Menu descriptions sell your food. When a plate of fettuccine passes a person who is seated and fills the air with the aroma of cheese and heavy cream, it can entice a customer to order the dish. But for most customers, food descriptions are what help them determine what dish to order.

But you’re a chef or restaurant owner, so you might not spend your free time on writing and haven’t learned how to write a menu with mouthwatering descriptions of food.

The good news is that these proven methods can help you.

food descriptions

6 Tips to Use When Writing food Descriptions for Menus


1. Keep Descriptions of Food Short

If you’re trying to add in a long restaurant description with fancy wording, you’re off to a bad start. Instead, you’ll want to keep your menu descriptions short – people don’t have long attention spans.

A food description needs to:

  • Be vivid
  • Entice consumers

You want to use powerful menu description words that allow you to make a person's mouth water while not being too long. Sit down, write a first version and then revise trying to make it shorter while still maintaining the impact you want to make with your description.

2. Think About Your Audience

You know your audience better than anyone – or you should. When you're learning how to write a restaurant menu, you’ll focus a lot on wording and ideas. But you also need to figure out how to describe food on a menu in a way that resonates with consumers.

Sit down and gather information about your audience, including their:

  • Gender
  • Age

Why? It's important to know the gender and age because each dictates how to write your menu. Knowing the words to use comes from gender. For example, men tend to want to focus on the hardiness of a dish and the size of the portion provided. Women, on the other hand, want to know the finer details of a meal, from the taste to the aroma.

You also have to keep in mind the different dietary trends of your audience. If your audience is vegan or prefers gluten-free meals, be sure to highlight this on your menu. The goal is to make these key items stand out to your main consumers.

menu descriptions

3. Focus on the Person’s Senses

Taste and smell are two of the most important senses to focus on when writing a description of good food. Restaurant description words should incorporate sensory words that include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Spicy
  • Crispy
  • Savory
  • Creamy

You can describe the dish in great detail, such as “covered in a spicy tomato sauce with a hint of basil and a touch of butter.” 

Studies have been done on restaurant menu descriptions and the use of descriptive labels when writing menu items. Sales increased by 25% when the owner learned how to write to describe food. If you neglect to focus on your menu, you’re cutting down your potential sales and revenue. 

Imagine adding a few words and being able to easily increase sales by 25% or more.

For any owner, it makes sense to focus on and ignite the five senses. 

4. Design the Menu Properly

You can present a fabulous dish and spend time learning how to write a menu card, but restaurant menu writing will not help you overcome poor design. If your menu’s design is lacking, it’s going to push customers away and may stop them from reading further.

Think of your menu as an extension of your brand.

You want to impress with your card design. But how can you achieve your goal? These few tips can help:

  • Organize the categories
  • Keep full menu reading time to 110 seconds or less – seriously
  • Allow for easy skimming with large headers
  • Use special graphics to focus on specialty items and deals
  • Utilize boxes, bold text and colors to bring attention to certain food items

If you want to use real-life menu and food description examples, go to your favorite restaurants and snap a photo of the menu. Find that you find appealing so that you can use them as inspiration when creating your own.

You'll be surprised by the difference in menus, and which ones you like and don’t like.

how to write a menu

5. Don't Forget Pricing Best Practices

You can look at dozens of menu item descriptions and never pay attention to the pricing. A lot of owners just slap a price somewhere close to the description of a meal and never give it a second thought.

But consumers will also use pricing when trying to sift through the different items. Great design must include smart placement.

A few simple and easy methods that will allow you to add prices to your restaurant menu descriptions are:

  • Display pricing on the left or right side (stay consistent)
  • Align prices using left or right justification so that the dollar sign lines up

But there’s a problem with these methods: it allows consumers to price shop. If your goal is to get consumers to read every menu item description, place pricing right after the description. Use a dot or dash to connect the description and price to flow neatly into each other.

You can choose either method of pricing, but if you have certain high-priced items that consumers aren’t buying, you may want to avoid the first method of pricing placement discussed.

Creative wording and focusing on food adjectives for menus are not enough to make your menu “pop.” Using the tips outlined above will help you make more sales, describe food in a way that tantalizes the taste buds and increases customer satisfaction when they order a dish.

6. Focus on Three Main Parts of the Dish

When you look at a menu description, you’ll have to focus on three main parts of the menu:

  1. Title
  2. Ingredients
  3. Description

Your title always comes first and needs to state the name clearly. You’ll want to make the title bold and larger in size than the description text. Now, you need to determine if you want to add in the description or ingredients first.

Restaurants often use either order for their menu, but in either case, be sure to follow the same order throughout the menu. Sometimes, and it’s up to you, it’s acceptable to change this order after every certain number of items.

This should be done if you have a very long menu to break up the monotony of the items.

When writing a menu, be sure to focus on the descriptions of the food that you’re selling. Make the title stand out, highlight the key ingredients in the dish and be as descriptive as possible when writing your menu.

The time spent on writing can build customer loyalty and increase sales.

As your menu grows, be sure to revisit your descriptions and prune any dishes that aren’t selling well. If you focus on your items, you’ll have a much happier customer base that’s excited to try out new dishes simply because your description will help them envision the food even before it reaches the table.