How To Scale Up A Recipe: 4 Easy Steps

Many foodservice operations do not have standardized recipes so foodservice chefs are often called upon to convert a recipe to a new desired quantity.

This includes both increasing and decreasing the recipe size. Since many operations do not strictly use standardized recipes this is an important skill for all chefs to know.  Doubling and cutting recipes in half are pretty familiar for nearly all food service professionals.  The technique discussed here helps in more complex situations, for instance, when you are scaling a recipe up from 8 portions to 12 portions or scaling it down from 25 portions to 18 portions.


4 Easy Steps to Scale Up a Recipe – Download this free infographic and post in your kitchen to assist your staff in scaling up recipes.

4 Easy Steps to Scale Up a Recipe Infographic

Step 1: Determine the Conversion Factor for the Recipe

First you must determine the conversion factor for the recipe.  You do this by dividing the desired yield of the recipe by the current recipe yield.

Let’s use this White Chili Recipe as an example.  The current recipe yield is 6 servings.  We would like to scale the recipe up to serve 20.

The Desired Yield (20 servings) is divided by the Current Recipe Yield (6 servings) to get the Conversion Factor, which in this example is 20/6 = 3.33

Step 2: Convert all Weights in the Recipe to Ounces and all Volumes to Fluid Ounces

Secondly, for convenience, convert all the weights in the recipe to ounces and volumes to fluid ounces if you are using standard US Measurements.

16 ounces (oz) = 1 pound (lb)
8 fluid ounces (oz) = 1 cup

In our sample White Chili Recipe, the recipe calls for 3 lbs of ground turkey and 2 cups of Cook’s Delight® Chicken Stock.
To convert these, do the following:

Ground Turkey 3 lbs to ounces
Multiply 3 lbs x 16 oz per lb = 48 oz Ground Turkey Converted Weight

Cook’s Delight® Chicken Stock 2 cups to fluid ounces
Multiply 2 cups x 8 oz per fluid cup = 16 fluid oz Cook’s Delight® Chicken Stock Converted Weight

Step 3: Multiply Each Ingredient in the Recipe by the Conversion Factor

The next step is to take the Converted Weight of each ingredient in the recipe and multiply it by the Conversion Factor.  For instance:

Ground Turkey 48 oz (Converted Weight) x 3.33 (Conversion Factor) = 159.84 oz Ground Turkey
Cook’s Delight® Chicken Stock 16 fluid ounces (Converted Weight) x 3.33 (Conversion Factor) = 53.28 fluid oz Cook’s Delight® Chicken Stock

Step 4: Simplify and Round the Numbers for Easier Recipe Use

The final step is to simplify the numbers and round them so they are more user-friendly.  To do this, you divide the ounces per pound or ounces per fluid cup then round up or down depending upon the ingredient and your desired taste for the recipe.  In our example, this is the suggested rounding:

Ground Turkey
159.84 oz/16 oz per lb = 9.99 lbs Ground Turkey
Round up to 10 lbs in the converted recipe.

Cook’s Delight® Chicken Stock
53.28 fluid oz/8 fluid oz per cup = 6.65 cups Cook’s Delight® Chicken Stock
Round up to 6 3/4 cups in the converted recipe.

Scaling up is not an exact science

An experienced chef will have a feel for potential issues to consider when scaling recipes, such as:

  • Equipment changes: You may need larger pans and more cook space for instance.
  • Evaporation and thickening agents should be considered
  • Tempering ingredients: With a larger portion size, you may need to thaw longer during the preparation.
  • Cooking times may need to be adjusted
  • Documentation: Take notes while working on scaling recipes for reference and future use by your foodservice operation.

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