Genre of Recipes



Discuss with a partner: 

  • What's your favourite meal? 
  • What recipes can you cook? 
  • What kind of information do recipes normally include?

Activity 1 

In pairs or small groups, read recipes A and B. Take turns describing each recipe, and then discuss with your partner: 

  • Which would you prefer to make? 
  • Which would you prefer to eat? 
  • What do the two recipes have in common with each other? 

Activity 2

How is genre created? 

Through 1) discourse structure and 2) register features

First let's look at discourse structure: the elements of the text structured in a predictable order. 

Work in pairs. One look at recipe A, the other at B. Try labelling the different sections. As an example, both recipes already have the Title labelled. Compare to see if you have the same answers. Discuss: What is the purpose of each section?

Did you label all the parts correctly? Check your answers with the handout. 


  • Could you change the order or leave out of any of the elements? Why/why not? 
  • What presentation features are used to make information easier to find? 

Activity 3 

Genre is also created through register features: the distinctive language used in the text. 

In pairs, look at your recipe again. Circle/highlight any unusual or interesting ways language is used. For example, what do the two titles have in common? 

  • Chicken and Roasted Vegetable Sandwich
  • Sugar-free Cheesecake

The titles are written as a noun phrase without any determiners.

Compare your answers with a partner: What interesting language features did you find in the text? 

Use the mix-and-match activity on the next slide to check your answers. If you find any extra features, tell your teacher and the rest of the class! 



Activity 4

Look again at the Instructions section of each recipe. Are there any grammatical elements missing you would normally expect to see? 

What's missing? Read this extract from Recipe A:

  • Sprinkle rosemary and pepper over chicken. Coat skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Sauté chicken over medium heat, turning once.

These sentences are missing determiners (a, an, the) and some object pronouns. Normally, we would write the sentence like this: 

  • Sprinkle the rosemary and pepper over the chicken. Coat the chicken with cooking spray. Heat it over medium heat. Sauté the chicken over medium heat, turning it once.

Read this extract from Recipe B:

  • Preheat oven to 180°C. In bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat cheese and sweetener until very smooth, 3 minutes.

Rewrite the sentence, adding back in any grammatical features that are normally used.

Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a bowl with the mixer at medium speed, beat the cheese and sweetener until it is very smooth for 3 minutes.

Activity 5

What elements make up the genre of recipes? Write a list of five things you can remember!


Features we expect to see in a recipe: 

  • A predictable discourse structure with a Title, Ingredients, Instructions etc. 
  • Language features such as noun phrases, abbreviations and the imperative 
  • Omitting grammatical features like determiners and Object pronouns 

Why are recipes written in this way? What is the context and purpose of a recipe? How does writing a recipe in this way help the reader?  

Recipes are written this way because the reader needs to find the relevant information quickly and easily while they are preparing and cooking the meal.

Activity 6

Part 1: Find a recipe online or in a cookbook. Does it follow the same discourse structure and register features as the recipes A and B? If it is different, why do you think that is? 

Part 2: Think back to your favourite meal or dish. Try writing a recipe for it, using the same discourse structure and register features as recipes A and B. Don't worry if you don't know the exact ingredients or instructions. Focus on making the information in the text clear and easy-to-find for the reader. When you finish, swap and compare recipes with a partner. 


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