Savory. Sweet. Scrumptious. Flavorful. Fragrant… Hungry yet?
Designs that involve food have the unique job of engaging viewers’ senses and getting their tastebuds tingling to try or buy the product pictured.
Whether on restaurant menus, packaging, or advertisements, food imagery needs to make the most of qualities like color, texture, and shape to look as appealing as possible.
Ready to dig into some appetizing menu designs?
We’ve compiled a showcase of 50 that show what’s possible in this category and offer some ideas and techniques that you can apply yourself.
It can be frustrating figuring out what’s in your food. Evo Agency developed a creative marketing campaign for Birch & Waite’s line of high-end sauces that makes the process easy (and beautiful) with a visual list of fresh ingredients that literally shows what goes into each jar.
The team collaborated with students from the Culinary Institute of America to visualize food as art.
The result is a layered pairing of imagery and typography where the two elements form a dynamic composition.
Alaina Sullivan’s story design for Bon Appetit magazine has a lot going on: detailed photography, hand-lettering, colored text.
It could have easily leaned toward being visually overwhelming, but a thoughtful layout along with a bright yellow accent color pulls the whole thing together.
Who says healthy eating has to be boring? Pearlfisher set out to create a fresh, energetic visual identity for a range of nutritionally balanced food products.
In addition to already vivid photography of healthy ingredients, the product packaging and other branding elements were given bright, eye-catching backgrounds in shades that complement each other and the food.
Another project from Pearlfisher’s portfolio includes clever adaptations of their client’s logo to suit each of the brand’s different flavors of tortilla chips. This approach gives the design a sense of both consistency and variety.
G’nosh’s free-flowing website doesn’t have a clear organizing principle — no perfectly aligned grids or modular layouts here. But that works for this style.
The natural-looking food imagery looks like you could reach and and touch (or eat) it, and pairs well with the casual warmth of the hand-painted typography.
This book cover design by Laura Palese cleverly connects the title of the book to its subject through the use of negative space. The lettering’s symmetry with the image makes this technique even more striking.
Depth of field is a classic photography principle that often involves blurring to direct viewers’ focus. Here, Alberto Conti’s website design creates a sense of depth by mimicking how our vision (or a camera lens) works.
This technique directs your attention to the product photos and description in the center of each section.
Prompt Design’s packaging for fresh fruit getds up-close-and-personal with the photography, filling the whole frame of the label with the product’s natural texture and color.
Here, Michael McNeive has made the distinctive texture of kale a focal point of his landing page about superfoods. That the rest of design is rather minimal makes the colors and texture stand out even more.
There’s no doubt what the focal point and theme of this magazine spread is. But the contrast between the size of the central photograph with the smaller ones to each side, along with the diagonal composition, creates visual interest and balances the layout.
The piece was art directed by Brian Struble.
Brand Society’s design for frozen dessert packaging uses typeface styles and shapes to create a certain mood for the brand.
The design’s playful, homey quality (notice the doily shape in the background and the hand-drawn style of the type) suggest going to grandma’s house for homemade pie — an association that matches nicely with a brand called “Nanna’s.”
Here, a Bon Appetit magazine cover (art directed by Matthew Lenning) zooms in on bite-sized food perched on a fork — a creative presentation much more interesting than steak and fries on a plate — to represent one of the issue’s featured meals, Steak Frites.
As a nice touch, the colors of the typography are drawn directly from those in the image.
Another Washingtonian cover, this time with lettering by Jill DeHaan and more photography by Scott Suchman, takes the inverse approach of what we saw in the previous example.
Instead of typography framing the photography, the food imagery frames the typography. You peek through a feast of fresh produce to find the magazine title underneath.
Like pencil or paints, food itself can also be used as an artistic medium. Anna Keville Joyce demonstrates that with her food illustration for a vineyard located in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.
This example, designed by Rosa Engracia Peña, contrasts the colors of different foods to create a striking composition that resembles vintage travel posters.
Stefan Poulos’ designs for a restaurant’s ad campaign create implied movement simply through the placement of the food being photographed.
A sense of movement — whether more literal as here, or just through the placement of items on a page (vertical or diagonal movement, etc.) — can lend extra visual interest to a simple design.
As a more dramatic example, check out Sharpe + Associate Inc.’s collaboration with photographer Scott Newett, which resulted in an advertising image that implies that the product is bursting with flavor. It must have been a messy photo shoot.
Kimberly Low’s advocacy poster to promote healthier school lunches contrasts sketched illustrations of junk food with photography of nutritious foods. This “fake food vs. real food” imagery supports the message of the poster in a highly visual way.
Contrasting different colors and textures within your food imagery can have a big visual impact. Tanya Zouev has done that here with her photography for an ad campaign, using the technique to show the versatility of the product.
Sharpe + Associates employs a similar technique for these promotional materials, but places full images side by side. The two share a typeface in common, which helps connect them visually.
An over-easy egg in the shape of the state of Maine — not something you see everyday. But for a magazine issue that’s about the best places for breakfast in Maine, what better imagery to sum up the subject?
When you’re able to use an surprising presentation that’s also highly appropriate for your subject, you’ll have a more memorable design. (Lettering by Angela Southern).
Guillermo Carvajal’s design for a jelly brand uses some photo manipulation to emphasize the products’ real fruit ingredients. But the unique juxtaposition of imagery makes the ads stand out.
This infographic-style branding for a restaurant from Willoughby Design uses food imagery as a background against which to present facts about the fresh ingredients consumers will find in their meals.
Dave Brady’s fun, colorful compositions for Heinz pasta sauces feature both food items and kitchen implements in matching colors. Both the colors and shapes visually represent the main ingredient in the sauce.
The number three has long been a key one in artistic compositions, whether grouping items in threes or using the rule of thirds. Sean Farrell’s grouping of three images creates a nice focal point in his website design and provides a foundation for the rest of the layout.
For more composition tips, check out Design Principles: Master Compositional Flow and Rhythm.
To design the menu of an Italian restaurant, Acre took a novel, more visual approach: deconstructing the dishes to show the ingredients before and after cooking. The ingredients are also arranged in precise patterns that contrast nicely with the organic shapes of the food itself.
This website concept from Mark Unger features a traditional header image at the top of the design, but then mixes things up by placing plated food on top of the layout, as if they were sitting there on your screen.
This technique displays the restaurant’s menu items from a different perspective that’s a little more interesting than your typical, forward-facing rectangular photo.
Becca Clason’s social media images for Sabra aimed to dispel some consumers’ reluctance to try the brand’s hummus dips.
The designs are so effective due in large part to the appearance of the food in the images (which are also ingredients in the hummus) and how those ingredients visually contradict the statement in each design.
The branding on these ready-to-cook meal packages, designed byMartin Azambuja, features both photography (the finished result of what buyers will cook) as well as culinary-themed graphics.
The photography and illustrations work together to create a fun and fresh design. Each package also has its own color scheme that complements the meal.
As an example, Vikas’ design for a recipe app contrasts the round shapes of the dishes in the background with the square and linear forms created by the menu buttons.
Take a look at how Andrea Censi’s branding for an event called “Re-Invent Food: Shaping the Next Food System” visually reinforces the concepts presented in the event title.
Not only is a food item being “shaped” into another object, but that object (a light bulb) is one that’s associated with invention and new ideas. Both the text and the imagery give context to each other: a good sign of a thoughtful design.
Arranging your layout on a grid or with geometric modules can help organize and separate the various elements of your design. Here, Grant Burke pairs a grid layout with color-blocking for a lively packaging concept.
Detailed food imagery can sometimes make for an overly busy background where it’s hard to read any text. You can solve that problem, as Dual Pixel has done for their app design, by placing a semi-transparent colored screen over a photo to smooth over any distracting details.
Lauren Pagan’s landing page concept shows how black or white transparent overlays can do the job just as well as colored ones. In this case, the colors of the photo beneath still show through to lend a little pizzazz, but the darkening provides a solid-enough background that even thin, white text can show up.
Vanillashake Media’s packaging for freeze-dried fruits arranges pieces of fruit into shapes and patterns, making them into an eye-catching graphic element rather than just an ingredient photo or flavor indicator.
Google’s material design language emphasizes features like modular layouts and vivid color schemes. Jared Bell has applied a similar style to a restaurant website, incorporating food imagery into a brightly colored grid menu.
“Show, don’t tell”: it’s a tip that many authors and teachers have offered as a way to improve your writing. But it can also apply to design.
This online menu, part of a website designed by Anthony K., is all the more engaging because it shows a full image of each dish — much more appealing than just a written description, don’t you think?
When you’re working with food, color choices are often simplified because you have lots of natural, vivid colors in your imagery that are easy to tie into the rest of the design, as Vincent Xu has done with this menu interface idea.
Notice the angle and placement of the food on this landing page from Lindsay Itani. Everything is pointing towards the center of the screen — creating leading lines that direct your gaze to the website’s main message and call to action.
BigFan’s work for the BBC on a campaign intended to encourage families to cook healthy meals at home features a fresh and friendly style.
The look, with pops of bright color and custom illustrations, was created to be approachable and uncomplicated, with easy-to-follow recipes that are invitingly designed rather than intimidating.
Unlike many of the other examples we’ve looked at, this packaging design from Jeremy Cheramy uses food imagery more as an accent to the overall design than as the overwhelming focal point — providing a pop of color against a primarily white background.
Sometimes a brand calls for a design that’s completely unlike anything else on the market. That’s what the folks at Oumph! were looking for when they called on Snask to design a visual identity for their line of frozen veggie products.
The resulting design might be a risky choice for any other brand, but it has the raw and energetic vibe Oumph! was after and will certainly stand out on the shelves.
In contrast, these minimal fruit and vegetable posters by Yum Tang show fresh produce in all their colorful glory. Sometimes it’s the simple design solutions that are the most striking.
Andrei Hancu’s seafood-centric website concept reinforces its themes by repeatedly featuring images of a fish (which first shows up in the restaurant’s logo) in different styles, sizes, and formats — from the close-up texture of fish scales in the header image to the simple illustrations left of center.
Images can be a great way to break up text and add visual interest to any type of design project. This concept for a cooking website from Natalia Lachiewicz features photography with interesting shapes and colors to enhance the content.
Even if that human is illustrated, as with Pearlfisher’s design here, if people can imagine themselves trying a product (i.e., picking up that piece of chocolate), then they’re already halfway to making a purchase.
We’ve hope you’ve been inspired (and didn’t get too hungry) after browsing through this showcase of food-focused designs. If you have an upcoming project yourself, make sure to check out our 5 Amazing Photo Filters for Food Bloggers, available right here in Canva. Ready to cook up a satisfying menu? Stir up everyone's appetite with our delightful templates to choose from and design ingredients to add to your personalized menus. Happy designing!