Food is not just about the taste. Before we even eat it, we see it, smell it, and touch it. If something looks like a piece of crap, you’re not going to want to eat it. But if it is a masterpiece of art, it makes that first bite taste all the better.

Here are some tips on how to plate food used by the pros to make your dish look as appealing as possible. So, once you’ve got your food Insta skills down, take your picture and all you’ll be able to do is stare and drool at it.

Don’t overcrowd


Photo by Dara Ades

Simplicity is essential; if there’s too much going on, it just looks like a hot mess. Stick to a couple of ingredients, observe the rule of three, and the food will look like that cool kid that looks swaggy without even trying.

Use a big white plate


Photo by Paige Twombly

A big white plate with a wide rim is key. It highlights the food which is what you want, just make sure you keep at least a half inch between your food and the lip of the plate.

Make your main ingredient the focal point of the dish


Photo by Avery Singer

If you hire Pitbull to give a concert, are you going to go stick him in the corner? No. So if you’re serving a steak, you’re going to want to put the steak front and center. The best chefs want the food to look as natural and pure as possible, to make it look like it was born on the plate. One great way to do this is to shop seasonally.

Try the tower method


Photo by Sarah Yanofsky

This is a solid way to make the main ingredient pop. Elevate it above everything else so it can look down and smirk at its lowly accompaniments.

Slice it and fan it


Photo by Kendra Valkema

This is another great way to put food in the spotlight on. It adds some flair and class to the presentation.

Use contrast and color


Photo courtesy of

This will give the dish character. Use cherry tomatoes for some red, or garnish with an herb for some green. Blanch the vegetables so they retain their bright color as well. Take a look at these recipes for a simple idea of how to use color.

Follow the shape of the plate


Photo by Sophie Clingan-Darack

If you have a circular plate, use circles and spheres. For a rectangular plate, use rectangles. For elliptical plates, use oval shapes and place the food along the long side. You get the idea.

Other tips

Go for pure geometric shapes, plate multiple ingredients in parallel, and avoid using excessively runny sauces. Follow these tips and your friends will gush over how divine your foods look.