How do you rate recipes?
  • Are there any other things you watch out for, other than whether the dish was delicious and/or if the recipe worked well? Do you sometimes find it difficult to rate something appropriately?

    Sometimes I find it hard to give a rating that is fair. What do you do, for example, with a recipe you think has a lot of potential if only one little aspect of it were tweaked? Or, what if you have a very simple dish that produced excellent results? Last week, for example, I made Stir-fried Snow Peas with Garlic, and although I really think that it's a great dish, something in me keeps whispering: "But what do you do with a more complicated recipe? Isn't it too easy to give five stars for such an easy recipe? Wouldn't a complicated dish be more deserving?"
  • Friederike, I agree that this can be difficult - and its been a frequent dinner conversation as I prompt my family to help me rate recipes.
    For us, we decided that 'delicious' was the bottom line. If I were scanning reviews to help me select something to make, I wouldn't want to pick a more complicated recipe if a simple one gave the same "yum".
    I also really like that the scale is heavily weighted to the positive end. We remind ourselves that a "3" is still good.
    The bottom line for me - I try to award 4 starts for something that is great, and am a bit of a miser with 5 stars - to make them really mean something. And I down-grade for a delicious main-dish recipe that is not nutritious or if the recipe seemed to have a flaw.

    I'm really glad you brought up this topic - I'm interested to hear how others deal with this issue.
  • I tend to give 5 stars to things I would make again and that we really enjoyed whether it's simple or not. If only one person really enjoyed it then I might have to give a 4 instead of a 5. If something were lacking in the instructions or flavor then that would knock it down a star or even two depending on how off the instructions or flavor was for us. Only things most of my tasters don't care for and I know I'd never consider making again even with changes get one star.
  • Good question and one I had to think about for a bit before I realized that my rating is almost purely based on the flavor of the completed dish. The text of my reviews is where I talk about things like ease or difficulty of prep, nutritional value, special equipment, etc. I suspect I am a bit more likely to give a five to dishes where I got great flavor with minimal effort...probably a relic of the days when I had young kids and not enough time to get everything done. And I may give a 3 rather than a 4 to a recipe where I think the resulting flavor --even if it's pretty great -- doesn't justify the effort involved.

    I rarely give really bad reviews but that is probably because I've been cooking for a good many years now and I can usually recognize a recipe I will like from the ingredients list. So when I give a bad review, it's probably because there's something I dislike about how the recipe is written -- e.g. confusing instructions.
  • I've been thinking about this a lot lately too, and trying to get more consistent with my reviews. I usually save the 5 stars for recipes that tasted really great and I would really like to make again, so that I can find those quickly. 4 stars go to recipes that were very good but maybe I had to adjust the ingredients somewhat or tweak the method. I give 3 stars to recipes that taste ok but I doubt I will make again. 2 stars go to recipes that I just didn't feel worked very well for some reason or another but that tasted ok. I save 1 star ratings for those recipes that completely fail or that don't taste good at all.

    If it helps you all, when I'm reading your reviews, I tend to focus and mark the recipes you marked 4 or 5 stars and disregard those that get a 3 or less. But there are so many good things to make that I feel like I have to have some kind of weeding process.
  • It's interesting to see how opinions differ, especially on how strict people are with rating, and whether they rate complex dishes higher or lower than simple ones.

    I try to be strict, because otherwise I'd probably give all reviews the same rating. For me, that means that I'll only give 5 stars to a dish that was really impressive and worked well. Very nice dishes that weren't as impressive won't score higher than 4 stars, as will impressive dishes that didn't work that well and might be improved. 3 stars is for recipes that weren't bad but probably won't be made again; two stars and less are definitely not recommended.

    I enjoy inviting other people over for dinner and I'm ambitious enough to want to impress them; I tend to turn to 5 star recipes for these dinners. This is also part of the reason why I sometimes think a complex dish should perhaps receive a higher rating than a really simple one. But I also think that it might be too easy for a simple dish to get 5 stars; after all, if you've just spent hours in the kitchen just cooking for your family and yet you think that dish deserves 5 stars, don't you want to be able to express that somehow?

    I guess it shows that I don't have kids (yet). My whole rating system will probably be turned upside-down in a few years. :)

    Lazylurker, it's good to hear that I'm not the only one who regularly discusses recipe reviews during dinner!
  • You have all made me think more about this. I guess I tend to be fairly generous with the stars. I will have to rethink this.

    I don't necessarily give more stars for a complicated dish, however, if it is complicated (or takes a long time to make) I do expect more from it. I think I am more disappointed if I have gone through all the time making it and then it's not worthy of five stars. I don't mind less complicated dishes- like Ina Garten's- and think they should be in the running for five stars too.
  • I guess I don't want to spend a lot of time and energy making something *unless* it's going to rate 5 stars. I can churn out a decent 4-star meal any day of the week, so I get frustrated if I put a lot of time into making something and then it's not fantastic. I prefer making simple food and usually save my "fancy cooking" for the weekend, when I have more time and fewer child-watching responsibilities. So while I think simple dishes should be able to earn 5 stars, as I would likely want to make them again and again, if a recipe calls for a lot of work, it will have to really wow me to get 5 stars.
  • I seem to give most of the recipes I rate 4 or 5 stars because either they are old favourites or new but I definitely will try them again. If a recipe is too unsatisfactory to use a second time there's not much point listing it, unless to warn others. For me the principal use of Cookbooker is to be able to find a recipe - you know, it's a Beverly Sutherland Smith recipe, but I've got 9 of her books and I can't remember which one it's in!

    Recipes given 3 or 4 stars generally require some sort of adaptation or tweaking, which I note for my own guidance as well as for other people.
  • After reading all of these posts, I have become much more discerning with my stars! Sometimes it's so hard to determine a rating, isn't it?
  • I agree, @bhnyc. Tonight I made collard greens, which I thought I hated, but this recipe was great. Definitely the best collard greens I ever had. Does that mean 5 stars? I probably would still like other vegetables more...

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