Favorite family dishes and recipes likely go hand-in-hand with childhood memories of your mother or grandmother preparing meals and baked goods in the kitchen. Maybe you blended cookie dough with your mom or helped prepare your aunt’s ravioli while hearing stories of her childhood.

It’s not just women who hold the recipe cards on heirloom favorites. Grandfathers, uncles and family friends also bring cherished recipes to the table. And Dad probably has a few recipes up his sauce-spattered sleeve as well.

If you’d like to preserve precious heirloom recipes, you’re in luck. There are plenty of fun and easy ways to save, store and document the recipes that your family loves.

More Than Just a Recipe


There’s more than just a love of food that motivates us to preserve heirloom recipes for ourselves and future generations. Recipes passed down often tell a story about your family’s cultural, social and ethnic history. For example, veggie-packed recipes might reveal that ancestors who perfected those dishes grew their own vegetables or couldn’t afford frequent meat dishes.

New Year’s Day black-eyed peas recipes might highlight your family’s southern heritage. Grandma’s tamales recipe allows you to experience a piece of her Mexican culinary heritage. Preserving family heirloom recipes allows your ancestors’ creativity and nurturing ways to live on in multiple family members’ kitchens.

Keep reading to get three reader-submitted recipe downloads to add to your meal plan.

5 Ways to Document Family Recipes

Preserving family heirloom recipes has come a long way since the days of passing along a tattered, handwritten note card. Today you have many options when it comes to documenting family favorites.


Laminate to Celebrate

Laminating heirloom recipes is a favorite way to preserve recipes for treasured dishes and baked goods. Lamination doesn’t just prevent recipes from yellowing with age. The transparent covering also protects the recipe from blotches of spilled sauce or other stains, and it keeps edges from tattering.

It’s easy to laminate recipes. You can protect them yourself with a laminating machine purchased online for anywhere from $30 to $60 for a basic model. Or take them to your local print and copy store for lamination.


Display the Recipe on a Plate

How cool would it be to have grandma’s famous apple pie recipe on a plate or plaque to hang on the wall? You can even scan the original recipe to transfer her handwriting, along with the ingredients. You’ll find all shapes and sizes of decorative recipe plates to choose from at Etsy, Amazon and other online marketplaces.


Record a Video

To get the full flavor of your favorite family recipe, take out your smartphone or another video recording/editing device and get the play-by-play directly from the cook. Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to be the producer, director and editor of your own video showing how to prepare the recipe step-by-step.

Here are a couple of video apps to get you started:

  • iMovie (iTunes) – If you have an iPhone, iPad or Mac, download the free iMovie app from Apple to create and edit cinema-quality videos. You can add music, titles and special effects. You can even add green-screen effects and create a movie trailer for family members eager to cook up that heirloom recipe.
  • Film Maker Pro (Google Play) – If you have an Android phone, this free app makes creating high-quality videos and movies a breeze. The app even comes with detailed tutorials on editing videos to professional standards.


Preserve Recipes on Tea Towels

Why not transfer that heirloom recipe to a tea towel that you and other family members can hang in the kitchen as a tribute to the recipe’s creator? You can find many recipe tea towel designs at Etsy and marthastewart.com. Or search online for “custom tea towels” for recipe tea towel designs.


Create a Family Recipe Cookbook

It’s easy to publish a family recipe cookbook with a personalized design and all your family’s favorite recipes. A family cookbook also makes a great gift for the entire family.

You can find free or affordable cookbook templates online. Or gather your recipes and take them to a print shop such as FedEx, which can print multiple cookbook copies. Design the cookbook yourself or pay a little extra for the print shop to come up with the perfect design. You can also find plenty of online printing and copying businesses.

Cooking Up a Family Legacy

Making Family Recipes

Preserving family recipes is an important part of passing a loved one’s legacy along to your own kids and future generations. Who knows? Maybe one day your lasagna recipe will end up on a tea towel in some great-great grandchild’s high-tech kitchen.

Try Three Reader-Submitted Recipes

Looking for new family recipes to add to your own? Check out these reader-submitted recipes:

Thank you to everyone who submitted a recipe. If yours didn’t make it to our story, you still have a chance to share it. Let us know about your favorite family recipes and the story behind them in the comments.