How to Make a Personalized Recipe Book

February is a month of birthdays in my family, and I have gifts on the brain. Unfortunately, just a month and a half after Christmas, money is usually tight when all the birthdays hit. I’m always on the lookout for frugal gift ideas, and yesterday a friend and regular reader, Angelsong, reminded me of a wonderful, inexpensive gift: A Personalized Recipe Book!

I received one such recipe book from my aunt a few years ago at Christmas. It is truly one of my treasured possessions.

How to Make a Personalized Recipe Book

All you need to make a personalized recipe book is

  • a binder
  • some page protectors, if you like
  • a stack of recipes
  • some good anecdotes

To put the recipe book together, just print up the recipes. Be sure to include any interesting facts or stories about the dish.

Grandma made this for a picnic lunch every summer


This apple pie recipe has been passed down for at least 5 generations.

Anecdotes like these transform a list of ingredients and directions into treasured memories to be passed down across generations.

Once you have the recipes printed out, slip them into page protectors or hole punch them and insert them into your binder, categorized by type of recipe. If your finished project is large, you might want to add tabs to separate the different sections of the recipe book.

Print out a cover for your recipe book, and insert it in the clear plastic sleeve on the front of the binder, and you’ve got a personalized, inexpensive gift, good for birthdays, Christmas, or bridal showers!

Why a Personalized Recipe Book Makes a Great Gift

My grandmother passed away about 10 years ago, and when my aunt sent me my grandma’s recipes for Christmas, it was almost like having a part of her back with me again.

I love trying the different recipes, but even more, I love the trip down memory lane. My aunt photocopied some of the original recipe cards onto cardstock to use as divider pages, so I have some of the recipes in my grandmother’s own handwriting.

Little notes from my aunt make the recipes meaningful. I now know what my grandma liked to prepare for company, what my grandpa’s favorite pie was, and how grandma used up extra mashed potatoes.

Since my aunt copied the recipes as written by my grandmother, some of them are incomplete, like the banket (sic) recipe that doesn’t state how long or at what temperature to bake it. And some of the directions don’t make sense to me, like the butter cookies, which are to be baked at 300 degrees on brown paper, 10 down & up. I haven’t tried either of those recipes yet, but I smile when I see them on the paper, imagining life in previous generations, when recipes were memorized, and precise directions weren’t needed.

A personalized recipe book is more than a collection of recipes. It’s also a history book, reminding younger people of generations past.

Photo by lovelihood.


By , on Feb 10, 2010
Lynnae McCoy I'm Lynnae, wife of one and stay-at-home mom of two. I'm committed to getting out of debt by being frugal with my choices in life.


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  1. Kate:

    My mom made me a recipe book like this when I moved away from home a few years ago. Even though I am back (and heading over there for dinnner tomorrow night), I loved having my favorites at my fingertips. The best part is that almost everything is handwritten by my mom, it is something I will definitely be passing down to the next generation.
    Great post!

  2. Thank you so much for the inspiration to do this for our family. My mom has had a couple of health scares the past year and I want to do this before it gets too late.

  3. Pete:

    i really miss grandmothers food, nobody makes food like she did anymore. My mother is terrible cook and I have never seen my father in the kitchen yet.

  4. My mom hand wrote a little journal full of our favorite childhood recipes and it is one of my cherished possessions. I love the little notations she put, like “Grandma’s Cornbread (but not quite as good)” which is funny because every time she served it, my dad said, “Almost as good as Grandma’s!”

  5. Gladys Alofs:

    Actually, what we did was take a brown paper grocery bag and cut it out to fit the cookie sheet. Yes, that was because we didn’t have parchment paper. Then you put the sheet of cookies on the bottom oven rack for 10 minutes, and then move it up to the top rack for 10 minutes. We would have 2 cookie sheets in the oven at all times, one would start out on the bottom, when 10 minutes was up you move that one to the top and put in the next sheet on the bottom.

    I am Lynnae’s aunt (not the one that put the book together) and enjoyed cooking and baking with my mother very much.

    Thanks for today’s memory lane, Lynnae

  6. Sarah:

    Brown paper- was like parchment paper.
    10 up and 10 down- I would assume means make cookies small enough to have 10 cookies fit down the pan and 10 cookies fit up the cookie pan. 10 down and 10 up.

  7. wanda:

    Last February my daughter moved 1000 miles away. To say the least she didn’t get to drop by for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. However I spent lots of time on the phone walking her through some of her favorite mom recipes. So for Christmas I decided to make her a recipe book. Not only did I include recipes from myself but I tried to include recipes from all the women in her life. Grandmothers, in-laws, good friends, and even women from the church she grew up in. The only problem is it is yet to be finished. It has taken on a life of its own. I would say if you decide to do this make sure you decide how big or small you want it to be and give yourself plenty of time. I know she will be so happy when she gets it.

  8. Lindsey:

    I’ve been meaning to do this for years! This year I need to actually act on it. Thanks for the reminder. If I get started early, maybe I’ll follow through.

  9. Katelyn Jackson:

    I received a personalized recipe book from my mother at my wedding shower. She’d taken the time to collect some of my favorite recipes of hers and put them all together. She also collected my husband’s favorites from his mother and included those as well. Since we were both very young when we got married and hadn’t lived apart from family, it was a wonderful way to carry some home with us into our new lives together. That book was my favorite gift of the shower/wedding and I still refer to it frequently.

  10. marci357:

    We have done this – and enjoy it thru the generations!

    How about continuing on with that Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie recipe… I need the end of it !!!! We are always looking for more ways to enjoy Rhubarb, and as Sour Cream is a fav also, I NEED THIS RECIPE!!! lol!

  11. The other option is to bake the cookies a total of 10 minutes, 5 minutes on the upper-middle rack, and 5 minutes on the lower-middle rack.

    I began making my own personal cookbook about three years ago. Ideally, I wanted to go through all of my regular cookbooks and type out the recipes I liked the most and place them in my personal cookbook…with the intent to give away the other cookbooks which would no longer be needed. I have done that with a couple of cookbooks, but definitely not all.

    I’ve made sure to write down where the recipe came from, or who it came from, but I hadn’t thought to write down little bits of information about it being someone’s favorite, etc. I think I’ll start doing that! My girls have their own personal cookbook kit they received for a birthday gift last year from a relative, and they’ll begin adding their recipe favorites soon, too!

  12. “butter cookies, which are to be baked at 300 degrees on brown paper, 10 down & up”…Lynnae, I think this is what the directions meant: Bake butter cookies on pans lined with parchment paper (they would have used thin brown paper used for wrapping packages at the stores) at 300 degrees for 10 minutes on the upper-middle rack and then 10 minutes at the lower middle rack.

    Hope that makes sense! And I hope it is right. A lot of my recipes from “America’s Test Kitchen” have very similar types of directions, so that’s what I would assume was meant here. I might be wrong, but it’s worth a try! 10 minutes on each rack seems a bit lengthy, but the temperature of the oven is lower, too, than most cookie recipes, so it may be right. Happy baking!

  13. Ron:

    When my wife’s grandmother passed away about 5 years ago, my mother-in-law made a recipe book along with some precious pictures of “Nanamac” (her last name was McCue). That little book is one of my wife’s favorites because every recipe in there reminds her of that sweet lady.

    It’s funny how our grandparents seem to embody many of the characteristics we hope to teach to our children — patience, love, just glad to see you, wisdom, understanding, gentleness.

    We move through life too fast.

  14. Susie:

    My mother did this for me a few years ago. She typed a title page with everyone’s name, but she photocopied everyone’s recipe in their own handwriting. My greatgrandmother and grandmother, both deceased, herself, and my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law passed away, suddenly, not long after. Thanks to the cookbook, I not only have my husband’s favorite, childhood recipes, but we have them in her handwriting. It’s really special.

  15. This is certainly a priceless idea. I am in the process of capturing recipes from my family that can be shared for generations to come. My cousin had a chocolate icing recipe that was heavenly and another cousin who no longer cooks has a sweet potato bread recipe that definitely has to be shared. It used to be a Christmas gift every year to me and the memories associated with it generate warm, fuzzy feelings. My plan is to get my cousin in the kitchen and let her walk me through the process.

  16. Hope:

    Christmas ’08 I decided to make a personalized book for my nieces and nephew. I called it Grandma Sharon’s Cookbook. I used an online coupon for photobooks and added photos of my Mom and her grandchildren. Like you I added stories or comments about the recipes. It was a hit with the older ones. About two weeks later, Grandma Sharon passed away and the book become more precious than anyone would have guessed.

    Depending on the size and number of pages, if you choose this route, it can be quite frugal if you watch for deals and coupons. I have noticed since that certain talk show hosts have been giving free offers for these books every so often so I try to stay ready for those. :)
    Great ideas for valentines!

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