Illustrated Recipes – How To Use Them To Find Creative Inspiration

Why illustrate a recipe?

Illustrated recipes have managed to become a staple of both the culinary and illustration worlds, not only providing a platform for creatives with a passion for food and drawing, but also offering a limitless source of creative inspiration for artists and writers alike, and while we mention it, chefs too.

In this article we’ll examine some creative uses for illustrated recipes outside of finding inspiration, how we can use Pinterest to find inspiration, walk through an 8 step process for illustrating a recipe, dig into how illustrated recipes can be used by writers to overcome a writer’s block and finally I’ll be giving away my long-coveted Tiramisu recipe in the form of a free download of my illustrated recipe made for this article.

  • Creative uses for illustrated recipes
  • Using Pinterest as an illustrated cookbook of inspiration
  • 8 Steps for illustrating a recipe worth eating
  • How writers can use illustrated recipes to find creative inspiration
  • The Chef JGlover Tiramisu illustrated recipe [Free Download]
  • Where to find more creative inspiration

Creative uses for illustrated recipes

Illustrated recipes don’t have to be used only as a tool to aid you in your culinary endeavours, there are a number of other uses and possibilities. Here are just a few to give you an idea but I’m sure there are plenty more uses out there.

  • A unique gift
  • An artwork for the kitchen
  • Illustrate an old family recipe
  • Create a cookbook or collection of family favourite recipes
  • Create menus and menu boards
  • Quirky tablemats and coasters
  • Skill development: explore drawing a variety of objects of different shapes, colours, textures, hand lettering, composition, and more

Using Pinterest as an illustrated cookbook of inspiration

Now if you were to think of a social media platform associated with recipes outside of YouTube, Pinterest should definitely be the one that comes to mind. In fact, I’d think of Pinterest even ahead of YouTube when it comes to recipes.

There is an abundance of ways to use Pinterest to find creative inspiration and when it comes to the area of illustrated recipes, it truly comes into its own.

You could quite simply create an inspiration board and fill it with the illustrated recipes of people that you’ve found useful or inspiring or slowly piece together a cookbook board of your own illustrated recipes.

In a recent article I highlighted a step-by-step process of creating reference and inspiration boards on Pinterest –

How To Use Pinterest To Find Creative Inspiration

8 Steps for illustrating a recipe worth eating

  1. Engage your senses and research
  2. Select a recipe
  3. Decide which elements to include
  4. Build a concept layout
  5. Rough sketches
  6. Illustrate food and ingredients
  7. Choose your fonts and add text or illustrate lettering
  8. Evaluate, tweak and refine

Step 1. Engage your senses and research

The first step is a fairly simple one and it’s also a very enjoyable step too, as it involves going out and exploring, eating some food and finding inspiration in your belly.

Step 2. Select a recipe

Once you’ve engaged the senses and perhaps been inspired to rustle something up in the kitchen, even if it’s the humble sandwich, get your ingredients, select a recipe and prepare to get stuck in.

Step 3. Decide which elements to include

Choose how you’re going to illustrate your recipe, are you going to illustrate the ingredients or the steps involved in making it, or both? Maybe you’ve decided to make an illustrated board of different cheeses. It’s up to you, get creative!

Step 4. Build a concept layout

Play around with some rough scribbles and build up a concept for your layout, thumbnails are a great way to do this without getting lost in the details or bogged down with trying too hard. Just let loose and let the pencil drift.

Step 5. Rough sketches

Once you have your thumbnail, maybe narrow your choices down to around 3 pieces and then create some slightly larger rough sketches to get a feel for the composition you want to go for with your final piece.

Step 6. Illustrate food and ingredients

Now you have your recipe nailed down and you know which composition you’re going for, begin with illustrating your food and ingredients, or the steps of your recipe process.

Step 7. Choose your fonts and add text or illustrate lettering

When it comes to the text side of things you have two choices really, choose your fonts and add the text, or you can hand letter your text, maybe even a combination of the 2 will be the way to go for your particular recipe.

Step 8. Evaluate, tweak and refine

Once everything is in place and finished up, step away for a few hours or preferably, a day, then come back and evaluate the piece overall, tweak anything that needs cleaning up and refine the piece.

How writers can use illustrated recipes to find creative inspiration

For writers, this same methodology can be used as a way to find creative inspiration and overcome the writer’s block. For writers you have a few potential routes to take, maybe even a combination of them:

  1. Follow the steps already mentioned and despite not being an artist or illustrator, go for it anyway and work to illustrate a recipe, put extra emphasis on the wording of your recipe and hand lettering style.
  1. Write a chosen recipe out but in the style of one of your favourite authors/writers, or take a different writing style spin on a recipe, perhaps writing it from a journalist perspective or the point of view of a character you’re familiar with.
  1. Choose a recipe from a favourite book and bring that to life with an illustrated or written form, for a fan of Lord of the Rings for instance, you could create a recipe for the much sought after Lembas bread.

The Chef JGlover Tiramisu illustrated recipe [Free Download]

I spent the best part of a decade working in the culinary world as a chef and one of the benefits in working in that sector is the exploration of cultures made possible through the experience of taste and aroma. 

Food is one of the foremost ways humans explore the world and gain an understanding of a culture, forming memories as well as being inspired to try new things.

Working as a chef, one of the creative outlets for putting that inspiration to good use is the experimentation with recipes and ingredients as well as the creation of recipes. Tweaks and adjustments are an ongoing process and it can take years before settling on a recipe, even then, it may still be changed as time goes on.

Here’s a recipe of mine that hasn’t changed much over a long period of time, and this is a real crowd pleaser of a dessert too.


  • 2 Cups Strong Espresso Coffee
  • 3 Tbsp Marsala/Fortified Wine
  • 2-3 Large Eggs (Separated)
  • ¼ Cup Caster Sugar
  • 250g Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 Cup Double Cream
  • 1 Pack Lady Fingers
  • 1-2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • Frozen/Refrigerated Dark Chocolate


  1. Put egg yolks and sugar into a large mixing bowl, beat until pale and thick.
  2. Add mascarpone cheese and fold into the mixture until combined. Add 1 Tbsp of Marsala.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks hold. Gently fold into the main egg yolk and sugar mixture (Do Not Beat).
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold into the main mixture, retaining as much air as possible.
  5. Get a large lasagne dish ready, and a smaller dish for the coffee and remaining Marsala. Dip the lady fingers a couple at a time into the coffee and marsala blend, let them soak each side for 2-3 seconds, then add to the large lasagne dish.
  6. Add to the large lasagne dish in layers: Soaked lady fingers, cream mixture, cocoa powder, repeat.
  7. Once layering is complete, dust the top with cocoa dust and grate or shave curls of dark chocolate all over (easiest with frozen dark chocolate).
  8. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, then serve!
tiramisu illustrated recipe procreate drawing painting artwork
JGlover – Tiramisu Illustrated Recipe

Download this illustrated recipe for free – No strings attached

Just hit the download button below and this illustrated recipe is yours to use, you don’t need to sign up or give me your email address to get it, just hit the button.

If you do however enjoy receiving free gifts and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox, then by all means, feel free to subscribe using the box at the bottom of this article.

Where to find more creative inspiration

This article is a part of a series of articles in the works under the umbrella topic of ‘How To Find Creative Inspiration’ which will soon be put together and published as a free eBook for everyone that has signed up for the mailing list.

Don’t miss out, subscribe via email to the JGlover Art studio in order to receive inspiration into your inbox monthly, a new article to read, some artwork to inspire you as well as exclusive discounts, prize draws and more!

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