maybe it’s making a dairy-free creamy potato soup or incorporating vegetables into traditional shrimp and grits, every cook adds their own special twist.
  • Write it down. Make a list of the ingredients in the order you’ll use them and a basic outline of the steps. Instructions should be clear and begin with action words like chop, stir, whisk, bake, etc.
  • Time to cook! Test and adjust as you go. Add cooking cues, such as “approximately X minutes” or “check when it starts to smell like…”
  • Make one change at a time. Don’t make too many changes at once. Edit your recipe one step at a time.
  • Get creative. A strong finish is important. At the end of the recipe, try a bit of acid like lemon juice, vinegar, or fresh herbs to brighten and enhance flavor.
  • Keep trying! Cooking takes practice. Don’t give up if things didn’t turn out the way you wanted the first time.
  • Add food safety prompts. Be sure to double-check the Safe Recipe Style Guide to make sure you haven’t missed anything!
  • Photo finish! Take a nice photo of your creation so everyone can see your hard work.

Want more tips for inspiring students to create their own recipes? Download the flyer “Inspiring Young Cooks” and check out the Safe Recipe Activity for Middle School Students!

Katie Weston is the Program Manager with the Partnership for Food Safety Education.