How to Convert and Alter a Recipe
Sometimes you find a recipe that you love, but it is for the wrong quantity of servings that you need for your family, or a dinner party. Converting recipes requires just simple math in some cases, in others it will require trial and error to get it just right, especially if it’s a bread or baked good. Those types of recipes are probably best left as they are. But, everyone always is happy to have more bread anyway.
With most recipes that you would serve for breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can decide portions, measurements, and number served to fit your needs on most other dishes easily. Simply find the recipe you love, and convert it to the new serving sizes.
There are two main ways to convert recipes:
1. Use Technology — There are recipe conversation calculators online that you can use for free. Do use caution as all the calculator is doing is math. While the math may be right, when cooking, you still never know how something will come out. For instance, for taste purposes you may not always need to double the salt, or double the oil to get the right result.
2. Learn Math — You can figure out the math yourself too by just using a normal calculator. If there are 3/4 tsp of salt in a dish that is serving six, but you want to serve 8 just do the math. To adjust a recipe from 6 to 8 servings you will multiply everything by 1.33 (new yield/old yield ie.. 8+6 = 1.33) to get the new amount to use. To convert everything from 6 to 12 you’d multiply everything by 2. It might seem overwhelming but once you realize how to do it, it’s not that hard. Although it will take some refreshing to learn how to convert fractions such as weights to ounces, and volumes to fluid ounces and know how to multiply ¾ x 1.33 properly.
Whichever way you choose may still take some practice. You might find that it’s just easier to double a recipe and save leftovers than be exact. In many cases you’re going to get a strange result and you’ll simply round up or down to make it an easy measurement. This is one reason professional chefs usually measure by weight and use the metric system rather than by standard way most home cooks do it with cups and spoons and non metric systems. But, doing it either method above will work well.
The only time you’re going to run into problems is when the conversion is large. For example if you’re trying to convert a recipe that serves six to feed 500 or vice versa there may be problems with the thickening agents, liquids, spices and seasonings because when cooking a super large or super small quantity evaporation is different. With a large quantity the evaporation is slower than with a small quantity in which case liquid will evaporate faster. Also, it might be hard to mix the new quantities. In these cases it might be best to either cook several smaller quantities or find new recipes.