Guide to Reading Recipes

It is important to understand how to read recipes to ensure the most consistent results. I wanted to write this to share a few lessons I have learned in my culinary adventures so far to help you avoid any bumps in your journey. 

The first step of properly preparing for the cooking process is to read the recipe entirely through at least once. This helps familiarize you with what you will be doing and any processes you might need to be aware of that need to be done ahead of time such as proofing bread or marinating meat. It may be best to read it through once while menu planning and then again at least once before beginning your preparations. 

I don’t always like including the prep time because I realize it can vary wildly based on your experience and environment. Recipe prep times frustrated me in the beginning of my cooking experiences because either I couldn’t understand how they could accomplish their prep in such a quick time or that I was a turtle in the kitchen because it always took me so much longer. Eventually, I realized that was because achieving the suggested prep time was dependent on having your mise en place, or everything in its place. That includes all steps such as rinsing vegetables, cutting, and pre-measuring to get your ingredients prepared to be used during the cooking process. This ensures you won’t have to halt the cooking process because you forgot that the vegetables needed to be diced, don’t have enough of an ingredient, etc.  

Something else you want to keep an eye out for is where the special preparation for an ingredient is located in the recipe listing. If the ingredient has a comma after it with directions (such as ‘¼ cup almonds, chopped’), you would pre-measure a ¼ cup of almonds and then chop them. If there is a special preparation included before it lists the ingredient (such as ¼ cup chopped almonds), you would chop the almonds and then measure your ¼ cup. This makes a big difference in the amount you end up adding to the recipe so you want to make sure you take note of the correct way to prepare and measure your ingredients.

Be sure you are using the temperature setting the recipe calls for. There were times I would cook on the stove at a lower temperature setting because I was worried it would get too hot, burn, or worse, turn out dry. The most common result was that it would just take an extra long time to cook so I would have to finish the meat in the oven or risking that the meat would get cold while the sauce reduces at half the rate. Once I started cooking things at the temperature the recipe suggested, the results were much more consistent with the suggested recipe timing and appearance.

I highly recommend getting a tool to hold up your recipe book so you aren’t having to lean over or find something to hold the page open. This bamboo version with the metal page holders is perfect to stay on the correct page for cookbooks. If you use a phone or tablet for viewing recipes, I recommend a holder that clings to the counter top. It keeps it within eyesight and also off the counter and out of the way of any prep mess.

Keeping these details in mind when reading a recipe will ensure efficiency and become like second nature in no time. Feel free to share tips from your journey in the comments below. Best of luck with your culinary adventures!

©Magan’s Munchies. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this article, please link back to this post for the article. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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