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How to Create a Contest Winning Recipe

Posted on July 3, 2013

We had great response to our Summer Yummers Contest. After running through all of the amazing ideas, Sherry Williams’ Grilled Figgy Chicken Breasts with Goat Cheese rose to the top. Why? Well, not only does it taste delish, but also it stood out because it had all of the key elements that we look for in a contest-winning recipe. Before trying it yourself, we thought we’d share what we think really works.

Answers the call: Make sure first and foremost that if we’re calling for grill recipes, that you’re recipe calls for grilling. Since our contest was named Summer Yummers, recipes that used ingredients indicative of the season caught our attention.

Keeps it Simple: Try to limit ingredient lists to about 10 ingredients or less (salt and pepper don’t count). A winning recipe doesn’t have to be complex. We’re always looking for recipes that other home cooks will be able to duplicate in their own kitchens (or at the grill) without a hitch.

Ingredients are Accessible: 90% of your ingredients listed should be available in most supermarkets. If you have one or two ingredients that are not mainstream, make sure that they’re available in an upscale store like Whole Foods, unless the contest specifically calls for some esoteric ethnic twist. If possible, list possible substitutions for outlier ingredients.

Has a Unique Twist: For some, this may be where that random ingredient comes in. For others, it’s providing a flavor combination that goes strikingly well together, but you don’t often come across very often (for instance, figs, goat cheese and mint). The best twists are those that leave the reader saying, “Wow! Now why didn’t I think of this before?”

Recipe is Well Written: We’re not looking for creativity here. Simply listing all of the ingredients in the order that they’ll be used is a great start. Follow that with clear directions with detailed times and temps.

Think for Yourself: Be original and never enter recipes that you have found online or in a magazine. In addition, while we’ve provided insight to our values in cooking contest judging, others may disagree and each contest is different. Use your own judgment to make sure that every time you enter a contest you provide your very best recipe for that particular contest.