Recipe Box

6th Feb 2019

View our overview of Recipe Cards here.

RECIPE BOXES: Good enough for your Grandmother, and good enough for you

  1. Introduction
  2. Wood Recipe Boxes
  3. Recipe Box Sizes: How Many Cards will Fit?


I'm putting this guide together not to try to sell you our stuff. (It sells itself!) I just thought it would be helpful to our many customers to put together a guide of everything you might want to know about recipe boxes. Feel free to click on the pictures to get to our store and see more photos, or just keep reading! 

Erin & Ted
Cookbook People

Ok, let's get started.....

The traditional means of organizing your cards is to put them in a recipe box. My own mom's recipe box was a tin box with rust around the edges. You still see a few tin recipe boxes around, and we used to even carry them, but the tendancy to rust was a nuisance and they always had a lightweight, flimsy feel to them. 

tin recipe box

About 25 years ago paperboard/cardboard boxes started to come in vogue. These can have pretty designs covering to make them really stand out. They have a pretty look, and if you want a recipe box for a nice 3-6 years before you update to a different design, these are a great solution: 

If you want something a little more enduring, there are a few faux leather style recipe boxes that offer more splash resistance while also adding some color to the kitchen: 

Here's another example below. I'm partial to this one because it's got my own wedding photo in it! Was I really ever that young? 

wedding recipe boxes

Wood Recipe Boxes

The current trends lean more toward wood boxes--they look great in modern kitchens and yet have a little of that old-fashioned feel. Traditional hard wood recipe boxes can be made of cherry wood, walnut, oak, cedar or poplar. The best selling boxes on our own site are bamboo. We began laser engraving on the lids of the boxes to commemorate weddings, birthdays, and just recognizing the family cook, and they have really become popular.

Cherry: This is our favorite recipe box if budget is no option and you are proud to buy 100% American-made boxes. Cherry accepts a very deep laser engraving, has a lighter colored wood, but still looks regal. My own recipe box is cherry hard wood.

Walnut: This is a beautiful dark wood that really stands out in the kitchen. It is also American-made. Because the engraving looks dark, it doesn't have as much contrast and so your engraved name on the lid may not be quite as obvious. But for many the subtlety of the engraving is the point. You know you're a great cook--why broadcast it? Dark woods have the advantage of hiding stains and blemishes, so it's a great box to pick if you want it to look new 10 years from now. 

Oak: Since so many kitchens feature oak cabinets and oak tables, it's a natural fit for someone who wants a matching recipe box. Oak recipe boxes are built from the strongest wood, so they are naturally the most durable and hardest to scuff. We used to have problems engraving on them because of their hardness, but since we upgraded our technology we no longer have that problem. You'll get a beautiful dark engraving on a nice bright oak box and you'll love it for years! And boy do we mean years--a good oak recipe box is an instant heirloom that will get passed down generations. 

Poplar: Poplar recipe boxes are just bright and simple and make me smile. The wood can sometimes look more green than you might expect. It's a nice wood to add an additional stain or paint to. Ours are American made.

Cedar (discontinued): I personally love the way cedar recipe boxes can look a thousand different ways depending on the streaks in the wood grain. Some are more orange, and some are more dominated by yellow. The smell is great too. Unfortunately, they don't engrave very well so we no longer offer personalization on them. Because they tend to have lots of knots, we opted to discontinue these boxes because we just couldn't get consistent results. I'm leaving it up here in memory of my favorite box (when they came out well) and my most hated recipe box rest of the time. :) 

Bamboo: We introduced bamboo recipe boxes some years ago and they have really taken over the market! With bamboo you get a bright, beautiful hard wood that matches most modern kitchens. 

Why are 80% of the recipe boxes we sell bamboo? 

1. They cost less. A bamboo stand needs only about 7 years to grow before it's ready to be harvested because they aren't technically a wood--they are a grass! Typical hardwood trees take 50+ years to grow before they are ready for harvesting. Because our costs are much, much lower for this material, we can pass that cost savings on to our customers. 

2. They are more environmentally sustainable. Because they grow so quickly, it takes a smaller footprint to grow them. Plus, every bamboo recipe box that isn't thrown in the trash is sequestering carbon. 

3. They are just as hard if not harder than most hardwoods. 

Recipe Box Sizes: How Many Cards will Fit?

Your recipe box capacity is limited by the interior depth of your recipe box. I've put together a quick calculator to help you understand how much space your recipe box has and how many recipe cards will fit in it: 

Honestly, though, if you have more than 300 recipe cards, you really should consider a second recipe box. Why cram them all in to one space? I keep my main recipe box handy on the countertop for daily use, and a secondary recipe box is stashed in a cupboard for special recipes I rarely use.