Can You Copyright a Recipe?

First I want to thank you for all the work you do helping us budding writers. Thank you for including me on your mailing list.

I have a question. My family has been after me to write a family cookbook with all their many favorite recipes. Through the years I have clipped recipes here and there. Some are my mother’s or grandmother’s. I have no idea where they originated from. Of course, I would write it mainly for family, but what if it became a New York Times best seller? (Just kidding.) But, friends or others might want to buy it. How could I ever trace down the original recipe for permission? Some of the recipes I have changed a little. (I thought I made it better.) I have bought cookbooks from local fundraisers and I can’t find disclaimers.

Could you help me?

Thank you so much!


We get this question quite a bit so I try to run a ditty on it at least once a year. 🙂

There is actually a special page on the Library of Congress website concerning the copyrighting of recipes. See: