While modifying recipes is beneficial when they are too large or when you are trying a new or pricey ingredient, the process of changing a recipe can be very complex.
While halving a cup is straightforward (½ cup), what is half of the ¾ cup? It’s critical to convert measurements precisely, even more so when baking because accuracy is a must.
Not every meal or batch of cookies has to feed an entire army. Learn how to condense recipes to create portion sizes that are appropriate for your needs.
Is there a difference between converting dry and wet ingredients?
Wet ingredients are easier to quantify and convert than dry ingredients, and this is due to the inherent inaccuracy of dry measurements.
Dry ingredients such as cocoa powder, flour, and brown sugar are easily compressible, which means their volume can change depending on their compactness inside the measuring cup or even the relative humidity in the area.
Liquid ingredients always have a consistent volume. For instance, if you fill a measuring cup halfway with flour, the pack’s tightness determines the actual volume of flour. At the same time, 10 fl oz of water will always be 10 fl oz of water.
To ensure the accuracy in your recipe conversions, it is best to measure dry ingredients using dry measuring cups and wet ingredients using liquid measuring cups. This enables you to use a straight edge to level the top of a dry measuring cup for more precise measurement.
How to reduce a recipe
Here are some crucial tips on how to properly reduce/half a recipe – make sure to keep them in mind:
- Utilize smaller saucepans and pots. Additionally, your converted recipe may call for a different type of cooking or baking dish. If you half a brownie recipe but use the same size pan, the brownies will come out much flatter and crispier than expected.
- Determine which ingredients to convert—and which to leave alone. The majority of items will require conversion, but there are some exclusions. For instance, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of oil to completely cover the bottom of the saucepan, you will still require that amount even if the recipe is halved. The same holds when it comes to buttering and flouring a baking dish. And while you should scale back on some spice volumes, you should not skimp on seasoning, as this will result in an overly bland dish.
- Before you begin cooking, convert your measurements. Generate the numbers and jot them down to ensure that you don’t overlook them—or that you’re altering the recipe.
- As you cook, taste your recipe. If reducing the basil yields a less aromatic dish, or if the cayenne pepper gives too much heat, adjust as required—season to taste as you go.
Cutting down recipes in half
Halving a recipe is a frequent and straightforward conversion for home cooks. The next time you need to perform some quick math, refer to this list of cooking conversions:
- Half of 1 cup is equivalent to ½ cup
- Half of 1 tbsp is equal to 1 ½ tsp
- Half of 1 tsp is equal to ½ tsp
- Half of ½ tsp is equal to ¼ tsp
- Half of ¼ tsp is equal to ⅛ tsp
- Half of ⅛ tsp is equal to a dash
- Half of the ¼ cup is equal to 2 tbsp
- Half of the ⅓ cup is equal to 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
- Half of the ½ cup is similar to a ¼ cup
- Half of the ⅔ cup is equivalent to a ⅓ cup
- Half of the ¾ cup is equal to 6 tbsp
Cutting down recipes in thirds
The same logic applies to cutting down recipes in thirds:
- One-third of 1 cup is equivalent to ⅓ cup
- One-third of 1 tbsp is equal to 1 tsp
- One-third of ¼ cup is equal to 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
- One-third of ⅓ cup is equal to 1 tbsp + 2 ¼ tsp
- One-third of ½ cup is equal to 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
- One-third of ⅔ cup is equal to 3 tbsp + 1 ½ tsp
- One-third of ¾ cup is similar to ¼ cup
- One-third of 1 tsp is comparable to a heaping ¼ tsp
- One-third of ½ tsp is close to a scant ¼ tsp
- One-third of ¼ tsp is equivalent to a scant ⅛ tsp
- One-third of ⅛ tsp is equal to a dash
Cutting down recipes by weight
Cooking by weight rather than measure comes in handy at this point, and a simple division or subtraction is all that is required to reduce (or double) recipes.
To reduce the size of any recipe, divide the weights specified in the original recipe. Would you like to make a half batch? Divide the measurements in half. Perhaps a third batch? Subtract three. How about a quarter batch? Divide the sums by four.
Here are some examples:
- One large egg (without a shell) is approximately 50 grams
- One cup of unsweetened cocoa powder is 90 grams
- One cup of granulated sugar is 200 grams
- One cup of flour is 125 grams
- One cup of brown sugar is 220 grams
- One cup of powdered sugar is 115 grams
How to halve an egg (for example)
When dealing with cups and ounces, reducing recipes is relatively simple. However, things become complicated when the authentic recipe calls for only one egg. In this case, consider whether you genuinely need to half the recipe, as reducing an egg can be tricky.
If you truly need to reduce the recipe’s fat content, crack an egg into a small container and whisk. Then, by eye, add half of that mixture.
Pull out your kitchen scale if you want to be extremely precise. Weigh the bowl, hit tare, and then break in the egg. Then, for precise baking, divide that weight in half.
Alternatives ways of cutting down recipes
If you want to avoid having to perform a lot of kitchen algebra, you can also use the following methods:
- Visualize it. If you don’t have access to these conversion charts or are in a hurry, you could use the identical measuring cups and spoons as if you were making the actual recipe, but fill them only halfway with the amount you’re scaling. For instance, if a third of a ¼ cup is required, rather than replacing one tablespoon + 1 teaspoon, you can fill the ¼ cup measuring cup halfway. This is not a reliable method for baking, as it requires accuracy, but it would do the trick for soups and sauces.
- Substitute weight for volume when weighing the ingredients. Use a kitchen scale to ensure your estimations are exactly as you need them. This is the most reliable and accurate way to do this. With this method, you’d determine the weight of 1 cup of flour (approximately 4.25 ounces) and weigh out the appropriate scaled amount. Bear in mind that this method is not precise, particularly with dry ingredients.
- Choose other conversion methods. Familiarize yourself with standard unit conversions. For instance, ½ cup equals 24 teaspoons. When halving a ½ cup, rather than dividing ½ cup by three, divide 24 teaspoons by three, which equals 8 teaspoons.
Reducing the size of your recipe can be beneficial in various ways. The first is by reducing waste. If you despise wasting food and can no longer eat it, resizing a recipe is an excellent option. Additionally, you’ll have fewer leftovers that reach their expiration date when you recognize you won’t be able to consume them all within a week.
If you have a relatively small refrigerator, you may not be able to store the Tupperware full of extra food alongside your weekly groceries. Reduced recipe sizes will leave ample room for your week’s worth of meal-prepped salads.
Finally, reducing the number of servings in a recipe can help you save money. When shopping for the week’s groceries, purchase half or a third of the dairy, meat, and produce necessary for the smaller recipe. In the long run, this will save you money.