A question I asked on the stats Q/A has a comment that reads,

[...] to make 8 times the amount of food a recipe describes you don't just octuple all the ingredients mentioned (eg. salt)".

Some recipes, of course, don't scale well if you try to cook them in larger batches, but that's not what I understand the comment as saying. I understand it to say that, when scaling recipes you may need to use different multipliers for different ingredients.

I feel fairly certain that this is not the case for most recipes. I wonder though, if there any recipes where the ingredients do not scale uniformly.

  • 2
    I guess you are not considering ingredients stuff that won't go in the final dish, such as water for boiling pasta, or oil used for frying garlic or laurel that will later be added to paella.
    – J.A.I.L.
    Nov 4, 2012 at 17:02
  • @J.A.I.L. For simplicity's sake, I'll say no, I'm not talking about water for boiling or oil for frying. Having said that, I'm not sure that it's wrong to scale uniformly even in these cases although it may not be necessary given that both water and oil can be re-used between batches of frying and boiling. Nov 4, 2012 at 22:35
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    Define non-uniformly, if you mean linearly by weight I guess most scale 'uniformly', except things that is applied to the surface e.g. marinades, breading and so on.
    – Stefan
    Nov 4, 2012 at 23:37
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    I don't know why anyone would say that salt in a recipe doesn't scale. I've never seen any evidence to support such a claim and we've already had one question about it. Sometimes the preparation method doesn't scale, but if you were just (for example) throwing everything into a pot and not adding or removing anything midway through, then the ingredients are all going to scale with some minor adjustments to time and temperature and a little extra stirring.
    – Aaronut
    Nov 5, 2012 at 0:37
  • I have seen some recipes that state that they do not scale, especially when using volume, but wondered why.
    – Stefan
    Nov 5, 2012 at 1:43

2 Answers 2


Things applied in a non-linear manner do not scale linearly, i.e. when the 'Surface to volume ratio' matters, the recipe will not scale linearly. See http://kitchenscience.sci-toys.com/scaling for a discussion mostly on how the timings are affected.

One example is breading: You will not need to double the breading linearly on a single 200g piece of beef/chicken compared to a single 400g piece, since the surface area will not change with the same factor as the weight, i.e. the surface area will not double when the weight doubles.

On the other hand, if you use twice as many pieces of chicken, you will need twice as much breading.

  • There's typically some overage planned into recipes for coatings ... so doubling the recipe means you have 2x the amount of anticipated waste at the end.
    – Joe
    Nov 5, 2012 at 21:17

Although it is not usually horrible for a recipe, it is not recommended to double the yeast for bread. King Arthur Flour have a helpful explanation near the bottom of this page.

Update: Briefly, the explanation is that doubling the amount of yeast is less manageable. While you are forming a loaf out of part of the dough, the remainder will continue to rise, possibly overflowing the bowl, filling the kitchen and what-not. Reducing the amount of yeast will allow you to work loaves one at a time without simultaneously being consumed by a dough monster.

  • Bread recipes are usually given in Baker's percentage form. And the reason for using baker's percentage is precisely helping calculations for scaling. The only time you don't scale yeast is for industrial sizes vs home sizes (50kg dough from a 1kg home recipe)
    – J.A.I.L.
    Nov 5, 2012 at 22:14
  • Although for most breads, I'd think you were crazy (who in their right mind would make so much they couldn't shape it in time?) ... I made a triple batch of monkey bread last week, and it'd have been much more manageable if I had reduced the yeast -- I had let it proof in two containers; I punched them both down after the first rise, but by the time I got the first batch in the oven, the second container had more than doubled again.
    – Joe
    Dec 30, 2012 at 0:43

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