Measuring Liquids and Solids

Knowing how to measure ingredients, and then measuring carefully, will help ensure that your baked goods turn out just right. American cooks use standard containers: the 8-ounce cup and a tablespoon that takes exactly 16 level fillings to fill that cup level. Measuring by cup makes it very difficult to give weight equivalents, as a cup of densely packed butter will weigh considerably more than a cup of flour. The easiest way therefore to deal with cup measurements in recipes is to take the amount by volume rather than by weight. Thus the equation reads:

  • 1 cup = 240 milliliters = 8 fluid ounces
  • 1/2 cup = 120 milliliters = 4 fluid ounces

Measuring liquids:

Use a clear, standard liquid measuring cup with a pouring spout. This cup has measuring marks for 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, and 1 cup, as well as fluid ounces and milliliters. Place the measuring cup on a level surface and fill to the desired mark. Read the measurement at eye level for accuracy.

Measuring dry ingredients:

Use standard dry measuring cups that come in sets of 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, and 1 cup. Lightly spoon the ingredient into the measuring cup. Level it off with the straight edge of a spatula or knife.

Measuring solid fats and brown sugar:

Use standard dry measuring cups. Firmly press the ingredient into the cup and level it off with a spatula or knife.

Measuring margarine or butter:

The wrappers on a stick of butter or margarine are printed with measuring marks for each tablespoon, 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup. Use a knife to cut the margarine or butter at the desired mark.

Here are some additional measures for margarine or butter:

  • 1/8 stick = 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce
  • 1/4 stick = 2 tablespoons = 1 ounce
  • 1/2 stick = 4 tablespoons = 2 ounces
  • 1 stick = 1/2 cup = 4 ounces
  • 2 sticks = 1 cup = 8 ounces
  • 4 sticks = 2 cups = 16 ounces

Measuring dairy sour cream and yogurt:

Use standard dry measuring cups. Spoon the ingredient into the cup and level it off with a spatula or knife.

Measuring small amounts of ingredients:

Use standard measuring spoons for all ingredients, liquid and dry. These spoons generally come in sets of 1/4, 1/2, and 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon. For dry ingredients, fill the spoon and then level it off with a spatula or knife. For liquid ingredients, fill the spoon to the rim.