What Does Yield Mean In Cooking?

The dictionary meaning of Yield is more straightforward than practical. Oxford English Dictionary describes Yield as a product, result, or profit from an investment or something.

When cooking, it is always nice to know how much food a recipe will give at the end. This is where Yield comes in, which is the epicenter of yield testing.

In the next 1000-plus words, we will do our best to give you everything you need to know about yielding in cooking.

What does Yield Mean in Cooking?

When using certain recipes, you may come across the word ‘ Yield,’ so it is important to understand. Some recipes use ‘makes’ or ‘serves’ instead of Yield. Both terms are synonymous with Yield, so this article is also relevant in such situations.

Yield in cooking means the size or amount of food you will have after using a recipe. For instance, a cupcake recipe may yield a dozen cupcakes, or a salsa recipe may yield 20 liters of salsa sauce.

Yield in cooking can also mean the number of serves a recipe can produce. An example is when you come across recipes that detail expected serving sizes. Of course, a standard recipe will always outline the expected number of serving sizes.

Yield refers to the amount of food available after food processing, such as peeled, butchered, liquefaction, amplification, chopping or slicing, pre-cooking, etc.

For instance, if you’re peeling 2.3 kg of carrots for a recipe that requires 2 kg of carrots. After you have peeled them, you are left with the exact 2kg of carrots for your food.

The 2 kg of carrots is the Yield after peeling the carrots.

How to use Yield Test and Percentage

A yield test is a quantitative testing procedure that helps account for how much of a product is available after processing, preparation, or cooking.

There are two terms involved in yield testing:

  • EP (Edible Portion) – This is the weight of the available product after cooking, processing, or preparation.

From the consumer’s perspective, EP is the weight of the products when you must have cleaned, prepared, and cooked the product or products.

From the manufacturer’s perspective, EP is the weight of the final product sold to customers.

  • AP (As Purchased) – This is the original weight of the product. When you buy products from the markets or grocery stores, their weight at the point of purchase is the AP.

Here’s how to compute the yield test of a product in three easy practical steps:

Weigh and record the weight of the product at the point of purchase (AP)

Let’s assume we have a whole tenderloin – 5500 g and a can of pickles in brine – 870 ml.

After processing or preparing the product, measure the weight of the waste

Say tenderloin fat is our only waste from the whole tenderloin cut, and when we measured the weight of the waste, we got 1500 g.

When we poured the brine from the brined pickle and measured the brine, it weighed 170 ml.

Use the formula below to compute the Edible Product weight (EP)

EP = AP weight – trim or waste weight

Let’s use this formula in our examples.

EP (Tenderloin) = 5500 – 1500 = 4000 g

EP (Brined pickles) = 870 – 170 = 700 ml

From this brief calculation, it can be deduced that from the initial 5500 g of tenderloin, only 4000 g will make it into the meal.

Additionally, only 700 ml of 870 ml of the brined pickles are available for consumption after taking out the brine.

Next, the yield percentage is computed. You cannot calculate the yield percentage without calculating the Yield first.

For clarity, a yield percentage is that of the as-purchased product available for consumption after eliminating waste or processing it.

The yield percentage is computed using this formula:

Yield percentage = EP/AP x 100%

Let’s make this more practical with the examples we gave before.

Yield percentage (Tenderloin) = 4000/5500 x 100% = 72.72%

Yield percentage (Brined pickles) = 700/870 x 100% = 80.46 %

The yield percentage helps to shed more light on how much of the initial weight has been lost during trimming or processing and how much of the initial product is still available for consumption.

Importance of Yield

Yield testing is important for different reasons.

For commercial food services:

Yield regulates the use of raw materials when cooking

There’s less waste when cooking because raw materials can easily be standardized and measured.

Yield standardizes the cost of cooked goods

When restaurants know the Yield for different products, they can easily work out their cost and selling price without risking cheating. Yield also gives knowledge of how much usable product is available after cooking

For households and non-business settings:

Yield testing offers the best idea on the best type of food to buy

Yield tests help you answer the question of what to buy.

What will you buy if you know that a whole fish will give a 75% Edible Portion (EP) and a ready-to-cook fish fillet offers 100% EP?

Which of the two options seems more reasonable?

To answer this question, think of the trimmings and waste. Will they be worth the cost? Do you need them? And consider the price of both options as well.

Yield testing helps to know the amount of food you need to buy

When you conduct yield tests, you will be confident in the amount of food you need to buy. For instance, if you have to serve 500 grams of fish for a recipe, a yield test will give you an idea of how much fish you should buy.

A yield will help you answer this question; how much whole fish or fillet fish should I buy?

If you’re buying a 500 g whole fish, you should remember that trimmings and wastes will reduce the fish’s EP. However, the EP of a 500 g fish fillet may not lose any parts to trimming or processing and may retain 100% EP.

Yield tests open your eyes to the best cooking methods

Some foods yield more EP when cooked a certain way.

For example, 1605 g of Australian Rib eye, when oven-roasted for 1 hour at 180°C and allowed to rest for 15 minutes (60°C internal temperature), yields an EP of 87%.

1605 g of Australian Rib eye, oven-roasted for 2 hours at 100°C and left to rest for 15 minutes (60°C internal temperature), yields an EP of 92%.

It is evident that when Australian Rib eye is slow-cooked in the oven, it yields more EP or double product.

How can you Maximize the Yield of a Recipe?

Find the conversion factor! If you are not a math whiz, this might already sound exhausting but don’t worry; you’ll find this standardized method helpful.

We are going to give three instances describing different scenarios.

Example 1: Only the number of the portions change

If you need to maximize the Yield of a recipe that produces 20 portions so it can produce 80 portions, this is how you get the conversion factor:

  1. Outline the standard recipe yield; 20 portions.
  2. Outline the required Yield; 80 portions.
  3. Use this formula.

Conversion factor = required yield/standard recipe yield

80/20 = 4

  1. Multiply the size of each ingredient by the answer from step three.

Example 2: The number and weight of the portions change

If you need to maximize the Yield of a recipe that produces 20 portions each weighing 100 g, to produce 80 portions each weighing 80 g. Use this process to get the conversion factor:

  1. Multiply the standard Yield of the recipe by the weight of the recipe = 20 x 100 g = 2000 g
  2. Multiply the required Yield of the recipe by the weight of the recipe = 80 x 80 g = 6400 g
  3. Use this formula for the conversion factor: Answer in step 2/answer in step 1 = 6400/2000 = 3.2
  4. Multiply the size of each ingredient by your answer in step three.

When multiplying your ingredients, ensure they’re measured in weight rather than volume, as measuring in volume can be tricky sometimes.

However, if certain ingredients are too small to be weighed, use their volume measurement.

Example 3: Finding the conversion factor for ingredients of a recipe in the U.S system

The following recipe is designed to yield 10 biscuits, and you want to adjust the recipe to 100.

Baking Powder4 oz.
Salt1 oz.
Flour3 lbs
Milk4 cups

Step 1: Find the conversion factor 

New yield/old yield = 100/10 = 10

Step 2: Multiply each ingredient by the answer in step one

IngredientOriginal AmountNew Amount
Baking Powder4 oz.40 oz. = 2 ½ lbs
Salt1 oz.10 oz.
Flour3 lbs30 lbs
Shortening1lb10 lbs
Milk4 cups40 cups

This process is the same when you have to maximize the Yield of a recipe in the metric system.

What are some tips for getting the most out of your recipes?

  • The most important tip is to read the recipe and follow it thoroughly. This doesn’t mean you can’t tweak the recipes to suit your taste.
  • Measure your ingredients carefully and prep them on time.
  • Salt can make or break your meal, so be careful with the salt.
  • Recipes with seasonal ingredients are the best for fresh-tasting results. Indulge in seasonal recipes.
  • Always top it up with something fresh. You’ll be shocked at what a squeeze of lemon or lime and a sprinkle of herbs can do to your meals.
  • Carefully note important details you may need when recreating that recipe!

Common Problems that can lead to low Yield in Cooking

  • Trying to maximize the Yield without using a standardized measure (see above).
  • Not buying the most efficient form of product for your meal. For instance, instead of buying a fish fillet that will yield a higher EP, you buy a full fish that will lead to trimmings and waste, hence a lower EP.
  • Combining recipes can reduce Yield when cooking. Instead, stick to one recipe and follow the instructions strictly.
  • Using the wrong cooking method can cause a decrease in Yield when cooking. Conversely, with oven-cooked meals, slow cooking often increases Yield.
  • Buying the wrong amount of products for your meals will reduce the Yield.