Let’s say you’re all geared up to make a cake recipe and realize that you don’t have the pan size the recipe calls for. Or the recipe is written for three 6-inch cake layers but you only want to make two layers and would rather not waste the extra batter. Or you’re making a giant wedding cake and need to know how many batches of buttercream to make. In situations like these, you’re going to need to know how to scale a recipe – aka use math to either divide or multiply the ingredients so that the recipe yields the amount you want.

Essentially, this is what scaling a recipe up or down involves:

- To scale a recipe up (double, triple, and so on),
*multiply*all of the ingredients by the scaling amount. For example, to double a recipe, multiply each ingredient on the list by two. - To scale a recipe down (halve, third, or quarter),
*divide*all of the ingredients by the scaling amount. For example, to halve a recipe, divide each ingredient on the list by two.

## Using a Recipe Scale Calculator

Scaling a recipe involves a lot of simple math, basically either dividing or multiplying an ingredients list. But what if you don’t want to do the math by hand? I recommend finding a trusty recipe scale calculator like this one to do the math for you! All you do is copy/paste an ingredients list into the recipe scale calculator, select your scaling amount, and presto! Your ingredients list amounts will be altered to yield the amount you want.

**Tip: **Be sure to double check the final amounts in your ingredients list after using a recipe scale calculator. Sometimes you may find that a recipe written in cups (with grams in parenthesis) will only scale the cups amount and leave whatever is within the parenthesis alone. Or you may notice that if a recipe states to use “1 large egg + 1 large egg white” may only scale the first part of the ingredient and leave what follows the plus sign alone.

## How Much to Scale a Recipe

It can be tricky to know *just how much* to scale a recipe if you don’t know where to start. Hopefully these tips make it simple for you:

### Scaling a Recipe Up

When you need *more *than a recipe yields, you’ll need to scale it up. This will mean *multiplying* every ingredient in the recipe list by your scaling amount. Let’s say a cake recipe yields two 8-inch layers but you need to make three 8-inch layers. In this case, you’ll want to multiply the recipe by **1.5**. The math here would be:

(anticipated recipe yield) / (current recipe yield), or in this case 3/2 = 1.5

You will need to scale the recipe by 1.5 to get the correct amount of ingredients. You can either choose the **one and one half** option in a recipe scale calculator after copy/pasting your ingredients list, or **multiply each ingredient by 1.5**.

Here’s how this works for cupcakes. Let’s say you need to make 75 cupcakes for an event and the recipe yields 24 cupcakes. Plugging those numbers into the above equation, you’ll get your scaling amount:

75/24 = 3.125

This would mean that you would need to multiply each ingredient on the list by 3.125 to get *exactly* 75 cupcakes. In this case, you might choose to round up the scaling amount to 3.25 or 3.5 just to make the final ingredient amounts simpler. By rounding up to the nearest quarter or half number, you’d have a little more than enough batter, but in my experience it’s better to have a little more batter than not quite enough.

For buttercream, I wrote out a handy chart that shows how much buttercream you might need for different cake projects. You can use that as a starting point for your scaling!

### Scaling a Recipe Down

When you need* less* than a recipe yields, you’ll need to scale it down. This will mean* dividing* every ingredient in the recipe list by the scaling amount. Let’s say you’re working with a recipe that yields three 6-inch cake layers but you only want to make two 6-inch cake layers. You’ll actually use the same mathematical equation to get the amount you’ll need to scale the recipe by!

(anticipated recipe yield) / (current recipe yield), or in this case ⅔.

You will need to scale the recipe by ⅔ to get the correct amount of ingredients. You can either choose the **two thirds** option in a recipe scale calculator after copy/pasting your ingredients list, or multiply each ingredient by ⅔ (or 0.66667). I know I said we’re dividing the recipe, but it takes multiplication to get there when working with some fractions and decimals.

Here’s how this works with cupcakes. Let’s say you’re working with a recipe that yields 24 cupcakes but you only want to make 6. Plugging the numbers into the equation:

6 / 24 = ¼ or 0.25

This means you’ll need to divide each ingredient on the list by 4, or multiply each ingredient by 0.25 to make exactly 6 cupcakes.

Again, for buttercream, I wrote out a handy chart that shows how much buttercream you might need for different cake projects that you can use as a starting point for your scaling!

## What about Eggs?

Sometimes when scaling a recipe, you may end up with an odd number of eggs. For example, if the original recipe calls for 1 large egg and you’re making ⅓ of the recipe, how do you measure out ⅓ of an egg? Here’s how: crack an egg into a bowl and whisk it up before dividing it into the amount you need. For example, if you need ⅓ of an egg and the beaten egg totals 3 Tbsp (45ml), use 1 Tbsp (15ml). If you end up with an amount like 2 ½ eggs after scaling, use two whole eggs + ½ of a beaten egg.

I know this seems like a lot of math (which I personally don’t *love*), but math is a big part of baking. Science and art are also big parts of baking, which is what makes it so fascinating to me!

I hope this post helps start you on the right when scaling your recipes! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments and feel free to tag @sugarandsparrowco on Instagram to show me your cake projects! I love to see what you create.

María says

This is great. Very helpful. Thank you!

Whitney says

Yay, Maria! So happy to help!

Teresa says

Hello, as always I wait till the last minute, I going to make your one bowl chocolate with butter cream icing. My question is. I need to make the cake as a 13×9, how long do I bake it for??? Do I need to make any changes to the receipe?

Whitney says

Hi Teresa! I hope I got this comment to you in time! Here’s a guide to making my layer cake recipes in that pan size: https://sugarandsparrow.com/sheet-cake-recipes/ essentially, fill the pan about 1/2 full with the chocolate cake batter and bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Lindsay says

Hi! I recall reading somewhere that when scaling up a cake recipes by 3 or more you have to take into account certain ingredients like baking soda and baking powder because they don’t scale up in a linear way. Is that true? What if I’m scaling a recipe for a big event and need to scale it by 6 because I have an industrial mixer?

Whitney says

Hi Lindsay! I had never heard of that rule for layer cakes but then again I’ve never made my recipes in an industrial sized mixer! I have usually just maxed out the capacity in my stand mixers to make double or triple the recipe at a time. So that’s what I recommend doing when working with my recipes, and if you want to make an industrial bakery-sized amount of cake, I’d look for a recipe that’s already tailored to the yield you need.