Blogging Tips

How To: Create a Recipe Index on WordPress

How To Create a Recipe Index on WordPress | The Pajama Chef

Before we get into the nitty gritty of this tutorial, let’s talk about why food bloggers should have a Recipe Index. [If you want an example, my Recipe Index is located along the top of my blog, and when you click on it, you are directed here.] It’s a requirement for membership in the Secret Recipe Club, and was something I didn’t quite understand at first when I was first looking to join about a year after starting my blog. However, I have since found that it’s incredibly helpful for many reasons, both for you and your readers. But it can be confusing, time consuming, and challenging to create.

Here are a few reasons why I think having a Recipe Index is super important:

  • Basically, without an index, readers might miss relevant information if it is not phrased exactly as they expect. Tags and searches are not perfect, and neither is spelling [your own or others’]. Having a index where you can see a list of recipes without taking the time to go through pages and pages opens up another avenue for blog growth, site traffic, and more followers. It shows readers you are serious with what you do [even if it’s just a family recipe blog! I don’t develop most of my recipes personally but I do organize what I blog about for easier use.
  • Having a blog index helps new readers immensely–especially when people are coming to your site without a specific link to your favorite muffins or recent stellar leftover remake. People will find highlighted recipes from Pinterest, links you’ve shared in blog hops, or by searching online. But what about people coming to your blog because you gave them a link, because they were assigned to you in the Secret Recipe Club, because your spouse/parents/siblings/BFF/neighbor gave out the link and told them to look for this really awesome cookie recipe that had chocolate in them. You have seventeen chocolate recipes. Without a Recipe Index, it’s harder to scroll through to find out that you only have four chocolate cookie recipes–the rest are for cake or pie or cheesecake or brownies or whatever.
  • Last but not least, it helps with your own personal organization and blog planning.
    • You can quickly go to one page on your blog and see what category of recipes you have blogged a lot about [for me, it’s main dishes–nearly half of my recipes are what I’d consider lunch or dinner food]… as well as what you haven’t [Beverages. 3. THREE!]. This can help you if you’re trying to diversify what is available for your readers.
    • You can also find your recipes more easily, without having to navigate through pages of search results or hitting the “older entries” button over and over. This can be helpful if you’ve been blogging for a few years and want to link up similar recipes, or even just for your own cooking and baking needs.

I know there are many other reasons why a Recipe Index is VIP. But I’ve been wordy enough. Let’s get to the how to, shall we?

The following tutorial for creating a Recipe Index is for WordPress blogs. My blog is created using the free WordPress [dot com, not self-hosted–dot org], but I believe that the basic administrative software that runs both the free and paid versions looks the same.

Before you begin: In order to use this method to create a Recipe Index, your recipes must be organized using Categories in either list or dropdown format. If you are using a Category Cloud, I suggest that you go to the Widgets section [under the Appearance option on the left menu] and create a Categories area. You can always remove that after you have initially established your Recipe Index. If you don’t organize your blog with Categories [i.e. Appetizers, Beverages, etc.] but rather use those terms [Appetizers, Beverages] as tags, you can adapt this tutorial but the process will not be exactly the same.

Step 1: Have two tabs open in your browser. The first should be your blog homepage. The second should be your Dashboard.

Step 2: When logged into Dashboard, click on the Pages option on the left menu. That will redirect you to the main Pages page.


Click on ‘Add New’ and create a new page called Recipes.

Add new

Step 3: Go to your blog homepage, and look at your Categories. Mine are organized as Appetizers, Beverages, Bread, Breakfast, Desserts, Main Dishes, and Sides.

Category List

Within those categories I have subcategories [i.e. Egg Dishes within Breakfast], but we’ll come back to that later.  After the Recipes page has been created, it should show up on your homepage like this.

Sample homepageObviously the exact placement varies due to your theme, but you get the idea.

Step 4: Next, go back to your Dashboard, then go to the Pages option, ‘Add New’–just like in Step 2. This time, create a page for each category [Appetizers, Beverages, etc.–use the categories you have created for your own blog]. Except this time, after you have typed the category name in the ‘Enter title here’ section, go over to Page Attributes on the right. Click on the ‘Parent’ dropdown box and then on Recipes.

Add new with parent

This will create a menu hierarchy, which makes your Appetizer page appear underneath the Recipe tab when it is highlighted by a reader [instead of creating another tab along the top of your blog].

Example menu

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 with all your Categories that you have used for Recipes in the past. They should automatically populate the menu like mine has in the above image, and should appear on the Dashboard side in a hierarchy, too.

Dashboard pages view

Step 6: Go back to the original Recipe page you created. Type the names of each Category you chose, and then create links to the new pages for them. Alternatively, you can create images and then link the images like I did, but to begin, using text will be simpler.

Recipes page

Step 7: The rest of this process is the most time consuming, and unfortunately there is really no simple fix, so I suggest to go about this in a systematic way over time. It’s a good activity to do while you’re watching TV, as it doesn’t require a great deal of concentration. This is the time when you need to type in all the names of your recipes, using your Category drop down that you were looking at in Step 3 to help compile the index. I use different methods for Categories with and without subcategories.

  • Categories without subcategories [i.e. Appetizers, Beverages, Bread]: click on the Category page like this. Go to the Page you created for that type of recipe like this, and just type in the name of each recipe title, then link it up. When you are clicking to add the link, you can speed the process up by searching to link to existing content. That is much faster than loading each blog post within a category and then copying and pasting the link. 
  • Categories with subcategories [i.e. Breakfast]: click on the Category subpage like this, and basically do the same thing, except adding headings within the Page you are editing. Here’s an example of my Breakfast page.

Step 8: Maintenance. This is very important! Now that you see how long it takes to prepare a Recipe Index, you’ll want to maintain it. I try to update mine every week when I do my menu plan, so that I never get too far behind. If I go longer than a week or so, then I tend to use my method in Step 7 to determine which posts are missing from the index.


If you’ve never used Categories, my best advice for replicating this with tags is to think about your process for creating the tags. Are the tags ingredients? Types of foods [muffins, cookies, chicken dishes, etc.]? Recipe sources? Once you know how you created your tags, brainstorm a way to corral all those recipes into a list and adapt my method to fit your organization system. The process might have to look a little different, especially since tags don’t have drop down menus, and not all tags show up on tag clouds, but you can do it. You might have to do it from within the Dashboard but where there’s a will, there’s a way. [Category and Tag lists are within the Posts section on Dashboard, by the way.] It might take time, but do it a little a time and it’ll get done, I promise!

I hope this tutorial for creating a Recipe Index is helpful. Please let me know in the comments or by email [pajamachef at gmail dot com] if you have questions, suggestions, or if I have omitted something important. I usually do recipes, not tutorials so that is entirely possible. This post was just something requested within the Secret Recipe Club group on Facebook, and since I love organization [I’m a librarian, after all]… I jumped at the chance to write down my process. I am also happy to help you think through ways to organize your recipes, so feel free to contact me about that too.

Good luck and Happy Recipe Indexing!! 🙂

for those of you on Blogger, check out Sarah’s post over at Fantastical Sharing of Recipes. 🙂

76 thoughts on “How To: Create a Recipe Index on WordPress”

  1. Wow, you did SUCH a great job with this! I could not have done this so well so quickly, I’m so impressed. I really wish every blogger had an index, it helps so much. I use my own quite a lot to find recipes so I know how useful it is. Thank you for doing this, I hope it helps many.


  2. Hello! Sarah! thanks for posting this, I am trying to create my recipe index and it seems that I get lost in the easiest step…number 7! where I supossed to teype the recipes for each category? I am little bit slow to learn…I created a page for each category under page as you can see in my website: (recetas) hope you can help me please!
    Thank you Sarah



    1. Hi Susan! If you open the ‘pages’ area of your wordpress dashboard, you should be able to click on each page for type of recipe and then type in the recipe name along with the link to the blog post of that recipe. Does that make sense? Let me know! Thanks for your question. 🙂


  3. Very useful thank you! I’m glad I found your page early in my blogging career (!) as I don’t yet have a lot of recipes to put in each category. I can’t wait to start filling my index now it’s set up though 🙂


  4. Thank you for the article. You mention “Alternatively, you can create images and then link the images like I did, but to begin, using text will be simpler.” Can you please explain how to do this with images? I can’t figure out how to make it so that when you click on an image, it takes you to a link other than a larger version of the image. Thank you!


    1. Glad this has helped you out with your site! When you add an image to a post or page, the first four options (in the “add media” area, when an image is selected) are for things like title, caption, etc. Then there’s a section called “Attachment Display Settings” down at the bottom where you can choose alignment, link to, and size. These are drop downs, and under the ‘link to’ one, choose custom URL and then type the URL you want to direct the image to. Hope this answers your question, I’d be happy to clarify if needed.


  5. This is great! I have makeshift recipe and wine review pages, but your system seems more organized and easier to maneuver! I found your site through Sophia (Silk and Spice) above. Love it, thanks! 🙂


      1. Hi Sarah!! You have done a great job teaching me who knows nothing about computers, create an index for my blog. Unfortunately two things are not responding, yet but I’m trying to fix them. First, the recipe page doesn’t drop down and then I cannot change the colour of the letters in my recipe page. All the rest worked because of your tutorial. Before that, I have done an extensive search in the Internet and yours was by far the easiest and the best.
        I send you a very big thank you.


      2. Hi Christina! Glad the tutorial is helpful. As for your two issues, the drop down menu that I was talking about is pretty typical for themes in the (free) sites. So your theme in may not include that. As for colors of the font (letters), that is something you can alter post-by-post in the visual editor area. This link ( is for but should look similar in Let me know if you need more help!


  6. That was super helpful!!! I’m changing a few things on my blog and this was something I’ve needed to do. Your tutorial was the easiest, though I don’t have dropdowns and stuff. But with your basic guidance, I figured it out and I have a good start!!!


  7. Help Sarah
    I have orange splash theme! I have tried to follow your tutorial and am having all kinds of issues! I am new…3 months at blogging …I desperately need a recipe index . I was able to use recipe in my menu header and I was able to add subs like appetizers but nothing shows up if I hover over recipes. My pages have the dash in front of appetizers under recipes but when I type in recipe title and paste the short link beside….. Nothing happens! I updated but nothing! Am I hopeless? ☺️ My address is and I have about 40 recipes that need an index! Suggestions please? I am sure I am doing something wrong obviously


    1. Long answer to a short question. 🙂

      I fully understand the importance of a recipe index which is why I was having issues…however, I finally got that all worked out, but I wanted a separate page of recipe thumbnail icons which would link back to my printable recipes.

      I did succeed in putting them on a page, but could not, and still can not, get them to line up in a vertical or horizontal row. They just pop up everywhere not matter if I center, left, right etc….

      Sooooo, I have hired a web designer for several hundred dollars (over 500.00)….and he is trying to work me up a completely new website. He is local (and respected) so I can actually show him in person my dilemmas. Word Press however, is causing new issues with the web design as I try to keep my “Recipe Card (YumPrint)” and other plug-ins that I currently have.


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