If you need to increase recipe size for a dinner party or a family event, you may be wondering how to feed 15 people with a dish that says it serves four to six. Or maybe you stocked up on eight heads of broccoli because you had a coupon or cash back offer that was too good to ignore — and now you need to cook it all.
Depending on the type of recipe, simply doubling, tripling or even quadrupling the ingredients could lead to dishes that are too spicy or bland, too watery or just generally not as expected.
The good news is that you can learn the art of scaling recipes.
Choose the right recipe
If you need to scale food for a larger group, choose a recipe that’s easy to multiply, such as:
- Meat or casserole dishes
- Soups or stews
- Egg-based dishes like quiche or shakshuka
- Grain-based main or side dishes
Some dishes or types of recipes aren’t easy to scale and are best followed as written. These mostly include baked goods, like breads, where the ingredient portions are typically based on weight and highly specific ratios. For example, some bread recipes actually require you to reduce the yeast or other leavening if you’re making a bigger batch.
Increase recipe size slowly but surely
Let’s say you plan to quadruple a recipe for chicken chili. In this case, you’ll take the main ingredients and simply multiply them by four. The ingredients you’ll likely need to multiply here are chicken, vegetables and beans.
But when you’re making a recipe that includes liquids and spices, you may not necessarily need (or want) to increase these ingredients at the same ratio. For spices, always start with the original recipe amount, and then slowly scale up from there. Four times the salt, for example, might be entirely too much, but you may like four times the pepper. Seasoning to taste is a good principle to follow when scaling any recipe.
When it comes to liquids, if you’re quadrupling a recipe, you can start by doubling the liquid and going from there. Automatically multiplying liquids the same way you would the main ingredients could result in a dish that’s too watery. You’ll only be able to tell as the dish cooks, so pay attention and add liquids as needed.
It’s not all about the calculations
While it seems like increasing a recipe’s size should be a straightforward process, you’ll get the best results if you start slow and pay attention to how your dish responds to cooking time.
Don’t panic if you’re new to cooking for a large group. It’s easy to increase recipe size with a little math and intuition.