Scaling recipes up or down

Sometimes you need more or fewer servings than a recipe makes. Multiplying or dividing the amount of ingredients to increase or decrease the yield is calledscaling, and we all do it at some point in our cooking careers. And now can do all the calculating for you!

Some recipes are easy to scale up or down. You simply multiply or divide the ingredients to get the new yield; for example, doubling everything to get twice as many servings, or halving everything to get half as many. But not every recipe is so straightforward, and there are some considerations to keep in mind. Here’s a quick guide to scaling on

How to use the recipe scaling tool
On every Canadian Living recipe, there’s a yield, such as “Makes 8 servings.” To scale the recipe up or down, simply type in the new number of servings you need. The tool will automatically calculate the revised amounts of ingredients. 
Note: All the instructions in the method section stay the same.

Are there recipes I shouldn’t scale?
Yeast breads, cakes, pies, soufflés and delicate custards do not adapt well to scaling. The proportions of ingredients are vital to their success, so it’s best make multiple batches of them, one by one, according to the recipe. You can scale the recipe so you know how much of each ingredient to buy, but don’t stir together a huge bowlful of batter with triple the ingredients. It won’t make a triple-size cake – just a mess.

How much can I scale?

Don’t go much farther than a multiple of four. Double, tripled or even quadruple can work with certain recipes, but more or less than that can go awry. If you need enough for an army, make a few double batches. If you need only enough for yourself, you might want to make half and freeze the leftovers for another day.
Do I have to adjust anything when scaling?
1. Pan size: Look at the volume of the original pan called for – it’s in ounces, cups, quarts or millilitres. If you’re doubling the recipe, use a pan that will hold double the volume. The best bet is to make sure the depth of the food is the same as it was in the original recipe. If a single batch comes about halfway up the side of the pan, a double batch should be the same depth. This ensures even cooking and prevents you from having a mushy, too-thick centre and burnt edges.

If you end up with a significantly thicker or thinner layer, try adjusting the cooking time and temperature. For thicker baked goods, back the temperature down about 25°F (10°C) and cook for a little longer. For thinner baked goods, do the opposite: up the temperature and cook for less time. Watch carefully for doneness cues and adjust accordingly. If a recipe has lots of liquid and comes up too high in the pan, try decreasing the liquid and cooking it for a little longer. Do the opposite if it’s too shallow.

2. Temperature: Stick with the cooking temperatures in the recipe. Watch closely for signs of doneness and/or cook the food until it registers the internal temperature the recipe recommends. However, if you’re making multple batches and have a bunch of pans in the oven, be prepared to up the cooking time or raise the oven temperature by about 25°F (10°C) to compensate.

3. Time: The cooking time can change quite a bit when you scale a recipe up or down. Use it as a guideline only and check often for signs of doneness, such as appearance, texture or aroma (without opening the lid or the oven door too often and letting all the heat escape!). For recipes scaled up, start checking at the original recommended cooking time and keep a close eye on your food thereafter. For recipes that are scaled down, the cooking time might be a bit longer than you think. A halved recipe might take 75% of the original time, not the 50% you might imagine.

4. Spices and Seasonings: This can be a little tricky, so make sure to start low and taste each time you adjust the seasonings. You’ll likely need to increase the seasonings by an extra 50% in recipes that are doubled. For recipes that are halved, you might need a little less than half. In either case, remember: you can’t take it out, but you can always add more.

Ready to get started? Click here to search our recipe database for the perfect recipe. 
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Scaling recipes up or down