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A New Study Says That No One Actually Follows Recipes

Kitchen brand NEFF questioned 1,500 Brits on their cooking habits and found that just 7 percent think it's important to follow a recipe when cooking.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB

Judging by the recent uproar surrounding the BBC's decision to axe its online recipe section, Britain is pretty big on written cooking guides (and, erm, Gregg Wallace's recipe for "Stuffin' Muffins"?) A glance at the groaning kitchen bookshelf of even the most cooking-averse household will also attest to the fact that we just can't seem to feed ourselves without the help of Nigella's latest coffee table tome.


But according to a new survey from NEFF, Britain may not be as recipe-reliant as it appears. The kitchen brand questioned 1,500 Brits on their cooking habits and found that the majority don't think it's important to follow recipes when cooking.

We're a nation of freestylers, throwing caution (and abnormal amounts of curry powder) to the wind when stepping into the kitchen.

READ MORE: What Top British Chefs Think About the BBC Axing Its Recipe Section

According to the survey, just 7 percent of home cooks deem it necessary to follow a recipe. The vast majority simply use them as a guide and add in their own ingredients, working with what the survey describes as a "capsule larder," which seems to be like a capsule wardrobe but with more sauce stains.

From this cupboard of essential condiments—including curry powder, Marmite, and brown sauce—British home cooks recklessly flout ingredient lists and recommended measurements. Twelve percent of those surveyed add Worcestershire sauce to curry, 9 percent include egg, and 2 percent pour in cola. Even the much fussed over cuisine of Italy is not safe from Britons' wanton disregard for recipes, with 12 percent saying they add tomato ketchup to Italian dishes. Twenty-three percent (Nonna, look away now) throw in chili powder.

This lackadaisical attitude towards ingredient lists also impacted traditional British dishes. More than 70 percent now serve mashed or sweet potato as part of their Sunday roast, ditching the usual roast potatoes. Seventeen percent even add chili, soy, or oyster sauce to gravy.

READ MORE: This Guy Got an Entire Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies Tattooed on His Leg

The survey's findings put paid to last year's comments from restaurateur and culinary school founder Prue Leith, who said that most recipe books were bought for readers to "drool over Tuscan landscapes" rather than as a cooking resource.

But Britain's casual use of recipe books may be about more than just food porn. The survey found that our additions and supplements weren't inspired by food fads (only 5 percent cooked based on food images they had seen on Instagram), but a need to use up fridge leftovers and create cost-saving meals.

Thrift and avoiding food waste inspires kitchen creativity, it seems. And when you do need that food porn inspo, we know a great little place.