Categories for Cookbooks – Ideas for Organizing Recipes

By now, you guys know I have a thing for making family cookbooks.  One topic I have not covered is ways to organize and pick the right categories for cookbooks as you are creating your own.

In case you missed them, check out my cookbook creating posts:

If you scroll through this post I have two fairly exhaustive lists of standard and specialty cookbook categories.  Hopefully, my lists prompt you for more ideas to organize your cookbook and recipes so they are not only easy to locate but also capture the essence of what your family culture is through food and life.

Before I get into the two lists, please take a look through these explanations of the specialty ideas…

Specialty Categories for Cookbooks

Food Allergy Categories

If family members have certain food restrictions you may want to have special categories such as Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, etc. Or you may opt for something more general such as Allergy-Friendly Recipes.

Activity Categories

You can also arrange some of your categories based on special activities your family enjoys.  Ideas to get you started are Campout Cooking, Holiday Meals, Saint Patrick’s Day Dishes, Potluck Favorites, Tail Gate Greats, Family Reunion Recipes, Cooking with Children, etc.

Specialty Cooking Category

If you have grill masters in your family, or a canner in your midst there may be a need/desire for a special category for the cooking method.  I imagine there may have been categories for microwave cooking in the 70s when it was such a new novelty.

People/Legacy Categories

This can be for specific members of the family who have passed away or are the family matriarch/patriarch.  With these special loved ones, you may want to have an entire category dedicated to their favorite or most beloved recipes.

Non-Edible Categories

Lastly, you may have categories for recipes that are non-edible, at least for people.  Some ideas for these kinds of categories are Recipes for Rover, Cleaning Recipes, Garden Mixes, Body Care, etc.

As you can see, there are a vast number of different ways you can organize your cookbook.  Just remember, the overall goal is to keep everything neat, tidy, and easily accessible.  How much you want to use your cookbook to preserve family history and culture is up to you.

One final word on these categories, you may not have an extensive collection of certain categories.  But if you do, it makes sense to break them up further.  For example, the dessert section of my personal cookbook is ridiculously long so I have additional subcategories to help keep it in order.  Just remember to do what makes sense for your collection.

Let’s get into the list of cookbook categories…

32 Standard Categories for Cookbooks

  • Breakfast
  • Brunch
  • Lunch
  • Beverages
  • Appetizers
  • Soup/Stews
  • Salads
    • Vegetable
    • Dessert
  • Main dishes
    • Beef
    • Poultry
    • Pork
    • Seafood
    • Vegetarian
  • Side Dishes
    • Vegetables
    • Grain
    • Other
  • Condiments
  • Sauces
  • Seasoning
  • Desserts
    • Cookies
    • Bars
    • Cakes/Frosting
    • Pies
    • Candy
    • Sauces
  • Bread
    • Quick
    • Yeast

21 Specialty Categories for Cookbooks

  • Allergy-Friendly
    • Vegan
    • Gluten-Free
    • Dairy-Free
    • Grain-Free
    • Egg-Free
  • Activities
    • Camping
    • Holiday
    • Tail Gate
    • Family Reunion 2023
    • Cooking with Children
  • Specialty Cooking
    • Canning / Preserving
    • Grilling
    • Sous Vide
    • Instant Pot
    • Slow Cooker
  • People / Legacy
    • Grandma’s/Grandpa’s Favorites
    • Grandma’s / Grandpa’s Specialities
  • Non-Edible
    • Pet Food/Treats
    • Cleaning
    • Garden
    • Body Care

As you can see from the list above, there are so many options and I’m sure this list is just the tip of the iceberg.  If you have another idea for a category and want to share it with me, I’d love it if you did in the comment section below.

Here’s to you creating a beautiful cookbook that extends beyond the recipes.


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