How We Develop Recipes


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I get asked all the time how we develop the recipes that you see on this website. And the short answer is that we have several quality standards that recipes must meet. So I thought I’d break it down for you today!

Lisa Bryan and Emily Liao in the kitchen testing recipes for Downshiftology

Many of you know that I started Downshiftology eight years ago after I left the corporate world. My goal was to share the easy, healthy, gluten-free recipes that I was making in my own kitchen. I had no idea when I started this website that it would evolve into what it is today – a successful business and brand with employees, a YouTube channel with millions of subscribers, and a bestselling cookbook!

As you might imagine, things have changed a bit from those early days as a one-woman show photographing recipes in my parent’s basement. But one thing remains – ensuring the success of my recipes in your kitchen will always be my top priority. So here’s what goes into that.

How We Choose Recipes

Before we dive into the recipes, it’s important to introduce you to my Social Media Manager, Emily Liao. Emily has been with me since 2019 and we are joined at the hip running the day-to-day of Downshiftology and producing the recipes and videos you see.

Emily and I have a meeting every Monday morning to discuss our content calendar, which we plan weeks and months into the future. A few criteria we look at when choosing recipes are:

  • Seasonality & Sourcing: are the ingredients “everyday” items and is the produce currently in-season? We always want to make sure you’ll be able to find the ingredients in your local markets. So we’ll post asparagus recipes in spring and butternut squash recipes in fall, when produce is in peak-season.
  • Originality: will the recipe have our own unique spin? All recipes on the website are gluten-free and refined sugar-free with a focus on being nutrient-dense and healthy (minus my desserts, of course). That means I’ll always put my personal touch on classic recipes like chicken salad, chili, and even overnight oats. And while it’s hard to make a one-ingredient recipe like poached eggs or bacon in the oven super original, I always do my best to provide the most helpful tips based on my personal experience!
  • Difficulty Level: can you easily reproduce the recipe in your kitchen with basic kitchen equipment? I’m a big proponent of fuss-free cooking. So most of my recipes only need basic kitchen items like pots, pans, mixing bowls, baking sheets, casserole dishes, etc. And if you’d like to take it a step further, there may be some specialty recipes that require a slow cooker or air fryer.
Lisa Bryan and Emily Liao in the kitchen developing recipes for Downshiftology

How We Test Recipes

Once we’ve got a plan for recipes, I personally draft each recipe. Then, I get to work in the kitchen testing them! Most recipes are tested 3 to 4 times before posting on the website.

I’m all about foolproof, no-fail recipes and it’s really important to me that the recipes turn out first try in your kitchens. Especially as certain ingredients like prime rib, turkey, or beef tenderloin can be quite expensive.

Additionally, I now outsource photography (as of this year!) and having a food stylist and professional food photographer who makes and photographs my recipes in an outside kitchen is one more test to ensure the recipe is 100% ready for the website.

How We Shoot Recipe Videos

Even after all of these years I still shoot and edit all of my YouTube videos myself. Believe me when I say, it’s a ton of work! And I wish I could bring on extra help for it. But I have yet to find outsourced help who can maintain my professional style and save me time.

In terms of social media videos like Reels, TikToks and Shorts, Emily shoots those on an iPhone in my kitchen, usually while I’m simultaneously shooting the YouTube video. It makes for busy days in the kitchen, but we definitely have a rhythm to it now. And then Emily edits those videos before we post them on social media.

Do You Ever Update Recipes?

Yes, we sure do! I’m constantly reviewing older recipes on the website to see if we need to: 1) update the recipe at all based on reader feedback and/or 2) shoot new photos to make the recipe look fresh. Maintaining the quality of recipes, both old and new, is equally important. So you might see classic reader-favorite recipes like guacamole or golden milk pop to the front of the website again if we’ve given them a recent update.

I hope that answers some questions on how we develop, test, and ensure recipes on Downshiftology are the best they can possibly be! If you have more questions, pop them in a comment below.

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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  1. Thank you!
    Do you have more people on your team (to plan the shoots, to buy groceries, to chop veggies, etc.) or is it only two hard-working people? :)

    1. Hi Jane – nope, it’s just the two of us! Emily and I manage everything ourselves. Thankfully, we’ve developed a really good rhythm over the years and are dedicated to creating the best recipes and content possible. :)

  2. Wow, this is so inspiring! Thank you!
    I have two questions. 🙂
    How many recipes do you shoot in one day? 
    How many shooting days do you organize every month (or every week) ?

    1. It depends on what we have going on that week, but normally we shoot recipes 2 to 3 days out of the week!

    1. Hi,
      About the calories that we can see after each recipe: are they given per serving or for the full amount in the recipe?