The professional term for increasing or decreasing the number of servings
in a recipe is scaling. There are no clear cut rules for this but there are
a few guidelines that can help.
- Generally it is pretty safe to
double or halve a recipe. The maximum that you should try to scale without
adjustments should be by a factor of four.
- Recipes that are delicate like
soufflés or sauces with subtle flavors don't usually scale well.
- The cooking temperature is very
important. If you are going to double a pork recipe,
for example, it is not as important to increase the oven temperature
but it may take a little longer for the pork to cook.
- With a recipe like Baked
Penne simply dumping it in a dish that it will fit in won't
work. If the pan is too deep the center won't cook properly. In cooking
casseroles the depth of the pan is the key. This is why most oblong Pyrex
dishes are about the same depth. In a casserole recipe like the Baked Penne,
decrease the oven temperature by about 25 degrees and increase baking time
for larger quantities. This will let the center to cook without burning
- With a sauté recipe or
when roasting (beets or potatoes for example) it is important
to use a larger pan because ingredients that are too crowded will steam and
the food that you had wanted to be crispy will turn out soggy.
- Spicier dishes will usually double
well but using a little less spice may be more to your
taste. Cumin, for example, can become overwhelming as you increase the amount.
When experimenting always add less spice and correct for your taste as you
- Recipes with gelatin require
care. This is more important when you are making a half
recipe as there may not be enough gelatin to set up properly.