How To Write a Recipe

How To Write a Recipe

So you’ve got all these blank recipe booklets in your copy of Recipes For Disaster, but you’re not sure where to start. Fear not—the development team at Exploding Kittens is here to help!
Recipes for Disaster - Send Us Your Recipes! Reading How To Write a Recipe 9 minutes

If you're lucky enough to own a copy of Exploding Kittens: Recipes for Disaster, you've now got several blank recipe booklets that you can use to make your own weird and wild ways to play! If you're not sure where to start, though, fear not—the development team at Exploding Kittens is here to help!

We love starting our recipes with a question: What if?

  • What if it felt like everyone had psychic powers? (Recipe: Eye for an Eye)
  • What if everyone was constantly stealing from each other?(Recipe: Sticky Fingers)
  • What if we only used the most powerful cards ever made? (Recipe: Power Play)
  • What if there were only Imploding Kittens? (Recipe: Black Hole)
  • What if we made the fastest game of Exploding Kittens ever? (Recipe: Lightning Kittens)
  • Think about your favorite memories playing Exploding Kittens — what moments made you laugh, feel powerful, or feel especially excited? Now imagine: What would a deck that highlights those specific kinds of memories look like?


    Choosing Your Ingredients

    What’s a game of Exploding Kittens without, ahem, Exploding Kittens? Every recipe will need them, no exceptions.

    Exploding & Imploding Kittens

    The number of Kittens in any given recipe depends on the number of players in the game. The most important thing to know when you’re building a recipe is that there always needs to be at least as many Exploding Kittens (and/or Imploding Kittens) as there are players, minus one.

    We usually show that number like this in a recipe:

    You can include even more than that if you want, but never fewer. In the Recipe “Danger Mode,” for example, we include a lot more than necessary just to make the deck even scarier!


    Once we have Exploding Kittens in the deck, you’ll want a way to Defuse them! Most recipes start with at least as many Defuses as there are players, so that everyone can begin the game with one guaranteed Defuse in their hand. We note the number of Defuses like this:

    It’s up to you to decide if you want to include any additional Defuses that players can then randomly draw from the deck. The more Defuses you include, the longer the game will last!

    You could even decide not to include any Defuses at all, just to see what happens.

    The Remaining Ingredients

    Now that you have your Exploding Kittens and Defuses figured out, the rest of the cards you include as the ingredients are the real meat and potatoes of your recipe. 

    Think about that “What If” question you just asked yourself earlier — this is the core experience that you want in your deck — and then start out with a base set of cards from there. If you want to build a deck where players feel psychic, for example, you’ll want to include several See the Future, Alter the Future, and/or Share the Future cards. If, however, you want to build a deck where no one can see anything that’s coming up, then you’ll want to make sure you don’t include any of those cards.

    Now that you have the cards that support your “What If,” think about the other actions that your deck will have. Do you want players to be able to stop each other’s devious behavior? Include some Nope and Shuffle cards. Do you want players to steal from each other? Include some basic Cat Cards.

    It’s also important to realize that not every card works perfectly with others. We’re here to help you understand how some cards might interact unexpectedly, so that you can build the strongest set of ingredients possible.

    Card Interactions and Considerations

    Streaking Kitten Streaking Kitten

    • IMPORTANT! When you put a Streaking Kitten in a deck, whoever is holding the Streaking Kitten can safely hold an Exploding Kitten in their hand. This means, in order for the game to be able to end, you need as many Exploding Kittens in the deck as players (this is one more than normal).
    • Streaking Kittens don’t allow you to hold onto an Imploding Kitten, so if you have a deck with only Imploding Kittens, the Streaking Kitten is not useful!
    • The Streaking Kitten gets really exciting when there’s the chance of stealing it (or the Exploding Kitten) from another player’s hand. We love pairing the Streaking Kitten with cards that encourage stealing, like Cat Cards and Mark.
    • The Streaking Kitten pairs very well with Garbage Collection or Potluck so that if a player is holding both a Streaking Kitten and an Exploding Kitten, they have a chance to put the Exploding Kitten back into the deck.

     Catomic Bomb

    • Catomic Bombs don’t work on Imploding Kittens, so if your deck has only Imploding Kittens, it’s not useful!
    • The effect of a Catomic Bomb can be undone with a Shuffle card. This means that it’s not very impactful to put a Catomic Bomb into a deck with a lot of Shuffle cards (but it can be great to pair it with just a couple!).
    • Because the Catomic Bomb forces all the Exploding Kittens to the top of the deck, this card pairs very well with and Draw From The Bottom and Swap Top And Bottom.


    • Mark is most useful in a deck with a lot of opportunities for theft. Make sure that, if you include Mark, you also include plenty of Cat Cards to make it worthwhile!


    • Remember to include Reverse in your deck if you want a chance to use your Cone of Shame!

     Personal Attack

    • We love to pair Personal Attack with other Attack Cards (to stack the Attack count), or with See the Future, Alter the Future, or Share the Future so that you can prepare for a safer Personal Attack. 

     Curse of the Cat Butt

    • This card can get messy (no pun intended) when paired with certain special cards. Feel free to give it a try and enact chaos on your game nights, but if there aren’t already rules written for how certain cards interact with this, we recommend making house rules.

    Defining the Details

    A recipe isn’t just about assembling the ingredients — it’s also about how you use them! Details like Player Count, Hand Size, and Deck Size are important to understand so that you know how all these cards will come together in the game. These elements should all come together after you’ve put together a set of ingredients you’re happy with.

    Player Count

    Not every Recipe will work with every player count, and that’s okay!

    Sometimes for lower player counts, since you’re only dealing out a couple of players’ hands to start, the deck feels too big and takes a long time to get through — the game can get a bit boring. With higher player counts, since you’re dealing out more cards at the beginning of the game, you risk not having enough cards left in the deck for a satisfying game. We recommend (unless you’re designing a super-short game) that you make sure your starting deck size is always at least 10 cards to guarantee at least a few rounds of play.

    Starting Hand Size

    The standard Exploding Kittens game starts out with a hand of 7 cards plus 1 Defuse (8 total cards) for every player. We recommend trying 7 cards for every player count, and if you find that the Deck is too small to play after dealing to every player, either reduce the number of cards in the starting hand, or reduce the maximum number of players.

    Keep in mind that a larger starting hand will mean players have more options in early turns. This also means that a smaller starting hand will make for a shorter and more difficult game. Use this knowledge wisely!

    Starting Deck Size

    Once you’ve dealt out the starting hands to all your players, the remaining cards (with all the Exploding Kittens cards shuffled in) is your starting Deck. The smaller it is, the higher the probability of a player exploding on their first turn! The larger it is, the longer the game will take. So if you want a quicker, more intense game, aim for a smaller starting deck. If you want a longer game with more back-and-forth between players, consider increasing the deck size by either adding Ingredients or reducing the starting hand size.

    Testing your Recipe

    The best way to find out if your recipe works is to play it! Gather a handful of folks to give it a try and see what feels good. We recommend playing it at least a few times, ideally with all the different numbers of players your recipe supports. This is the best way to make sure that nothing feels bad.

    At the end of each test, take a note of what cards are left over in peoples’ hands at the end of the game — were those cards necessary? Would there have been a good time to play them? Is there a reason why people didn’t play them? Did any cards in the game feel like they were played too often? Did the game length (starting deck size) feel good?

    Have fun!

    The most important part of making recipes is to have fun and be creative. This is your chance to make something that’s personalized and uniquely your own! There’s no better way to play Exploding Kittens than in exactly the way YOU want. Bon appetit!