Cooking Q&A: Cut A Recipe In Half?

woman cutting onion
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How can I cut a recipe in half?


The simplest method -- reducing all ingredients by half -- works for most recipes, particularly ones that don't require much precision or chemistry, like soups, stews, casseroles, and simple sauces.

Example: If the recipe calls for one cup of a liquid or dry ingredient, reduce the amount to a half cup. (Be sure you're using liquid and dry measuring cups for the appropriate ingredients.)

1 cup (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup (1/4 cup + 2 Tbl.)
2/3 cup (1/3 cup)
1/2 cup (1/4 cup)
1/3 cup (2 Tbl. + 2 tsp.)
1/4 cup (2 Tbl.)
3 Tbl. (1 Tbl. + 1 1/2 tsp.)
2 Tbl. (1 Tbl.)
1 Tbl. (1 1/2 tsp.)

When you're baking or preparing any dish that requires more precision to cook properly, you might have to convert the recipe based on the weight of the ingredients. Measuring by weight is more accurate than measuring by volume. For example, one cup of flour weighs approximately 4.25 ounces. To cut the recipe in half, you should weigh out 2.12 ounces of flour.

Want to cut by more than half? If you know the end weight or quantity of a recipe you want to cut, you can also scale the ingredients using a simple conversion calculation.

Example: The recipe makes eight cups of spaghetti sauce, but you only want to make three cups.

  • Step 1: Divide the new amount by the old (for example, 3 ÷ 8=.375)
  • Step 2: Multiply all ingredients in the recipe by the conversion number (in this case, .375).

EGGS: If the cut recipe requires less than one large egg, beat the egg until the yolk and white are blended. Let the bubbles settle, then measure out two tablespoons.

SALT, PEPPER & SPICES: Use a scant half of the original amount when measuring seasonings for a recipe you cut in half, then adjust seasonings to taste. (It's easier to add than to subtract.)

TEMPERATURE: Use the original temperature recommended in the recipe.

TIME: Cooking time will not be exactly half the time listed in the recipe. It is usually more than half. Example: If the original recipe says to bake for one hour, the actual cooking time for the smaller recipe might be around 40 to 45 minutes.