Cooklang Specification

About Cooklang

Cooklang is the markup language at the center of an open-source ecosystem for cooking and recipe management. In Cooklang, each text file is a recipe written as plain-english instructions with markup syntax to add machine-parsible information about required ingredients, cookware, time, and metadata.

The .cook Recipe Specification

Below is the specification for defining a recipe in Cooklang.


To define an ingredient, use the @ symbol. If the ingredient’s name contains multiple words, indicate the end of the name with {}.

Then add @salt and @ground black pepper{} to taste.

To indicate the quantity of an item, place the quantity inside {} after the name.

Poke holes in @potato{2}.

To use a unit of an item, such as weight or volume, add a % between the quantity and unit.

Place @bacon strips{1%kg} on a baking sheet and glaze with @syrup{1/2%tbsp}.


You can add comments up to the end of the line to Cooklang text with --.

-- Don't burn the roux!

Mash @potato{2%kg} until smooth -- alternatively, boil 'em first, then mash 'em, then stick 'em in a stew.

Or block comments with [- comment text -].

Slowly add @milk{4%cup} [- TODO change units to litres -], keep mixing


You can add metadata tags to your recipe for information such as source (or author), meal, total prep time, and number of people served.

>> source:
>> time required: 1.5 hours
>> course: dinner


You can define any necessary cookware with #. Like ingredients, you don’t need to use braces if it’s a single word.

Place the potatoes into a #pot.
Mash the potatoes with a #potato masher{}.


You can define a timer using ~.

Lay the potatoes on a #baking sheet{} and place into the #oven{}. Bake for ~{25%minutes}.

Timers can have a name too:

Boil @eggs{2} for ~eggs{3%minutes}.

Applications can use this name in notifications.

The Shopping List Specification

To support the creation of shopping lists by apps and the command line tool, Cooklang includes a specification for a configuration file to define how ingredients should be grouped on the final shopping list. You can use [] to define a category name. These names are arbitrary, so you can customize them to meet your needs. For example, each category could be an aisle or section of the store, such as [produce] and [deli].



Or, you might be going to multiple stores, in which case you might use [Tesco] and [Costco].



You can also define synonyms with |.




[canned goods]
tuna|chicken of the sea


There’re things which aren’t part of the language specification but rather common conventions used in tools build on top of the language.

Adding Pictures

You can add images to your recipe by including a supported image file (.png,.jpg) matching the name of the recipe recipe in the same directory.

Baked Potato.cook
Baked Potato.jpg

You can also add images for specific steps by including a step number before the file extension.

Chicken French.cook
Chicken French.0.jpg
Chicken French.3.jpg

Projects Which Use Cooklang

Syntax Highlighting