Create a Family Cookbook

By Diane Haddad Premium


A Helping of History
Food is a key ingredient in any family history—just think about the memories evoked by a taste of Dad’s secret sauce or a whiff of Grandma’s fresh-baked bread. Celebrate those memorable dishes—and the traditions surrounding them—by creating a personalized recipe book.

Ask loved ones to contribute their favorite recipes to gather into an album, then share it at a family gathering. Or make it a special wedding or graduation gift. Here are some tips to get started:


  • Send requests for recipes and information about the book you’re compiling. Ask for memories associated with the dish, such as who it came from and when it was served. Encourage people to get back to you by giving a deadline or asking them to bring the recipe to a family gathering.

  • It might be fun to include a little  extra information about each recipe, such as s what culture it reflects or how it originated (start with the resources below). That’ll help you translate archaic measurements, too.




  • For an easy-to-assemble cookbook format, purchase an album with two 4×6-inch pockets per page, like the one above. Ask each participant to provide a matted photo and recipe card. Put a recipe in one pocket and a photo with journaling in the other.

  • Another option is  to create the book using a digital photo-book service such as Snapfish, Shutterfly or MyCanvas. Depending on the size and type, books usually start around $20 (search online for coupon codes before placing your order).

  • If you plan to make a large number of books, consider a self-publisher such as




  • Don’t forget to create a contents page for easier recipe finding, and a page with a special message from you.



Get Cooking

Considering embarking on a family cookbook journey? Start with these resources:



  • The Food Timeline  has a wealth of food history for those curious about old family recipes. There are lots of other resources on food history, too.



  •  Of course, don’t forget Cyndi’s List—the recipes category  lists dozens of links to information on historical recipes and food.
  • Meals and Memories: How to Create Keepsake Cookbooks by  Kathy Steligo (Carlo Press)

  • The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker (HarperTrophy)
  • Genealogy: Creating a Family Cookbook