How to Scale a Recipe to Adjust for Different Portions (2024)

If you have more or fewer people to feed than a recipe serves these tips will show you how to scale a recipe to the serving amounts you need.

You’ve got family coming over and your favorite beef stew recipe serves 4, but you’ve got 7 people coming. Or maybe it’s the opposite for you, you used to make recipes for 4 but now there is only two or one of you to feed.

What are you going to do?

How to Scale a Recipe to Adjust for Different Portions (1)

One solution is to scale the recipe.

So you can serve more people or less, but it’s not always as straightforward as it seems. Here are some tips to make your recipe scaling a success.

How to Scale a Recipe, Find You Recipe Conversion Factor

The easiest approach to scaling a recipe is to multiply or divide the ingredients to the portion size you need and to do that, you need to calculate your recipe conversion factor.

For example, if you are going to make a pasta sauce that served 6, but you need it for 12, you can multiply all the ingredients by 2 and 2 is your conversion factor. Or if your recipe is for 4 and you only want two serving, you’d divide by 2.

The precise formula is:

number of servings you want ÷ number of servings in recipe = your magic number

Use your magic number and multiply to increase a recipe or use your magic number and divide to make a smaller amount.

Of course, you can run into problems with this if you need 1 3/8 tsp of basil and you don’t have a 3/8 measure.

In this case, use your judgment and simply round off the number to 1 ¼ teaspoons. It’s not likely to make a crucial difference.

Still, there are more problematic ingredients. What if you end up needing 3 ½ eggs?

That gets a little trickier. I usually opt for the smaller amount of 3 eggs and add a little more liquid if needed. In most recipes, this works out well.

Also keep in mind that some recipes don’t scale well, including baked goods. If you decide scaling is not a good idea, we’ve got some tips for you at the end of this article.

How to Scale a Recipe to Adjust for Different Portions (2)

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Things to Consider When Scaling a Recipe

There are a couple of things to consider including cooking time and your cooking dishes.

Cooking Time: If you’re preparing larger or smaller portions, it may alter your cooking time. Allow for more time if making a larger portion.

For smaller portion check the dish at least 10 minutes early to see if it’s done. You don’t want to overcook the dish.

If you’re cooking meat; make sure to use a meat thermometer to ensure the appropriate internal temperature is reached.

Cooking Dishes: If you’re making baked macaroni and you halve the recipe, try to find a dish that will keep the macaroni at the same depth as the original recipe.

For example, if the recipe called for a 13 x 9-inch pan, find a rectangular or square pan about half the size. Like an 8-inch square pan.

That will help ensure your cooking time will be roughly the same.

What to Do if the Recipe Doesn’t Scale Well

If you discover your recipe won’t do well with scaling, and the recipe is too large, go ahead and make the full recipe. You can portion and freeze any unused amounts.

Allow the food to cool completely before freezing. Also, remove any air from freezer bags and make sure that your freezer-safe containers are nearly full, so there isn’t any extra air.

And finally, don’t forget to date and label what you’ve got, so you can come back to it later. I also like to add it to my freezer inventory sheet.

If the recipe is too small, but won’t scale well, cook it in batches. That way, you can ensure you’ve made the recipe according to the specifications, but still get the portion you need.

How to Scale a Recipe to Adjust for Different Portions (3)

Those are my tips for how to scale a recipe. Start with your conversion number then adjust for cooking time and the cooking dish. With those three things, you should be able to scale most recipes up or down successfully.

Do you have any extra tips to add to how to scale a recipe? I would love to have you share them in the comments below.

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How to Scale a Recipe to Adjust for Different Portions (2024)


What is the formula for scaling down a recipe? ›

Example. Scaling a 10-portion recipe down to six portions involves two steps: Divide 6 by 10, which gives you a conversion factor of 0.6. Multiply each ingredient amount by 0.6.

What are the steps for scaling a recipe when the portion size is changed? ›

Determine the required yield of the recipe by multiplying the new number of portions and the new size of each portion. Find the conversion factor by dividing the required yield (Step 2) by the recipe yield (Step 1). That is, conversion factor = (required yield)/(recipe yield).

How do you resize a recipe? ›

You do this by dividing the desired yield of the recipe by the current recipe yield.

How to calculate the number of servings in a recipe? ›

How do you calculate servings for a recipe? To calculate the serving size of a recipe, ingredient quantities are divided by the number of servings. For instance, if a recipe with a serving size of 2 requires 1 onion, we divide 1 onion by 2. Then, we know that 1 serving requires 0.5 onions.

What is the formula to determine portion cost of a recipe? ›

Portion/serving size - How much of each ingredient goes into a dish you serve customers (e.g. 1 tablespoon of butter or 5 oz of beef.) Portion cost - The cost of the serving size for that ingredient, calculated using the following formula: Portion size x unit serving cost.

What is the simple scaling formula? ›

The basic formula that is used for calculating the scale factor is, Scale factor = Dimension of the new shape ÷ Dimension of the original shape. In case, if the original figure is scaled up, the formula is written as, Scale factor = Larger figure dimensions ÷ Smaller figure dimensions.

What is the calculation for scaling? ›

To find the scale factor, first find the corresponding sides on the two figures. Then, divide the measurement of the new figure by the measurement of the original figure. The resulting value is your scale factor, or how many times larger or smaller your new figure is compared to the original.

What is scaling equation? ›

Scaling equations are often developed to generalize results from limited data sets. The form of the equations is usually based on physical intuition about hydraulics, guided by the techniques of dimensional analysis and statistical model fitting (eg, O'Connor et al., 2006).

What does it mean to scale out a recipe? ›

Adjusting the number of servings of a recipe is called scaling, and broadly speaking, it involves multiplying (to increase) or dividing (to decrease) the quantities of the individual ingredients in the recipe.

How do you change the number of servings in a recipe? ›

If you need eight servings and the recipe makes six: 8 ÷ 6 = 1.3. This is your conversion factor which you'll use to find out how much of each ingredient you'll need. Second, multiply each ingredient in your recipe by the conversion factor. Third, round up or down a little bit when conversions are hard to measure.

What is the two fold process for scaling a recipe for non multiple servings? ›

Explain the two-fold process for scaling a recipe for non-multiple servings. Divide each ingredient amount by the number of people the original standardised recipe serves and write down what the 'per person' measure is • Multiply the 'per person' measure for each ingredient by the number of people you need to serve.

How do you calculate serving size? ›

How do I calculate serving size? To determine serving size, you can weigh the food and divide it by the number of servings. Many recipes also provide the recommended serving size.

What is a recipe formula? ›

A formula is your recipe, but converted to exact weights. These weights are then converted into percentages, to make sure you have the exact amount of each ingredient every time you (or your co-packer, or your employees) manufacture your product. It is often based on pounds, grams or other weight measurements.

How much do you have to change a recipe to make it your own? ›

The general rule [...] is that three major [emphasis added] changes are required to make a recipe "yours." However, even if you make such changes, it is a professional courtesy to acknowledge the source of or inspiration for the recipe.

What are formulas in culinary? ›

A formula is a fixed set of specific ingredients listed in percentage by weight and processing instructions that have been standardized to consistently make a food item. All of the ingredients in a production formula total 100 percent, so the formula can easily be scaled up or down depending on production demands.


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