Irish Food

How I Test Recipes & Why

How I Test Recipes &WhyAs I was working through the content on my blog recently, I realised that I don’t share recipes quite as often as I used to. In fact, I probably only share a recipe once a month or so.

There’s a good reason for that though and that’s because I’ve become much more stringent with my recipe testing. If you ever wondered how I test recipes and why I take so long maybe this will help!


I start with the recipe and write it up. Then follow it as I go, and make changes if I need to. The recipe is covered in splatters and notations by the time I finish.


Next it’s trying out the recipe a second time with my weighing scales for exact measurements. Every single step is marked with the size of the saucepan/the spoon and more. I also use a stopwatch to time how long it takes to complete each step. This is key to making a recipe accessible at home. After all if it’s not easy to follow and takes as long as you are told you’re unlikely to try a recipe out again.

THIRD TIME LUCKY (or maybe not)

The third recipe test involves a printed copy of the next revision of a recipe and a whiteboard. I follow through the revision and don’t mark up the page, instead I draw on the whiteboard and add notes as I go. Sometimes it’s things like the seasoning or the size of the ingredients that have to be chopped that I note down. I take a photo of the whiteboard and then take it back to the computer to see how my notes need to be fitted into the method. Again, I use my stopwatch to time the steps so that I can cross-check to see if my timings match the second time. Consistency is key here!

FOURTH TIME (might be a charm)

The fourth recipe test is where I follow the printed recipe to the letter to make sure I get the end result that you at home would get. The stopwatch, the weighing scales, and my notepad/whiteboard are all on hand. If I don’t, then it’s back to the notes to see where I’ve gone wrong.


If the fourth recipe test is correct then I move to the fifth stage. I cook the recipe a fifth time to make sure it’s consistent and that getting it right the fourth time wasn’t a fluke. If I get it right then I’ll take a photograph for the blog.


Finally, I’ll write up the recipe for the blog and share it with a picture for you all.

Recipe testing and writing is something that people don’t always spend a lot of time on. Sometimes a writer (and frequently bloggers) can skip all the steps, devise a recipe, and share it nearly straight away. They miss that writing a recipe is not as simple as it appears. If you’ve ever tried an “easy” recipe that didn’t work at home for you (even though you followed the instructions to the letter) it’s possibly because it wasn’t tested enough, not because you’re a bad cook!

It’s also worth bearing in mind that I deliberately use a conventional oven, hob, and regular utensils that you find in a home kitchen. I’m not a professional cook/chef which makes it far easier to test in a home environment under stress conditions (kids underfoot etc). Sometimes that essential part of home-testing can be missed when recipes are written. What may be easy to reproduce in a technical kitchen isn’t always the same in a family home.

Hopefully now you understand why I don’t share recipes so often; it’s because I’m probably stuck in the kitchen testing them to make sure they actually work first!

If you’re interested in having some recipes developed and/or tested please do feel free to get in touch by mailing me here:

I'm an Irish mother to 2 boys, born & bred in Dublin, Ireland. I like to cook simple & fresh food for the family, with the family on a budget.