Here are my recipes for a frothy Copyright Danger Cocktail
copying ingredients is ok however
+ substantially similar and involved directions (verbatum)=
possible copyright infringement
copying recipes directly from a cookbook (including the order as long as it isn’t alphabetical)= possible copyright infringement
Other than these examples it is pretty hard to be sued for Mr. Bam's Pork Belly Fricassé.
Now as far as a patent goes you could patent a recipe. However, the requirements are difficult for food because it would have to be something new and not obvious. Changing Grandma Sally's recipe from apple to orange pie doesn't count as not obvious. Let’s take for example Dippin’ Dots this “ice cream of the future” is ice cream mix that has been flash frozen with liquid nitrogen then formed into tiny beads. Pretty novel huh? Well it was anyway. They had a patent until February of 07 (that is now on appeal).
So the bar is pretty high and can be taken away from you too. Also, you have to remember that a patent runs out in 17 years then it is public information -do you really want everyone to know how you bake Aunt Maude’s Squirrel Surprise in the back of your Gremlin? To keep your recipe truly unique and to yourself just keep it as a trade secret like Coca-Cola has done for many generations.
For more info visit the U.S. Copyright Office. Or ask away (limited time offer, void where prohibited)!