Measurement Conversions for Cooking
Can't find your measuring spoons? Did you break your measuring cup? Every once in a while, we all need a little help converting a measurement. Using the wrong equivalents can lead to a ruined dinner or a flat birthday cake. Here are some easy-to-follow cooking conversion measurement charts to help you when you are in a bind.
Cooking Measurement Conversion Chart (Liquid)
1/8 teaspoon or less
1 fluid ounce
5 1/3 tablespoons
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 pint or 8 fluid ounces
1 quart, liquid
2 pints or 4 cups
1 gallon, liquid
1 gill, liquid
1/2 cup or 4 fluid ounces
- Note that while the first chart is labeled "liquid," it should be used for both liquid and standard dry ingredient conversions. The second chart is solely for measuring larger quantities of dry ingredients, like raw fruits and vegetables.
- While not commonly used in recipes these days, a gill is a measurement approximately equal to 1/2 cup. The measurement is still used when making alcoholic beverages.
Cooking Measurement Conversion Chart (Dry)
1 dry pint
1/2 dry quart
1 dry quart
2 dry pints
8 dry quarts
32 dry quarts
How to Measure
While many recipes work perfectly well with a pinch of this or that, most recipes, especially in baking, require precise measurements. Here are a few simple measuring tips to always keep in mind.
Tips for Accurate Measuring
- Use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients.
- Use liquid measuring cups for liquids.
- Measuring spoons can be used for both dry and liquid ingredients.
- Don't measure ingredients in spoons over the mixing bowl. They could flow over and spill into the bowl.
- Ingredients like shortening and peanut butter should be measured in dry measuring cups. Pack ingredients into cup and level off with a knife or spatula. Use care to fill the entire cup.
- Never pack down, tap or shake flour when measuring. Just fill the cup and level off using a knife or spatula.
- Always level off sugar when measuring.
- Unless otherwise noted, brown sugar should be lightly packed in the measuring cup.
- Note exactly what the recipe says. A good example of this, found in The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, is "1 pound shelled, deveined shrimp is a different measurement from 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined; there are more shrimp to the pound when they are weighed after the shells are removed than before..."
How to Use Measuring Cups and Spoons
Many people are tempted to purchase beautiful handmade measuring cups and spoons. They can be made out of ceramic, silver, or other things, and make lovely decorative additions to a kitchen. Be careful when using these collectibles. Sometimes their measurements are not correct. Before using them, just double-check to make sure. You can do this by measuring sugar in the decorative measuring cup and then pouring it into a regular measuring cup. If the sugar fills up to the top of the regular measuring cup, then it is ok. Never use regular teaspoons and tablespoons from your dinnerware to measure. They are not the same size and will throw off the measurements.
- Rombauer, Irma S., and Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker, The Joy of Cooking, New York: Scribner, 1997.
- Ying, Mildred (editor), The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, New York: Hearst Books, 1986.
© 2013 Claudia Porter