Recipes Gone Wrong: Causes & Solutions

Given that, at some point, most people have experience following a recipe, it seems like the kind of thing you should be able to do.

After all - how hard can it be? The instructions are right there in front of you. All you need to do is be able to read (something you nailed some time ago) and then be able to carry out the actions described. It’s cooking. It can’t possibly be that difficult, can it?

For some people, no, it’s not difficult at all. Not only do they follow recipes, but they add and subtract ingredients. They still end up with a beautiful dish, loved by anyone who eats it. You, on the other hand? Not so much.

The most frustrating way this inability to follow recipes can manifest itself is just in occasional problems. Sometimes, you follow a recipe, you tinker with ingredients, and it all goes swimmingly. You’re the best chef in the world.

Then the next time you come to try a new recipe… it’s an unmitigated disaster. Have your newly-found chef skills left you already? Or is there something else going on?

Potential Issue #1: Not All Recipes Are Created Equal

There are so many sources by which to find recipes these days. Some will be good and will produce the kind of result you’re after. Others… won’t be. The annoying thing is that you don’t know if a recipe is going to be enjoyable until you have cooked it.

Unless it becomes a chronic problem and every single recipe you try is a disaster, then it might be possible to blame an individual recipe itself. It’s always a good idea to read through the comments on recipe sites and blogs; the feedback tends to give a good indication of whether or not the recipe works in practice.

Potential Issue #2: You Don’t Have The Right Tools For The Job

The amount of kitchen equipment required for cooking even the most basic of meals can be baffling and incredibly expensive. It also requires a lot of storage, something that is at a premium for many of us. All of these factors combined can mean that you forgo knives of the best craftsmanship and pans made of the best materials, because it’s cheaper to go without.

The problem here is that the recipe might have been designed to have specific, quality items used. If you substitute in anything you can think of that might work, then you might not get the desired effect. For some recipes this won’t matter so much, but for others - especially those involving frying - it could be the difference between “okay” and “good”.

Potential Issue #3: You’re Substituting Too Many Ingredients

If a recipe calls for spring onions and you use brown onions, then you might be able to get away with it. However, any time you substitute, it’s important you be aware it might alter the taste from the intended outcome. Before dismissing a recipe, give it a second try with no substitutions and see if that improves it.


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