Five Ingredient Recipe Lesson


Sometimes the best recipes begin with the ingredients you have in your house. Along with some essential tips, and if you need it, help from a friend, you can create and discover new recipes all on your own! This lesson will show you how to take five ingredients and build a list of flexible recipes you could make with them. 

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5 ingredients from your kitchen


Flexible recipe: a recipe that can easily be adapted by substituting ingredients


 Today, we are going to talk about starting with five ingredients to make a flexible recipe. A flexible recipe is a recipe that can easily be adapted by substituting ingredients. For the first part of this lesson, brainstorm flavors and recipes that go with 1) strawberries, 2) vanilla extract, 3) lemon, 4) brown sugar, and 5) thyme. Brainstorm flavors and recipes that go with vanilla extract, lemon, thyme, and brown sugar


Next, you will find a flexible recipe for these five ingredients. To find or develop a flexible recipe, choose one of the following recipe search strategies: 

  • Search the internet: Internet search engines can be beneficial to find recipes from ingredients—type in the ingredients you want to use. When I typed in vanilla, thyme, and strawberries, over 460,000 results came up, including a recipe for Strawberry-Thyme lemonade and fruit crumble. 
  • Look at the index of your cookbooks: The index of cookbooks can be beneficial for looking up recipes by ingredients. Identify the “main” ingredient of the five you chose. For example, in this lesson, I identify strawberries as the main ingredient.
  • Phone a friend/family member: Each of us has different levels of comfort in the kitchen. Some of us have friends who are more comfortable with using flexible recipes or who can create recipes themselves. We recommend you phone a friend who you know is good in the kitchen. 
  • Make a recipe up! This strategy is best when you are comfortable in the kitchen. You can also experiment with adding to other recipes. Try it out!

How did you decide to find a recipe? Would you want to make using strawberries, vanilla, lemon, brown sugar, and thyme?


 Now find five ingredients of your own. Go into your kitchen and look at what you have. When choosing five ingredients, the following questions will help you determine if you are choosing ingredients that go together well. 

  • Are my 5-ingredients savory or sweet? (make sure they are mostly either one or the other) 
  • If I imagine eating all of these ingredients together, does that sound good? 
  • Do I have one ingredient that can be the central part of the dish?

Taking your five ingredients, find a recipe using the recipe search strategies (search the internet, look at the index of cookbooks, etc). Write your recipe on a peice of paper. 

Student Notes
  • Now that you know how to find a recipe that uses five ingredients, go and make your recipe! 
  • Participate in our Five Ingredient Challenge. 
  • Share your recipes with us! We would love to see photos of your five ingredients and what you made and post them on our social media platforms! If you would like to share pictures or videos with us, please ask permission from a parent or guardian. Send your photos to If you post on your own (or your parent’s,) social media accounts tag @edibleschoolyard in the photo and use the hashtag #EdibleEdatHome 
  • Madlovefood (2015, April 5). Vanilla-Thyme Lemonade. Food52. Retreived from
  • Disclaimer: all videos and references are used for educational purposes only. The Edible Schoolyard Project does not endorse any brands, labels, organizations, or businesses included in videos or references. 
Notes for Teachers and Parents
  • This activity supports students in practicing creating: undertaking projects that have tangible results both in the kitchen and garden. 
  • This activity encourages students to feel that cooking and gardening are more accessible. 
  • This lesson emphasizes using flexible recipes. It will be helpful for students to understand how to read a recipe to find recipes. See our How to Read a Recipe lesson as a pre-lesson or lesson extension.