High Altitude Cooking and Baking

The challenges of high altitude cooking and baking can be discouraging to say the least. Too often high altitude baking is more frustrating than fun. Most sea-level recipes work up to around 3,000 feet, but above that, you start to see problems. Flat cookies, collapsed cakes, and sunken muffins. Through much trial and error, I’ve come to rely on a set of adjustments I use whenever I’m in the kitchen. See below for more detailed information. All of my recipes are created in my kitchen which sits just below 7000 feet. Please use my recipes as a guideline and adjust using my rules below. If you have any questions, please email me or send me a message on Facebook and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.

High Altitude Rules

Decrease
Leavening:
Increase
Liquids:
Decrease
Sugar:
Increase
Flour:
Decrease
Leavening:

When adjusting a sea level recipe, for each 1 teaspoon of leavening agent called for, decrease it by 1/8-1/2 teaspoon. FOR MY RECIPES: If you live above 7000 feet, decrease the amount of leavening agent just a bit. If you live below 7000 feet, increase the amount of leavening agent called for by just a bit. I recommend starting with 1/8 teaspoon increase or decrease at a time.

Increase
Liquids:

Because at higher elevations, faster evaporation occurs and drier climates can lead to a drier product to begin with, it's important to add additional liquid in any recipe. Also, flavors in baked goods can become weaker or less pronounced as there are fewer moisture molecules to carry the essence; adding 1/2-1 teaspoon extra of whatever flavoring you're using will assure a flavorful baked good. When adjusting any sea level recipe, add 2-4 tablespoons more liquid per 1 cup called for.FOR MY RECIPES: If you live above 7000 feet, increase the amount of liquid 1-2 tablespoons. If you live below 7000 feet, decrease the amount of liquid by 1-2 tablespoons.

Decrease
Sugar:

The increased evaporation also results in the concentration of the sugar in the recipe. This leads to a weaker structure. As we noted above, a weak structure leads to fallen cakes and flat cookies. When adjusting a sea level recipe, decrease the amount of sugar by 1-3 tablespoons of sugar per cup called for. I rarely measure but generally do a scant cup for each 1 cup called for. FOR MY RECIPES: If you live above 7000 feet, decrease the sugar by 1 tablespoon. If you live below 7000 feet, increase the sugar by 1 tablespoon.

Increase
Flour:

The increased evaporation also results in the concentration of the sugar in the recipe. This leads to a weaker structure. As we noted above, a weak structure leads to fallen cakes and flat cookies. When adjusting a sea level recipe, decrease the amount of sugar by 1-3 tablespoons of sugar per cup called for. I rarely measure but generally do a scant cup for each 1 cup called for. FOR MY RECIPES: If you live above 7000 feet, decrease the sugar by 1 tablespoon. If you live below 7000 feet, increase the sugar by 1 tablespoon.

High Altitude Tips

Soups and Stews

The liquid in soups and stews can evaporate quicker at high altitudes. Add 20-25% more cooking liquid than the recipe calls for.

Cooking Rice

When making rice, add 15%-20% more liquid and cook a few extra minutes.

Grilling

When grilling, avoid direct heat for too long so foods don’t dry out. Baste meat last 5-10 minutes to add extra moisture.

Yeast Breads

Yeast doughs rise quicker at higher altitudes so the proof time will be significantly less. Watch carefully so dough(s) doesn’t over rise.

Baking Times

Baked goods take longer to bake because of the lower air pressure. You may need to increase oven temperature and/or increase cooking time. Start with one or the other and see how it works.

Eggs in Baking

Adding an extra egg yolk when baking or using extra large eggs will add extra moisture help your baked goods from drying out.

Baking with Oatmeal

When a recipe calls for oatmeal, always use quick oats. Old fashioned oats tend to dry a baked good out faster as they absorb more liquid.

Hard Boiled Eggs

Hard boiled eggs are tricky at high altitude. Find my fool proof recipe here.

Cooking Pasta

Pasta takes longer to cook the higher in altitude you go. Add 15-20% more cooking time.

Baking with Egg Whites

Be careful not to over whip egg whites when making baked goods. Over whipping creates too much air and therefore baked goods can collapse when baking.