Typically featuring in US recipes, cups are used to measure volume rather than weight. A cup can be used to measure both solid and liquid ingredients, such as milk, oil, water, sugar and flour.
A cup can be measured using a set of measuring cups. Many liquid measuring jugs also have cup units written on them.
Cups can be converted to liquid measurements, such as millilitres, fluid ounces, galloons and pints. However, because cups aren’t measured in weight, there are no exact unit conversions for dry ingredients, as this will vary depending on the density of the ingredient you’re measuring.
In this guide, we’ll take you through what a cup is roughly equal to in various units of mass and give you an idea of what a cup measurement looks like in case your only option is to measure using your eyes. We’ll also explain how cup measurements compare in different countries.
In the US, a measuring cup is traditionally equal to one-half of a US pint, which is 236.6 millilitres, 8.3 fluid ounces, one-sixteenth of a gallon, 16 tablespoons and 48 teaspoons.
When measuring out dry ingredients, the equivalents to one cup are roughly 200 grams, 6.8 dry ounces and 0.5 pounds — but remember that this depends on what it is you’re measuring.
Continue reading to find out more about cup measurements.
Dry vs liquid measuring cups
There are two utensils you can use to measure cups:
- A set of measuring cups — Usually includes measurements of one cup, half a cup, one-third of a cup and one-quarter of a cup
- A liquid measuring jug — As well as having scale markings at different heights for cups, these usually include measurements for pints and fluid ounces too
Because of their specific shapes, measuring cups are designed to measure solids, while measuring jugs are designed to measure liquids. Liquid measuring jugs feature a spout for pouring liquid more easily, however, this spout makes levelling dry ingredients more challenging. This is why it’s best to use a measuring cup to measure out ingredients like flour, sugar and cocoa powder.
What if I need to measure three-quarters of a cup?
Measuring cup sets don’t usually include measurements for three-quarters of a cup, but there is a way to measure three-quarters using these utensils: Simply measure your ingredient out in the one-quarter cup three times to get three-quarters of a cup.
What is a cup measurement in grams?
As already stated, when measuring dry ingredients, the equivalent of a cup depends on the density of the ingredient you’re using. But to give you an idea, here are some examples of cup conversions for different ingredients:
|Ingredient (one US cup)||Grams||Ounces||Pounds|
|All-purpose flour||125 g||4.41 oz||0.28 lb|
|Bread flour||130 g||4.59 oz||0.29 lb|
|Cake flour||114 g||4.02 oz||0.25 lb|
|Pastry flour||106 g||3.74 oz||0.23 lb|
|Whole-wheat flour||113 g||3.99 oz||0.25 lb|
|Cornflour||125 g||4.41 oz||0.28 lb|
|Granulated sugar||201 g||7.09 oz||0.44 lb|
|Caster sugar||224 g||7.9 oz||0.49 lb|
|Brown sugar||195 g||6.88 oz||0.43 lb|
|Icing sugar (unsifted)||121 g||4.27 oz||0.27 lb|
|Honey||336 g||11.85 oz||0.74 lb|
|Butter||227 g||8.01 oz||0.5 lb|
|Margarine||230 g||8.11 oz||0.51 lb|
|Milk||245 g||8.64 oz||0.54 lb|
|Greek yoghurt||227 g||8.01 oz||0.5 lb|
|Cocoa powder||125 g||4.41 oz||0.28 lb|
|Oats||102 g||3.6 oz||0.22 lb|
How many ml to a cup?
There are 236.6 millilitres to one US cup.
The following table shows the unit conversions for measuring less than one US cup in millilitres:
|¾ cup||177.45 ml|
|⅔ cup||157.74 ml|
|½ cup||118.3 ml|
|⅓ cup||78.87 ml|
|¼ cup||59.15 ml|
How to convert cups to ml
You can work out what more than one cup is equal to in millilitres using simple multiplication. Since one cup is equal to 236.6 millilitres, all you need to do is multiply this figure by the number of cups that are required.
How to convert cups to other liquid measurements
The equivalent measures of a US cup in fluid ounces, gallons and pints are as follows:
|US Cup||Fluid ounces||Gallons||Pints|
|1 cup||8.3 fl oz||1/16th gal||½ pint|
What is a cup measurement in tablespoons?
If you don’t have a measuring cup or jug, you can also measure cups in tablespoons or teaspoons. However, like cup measurements, this is not as accurate as using a utensil with the specific measurements written on them. This is because tablespoons are different sizes in different countries. For example, one US cup equals 15.78 international tablespoons or 11.83 Australian tablespoons.
Here are the measuring equivalents for US cups to US spoons:
|1 cup||16 tbsp||48 tsp|
|¾ cup||12 tbsp||36 tsp|
|½ cup||8 tbsp||24 tsp|
|¼ cup||4 tbsp||12 tsp|
|⅛ cup||2 tbsp||6 tsp|
What does a cup measurement look like?
When measuring out cups without using liquid or dry measuring cups, it can be handy to have a visual aid in your mind for reference.
To help you do this, cup measurements are about the same size as the following objects:
- One cup — An apple or a baseball
- Half a cup — A tennis ball
- A quarter of a cup — A large egg
You might also find it useful to know that a teaspoon is about the size of the tip of your finger from the joint and a tablespoon is roughly the size of a standard ice cube.
What are the other types of US cup?
In older recipes, a cup may refer to a coffee cup, which measures 150 millilitres or 5.07 fluid ounces in the US.
The term “cup” is also used to specify coffeemaker sizes. In the US, a 12-cup coffeemaker makes 57.6 fluid ounces of coffee (which is the equivalent of 6.8 metric cups of coffee).
How do cup measurements differ between countries?
In the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and some other Commonwealth countries, a cup is equal to the following units of measurement:
|Cup||Millilitres||International tablespoons (15 ml each)||Australian tablespoons (20 ml each)||Dessertspoons (10 ml each)||Imperial fluid ounces|
|1 cup||250 ml||16 ⅔ tbsp||12.5 tbsp||25 dstspn||8.8 fl oz|
Similar units in other languages are sometimes translated as “cup”, with values that usually range between 200 and 250 millilitres.
- Japan — Also known as the “gõ”, the Japanese cup measures 200 millimetres, which is 7.04 imperial fluid ounces or 6.76 US fluid ounces
- Russia — With metrication, the charka (which means “cup”) was replaced with the 100-millilitre stopka and there are also two widely used glass sizes of 200 and 250 millilitres in Russia
- Latin America — The size of a cup varies between countries, with some using the US cup and others using measurements of between 200 and 250 millilitres
The history of cup measurements in different countries
Originally, a standard cup in the UK was set at ten imperial fluid ounces or half an imperial pint. However, it was rarely used, as most kitchens were equipped with scales that measured the weight of ingredients instead of the volume.
Canada’s conventional cup was smaller than the US unit, measuring 227.3 millilitres, which is eight imperial fluid ounces or one-twentieth of an imperial gallon.
Russia’s traditional measurement system included two cup sizes:
- The charka — Measuring 123 millilitres (which is 4.2 US fluid ounces or 4.3 imperial fluid ounces), this was usually used for alcoholic drinks
- The stakan — Measuring 246 millilitres (which is 8.3 US fluid ounces or 8.7 imperial fluid ounces), this was used to measure other liquids
Typically featured in US recipes, cups are used to measure volume rather than weight. In the US, a measuring cup is traditionally equal to one-half of a US pint, which is 236.6 millilitres, 8.3 fluid ounces, one-sixteenth of a gallon, 16 tablespoons and 48 teaspoons. When measuring out dry ingredients, the equivalents to one cup vary depending on what it is you’re measuring.
Measuring cups are designed to measure solids, while measuring jugs are designed to measure liquids. When measuring out a cup by eye, it can be useful to visualise one cup as the size of an apple or a baseball, half a cup as the size of a tennis ball and a quarter of a cup as the size of a large egg.
In the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and some other Commonwealth countries, a cup is equal to 250 millilitres, 16 and two-thirds international tablespoons, 12-and-a-half Australian tablespoons, 25 dessertspoons and eight-point-eight fluid ounces. Similar units in other languages are sometimes translated as “cup”, with values that usually range between 200 and 250 millilitres.