Even the best of chefs tend to forget a step or two from time to time. With the amount of recipes a restaurant usually has, it is inevitable that your head chef will commit lapses. This can be easily prevented by creating restaurant recipe cards.

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In this article, let’s go through what a restaurant recipe card is, its benefits, a sample template, and how to train your staff to use them.

What are restaurant recipe cards?

Just like what the phrase says, it is a note card where you write down the ingredients and the processes for each menu item in your restaurant. In short, it’s a cheat sheet meant for the employees who’ll be making the dishes.

restaurant food recipe

There are multiple ways how a restaurant can utilize a restaurant recipe card. Firstly, kitchen staff can use it by printing these restaurant recipe cards and sticking them to the wall or the backsplash of your stainless fabrications. Secondly, owners and restaurant managers can study the restaurant recipe cards in digital print – in PDF or JPG/PNG files usually.

Always remember to store your restaurant recipe cards properly, whether physical or digital. Not having to print over and over can save on costs while storing it on your cloud drive or a personal computer makes sure you always have a copy of your recipes.

Tools you can use to create recipe cards

In order to create your template, there are certain tools that you can use. Let’s go through them one by one and see which one best fits your requirement.

1) Canva

Canva is a free graphic design platform that’s great for making social media posts, note cards, and yes, that includes restaurant recipe cards. It features a drag and drop interface that makes customizing thousands of templates simple and easy. Simply put “restaurant recipe card” in the search bar and choose which template best fit the needs of your restaurant.

The app is free but its pro feature offers a lot of things that are useful. Using the free version might not give you a multitude of templates to choose from. For some restaurants looking to save on costs, the $12 a month subscription might be a little too steep.

2) Microsoft Word or Google Docs

Given the advancement of these apps during the past decade, it is not out of the question to create your restaurant recipe cards from them. You can add images and text but the design of the document is limited. Given that the main purpose of Microsoft Word is to format text, it might not be the best tool to use to create a restaurant recipe card.

3) Microsoft Powerpoint or Google Slides

An awesome alternative to Canva, Microsoft Powerpoint offers features similar to Canva from a design standpoint. You can add images, shapes, text, backgrounds, and more in MS Powerpoint. In addition, users can use the Ruler guide to properly organize the content of the restaurant recipe card.

Where should you put your restaurant recipe cards?

How many copies of your restaurant recipe cards should you make? Where should restaurants place these cards in order to give employees the highest productivity?

The main purpose of the restaurant recipe cards is to help employees be consistent and not make mistakes when preparing the dishes. With this in mind, it is important that these restaurant recipe cards are printed and plastered on the workstation of the kitchen staff. However, these restaurant recipe cards are usually the summarized version and not the ones with the complete details.

Some restaurants also print out an original copy of the latest version of the complete restaurant recipe cards and place it on an album. This serves as a “black box” for the employees and they can review this at any given time.

Why should restaurants use recipe cards?

The goal of restaurant recipe cards is to create a standard of quality and quantity for the products of a restaurant. Those recipes are unique to the restaurant and are one of the keys to having a successful business. So, why is a restaurant recipe card important? Let’s go through each important point below.

1. Save money on ingredients

The one thing we always want to avoid when operating a restaurant is unnecessary wastage. Having a restaurant recipe card in place prevents this because the weight and amount of an ingredient are clearly indicated on the card. This creates consistency in all dishes served because it will all be the same until the recipe is tweaked.

2. Use for training the kitchen staff

The number of recipes in a restaurant can overwhelm the Back of House employees. It is important that your restaurant recipe cards are pasted onto their work area so they’ll have a cheat sheet whenever they make the dishes.

3. Maintain food quality and taste every time

Restaurant recipe cards help maintain the quality of the food regardless of who makes it. The restaurant’s kitchen staff will always be consistent in the dishes they make because of the instructions written on the recipe card. This also allows customers to get the same quality and taste every time they order a certain dish.

4. Help Front of House staff learn more about the products

Your restaurant Front of House can learn more about each product in detail with the help of restaurant recipe cards. Since they’re the ones who talk to and take orders from customers, it is important that they are familiar with all the details of the food their restaurant serves.

The only restaurant recipe card template you need

To ensure that your restaurant recipe cards are consistent with the information necessary, it is important that you use the same template for each recipe card you’ll make. Let’s go through in detail all the important sections in a restaurant recipe card template.

i) Product description

The first part of your restaurant recipe card is the product description. The most important information that needs to be put on here is the name of the product, size (if applicable), selling price, and a short explanation of the product.

For example:

Name: Steak Salad

Size: Regular, For Sharing

Selling Price: $5.00 / $9.50

Description: This delicious and filling steak salad is made with well-seasoned, sautéed sirloin and a classic vinaigrette of olive oil and vinegar.

ii) List of raw materials

This section needs to include all raw materials needed to make the recipe. Together with the name of the raw material is its equivalent shelf life.

Using the example above:

Raw Materials:

  • Beef Tenderloin
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Red Onions
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette

Once you have all the raw materials for a product down, simply input the shelf life for each of them.

iii) List of equipment and kitchenware

It is important that your restaurant recipe cards are as detailed as possible. Make sure that you include any equipment or kitchenware needed to make that certain recipe. With the number of tools available in the kitchen, it is important that the kitchen staff knows which one they should be using when preparing certain menu items.

iv) Recipe and procedure

This is the most important part of your restaurant recipe card since it contains the knowledge on how to make a certain product. This means you will include the procedures on how a certain item on the recipe will be cooked, how it will be plated, and other important information on the recipe.

v) Front of House spiels and need to know

As mentioned above, the restaurant Front of House staff needs to know all important information on the products since they’re the ones who are facing the customer. Include spiels that will be your server’s talking points to promote that certain product.

See attached sample restaurant recipe card template:

Checklist on what needs to be included in your restaurant recipe card

  • Name of recipe
  • Name of the person who created the dish (usually the chef)
  • Prep & Cooking time
  • Brief description of the product (include categories)
  • Serving portions
  • List of ingredients & shelf life
  • Procedure for prepping and cooking
  • Picture of the item
  • Revision dates and versions

How to train BOH staff with restaurant recipe cards

Restaurant recipe cards are one of the best ways to train your kitchen staff. Since these “cheat sheets” are available at any time, the possibility of mistakes and food wastage will be greatly reduced.

So, what are some efficient ways to train your Back of House staff?

  • Keep a Log on All Training Memos

It is important to log all documents related to training. Training usually has two parts, classroom training, and hands-on training. Instill in your staff that the documents handed out to them during classroom training is of utmost importance. These will be the files that they’ll go back to whenever they forget a procedure or an ingredient.

  • Empower staff during hands-on training

In most cases, new kitchen staff tend to underwhelm because they’re shy or afraid to make mistakes. As trainers, it is important that you empower your new trainees and let them know that mistakes are part of the job. What needs to be monitored is how they adjust and work on their mistakes.

  • Test new employees with only recipe cards

After the classroom and hands-on training, have a final test with only the restaurant recipe cards as their guide. This can serve as their “make it or break it” exam to see if they’ll be regularized. Doing this will show you if you can trust them next time with minimal guidance.

  • Bring clarity to your food recipe cards

Whenever you write a restaurant recipe card, it is important that everyone understands what is written. There are cases where advanced culinary terms are used and newbies will not be able to understand that. It is important that what’s written is very clear and newbie-friendly. A good tip is to include a glossary of culinary terms on your restaurant recipe cards to help understand the cards better.

EagleOwl and Recipe Management: How they work together

EagleOwl is an awesome restaurant back-office solution that helps restaurateurs lower their COGS to industry ranges of 25-35%. The software has a user-friendly interface and promises increased profitability, improved operational efficiency, and scale.

EagleOwl has a recipe management tool that features automated costing, yields, cost threshold alarm, and multi-level sub-recipes.

Final Thoughts

Perfecting your kitchen operations is one of the keys to the success of your restaurant. It is important that restaurants proactively do things to improve operations. A tried and tested strategy is to employ restaurant recipe cards to serve as a guide to the kitchen staff. This will ensure consistency in all the dishes, no matter who’s making them. Customers love it when dishes served to them are consistent in terms of quality and quantity.

Learn how to grow your restaurant with EagleOwl. Our powerful restaurant management system can help increase your restaurant’s net profit by up to 25%. Contact us now!