We’ve become so reliant on looking up recipes online that some of us may have forgotten a time when home cooks kept their recipes organized in a physical format. Recipe organizers still exist, and home cooks can benefit from using them. Whether you’re in a place without reliable internet, you do best with physical instructions, or you like to have everything you need to cook in front of you, your meal prep can be made simpler by having easy access to your physical recipes.
The best recipe organizers are space-conscious, fit in a corner or drawer of your kitchen, and are moderately priced. They can be notebooks broken down into sections created for you for optimal organization, while others are sets of folders to hold clippings and recipe cards. Chef Kara Mickelson, author of "Friends: The Official Central Perk Cookbook," prefers the latter option. "The ease of adding recipes to a file folder and not getting bogged down by complicated systems or tech issues makes my low-tech method easier,” says Mickelson. Whichever physical format you prefer, there are plenty of options on the market.
We sorted through an assortment of organizers, considering online reviews, material, price, type, and functionality to come up with the best selection. Our best overall choice is the C.R. Gibson Gray Leatherette Lined Recipe Notebook for its simple, stylish design and features such as course dividers and sheet protectors.
C.R. Gibson Leatherette Lined Recipe Notebook
What We Love: Stylish design, sheet protectors, course dividers
What We Don't Love: Pages may stick to the rings
This adorable leatherette recipe organizer notebook is made for cooks who already have a collection of recipes on standard-size index cards or for those who are just beginning to collect their recipes in one place. Measuring 11 x 12 inches, the recipe binder features current kitchen terminology and measurement conversions on the inside cover. It includes 12 two-pocket sheet protectors, 12 single-pocket sheet protectors, and 24 blank 4 x 6-inch cards with enough space to handwrite or print your recipe on.
Online reviewers loved the versatility of having protectors for both full sheets and recipe cards, with several rating the binder highly giftable. There is also a tie-clasp storage envelope for clippings. The 3-ring binder construction allows more pocket page refills, although the pages may stick to the rings. Tabbed index dividers organize recipes into sections, so your favorite spinach dip won’t ever get mixed up with the blondies. The stylish design on the front is simple and subtle, with just a spoon, fork, and knife emblazoned in the corner.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: Leatherette, paper, metal rings | Dimensions: 11 x 2.25 x 12 inches | Colors Available: Gray, black, chartreuse, and red
Ceiba Tree Recipe Book Cookbook Notebook
What We Love: Well-organized pages, lots of room to write, easy to use
What We Don't Love: No course dividers
Recipe cards are great for portability, but for a cook who wants all of their creations kept in one book, a spiral-bound paper notebook is the best choice. This 11.5 x 9.8-inch easy-to-use recipe notebook contains 60 paper sheets on which you can write 120 recipes. If you have cards, you can store them in a pocket inside the cover. There are also four index pages (two sheets), so you can keep track of where everything is written.
The well-organized recipe pages are divided into sections with names, servings, prep time, cook time, difficulty level, ingredients, and directions. You'll have lots of room to jot down handy notes, like what to use in place of white wine next to dad's fish stew recipe. The only things missing are course dividers. Online reviewers raved about how easy it was to navigate and personalize and its sturdy hardcover. It’s a small investment to have fast access to everything you love to cook and bake.
Price at time of publish: $16
Material: Paper | Dimensions: 11.5 x 9.8 x 0.94 inches | Color: Blue
Jot & Mark Recipe Tin
What We Love: Compact, option to include cards and course dividers, good gift idea
What We Don't Love: Lid is not attached
Jot & Mark recipe tins are available in an assortment of bright, stylish designs, though most are decidedly feminine. The recipe organizer tin is sold on its own for those who want to store their recipe card collection or as a complete set with fifty 4 x 6-inch cards and 14 tabbed dividers. The decorated cards include spaces for prep time and servings, so they may be easier to use for those who prefer to handwrite over those who’d rather type and print. Many online reviewers thought the set was charming to receive and gift.
Measuring 6.1 x 4.3 x 5 inches, the eye-catching tin keeps your recipes secure and organized and looks lovely on a kitchen counter but is still small enough to fit in a drawer. The only drawback is that the lid is not attached, which might be an issue if you lose track of it while you're cooking.
Price at time of publish: $20
Material: Tin | Dimensions: 6.1 x 4.3 x 5 inches | Color: Assorted colors/patterns
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Legend Planner Legend Recipe Book
What We Love: Bookmarks attached, pockets, comprehensive recipe sections
What We Don't Love: Small with only enough room for about 29 recipes
This little book, measuring 8.46 x 5.79 inches, has everything you need to start keeping all your recipes organized. Encased in vegan leather, the journal contains a number of incredibly handy features. They include an elastic closure, ribbon bookmarks, four sheets of stickers, inner pockets, colorful layouts with a different color for each course section, and glossary pages with measurement conversions and terminology. We should point out that the stickers reflect only American cuisine.
There are 58 full pages, though only about enough for 29 recipes. In addition to being divided by course, each recipe page includes sections for difficulty level, servings, prep time, cook time, a “best served with” spot, ingredients, directions, and notes. Online reviewers give this recipe book high marks for its ease of use, durability, and gift-ability.
Price at time of publish: $22
Material: Vegan leather, paper, elastic band | Dimensions: 8.46 x 5.79 x 0.71 inches | Color: Assorted
If you’re looking to organize your physical recipes in one place, then the C.R. Gibson Gray Leatherette Lined Recipe Notebook is the top choice. It's our favorite because it combines the feel of a notebook with accommodation for recipe cards and clippings. Plus, the 3-ring binder design allows for expansion.
What to Look for When Buying Recipe Organizers
Your organizer might get wet or stained with food, so make sure it can be easily wiped clean and won’t stain. Also, consider whether you will be stashing your recipe organizer away in a drawer or displaying it on the kitchen counter and how often you will be cooking from your recipes.
Choose whether you want a journal or notebook to write in, a box to store cards in, or a file folder to keep clippings in (Chef Mickelson's method of choice), based on what you already own and how you prefer to work. If you know you are prone to making a mess in the kitchen, you should choose one that offers some protection from ingredient spills and splatters.
Is a recipe box or a binder better for organizing recipes?
If you’re starting a new journey of writing recipes down, it may be simpler to purchase a book so that everything is in one place from the start. However, if you already own a lot of typed or handwritten recipe cards, you should opt for a binder, book, or box that can contain them. This way, you won’t have to transcribe your recipes.
What is the benefit of organizing recipes into categories?
The biggest benefit of organizing recipes into categories is that you’ll only have to look through a small fraction of your total recipes when searching for a specific one. With your soups stored apart from your desserts and pasta, you’ll never need to rifle through your entire collection hunting for your favorite lobster bisque. Though you can choose different categories to create yourself, the standard divisions of meal courses make logical sense.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Chef Ariane Resnick grew up playing with her mother’s recipe card holder and even owns a few of those original recipes on the original “from the kitchen of Lynn Resnick” index cards. She also has a binder full of her own clippings of published recipes from the magazines her work has appeared in. When researching recipe organizers, Ariane considered the different ways home cooks operate in the kitchen and potential style preferences, as well as online reviews, material, price, type, and functionality. Chef Kara Mickelson offered valuable insight into the varied ways we all work best in the kitchen.
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