Tips from Winning Cooks

Want to try your hand at recipe contests, but don't know where to start? Take a cue from cooks who know how to pull together a prize-winning recipe.


1. Consider the Presentation

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"An amazing presentation is key. People eat with their eyes. It doesn't matter how good your recipe tastes, if it doesn't look fabulous in a photo or on the plate, it doesn't stand a chance."
-- CookieCat on MixingBowl.com

Food should look as good as it tastes. "It's really like a package -- looks are what invite the tasters in, taste is what keeps them wanting more."
-- Diamond19 on MixingBowl.com

"Photos are important. Personally, I am much less likely to try a recipe that does not have a photo with it. Also, make sure your photos are in focus and are not too light or dark. A proper representation of your recipe may make the difference."
-- bakingmecrazy on MixingBowl.com

2. Come up with a Noteworthy Name

"My secret is to come up with a clever name that will catch the judges' eye and make them take a second look at your entry. Of course, you have to have a good entry to back it up too!"
-- bakingmecrazy on MixingBowl.com

"A good name to catch their eye is great. I do that and try to make it one that they will remember, because it must be so hard to remember all those different recipes. If it tastes great and the judges can remember the name...you have a winner."
-- riverwoods on MixingBowl.com

"Give your recipe a title that is somewhat catchy or descriptive -- sometimes a play on words."
-- patcook on MixingBowl.com

3. Review the Rules

"Read the rules and follow them to the letter. Every contest is different...make sure that you aren't entering an appetizer into a dessert recipe contest, that you are using the sponsor's products, and that you are supplying a picture if the contest calls for it."
-- cwiech on MixingBowl.com

"Read the rules and follow them to the letter. Also, proofread carefully before submitting to be sure that all of your ingredients are incorporated in the directions."
-- patcook on MixingBowl.com

4. Pay Attention to the Details

"Write a recipe as if you were talking with a friend! By using this tip, one will tend to write a more detailed recipe with helpful tips within the recipe. This is one way to make sure absolutely anyone can make your recipes and have them turn out well! No one wants their friend to create a disaster in their kitchen!"
-- DragonsWife on MixingBowl.com

"Proofread your recipe and correct any typos or mistakes. List your ingredients in the order that they are used; this keeps it easy to follow and less likely that something will be left out. Lastly, and most importantly, make sure the recipe is your own. If you are recycling a recipe, make sure to make at least three major changes and re-name it."
-- Cwiech on MixingBowl.com

5. Keep Up on Trends and Look for Inspiration

"I read a cookbook or periodical every day so I can keep up on trends and get ideas. I try an idea once and if it doesn't work I go back and tweak it. I keep a journal to make sure I am not repeating myself and see how I can improve. I also take pictures of the dishes so that I can see how to make the presentation better. Just don't give up -- you'll eventually get that phone call or letter saying you've won and you'll be hooked."
-- Grace Eckstorm, Better Homes and Gardens Annual Challenge Winner

"Stick to what you love and are inspired by. I have tried to come up with recipes out of this air and not won."
-- Dorothy Olson, Better Homes and Gardens Annual Challenge Winner

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