When Do You Trust (or Mistrust) a Recipe?

Reader Discussion

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First impressions are everything, and this holds doubly true for recipes. Flipping through a magazine or a cookbook, the impulse to dog-ear the page or continue flipping without pause feels almost instinctual. But what's really going on? What are the little clues that tip you one way or the other with a new recipe? What makes you trust, or mistrust, a recipe at first glance?

In the "trustworthy" category, I find that the source counts for a lot with me. I'll trust a recipe from Fine Cooking magazine or from a cookbook author like Dorie Greenspan — even taking a chance on an unfamiliar dish when I otherwise might pass it by! If it's online, reader reviews become a major plus. It's also important to me that a recipe reads well. If I can visualize the steps and follow along easily while I'm reading it, then I feel confident taking it into the kitchen.

On the flip side, I'm always wary of recipes that promise to be easy, but that look suspiciously long in either the ingredients or the instructions. Any recipe that sounds too good to be true probably is. There's also the same readability test that makes me trust a recipe: I'll pass right by a recipe that confuses me in the first few steps.

What about you? What are your criteria for a trustworthy recipe? What are your red flags? Do you always trust your instincts?

Related: Get It Together! 9 Tips & Methods for Organizing Your Recipes

(Image: Leela Cyd Ross)