The Classic Donna Hay Recipes You Need to Master

Donna Hay is renowned for her simple, fast, and fresh recipes that are as beautiful as they are practical. Having sold over six million cookbooks worldwide, Hay has been responsible for many memorable meals around the world over.

The bestselling cookbook author, food stylist, and editor-in-chief of donna hay magazine. So, to help you upgrade your weeknight dinners, to chef-worthy status, we've listed some of our favourite from Hay. 

Each basic recipe is followed by clever variations and simple flavour change-ups, so once you master one recipe, you can master many—genius! Her simple steak recipe can be transformed into the ultimate steak sandwich, and the ‘no-fail meringue’ can be tweaked to become the perfect pavlova. Scroll on for Donna Hay recipes you need to master. 

cheat’s ricotta gnocchi dough

Donna Hay

Makes 1 quantity


1½ cups (360g) fresh ricotta+

1 cup (80g) finely grated parmesan

1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour

3 eggs

1½ teaspoons sea salt flakes

Cracked black pepper


1. Place the ricotta, parmesan, flour, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix until combined and a sticky dough forms.


+ For the best results, buy fresh full-cream ricotta. It’s available at delicatessens and the deli counter of supermarkets.

Tip: This dough should be a little sticky to work with. Keep some extra flour on-hand for dusting when it comes time to shape and slice the gnocchi in the recipes that follow.

­­simple spinach and ricotta gnocchi

Donna Hay

Serves 4


1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind

¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

300g baby spinach leaves

1 x quantity cheat’s ricotta gnocchi dough (see basic recipe)

Wild rocket (arugula) leaves and shaved parmesan, to serve


1. Place the lemon rind, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix to combine and set aside.

2. Place the spinach in a large heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and set aside for 1 minute. Drain, place in a clean tea towel, squeeze to remove the excess liquid and finely chop.

3. Add the spinach to the gnocchi dough and mix to combine. Lightly dust a clean surface with flour.

4. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a 3cm-wide log. Slice into 2cm-thick pieces and set aside on a lightly floured tray.

5. Cook the gnocchi, in 2 batches, in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 2–3 minutes or until risen to the surface.

6. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a serving plate. Top with the lemon oil, rocket and parmesan to serve.

perfectly cooked steaks

Donna Hay

Serves 4


2 x 4cm-thick rump steaks or boneless sirloin steaks (700g)

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 cups (600g) rock salt

cracked black pepper


1. Rub the steaks with the oil.

2. Spread half the rock salt over a tray, top with the steaks and cover with the remaining salt. Set aside for 20 minutes.

3. Wipe all the salt from the steaks, using paper towel, and sprinkle with pepper.

4. Preheat a char-grill pan or barbecue over high heat.

5. Cook the steaks, turning every 1 minute, for 2–3 minutes each side or until cooked to your liking.

6. Cover gently with aluminium foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Salting the steaks helps to tenderise the beef and adds to its flavour.

Turning the steaks ensures they cook evenly and caramelise on the outside.

Slice the cooked steaks thickly and serve with hand-cut chips and mustard.

the ultimate steak sandwich

Donna Hay

Serves 4


¼ cup (60ml) apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar

½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

1 red onion, thinly sliced

8 slices sourdough bread, lightly toasted

⅓ cup (90g) tomato relish

8 slices vintage cheddar

1 x quantity perfectly cooked steaks (see basic recipe), thinly sliced

8 cos (romaine) or butter lettuce leaves


1. Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Add the onion and toss to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes to pickle.

3. Spread the sourdough slices with the relish. Top 4 of the slices with the cheddar, steak, onion and lettuce. Sandwich with the remaining sourdough to serve.

no-fail meringue mixture

Donna Hay

Makes 1 quantity


225ml eggwhite (about 6 eggs)+

1½cups (330g) caster (superfine) sugar

1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)

1½ teaspoons white vinegar


1. Place the eggwhite in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high speed until soft peaks form.

2. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until each addition is dissolved before adding more++.

3. Once all the sugar has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl and whisk for a further 10–15 minutes or until the mixture is thick and glossy+++.

4. Place the cornflour and vinegar in a small bowl and mix until smooth.

5. Add the cornflour mixture to the eggwhite mixture and whisk for 30 seconds or until well combined++++.

Notes :

+ Making meringue is a science. Be sure to measure your ingredients carefully, including the eggwhites as egg sizes do vary. Fresh, room temperature eggs work best – when whisked they’ll become fluffy and voluminous, plus they’re more stable during baking.

++ Be patient when gradually adding the sugar to the eggwhite. Each tablespoon of sugar should be dissolved before the next is added.

+++ Take care not to overwhisk the meringue mixture – it’s ready when it’s thick, glossy, smooth and there are no more sugar granules. You can check this by rubbing a little mixture between your thumb and forefinger. 

++++ See the recipes that follow for how to bake this meringue mixture.

Tip: It’s best to avoid making meringue on humid days. Excess humidity can cause meringue to sink during or after baking.

the perfect pavlova

Donna Hay

Serves 8-10


1 x quantity no-fail meringue mixture (see basic recipe)

1½ cups (375ml) single (pouring) cream, whipped

raspberries, passionfruit pulp and sliced peaches, to serve


1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Using a pencil, draw a 20cm circle on a sheet of non-stick baking paper. Place the baking paper, pencil-side down, on a lightly greased baking tray+.

2. Spoon the meringue mixture into the circle to make a neat round. Reduce the oven temperature to 120°C (250°F) and bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool completely in the closed oven++.

3. Place the pavlova on a cake stand or plate and top with the whipped cream, raspberries, passionfruit and peach to serve.


+ Turn the baking paper so it’s pencil-side down on the tray – no marks will transfer onto the meringue.

++ Allow the meringue to cool gradually in the oven with the door closed – preferably overnight.

Donna Hay Basics to Brilliance $55

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