Thanks to the internet, recipes can be shared around the globe. However, this can lead to some difficulty if the recipe lists ingredients in measurements that you aren't familiar with. You may also find that you are without the suggested measuring tool and want to know how to convert from tablespoons to cups or from milliliters to fluid ounces.
It's essential that you know the conversion rates between the US and metric cooking measurements so that you don't confuse your quantities when cooking or baking. Otherwise, using the wrong measurements could cause your dish to taste different or have the wrong consistency.
The conversion rates between different baking and cooking measurement systems can take some time to understand, but it will enable you to use recipes from different countries using tools that you have to hand.
In this guide, we'll look at the cooking measurement conversions between different units within the US measurement system and the differences between the metric and US measurement units.
The US measurement system has different units for dry and liquid ingredients. In cooking, the main units used are as follows:
- teaspoon - tsp
- tablespoon - tbs
- cup - c
- quarts - qt
- ounces - oz
- pounds - lb
- fluid ounces - fl. oz
- gallon - gl
- pint - pt
In the metric system, the common units used in cooking are as follows:
- grams - g
- kilograms - kg
- milliliters - ml
- liters - L
Although it's helpful to have a variety of kitchen measurement tools, you can make do with just a few tools if you know the correct conversion rates. If you don't have a tablespoon, you can use a teaspoon for the measurements or a cup instead of the suggested measuring jug.
- 3 tsp = 1 tbsp
- 16 tbsp = 1 c
- 1 c = 8 fl. oz
- 4 qt = 1 gal
It's helpful to keep a kitchen conversion chart near your baking equipment to convert between different measurements easily. Alternatively, you can use our online converter chart to swap between imperial and metric measurements and between different units within the imperial system.
The charts below show the conversion rate between the different measurements for dry and liquid products.
Dry measurements conversion chart (US measure)
|3 tsp||1 tbsp||1/16 c|
|6 tsp||2 tbsp||1/8 c|
|12 tsp||4 tbsp||1/4 c|
|24 tsp||8 tbsp||1/2 c|
|36 tsp||12 tbsp||3/4 c|
|48 tsp||16 tbsp||1 c|
Liquid measurements conversion chart (US measure)
|8 fl. oz||1 c||1/2 pt||1/4 qt||1/16 gal|
|16 fl. oz||2 c||1 pt||1/2 qt||1/8 gal|
|32 fl. oz||4 c||2 pt||1 qt||1/4 gal|
|64 fl. oz||8 c||4 pt||2 qt||1/2 gal|
|128 fl. oz||16 c||8 pt||4 qt||1 gal|
The main difference is that the US tends to base its measurements on volume, whereas the UK bases its measurements on weight. This means that the conversion will largely depend on the density of the ingredients that are being measured. For example, a cup of sugar will weigh more than a cup of flour as it is a denser ingredient.
In the US, most dry ingredients (such as flour and sugar) are measured in cups. However, in the UK, these measurements would be in grams or kilograms and weighed using kitchen scales.
It's a good idea to include the ingredient when trying to Google the conversion rate between the US and the metric measurement systems; otherwise, the conversion may not be completely accurate. For example, one cup of caster sugar is equivalent to 200g, whereas 1 cup of all-purpose flour is equivalent to 120g. A cup of sifted flour will weigh less than a cup of non-sifted flour.
The table below shows the conversion rate from measures in the metric system and their equivalent in the US measurement system. Bear in mind that the conversions are approximate.
|Metric unit||US measure unit|
|100 g||6.7 tbs|
|100 ml||3.38 fl. oz|
|1 L||4.22 c|
|1 L||1.05 qt|
The table below shows the conversion rate from measurements in the US system and their equivalent in the metric system. Bear in mind that the conversions are approximate.
|US measure unit||Metric unit|
|1 fl. oz||29.57 ml|
|1 oz||28.35 g|
|1 pt||0.47 L|
|1 tsp||4.2 g|
|1 tbs||21.25 g|
|1 c||236.589 ml|
|1 qt||946.353 ml|
|1 gl||3.78 L|
|1 stk||115 g|
In American cooking, the main cooking tools that you can use to measure ingredients are as follows:
- measuring spoons (such as teaspoons and tablespoons)
- measuring jug
- weighing scales
Measuring spoons are typically used to measure small quantities of dry ingredients (such as baking soda) as well as some liquids (such as flavorings). Larger quantities of dry ingredients tend to be measured using dry measuring cups. It's a good idea to overfill the cup and use a knife to swipe off the excess so that the cup is leveled. Dry ingredients can also be measured with weighing scales in pounds and ounces.
Measuring jugs are used to measure dry or liquid ingredients. They will typically have a scale on one side of the jug for cups, quarts, or millimeters. Liquid measuring cups can also be used to measure smaller quantities of liquid.
Thermometers help you to read the temperature of your ingredients and dishes. Some recipes call for ingredients to be at a certain temperature before they are added to other ingredients. It's also essential that you make sure meat and dishes are cooked all the way through before they are consumed.
Measuring your ingredients before you begin cooking or baking can help you cut down on waste. Based on the recipe, the amount of each ingredient you use should tell you how many servings the finished product will make.
In baking, the ratio of some ingredients to others can also change the density and consistency of the finished product. While this is also the case for cooking, there's more flexibility. For example, changing the weight of flour when baking a cake could mean it doesn't rise or cook properly. In cooking, changing the weight of flour in a sauce will just change the thickness and can be adjusted to personal preference.
You can scale a recipe if you want to change the number of servings it will make (either more or less). To do this, you will need to adjust the recipe quantities by multiplying or dividing the measurement of individual ingredients. If the original cake recipe serves six people, for instance, but you wanted it to serve 12, you would need to multiply the volume and weight of the ingredients by two.
To make it easier, you can adjust the measuring tools that you use when scaling recipes. For example, if increasing the number of servings means that you have to use 16 tablespoons of honey, you might decide to convert the measurement and use one liquid measuring cup instead.
Some recipes are more difficult to scale than others. It's fairly simple to increase the quantity of a recipe, but it's often harder to make smaller portions. Scaling down some ingredients could leave you with fractions of a teaspoon or other tiny amounts that are difficult to comprehend. In this instance, it's easier to find an alternative recipe that has serving quantities that are in your desired range.
Soups, sauces, and stews are often easier to scale than other types of recipes. You can adjust the thickness of the liquid by adding more cornstarch or flour or thin it out by adding more water.
What are the types of kitchen scales?
Kitchen scales tend to be mechanical or digital. Mechanical scales gauge weight using a needle that rotates around and points at the correct weight (as listed around the face of the scales). Digital scales, on the other hand, have a screen that reads the weight of the ingredients.
Most scales can read measurements in metric or imperial units. Digital scales are usually considered more accurate than mechanical ones as they have more precise readings. You can often read the weight of ingredients down to the decimal point of a gram, whereas mechanical scales can't read amounts that small.
Mechanical scales are usually fine for measuring larger quantities, but digital scales are better at recording small amounts.
How can I measure dry and liquid ingredients with kitchen scales?
Mechanical kitchen scales tend to come with bowls in which you can place ingredients when they are being weighed. Some digital scales also come with a bowl, or you can add a container. You should be able to deduct the weight of the bowl when measuring your items so that it doesn't interfere with the accuracy of the measurement.
Liquids should be measured based on volume, which means that they can't be measured with kitchen scales, which measure weight. Instead, you will need to use a measuring jug or cup.
What are the types of thermometers?
Thermometers can help ensure that your food is cooked throughout. Meat thermometers usually have a probe that you insert into the meat. They can help make sure that the meat is safe to eat, as well as how well done you like the meat. These types of thermometers usually measure readings of up to 200°F.
Candy thermometers can tell you the temperature of sugar, oils, and syrups. This is helpful when making batches of candy, such as caramel and spun sugar. These thermometers tend to be longer than meat thermometers, so you can safely insert them into boiling liquids. Candy thermometers usually measure readings of up to 400°F.
Are ounces the same as fluid ounces?
Ounces measure weight, whereas fluid ounces are a unit of volume. Water weighs exactly the same in fluid ounces as it does in ounces. However, the ratio between these two units of measurement will change depending on the density of what you are measuring.
Measuring by weight is more accurate than measuring by volume. Therefore, if you want to measure dry ingredients in ounces, using weighing scales rather than a jug is a good idea.
Although the recipe should specify, dry ingredients tend to be weighed in ounces, whereas the volume of wet ingredients is measured in fluid ounces.
When cooking, using the exact measurements of ingredients is essential if you want your finished product to have the same consistency and taste as the recipe suggests. To help you get the right measurement, there are a number of tools that you can use. This includes cups, jugs, and measuring spoons. Some tools help to measure liquid ingredients (based on volume), whilst others help to measure dry ingredients (based on weight).
It can take some practice, but familiarizing yourself with the conversion between different cooking measurements can help ensure that your finished product turns out as you intend it to.