A NEW PLEDGE: Only Recipes with 6-Ingredients?

Japanese Steaks with Ginger Miso Mustard

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #00adef;”] Y[/dropcap]ou know when you have the realization that you were onto a really good idea like 8 years ago.

And then you lost your way?

OMG me too!

That’s exactly what’s been happening inside my head of late…

Almost 8 years ago I made a pledge to only cook recipes with 5-ingredients.

The only problem was I didn’t stick to it.

NOT because my cooking wasn’t delicious or satisfying with just 5-ingredients. If anything my simple meals were just as good, if not better.

As I shared a few years later, counting ingredients every time I went in the kitchen got a little tedious.

And it meant I couldn’t cook other peoples recipes because pretty much everyone who writes the type of recipes I like to cook use way more than 5 ingredients.

So I stopped paying attention to ingredient numbers when I was cooking, apart from when I was creating recipes for Stonesoup.

Not having an ingedient limit has meant I’ve let standards slip.

Which I haven’t felt right about for a while.

So I’ve decided to make a different pledge.

This time I’m committing to only WRITING recipes with 6-ingredients or less. Until the end of the year.

I like the 6-ingredients because that extra ingredient makes a difference from a creative perspective.

Yet it’s still really simple.

And I like giving myself a time frame to try it out.

I’m 99% confident that I can stick to this pledge. But it’s nice to have the idea of a review down the track.

So what do you think?

Do you like the idea of 6-ingredient meals?

Do you care about ingredient numbers? Are you interested to see if I can stick to it?

Is there another criteria you’d use to define simplicity?

I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below…

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x

ps. I’m planning to keep to my original definition where I don’t include salt, pepper, baking powder or oil in my ingredient count. Does that sound reasonable to you? OR am I cheating?

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  • For me, I’m not concerned with the exact number of ingredients, especially if cutting out an ingredient detracts from the final product. I love simple, healthy dishes but the counting component is just not a concern for me. I think you can still have simple recipes with 10 or 12 ingredients if the preparation process is still easy.

  • I like 5 ingredient approach. You could suggest the addition of extra ingredients in “Variations & Substitutions”

  • I agree with Mel, increasing the ingredient number doesn’t bother much especially if most of what is use are already basics easily found in my pantry, however a difficult or lengthy cooking process is more likely to put me off.

  • What attracts me to your recipes are the minimal amount of ingredients. Five has been great. Six is pushing it. No more work for me!

  • I’m sort of with the “numbers aren’t that important camp” especially if the additional ingredients are spices or herbs. You might suggest making some regularly spice blends ahead so it makes it easier to create a dish. For example, I do make curry frequently and I prefer my own spice mix to a commercial blend so I always have some on hand. I’ve been meaning to make up some additional blends and this might be my inspiration.

  • I don’t mind the exact number – simple is the point and that can definitely happen with 6, 10 or 12. I often add an ingredient or two from the variations – so would love you to add suggestions for another flavour/highlight or vegetable etc in the variations.

  • I loved the five ingredient idea, and I love the six ingredient idea better (more realistic!) but for me – numbers don’t matter as much as how labor-intensive and time-consuming the meal is to prepare!!!

  • I don’t count ingredients either. Often I add an onion or extra veggies or spices and herbs. The goodness comes from the right combinations, and numbers aren’t that important for me. I agree more with a previous responder that the way of preparing makes a recipe simple or not. I like to cook, not to juggle with ingredients.

    • Great Ryanne!
      I don’t expect you guys to count – that’s my job! HOwever I find having a defined limit helpful for keeping me honest :)

  • 5 or 6 is fine, when I see a recipe and the list of ingredients is ongoing I skip it. If your main ingredient is good quality you don’t need an army of friends to back it up. keep It Simple.

  • Actually, your cookbook 5-Ingredients, 10-Minutes is one of my favorites!

    The 5 ingredients makes it feel like the recipe isn’t too daunting and eliminates that need to pick up one special ingredient or worry the recipe will be off without it!

    But your variation and substitution suggestions are the perfect way to add to, change or “beef up” a recipe. In essence, you’ve taught me to use my own judgement if I think I might want to add a little extra something or substitute with something else I have on hand.

  • I don’t even read recipes that have long lists of ingredients. Simple cooking is very important in our household so both few ingredients and few steps count. (Pun not intended but enjoyed anyway.)

  • I have no quibble with six ingredients – I am with the camp that loves simple and fast. Not lots of chopping, since my dear husband has agreed to prep the veggies as his contribution to our meals. If the ingredients list is too long, he’s out! (So if I want a stir fry with lots of chopped stuff, it’s down to me to do the prep.)

  • 5 or 6 is fine. More and I won’t make it even though I often add more when I start cooking. I love the simplicity of your recipes the increased ingredients detract from that.

    • Good to know thanks James – I think you’ve got an excellent point – it’s easy for you guys to add more ingredients if you like but harder to take them away :)

  • I think that if you have your seasoning mixes made up ahead of time, you could count those as a single ingredient. Then sticking to 6 ingredients is easier. Also, things like cooking oil, salt, pepper are not really much extra effort and you don’t have to buy them separately for any recipe, so I don’t think they should count either.

  • Have fun in Coogee Jules. It’s gorgeous at this time of year. I am lucky to live here.

  • I think that limits like 4-5-6-7 ingredients are very artificial, and can make you compromise taste to stick to a self-imposed number. A much more useful approach for our kitchen would be one that involves waste-free cooking (yes, use that entire 1 tomato), and simple steps. It doesn’t make sense to count things like salt and oil…

    • Good point about waste Di!
      I always try and use the whole ingredient / pack – a lesson I learned back in my food science days :)

  • Six-ingredient meals sound good. I have come to appreciate the simplicity of meals with few ingredients. BUT, there are some things that need more than that, either to be authentic to the cuisine they are from, or to be the best. The only reason I can think of to include seasonings and oil in the ingredient list is that some of us (as in ME) don’t always read a recipe thoroughly, and are surprised when the ingredients say to add oil… That said, I don’t think you need to count oil and seasonings as extra ingredients. Salt and pepper are part of just about everything we cook, and oil is almost always part of a salad. I wish you the best in sticking to your new plan, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t stick to it completely – creativity is too valuable to squelch. :-)

    • I agree Susan that some cuisines need more ingredients – which is why there aren’t many Indian recipes on Stonesoup!

      Thanks for your thoughts about including oil in the ingredients list for the people who don’t read the instructions – I’ve been wondering about that. I think I’ll start including it in the ingredients but not in my count.

      Appreciate your thoughts!

  • For me, simpler is better but, I don’t see much difference between 5 and 6. If the extra ingredient brings more flavor and/or nutrition into the dish, then I am all for it!

  • I am with John, taste and filling meals are the most important to me, not the number of ingredients.

  • 5 or 6…all ok with me, underbench/pantry items should not effect the number of ingredients count…but who is counting. Simplicity of the preparation, cooking and delivery to the table is what matters to me…and of course the little garnish (herb ? cheese?) helps. I most often add onion to recipes especially if its a stove top cook…its a good indicator to me of pan heat.

    • Good to know thanks Luke!
      It’s funny I usually skip the onion because it adds a good 5-10 minutes. I rarely miss it.

      • I have prepped so many onions over the years cooking in bulk for student field trips ( 5 days outback no services!!) that I have become immune to onion eyes( tears). Best thing is that the menu remains the same, the students change!

  • I was originally attracted by the 5 ingredients and 10 minutes idea and while I look at almost every blog and recipe you send through I often don’t make them as I feel they’re lacking a bit of magic that an extra ingredient or two would make. So I’m in the keep it simple in terms of process (multiple pots and having to cook one thing, put it aside to cook another etc is really off putting for me; one or two pot meals are the bomb for our house) and fuss factor but if a few more ingredients made it more tasty then I say go for it – I often felt 5 seemed a bit lacking. The variations you give at the end are genius, so if ingredient numbers are important to many people then a good solution is popping the ‘extra touches’ in there :)

    • Thanks for your thoughts Clare!

      I’ve had a lot of people say to me they think the original recipe isn’t going to be good enough but are surprised how good things taste when they do make something. I even think that way when I’m creating recipes but 90% of the time they surprise even me. And I only write about the ones that meet my standards!

      I dare you to try something that seems to simple – would love to hear how you get on!

  • I prefer not to place a hard limit on the number of ingredients. I like Anita’s suggestion in reverse: provide the original recipe with no compromise due to the number of ingredients and then suggest variations using fewer ingredients.

    • Thanks Murray!
      The thing is most of the time I don’t have to compromise so the original recipe is the same with or without the restriction. Appreciate your idea though :)

  • Your 5 ingredient cookbook is my favorite! As someone who hates to cook I love simple recipes. I also love the short cooking time. Maybe more than fewer ingredients. I have some more of my own “guidelines”. Like if I have to press the tofu. Or if the recipe includes flour or other ingredients that signal “hard” to me.

  • I like the simple recipes approach rather than number of ingredients. I would also like to see recipes using mainly fresh ingredients that are readily available rather than tinned. I also agree that you could focus on six ingredients and suggest variations or added ingredients in the comments like you do with the eating types variations.

  • I’ve got a pretty strong opinion on this one. Loved your 5 ingredients / 10 minutes theme when I found your site (loved the logo back then as well, lol) – it was a great way to see that you didn’t need much to do well.

    But here’s where I think a lot of the ‘4 ingredients’ or ‘1 pan dinners’ thing miss the mark. 30 minute meals miss the mark also. I’ll prove it below.

    Having cooked for a while now (you played a big part in that!) I now have a different opinion.

    If I got to choose a theme for a book / or blog in this case, it would focus more on the combination of:
    not too difficult to prep
    definitely quick to prep
    not too many pans, pots and gadgets all going on at once
    and not too many *working* ingredients

    I also see that this idea has come through in a few of the other comments to this post.

    What do I mean? How about a couple examples.

    Take the ‘x’ minute meals idea. It’s irrelevant to me. If a meal takes 5 minutes to put together in the slow cooker…and then takes 8 hours to cook…that qualifies as a ‘quick’ meal to me.

    The ‘number of ingredients’ thing doesn’t work (for me) either.
    Example of where lots of ingredients is fine:
    – I don’t care if a recipe has 2 spices or 8 spices. It’s no more *WORK* for me – and that’s what matters. So, I think you could expand your staples to include a spice rack (who doesn’t have one?)

    – On the flip side, a 3 ingredient meal might freak me out…if you’re going to ask me to debone a fish or something.

    So it’s more a focus on:
    prep that (a) doesn’t take too long or (b) isn’t too highly technical/ skilled
    Combined with not finishing the meal and crying at the thought of even stacking the dishwasher (let alone washing by hand!)

    *THAT* is the key, in my book.

    ‘Easy & Quick Prep Meals’ is about as close as I can get…or perhaps ‘Easy & Quick Prep / Low Fuss Cleanup Meals’. Something like that.

    Ingredients? Could be few or many. Cooking time could be quick or slow (the oven does the work and even busy people like to do more interesting meals on days off etc).

    Anyway – just my 2 cents. I appreciate that my idea doesn’t give quantifiable boundaries very easily. I think it could be done. Something like:
    6 *main* ingredients (where you’ve got to chop or DO something more than just opening a can or a spice jar). In that way you could probably do even less than 6 ingredients (if you define it as ‘main’ or ‘working’ ingredients)
    Time limits are fine with prep. Basically, easy / quick prep is the philosophy.

    Sorry, I’ve gone on a bit!

    • Mulling this over I’ve come back to comment with what I think is behind what I’m saying. As I said, it really comes down to prep. Not ingredient numbers (as that’s situational), same with time on the clock.

      It’s the idea of:

      Low-Prep Cooking

      Simple phrase, but it encapsulates what i yearn for, and I think others as well.

  • I like the idea of 5 or 6 ingredient limits, but my definition if simplicity is time. I do almost all my cooking ahead on the weekends, so I don’t want to spend more than 15 to 20 minutes on any one dish, 30 minutes at the absolute max. Pour it in a crock pot or baking dish or stir it in a pan on the stove, and done. I love using natural ingredients, but if I have to spend 30 to 45 minutes chopping before I ever get it in a crock pot or on the stove, it doesn’t work for me. Like some others have said. If the ingredients above the 5 or 6 are spices that are just measured, then no big deal, but standing on my feet for more than 20-30 minutes trying to get everything together, not a big fan. And oh, I don’t want to dirty up every bowl and measuring cup in the house. Once it goes past a pan and 2 bowls, not interested. I hate washing dishes. Carla

  • Time is more important to me than number of ingredients. 20 minutes max, and no more than 2 bowls and a pan to use. More containers than that and it is a no-g0. I don’t want to spend 45 minutes chopping and prepping ingredients. Chop 1 or two things, mix it up, put in a crock pot or baking dish, or do a 1 skillet dinner on the stove, 20 minutes tops. I have to do all my cooking on the weekend, and I don’t want to spend more than half a day on it. If there are more than 6 ingredients, but there is just a measure and stir, then I am good. Keep the time and prep effort down.

  • Hi Jules! I love your simple do-able recipes, but I often think “would it be more awesome if she wasn’t leaving something out to stick to that magical 5 number?” So, I think so I think 5-7ish is perfect!! It’s still a totally simple, and manageable handful of speak-for-themselves ingredients. If you need to go slightly over for an ingredient that really makes the dish sing, I say go for it! If you are worried that your readers will be pissy, maybe add it as a note or optional variation. Best luck! And thanks for all that you do for us!

  • Personally Jules, numbers are important….
    Numerology #6 is connected with balance, responsibility and love.
    Sounds like you Jules…. go for it : )

  • btw….
    Numerology #5 is unpredictable, always in motion and constantly in need of change…
    he he….. that might be why 6 resonates with you more beautiful, creative Jules : )

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