I have had several conversations lately about how to decide if a recipe is worth making. Recipes are everywhere and it isn’t always obvious which ones will give good results.
A simple online search for just about any recipe brings up thousands of results. Not all of them are worth making. Some are not tested, some contain inaccuracies and others don’t give you enough information or direction. Many are just fine. Some are spectacular. The same goes for recipes in cookbooks, magazines and newspapers. Just because a recipe is in print doesn’t mean it will necessarily work. A few simple tricks can help you determine if a recipe is worth your time and effort.
First, read through the whole recipe, including the directions. Are the ingredients listed in the order you use them? If they aren’t that is a red flag. Recipe convention is to list the ingredients in order of use. If the ingredient list is all over the place, the results might be too. It is overstating it a bit, but if the recipe isn’t carefully written, you should wonder if it was carefully crafted and tested. You don’t have to automatically pass by a recipe written like this, but make sure everything else checks out before you make it.
Read through the directions to make sure you understand how to do everything. If you don’t, check any accompanying pictures or headnotes to see if they help you. Sometimes recipe authors assume you have skills or experience that you don’t. If you really don’t understand what you are supposed to do, you might want to find a recipe that is more detailed.
Check to see if the proportions of ingredients are similar to other recipes. If you have never made a dish before, compare the amounts of ingredients from several recipes for that dish online or in cookbooks. If one recipe has ingredient ratios that are wildly different from most of the others, you might want to skip that one.
This is not a comprehensive list, by any means. But these are the steps I follow when I am searching for recipes. No, they are not foolproof. I have certainly made some bombs. But for the most part, these are starting points for finding good recipes, both online and in print.
How do you decide if a recipe is worth trying?