A method for designing and recording holographic optical elements, using recursive techniques, has been developed. The elements are recorded with complex wavefronts that are derived recursively from interim holograms. With this design method the elements, can have high diffraction efficiencies and low aberrations. so they are useful for a variety of applications. We shall review the design method and illustrate it with examples of a Fourier transform holographic lens, a holographic imaging element for helmet displays and a focussing element for the near infra-red radiation.