How do you decide if a recipe will work ? Searching the web ..

I would say most everyone here is a good cook . So when you want to cook something out of your comfort zone . What makes you say that looks good and I’m going to make that recipe ? Cook book author , reviews , ingredients , You just know what it’s going to do , or … ? I have found a lot of recipe sabotage . Without asking the pros here what makes you decide ? I AM GOING TO TOSS BAKING INTO THE TOPIC ALSO . Thanks …

A lot of it is intuitive. If I can imagine how it will taste and it is good.

Do the measurements and directions make sense to me? Do I like those ingredients in those proportions? Do I have the time, tools, and equipment needed? I am more likely to trust Epicurious than other sources. Someone’s grandma’s cake made with crisco and marshmallow fluff probably isn’t going to happen in my house (I only say probably because I did recently make “fondant” with marshmallows and crisco so I shouldn’t dis too hard but that shit’s nasty). Slow cooker recipes need not apply either. If I’m going to braise something it’s not going to involve soup mix.

For baking, since I am a pro, it is whether the ratio makes sense.


I skim the description first. If I know the ingredients (not necessarily amounts at all) and the method, I can “cook” the dish in my head and visualize how it will be in real life. The amounts of ingredients are the reality check, and after experience in the kitchen, you’ll know whether something was a mistake (a tbsp instead of a tsp), or whether you need to adjust it for your tastes (I almost always put in less sugar into desserts than called for). Most of the time this visualization before actual cooking is pretty effective.


I usually google something I would like to make, and look for images first. The ones that look good bring me to different recipes, and then I customize them the way I want. I rarely stick to an exact recipe.

Couldn’t care less about cookbook authors or recipe pedigrees. I just look out for ingredients that I enjoy.

If I find something online that looks good, I usually try to find a few different recipes for the same thing, so I can get a better feel at all the different ways of putting it together. If most of them agree on the general techniques and amounts, I usually just average them all together, or take the parts that appeal the most to me from each one. Especially for something I’ve never made before, I would never read just one recipe.

On the other hand, I tend to trust physical cookbooks more, and I will usually follow their directions exactly at least the first time I make something. If it comes out good, then I tend to trust the cookbook. If it’s bad, then I know that the book isn’t for me. The cookbooks I really love, though, are the ones with clear recipes that feel open to tweaking, and maybe suggest variants and alterations themselves. I feel like you have to be really certain in the base recipe to suggest swapping around meats and veggies and stuff. The more open the author is to variation, the more likely I am to listen to them in the first place.


Good points. Also, reading through the recipe do the steps make sense? Sometimes things are not explained properly.

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This is pretty much my M.O. For instance, I’m hosting a lunch next week that I’ve decided to make biscuit-topped chicken potpie for, and I couldn’t find a recipe that had an interesting filling as well as a reasonable-sounding biscuit crust recipe. So I will be merging three different ones. I do that with most internet recipes.


This is really it for me, I was “thrown” into cooking at a very young age. I pretty much learned to cook from taste, I would read a menu item and try to make what it described. Now everything I try is either based on something I have eaten, enjoyed and want to replicate or just spur of the moment thoughts or tastes I have and want to expand upon them.


Once I’ve read a recipe, it’s all about trusting the source. I tend to trust sources like my mother, my aunts, Pepin, Child, ATK, Garten, and I grew up with my mom’s heavily annotated 3-ring-binder-style Betty Crocker. It’s not 100% safe: Pepin’s onion soup made with all chicken stock was inedible.

My friend very excitedly invited us for a holiday dinner with a very expensive rib roast as the star. She said she was using a great recipe she found online at epicurious. She’s a pretty good cook. Usually. Her beautiful roast arrived at the table under a heavy coating of a reduced sauce made of beef bouillon, Port, and lots and lots of raspberry jam.

I’m a ‘recipe follower.’ (Figure that’s why they get paid the big bucks.) But I’m pretty discriminating. I have my favorites, Batali, Nguyen, Hazan, etc. I’ve also gotten pretty good at ‘reading’ recipes. Saw one the other day for chicken parm with good references. But it clearly should have called for BSCB and didn’t so I figured I couldn’t trust the rest of it either.

Same here. I mean…I’ll look at a few recipes online to get a feel for a dish I’ve never made, but I never end up following to a T.


I am not a good cook. I am a good eater, though. And a very greedy one.

I suppose we decide to try a new recipe because (a) you just get bored cooking the same old stuff (b) it has ingredients we enjoy.

It still surprises me how often that new recipe is just “meh” and there’s no need to ever cook it again. It’s just downright disappointing how often we say “yeah, that was OK, but we know a much better use of the ingredients”

I’m curious. Do you have favorite cookbook authors or publications, i.e., Serious Eats? I do and I find I’m seldom disappointed. I find so many good recipes that it’s hard to find time to cook everything on a semi-regular basis.


We subscribe to BBC Good Food magazine which turns up most of the recipes I had in mind. And, yes, a number of cookbook authors regularly provide dinner recipes - Nigel Slater, Delia Smith, Madhur Jaffrey are regularly pulled off the shelves for inspiration. I reckon the cookbooks are generally more successful than magazine recipes which I think tend to be over zealous with seasonal combinations. You know, “hey, it’s May, let’s run a “20 new things to do with asparagus” feature”.

Hi, Babette:

This reads like I would’ve written it.

The only things I’ll add are: (1) I never really know until I try the prep; and (2) If I try some author’s prep, follow it scrupulously, and it’s a fail, I’m loathe to ever trust that author again.



Maybe you need to try new sources since you’re so frequently disappointed.

Oh dear god, that roast sounds gag worthy!

Nah. It’s not the magazine at fault. It’s my poor palate/understanding which doesnt easily spot that I’m not going to enjoy a recipe.

Mrs H’s “finds” in the same magazine are generally much more enjoyable than mine.

By the by, Good Food magazine is the best of those available, IMO. Much more interesting content than, say, Delicious or Olive.

I’ve not heard of any of those. Will check them out.

I agree with Sasha. I taste it in my head.