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Quick Tips for Adjusting Recipe Sizes

Sometimes you want to change a recipe for certain situations. You might need to serve more people for example. Another scenario might be that you want to change the portions of the food to be bigger or smaller. If you want to control your budget, you can change a recipe to fit the exact number of people you want to serve.

Using standard techniques to change the size of your recipes makes them more accurate, and therefore the quality from the original recipe will be maintained. Not only that, but you can control your recipe to be the exact size that you want in any situation by using the standard recipe adjustment methods explained below.

Most recipes in the US are written using household measurements. Baked items like bread and cakes are more reliant on precise ingredient measurements. Soups and beverages tend to allow more leeway.

To adjust any recipe, you'll first need to decide how exact you need (and can) be. A soft conversion will give you very accurate numbers, and a hard conversion will allow you some room to round your numbers. Explanations of the differences are given below.

Once you decide on the conversion that you'll use, you can scale any recipe using these food-industry standard techniques. These kinds of foods are more reactive to formula adjustments.

Soft Conversions

Pick up a kitchen scale on Amazon.

Weights and measures are changed to equal their exact metric equivalents.

For example, 1 ounce = 28.3 grams

Soft conversions can be used where feasible. You may not have a food scale. If you do have a food scale, these numbers can still become cumbersome to work with—but it may be necessary depending on the components and desired results.

Candies, cakes, and bread are examples of foods where soft conversions are best for adjusting a recipe.

Hard conversion

Change weights and measurements to their round metric sizes.

For example, 1 ounce = 25 or 30 grams

Hard conversions are best for food items that aren’t going to be so reactive to a formula adjustment.

Soups, beverages, and sauces are examples of foods where soft conversions are best for adjusting a recipe.

Methods For How To Increase and Decrease Amounts in a Recipe

tomatoes on a kitchen scale

Factor Method

Step 1 - Pick Your Units

Determine what measurements you’ll use.

Convert ingredients into weight using hard or soft conversions. While using weights for conversions are easier to work with, it isn’t necessary.

Use any unit, but make sure the same unit of measurement is used when creating the new recipe from the old recipe.

Step 2 - Calculate the Conversion Factor

The calculation is: Desired amount (A) divided by Known amount (B) = Conversion Factor (C)

Step 3 - Apply to Individual Ingredients

Take your conversion factor, (C) and multiply it by the amount for each ingredient of the original recipe.

Step 4 - Apply to Sum Weights

Find the sum of the weights of all ingredients in the original recipe by adding them to get (D).

Multiply this sum by the conversion factor from Step 2.

(D) X (C) = (E)

Step 5 - Compare Recipe to New Plan

Find the sum of the weights of all the ingredients in the new recipe (F). This number should be equal to (E).

Now compare (F) to (E). They should be equal or close to equal.

F (total weight of ingredients in the new recipe) = E (total weight of ingredients in the original recipe)

While there may be a small difference in these numbers due to rounding, any noticeable difference between the two numbers means that there was an error in the calculations. If using hard conversions, you will need to re-adjust your rounding as much as possible to get better accuracy.

Percentage Method

When you have a recipe that you want to change frequently, the percentage method will give you the percentage of each ingredient in a recipe.

The recipe's percentage will only need to be created once, and then it can be used for all future changes.

Step 1 - Convert Measurements

Convert the measure of each ingredient to pounds in decimal.

Step 2 - Sum Weight

Add the weight of all of the ingredients to get a total of the ingredients for the recipe.

Step 3 - Find Percentages

Calculate the percentage of each ingredient.

Take each individual ingredient’s weight and divide it by the total weight of all ingredients. This gives each ingredient’s percentage of the total weight of the ingredients in the recipe.

Step 4 - Find Serving Weight

Find the weight of each serving in the original recipe by taking the total weight of the ingredients found in Step 2 and dividing by the number of servings for that recipe.

Step 5 - Scale Up

Take the weight of each serving and multiply by the number of servings desired to find the new total weight for the new, adjusted recipe that you’re making.

Step 6 - Apply to Percentages

The new total weight is now multiplied by each ingredient’s percentage to find the new weight needed for each ingredient.

Step 7 - Reconvert

Convert the ingredient’s weight back to the units you want to work in.

Use the percentages of ingredients and multiply them by desired servings anytime you want to adjust a specific recipe’s size.

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