Recipe Measurement and Conversion

Reading Guide

Before You Read

Use Diagrams As you read through this section, write down the main idea. Write down any facts, explanations, or examples you find in the text. Start at the main idea and draw arrows to the information that directly supports it. Then, draw arrows from these examples to any information that supports them.

Content Vocabulary

• metric system

• balance scale

• electronic scale

• volume measurement

• recipe conversion

• conversion factor j shrinkage

Read to Learn

Key Concepts

• List different recipe measurements and when each is used.

• Give examples of the factors that affect recipe conversion.

Main Idea

Sometimes, foodservice professionals need to adjust recipes to meet their needs. Adjusted recipes should be tested before preparation, as many factors can affect conversion.

Graphic Organizer

Use a sequence chart like this one to list the steps in converting the portion size of a recipe. Write one step in each box.

Converting Portion Size

^ English Language Arts

NCTE 5 Use different writing process elements to communicate effectively.

Academic Vocabulary precise alter





Graphic Organizer Go to this book's Online Learning Center at for a printable graphic organizer.


NCTM Number and Operations Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.

NCTM Number and Operations Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates.

Science NSES1 Develop an understanding of change, constancy, and measurement.

NCTE National Council of Teachers of English

NCTM National Council of Teachers of Mathematics

NSES National Science Education Standards

NCSS National Council for the Social Studies

Standardized Recipe Measurements

Recipes are designed and written to yield a certain number of servings each time they are made. Sometimes, it is necessary to convert recipes to make more or less of a dish. To convert a recipe means to adjust ingredient quantities up or down. This can help meet the changing needs of the foodservice establishment. If you must change the yield or portion sizes, you must convert the recipe before you begin any ingredient preparation.

No recipe can be successful if you are careless about measuring ingredients. Careful measuring helps give you a consistent quantity each time a recipe is prepared and served. For a successful end product, each ingredient in the recipe must be measured precisely.

Lyse Measurement Equipment
Measuring Tools Measuring tools come in many shapes and sizes. Why is it important to have a variety of tools on hand?

Standardized recipe measurements can make it quicker and easier to increase or decrease the amount that a recipe makes when needed. Ingredients are measured by weight (pounds, ounces), volume (cups, teaspoons), or count (2 eggs, 1 ear of corn).

Some measurements are done using the metric system. The metric system is a measurement system that uses powers of 10 to measure things. For example, 1 gram = 10 decagrams = 100 miligrams = 1,000 kilograms. It is easy to convert measurements from one unit to another by simply moving the decimal place.

Although the metric system is not used often in recipes from the United States, some measurement units, such as grams, may be found. Metric system measurements are often used in recipes from other countries where the metric system is the standard system for measurement.


In commercial foodservice establishments, most ingredients are measured by weight. Weight is a measurement that tells how heavy a substance is. Measuring by weight is the quickest, easiest, and most accurate way of measuring foods such as flour, sugar, meats, and cheeses. Ounces and pounds are examples of common weight measurements.

Scales for measuring weight come in many different types, sizes, and price ranges. The types of scales used in foodservice are balance, portion or spring, and electronic.

Balance Scale

A balance scale, also called a baker's scale, has two platforms. One platform holds the item that is being weighed. The other platform holds weights in predetermined amounts. These weights are added or removed until the two platforms are balanced. Counting the weights shows the weight of the food item. Balance scales are used when precise, or exact, measurement is important, such as in baking.

Diff Types Measuring Weights

On the Scale Scales come in different types and models. What is this type of scale, and what is it used for?

Portion Scale

A portion, or spring, scale is similar to a bathroom scale. It weighs items by measuring how much the spring is depressed when an item is placed on its platform. A needle on a dial shows the weight of the item. Spring scales are often used as portion scales. For example, you might use a spring scale to measure meats in a deli.

Electronic Scale

An electronic, or digital, scale is similar to a spring scale. It, too, has a spring that is depressed when an item is placed on its platform. The amount that the spring is depressed measures the weight of the item displayed on a digital readout. This readout is more accurate than the readout from a needle guide, but digital scales are more expensive than spring scales. Electronic scales and spring scales can be used as a portion scale.


The term volume refers to the amount of space that a substance occupies. Volume measures are used most often to measure liquids in a foodservice setting. A volume measurement is a form of measurement that is expressed in cups, quarts, gallons, and fluid ounces.

Figure 13.1 and Figure 13.2 show common cooking abbreviations and equivalents, including volume measurements.

L Measurement


Measurement Labels Standardized recipes use abbreviations for common measurements. Why do standardized recipes use abbreviations instead of the full spelling of measurements?




tsp. or t.


tbsp. or T.



Fluid ounce

fl. oz.


lb. or #








gal. or G.






bch. or bu.



[M FIGURE 13.2 Measurement Equivalents

Equal Amounts This table shows you equivalents, or measurements that are equal to other measurements. Why would it be important to know measurement equivalents?



3 tsp.

= 1 tbsp. = Vi fluid oz. = 15 mL

16 Tbsp.

= 1 c. = 8 oz. = 237 mL

2 c.

= 1 pt. = 16 oz. = 473 mL

2 pt.

= 1 qt. = 32 oz. = 946 mL

4 qts.

= 1 gal. = 128 oz. = 3.8 L

1 lb.

= 16 oz. = 454 g

Liquids are added to a recipe after they are measured by volume. The volume measure should always be placed on a level surface. If you hold the measure rather than placing it down on a level surface, you may get a false reading from the measure. This can affect the outcome of your recipe. Liquid should be filled to the correct line. Metal volume measures have measurement lines on both the outside and the inside.

Accurate Measurement It is important to measure liquids accurately when using volume measurements. Why should volume measures always be placed on a level surface?


The number of individual ingredient items that are used in a recipe is called the count. You will measure ingredients by count when a particular food ingredient comes in standard sizes.

For example, most recipes list eggs by count instead of by weight or by volume. Volume measures for standard egg sizes are given only per dozen eggs. A cake recipe may ask for three large eggs. (Most recipes call for large-size eggs.) A cobb salad might ask for one hard-cooked egg. The same cobb salad recipe may also call for one small tomato, quartered, or three black olives, sliced.

In contrast, shrimp is often sold by the pound. In this case, the size of the shrimp will determine the count of the shrimp. The smaller the count per pound, the larger the individual shrimp size will be. The larger the count per pound, the smaller the individual shrimp size will be.

is most accurate: weight, volume, or count measurement?

Recipe Conversion

Sometimes you will need to alter, or change, a standardized recipe to produce more or less of a product. You may have more people coming to a restaurant for a special dinner, and need more food. Or, you may have fewer people coming to a banquet, and need less food.

When you change a recipe to produce a new amount or yield, you are practicing recipe conversion. You must have the proper math skills to correctly convert recipes. This is a skill that you will use a lot during your career as a foodservice worker. If you learn how to properly convert recipes, you can save money by preparing exactly the right amount of food. You will not have to waste food, time, or supplies to make the proper dishes.

Gourmet Math

Unit Prices

Unit price is the cost per unit of measure. This may be per item, per pound, per quart, or any other unit measure. When you buy food packaged in two different quantities, it is wise to know which is the better buy. To find the better buy, you need to know the unit price. Which breadcrumbs package is the better buy: V2 pound for 75C, or 3 pounds for $5.65? Which orange juice is the better buy: 3 quarts for $7.45, or 10 quarts for $20.25?

¿SUISSE Calculating Unit Rates A unit rate is a ratio showing how much of one quantity is needed to match 1 unit of another quantity. Unit price, a type of unit rate, is calculated by dividing the price by the quantity. Starting Hint To find which item is the better buy, you need to calculate the unit price for each item. Do so by dividing the item's price by its quantity. The unit price of the first breadcrumbs package, for example, equals $0.75 ^ V2, or $1.50. This means that you pay $1.50 per pound of breadcrumbs.

NCTM Number and Operations Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems.

Total Yield Conversion Method

Before you increase or decrease the yield of a standardized recipe, you must determine a conversion factor for all of the ingredients. The conversion factor is the number that comes from dividing the yield you want by the existing yield in a recipe:

conversion factor existing yield ) desired yield

For example, if the existing recipe yield is 40 portions, but the yield you need is 80 portions, the formula will look like this:

c2 (cconvecrsiocn factor)

(existing yield) 40 )80 (desired yield) 80 0

If you decrease a recipe, the conversion factor will be less than one. If you increase a recipe, the conversion factor will be more than one.

You will use the recipe conversion factor to increase or decrease a standardized recipe. To get the new food quantity, multiply each individual ingredient quantity by the conversion factor.

For example, say your restaurant has a recipe for chicken teriyaki that has a yield of 10 portions. The recipe calls for 3 pounds of boneless chicken and 20 fluid ounces of teriyaki sauce. You find that you will need more for tonight's dinner service, so you need to convert the yield to 15 portions. You would use the following steps to convert the recipe to make more:

1. Determine the conversion factor.

15 (desired yield) -h- 10 (existing yield) = 1.5 (conversion factor)

2. Multiply the existing quantity by the conversion factor to find the new quantity.

existing quantity X conversion factor desired quantity

3.0 (pounds of chicken) X 1.5 (conversion factor) 4.5 (pounds of chicken)

20.0 (fluid ounces of teriyaki sauce) X 1.5 (conversion factor) 30.0 (fluid ounces of teriyaki sauce)

You will likely be asked to convert recipes to different yields and different portion sizes. You must be accurate and consistent.

Portion Size Conversion

A foodservice establishment may need to increase or decrease the portion size of a recipe. This is an important skill. Perhaps customers are complaining that the portion size of a dish is too small for the cost. Or, perhaps the portion is so large that it results in little or no profit left over for the establishment.

1. To find the total existing yield, multiply the number of existing portions by the existing size of each portion.

existing portions X existing portion size total existing yield

Using the chicken teriyaki recipe example:

10 (portions) X 5 ounces (portion size) 50 ounces (existing yield)

2. To find a new yield, multiply the desired portions by the desired portion size.

desired portions X desired portion size new yield

15 (desired portions) X 8 ounces (desired portion size) 120 ounces (new yield)

3. Divide the new yield by the existing yield to get the conversion factor.

2.4 (conversionfactor) (existing yield) 50 ) 120.00 (new yield)

4. Multiply each ingredient by the conversion factor to get the new ingredient yield.

existing yield X conversion factor new yield

3.0 pounds (existing yield, chicken) X 2.4 (conversion factor)

7.20 pounds (new yield, chicken) (The new chicken quantity can be rounded down or rounded up, as desired.)

20.0 fluid ounces (existing yield, teriyaki sauce) X 2.4 (conversion factor) 48.9 fluid ounces (new yield, teriyaki sauce)

(See Figure 13.3 on page 341 for an example.)

Factors that can Impact Conversion

These conversion calculations do not take into account problems that may arise when you alter standardized recipes. These problems could include adjustments to equipment size, cooking times, cooking temperatures, and recipe errors. When you make adjustments to deal with these problems, be sure to write them down on your recipe card. This will help you create the same quality dish every time.


Recipes usually specify the size of equipment and size and type of cookware that you will need to use to prepare the food. If you increase or decrease a recipe's yield, you may need to change the size of the equipment. If you use the wrong-size equipment for a recipe, it can affect the outcome of a recipe. The dish may lack the quality that you expect.

Mixing and Cooking Time

Time is another important factor to consider when you convert recipes. In general, the mixing time and cooking time do not increase when a recipe is converted. Some changes, however, will affect mixing or cooking times. For example, a baking formula that has been decreased could be affected by overmixing. A baking formula that has been increased could be affected by undermixing.

Changes in one part of a recipe will create changes in other parts of a recipe. Preparation times may also be affected by changes in cookware.

For example, you will need a large stock-pot to prepare the existing yield of the Southern Vegetable Soup recipe on page 340. If you decrease the soup recipe, you will need a smaller pot to cook the new yield of soup. This smaller volume will also likely decrease the cooking time. If you increase the recipe, you will need a larger pot to cook the new yield of soup. This will likely increase the cooking time.


Southern Vegetable Soup

Method of Preparation

1. Place the salt pork in a large marmite and render the fat, stirring frequently until browned. Add the beef and sauté until browned.

2. Add the tomatoes, and sauté for another 2 minutes.

3. Add the boiling stock, and simmer until the meat is slightly firm in texture.

4. Add all other ingredients, and continue to simmer until the vegetables are tender.

5. Season to taste and serve immediately in preheated cups, or hold at 135°F (57°C) or above. Reheat to 165°F (74°C) for

15 seconds.


Cooking Technique

Boil (at sea level)

1. Bring the cooking liquid to a rapid boil.

2. Stir the contents, and cook the food throughout.

3. Serve hot.

International Flavor

Use the Internet or library to research these international soup recipes, and write a report on your findings.

Chef Notes

Season the soup near the end of the cooking time. Flavors get stronger as they cook together.

Substitutions j To lower fat, drain excess fat from the pork and beef before adding other ingredients.


2 oz.

Salt pork, cut into a small dice

10 oz.

Beef, bottom round, cut into small cubes

S oz.

Canned peeled tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped

3% qts.

Beef stock, heated to a boil

2 oz.

Frozen green beans

2 oz.

Red beans, cooked

4 oz.

Onions, peeled and diced brunoise

3 oz.

Celery stalks, washed, trimmed, and diced bru-noise

6 oz.

Green cabbage, washed, cored, and chiffonade

3 oz.

Carrots, washed, peeled, and diced brunoise

2 oz.

Frozen corn kernels

2 oz.

Frozen okra, sliced

2 oz.

Zucchini, washed, trimmed, and cut in a M2-in. dice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Brunoise Ms-inch dice Chiffonade ribbons of leafy greens Marmite stockpot Render to melt fat over low heat to separate it from the meat tissue


Hold at 135°F (57°C) or above Reheat to 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds

Hazardous Foods


Calories 210 Calories from Fat 90 Total Fat 10g Saturated Fat 4g Trans Fat 0g Cholesterol 30mg Sodium 910mg Total Carbohydrate 11g Fiber 2g Sugars 4g Protein 17g

: ^figure 13.3 | Total Recipe Conversion Method

Increase Recipes Use a recipe conversion formula to ensure that recipes will taste the same, even when made in larger amounts. What mathematics skills will you use to convert recipes?



Conversion Factor

New Yield

Salt Pork

2 oz.


7 oz.

Bottom Round

10 oz.


35 oz.

Peeled Tomatoes

8 oz.


28 oz.

Beef Stock

3% qts.


12.25 qts.

Green Beans

2 oz.


7 oz.

Red Beans

2 oz.


7 oz.


4 oz.


14 oz.


3 oz.


10.5 oz.

Green Cabbage

6 oz.


21 oz.


3 oz.


10.5 oz.


2 oz.


7 oz.


2 oz.


7 oz.


2 oz.


7 oz.

Southern Vegetable Soup Existing Yield:

10 servings

Existing Portion Size:

New Yield: 35 servings New Portion Size: 8 oz. Determine the Conversion Factor:

Conversion Factor

Existing Yield) New Yield

Cooking Temperatures

Cooking temperatures can also be affected by a change in cooking equipment. For example, imagine that the restaurant where you work has just bought a new convection oven. However, the recipe that you are following was developed using a conventional oven. Because convection ovens bake foods much more quickly than standard ovens, the cooking time for the recipe must be adjusted.


Shrinkage is the percentage of food that is lost during its storage and preparation. Shrinkage is often caused by moisture loss. The amount of shrinkage affects not only the cost of the ingredient, but also the portion sizes that are served to customers. You must know ahead of time how much shrinkage will affect a particular food product. If you do not, you may not purchase the correct amount for your establishment's needs.

Corned beef, for example, shrinks when you cook it. You must consider this shrinkage when you purchase the beef. You will have to start with a larger amount to end up with an adequate portion. As a general rule, corned beef shrinks by about 50%. after it has been cooked. If you need 10 pounds of cooked corned beef, you will need to purchase about 20 pounds of uncooked corned beef.

Recipe Errors

Sometimes, you may make an error in measuring an item, or there may be a mistake in a printed recipe. Very often, recipe errors are so minor that they do not affect the results of the dishes. However, even minor errors can become major problems if the recipe is increased or decreased. To avoid this type of problem, recipes that have been increased or decreased need to be tested before being made for customers.

For example, a recipe may have mistakenly listed 2 ounces of cornstarch instead of 1 ounce. This mistake is so small that the extra cornstarch may not affect the taste or appearance of the dish. The mistake may go unnoticed until the recipe is tripled. The amount of cornstarch would then affect both the appearance and taste of the product.

Become familiar with a recipe before you attempt to recreate it. You can often find an error by reading through it carefully

I Describe What problems might arise when converting recipes?

I Food Loss Remember to consider shrinkage when you purchase food. What causes shrinkage?

section 13.2 .-^imnrnmi

Review Key Concepts

1. Describe the different instruments used for measuring weight.

2. Explain how shrinkage can affect recipe conversion.

Practice Culinary Academics English Language Arts

3. Write a guide on how to convert the total yield of a recipe and the total portion size of a recipe. Include factors that could impact the conversion.

NCTE 5 Use different writing process elements to communicate effectively.

NSES 1 Develop an understanding of change, constancy, and measurement.


4. Procedure A solid object placed in water will displace an amount of water equal to its volume. Measure various solid objects by placing them in a full container of water and then measuring the water that spills out in a volume measure. Analysis Write down the volumes of the objects you measured, a summary of displacement, and why your measurements are accurate.


A recipe for potato skins yields 4 portions and requires 6 potatoes, 5 strips of bacon, and 4 ounces of Cheddar cheese. Using the total yield conversion method, change the recipe to yield 18 portions.

Multiplying with Decimals Perform the multiplication as you would with whole numbers. Add the number of total decimal places in all factors, and move the decimal point a corresponding number of places in the product.

Starting Hint Calculate a conversion factor by dividing the desired yield (18 portions) by the original yield (4 portions). Multiply this conversion factor by each of the original quantities to find the new quantities.

NCTM Number and Operations Compute fluently and make reasonable estimates.

Check your answers at this book's Online ^ Learning Center at

Check your answers at this book's Online ^ Learning Center at

Continue reading here: Review and Applications

Was this article helpful?

0 -2


  • kacey sutherland
    What is the formula for converting total yield in a recipe?
    9 months ago
  • Taija
    Why is it important to know how to convert measurements in cookery?
    9 months ago
  • Freya
    What is the yield amount for a recipe?
    11 months ago
  • ave
    Can you always use the same cooking container if you increase or decrease the yeild?
    12 months ago
  • How much of each ingredient would you need to make an identical recipe?
    12 months ago
  • Elijah
    What are three situations you have to change the yield of a recipe?
    12 months ago
  • hiwet
    What is conversion meaning in cookery?
    12 months ago
    What is the formula used to increase or decrease a recipe?
    1 year ago
  • sabine
    How does it affect on the product if the measurement of ingredients mistakenly converted?
    1 year ago
  • esko
    What happens if the covert the measure of ingredients incorrectly?
    1 year ago
    What is a yield in measuring liquid?
    1 year ago
  • demsas
    How does shrinkage affect recipe conversion?
    2 years ago
  • Vera
    What is a culinary conversion factor?
    2 years ago
    Why is conversion important for recipes?
    2 years ago
  • frank
    What issues can arise from recipe conversion?
    2 years ago
  • Arja Halkoaho
    What is yield conversion factor in cooking?
    2 years ago
  • Hagos
    How to make a recipe with three measurements and five steps?
    3 years ago
  • marmadoc
    How does measuring affected on recipe development?
    4 years ago