Recipe Cards: An Overview

There is no simpler way to track a favorite recipe than the recipe card. A deceptively simple rectangle of paper, the modern recipe card is the ultimate low-tech tool for saving and sharing recipes for current and future generations. Thanks to the internet, there are also now a variety of free options for creating beautiful recipe cards that will do your recipes justice.

There are generally 3 sizes of recipe cards to consider. The 3×5” card is the standard card for most of the last 100 years. (Our own 3×5 recipe cards can be found here.) The old recipe card boxes they fit into were designed for America’s small kitchens. As kitchens expanded, so did the capacity of recipe boxes and binders to allow for the now standard 4×6” recipe card. (Our 4×6 recipe cards are here.) The vast majority of all current recipe cards are this size. In the past decade a few brands have expanded to 5×7” recipe cards. (Ours are here.) You may want to avoid these, however, because while they may fit your own binder they may not fit a friend’s binder you wish to share with.

Most recipe cards are designed with around a dozen horizontal lines going across them. Try to choose cards that also have lines on the back to provide you with more space. A good rule of thumb is to use the left side of the card to create an ingredients list column.  The right side should be used to make a second column that lists ingredients. In this way you simplify the preparation process.

Recipe cards come in all varieties of colors and designs. Traditionally, they have had fairly tacky simple line art, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Many modern recipe card designs have become their own art form, with ornate paintings, drawings and even photographs. Whichever you choose, try to find ones that allow for plenty of space for writing, with a simple interior that won’t make your writing hard to read after years of use. The artistry of the card should be most pronounced around the borders.

Before the numerous online recipe sharing sites sprang up, the recipe card was the traditional method of sharing favorite recipes with friends. These cards are seeing a popular resurgence, as the hand-written instruction carries a warmth and personalization that simply can’t be duplicated with a “submit” button.

If you are like many family cooks, you have a collection of hand-written cards handed down from previous generations. To ensure they survive to see the next generation, look into recipe card protectors. These plastic slips are very inexpensive, and for a few pennies you can save a priceless written heirloom.

Lastly, a quick Google for recipe card templates should yield a variety of printable recipe cards that will be typed in Word or Acrobat, or can be printed out and then written on by hand. But we’ve gone through that hassle for you and have put more than 300 free recipe cards in one place:

Recipe Cards


Print Free Recipe Cards

Our latest and greatest invention is the Recipe Card O-Matic. It’s simply the easiest way possible to type up 30 or 40 recipe cards, each with their own beautiful design. And it’s FREE!
Well, the free version includes four templates. For a mere $14.95 you can unlock over 60 more. But even if all you do is use the free version, you’ll have the best recipe card maker on the internet!
Follow this link to begin downloading free recipe card software!
Here are some samples of cards you can print out:
Recipe card template collection

Can Cake Balls Conquer the Cupcake Craze?

They look like donut holes dressed up to look like what we used to call petit fours. Now they are “cake balls” (an unappetizing name to be sure), cake bites, cake bon bons, cake drops, cake-sicles or cake truffles. 

All I know is that the bite-sized cake ball trend started a few years ago as bakers thought of ways to use the cake trimmings they carved when making specialty-shaped cakes (ala Ace of Cakes). I’ve actually overlooked them for years….thinking they were truffles…not realizing they are something else.

Now Starbuck’s is on the band-wagon and has started selling cake balls on sticks as “cake pops,” another term used for the sweet little darlings. They are the rage at bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, and business functions seemingly coast to coast.

To be sure, the golf-ball sized treats are easier to eat than cupcakes (see my previous blog on cupcake eating).

Basically, to make cake balls you bake a cake of your favorite flavor, crumble it up, and then mush it together with the frosting of choice.  Roll the mixture into a ball, then coat it with a hard coat icing.  I suppose you could cover them with fondant or marzipan, too.

There are some advantages to cake balls:

– Cake balls are cuter than cupcakes.
– Cake balls are smaller than cupcakes.
– Cake balls are easier to eat than cupcakes.
– Cake balls are less expensive to make or buy than cupcakes.

However, cake balls are probably more time consuming, and therefore, harder to achieve a pleasing outcome, than making cupcakes For example, with cake balls you have to make the cake, crumble the cake, combine it with frosting, form it into balls, cover the balls with icing, and decorate (optional). Six steps, including the decorating.

On the other hand, with cupcakes you make the batter, bake it, then frost and decorate (optional). That’s only four steps — two fewer steps, including the decorating, than cake balls.

Either treat is great to enlist the help of kids (their small hands are the perfect size for rolling up the cake balls, hopefully with their hands safely in plastic baggies.)

Here is a simple how-to-make cake balls recipe for the uninitiated:

Cake Balls

1 (18.25-ounce) boxed cake mix plus ingredients called for on box
1 (16-ounce) can prepared frosting
3 ounces Almond Bark Coating or flavored Confectionery Wafer Coating

Prepare the cake according to package directions. When cool enough to handle and while still warm, crumble the cake into a bowl, then use a hand mixer to break up the cake into fine crumbs. Mix in frosting thoroughly to make a paste. Chill the mixture for 2 hours. Form the mixture into golf-sized balls. Place on wax paper and freeze for at least 6 hours. Remove the balls from the freezer a few at a time and dip them into the warm melted coating using toothpicks or forks.  Place on wax paper to harden. Decorate as desired. Makes about 36 cake balls.

Some recommended cake ball combinations:
Dark Chocolate over Carrot Cake & Cream Cheese Frosting
Milk Chocolate over Strawberry Cake & Strawberry Frosting
Dark Chocolate over Devil’s Food Cake & Fudge Frosting
Orange/Vanilla Coating over Yellow Cake & Buttercream Frosting
Milk Chocolate over White Cake with White Frosting
Milk Chocolate over German Chocolate Cake with Coconut-Pecan Frosting
White Chocolate over Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
White Chocolate over Lemon Cake with Lemon Frosting
Mint Chocolate over Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting

– An ice cream scoop or 1-1/2 ounce cookie dough scoop are helpful to keep portions even
– Roll freshly-coated cake balls in sprinkles, crushed nuts, or flaked coconut.
– Use chopsticks, fondue forks, or skewers to manipulate the cake balls while coating with chocolate or icing.
– Dipped balls will keep well at a cool room temperature for days; if you refrigerate them, the coating may sweat and become icky.

Can you imagine how someone will look back at our family cookbooks and recipe card boxes and wonder what cake balls were … and why they were listed in the index or table of contents or card list?  I hope by then cake balls will have a better name.

Happy Cookbooking,


Cream of Broccoli Soup

All the primary election news reminds me of the time President George Bush the Elder made a snide comment about a certain green vegetable that he did not — would not — eat. The resulting fluff in the media was nothing short of a scandal as I recall. The broccoli lobby and every broccoli farmer in America claimed insult.Continue reading

The Recipe Box Warehouse

We’ve posted a new video on our website that demonstrates the features of several popular styles of our high-quality recipe boxes.  Our narrator is none other than Erin Miller, our illustrious leader and owner of The Cookbook People of Boise, Idaho, who shows some of the best-selling recipe card boxes from our Recipe Box Warehouse, and explains her favorite features of each recipe box.Continue reading

Top 3 Ways to Save Family Recipes

When it comes to saving family recipes, most families have no argument about saving the best of the best. But what if Auntie Bess was a terrible cook? Are families morally bound to save even awful recipes that no one really wants?  That being said, what about the recipes of a not-so-favorite family member who made everyone uncomfortable with her constant complaints about inadequacies in a not so perfect world? Do you think the curmudgeon’s recipes deserve a place in the family cookbook anyway?Continue reading

Value of an Antique Family Cookbook

Sometimes I enjoy watching Antiques Roadshow to imagine what treasures might be lurking in my own home. LOL.  Recently a participant brought a smallish notebook that she said was her grandfather’s cookbook.  He had worked as a chef in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France in the last century, and his cookbook contained his collection of classic French recipes that he enjoyed creating as well as eating.

The Antiques Roadshow participant opened the little cookbook, hardly more than the size of a small 3” x 5” recipe card, and revealed the handwritten pages to those of us paying attention. Its pages were obviously well-used, and contained about 100 entries printed in a neatly-spaced handwriting captured in the still strongly-visible ink of a fountain pen. Some recipes even had sketches showing how the recipe should be properly garnished or plated.Continue reading

Free Trial Download Offers a Taste of ‘Matilda’

Did you know that we offer a free trial download of Matilda’s Fantastic Cookbook Software? Yes, we do. We want you to try before you buy and refer others who can do the same.

The free trial download is accessible from our home page under the “Software” dropdown. Click “Free Cookbook Software Download” and the page will pop up with the download link. Or you can use this URL to go direct: reading

Slice of Pear Lime Pie Nets Ruth’s Rave Review

On a recent trip to another state, my dear friend Ruth ate a slice of pie. That slice of pie was what she has come to call “the best slice of pie I’ve ever eaten.” Her discovery was in a small Texas town, and the slice of pie she enjoyed was an unexpectedly good union of pears and lime.

“The pear and lime combination was such an interesting grouping of flavors in a slice of pie,” Ruth recalls. “And, it was not too sweet; the slice of pie actually had a compelling bitter flavor almost like marmalade that was softened by really good vanilla ice cream.”Continue reading