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Tips for How to Measure Ingredients

Updated September 9, 2020
From quarter cups to full ones, wet or dry, you don't do half measures when it comes to measuring your ingredients. Explore helpful measuring tips you can use in the kitchen while cooking up delicious recipes. We'll make you an expert in knowing how to measure flour, all the way to differentiating dry, liquid, and butter measurements. Anything and everything, measured to the T.

Measuring Ingredients

Measuring correctly is the first step to cooking success.  Not all ingredients are measured the same way or with the same type of measuring cups or measuring spoons.  Here are some tips for using the correct measuring utensil and method when measuring ingredients.

Liquid Measuring Cups: usually glass or clear plastic.  They have a spout for pouring and space above the top measuring line to avoid spills.  Look for measuring cups with an angled rim inside that lets you read the measurement from above rather than eye level.  They come in 1-, 2-, 4- and 8-cup sizes.

Measuring Liquids: place the cup on a surface, then bend down to check the amount at eye level.  If using an angled cup, you can check the amount from above.  To measure sticky liquids such as honey, molasses and corn syrup, lightly spray the cup with cooking spray or lightly oil first, so the liquid will be easier to remove.

Measuring Spoons: often come as a set that includes ¼-, ½- and 1-teaspoon sizes plus a 1-tablespoon size and a “dash.”  These special spoons are designed for measuring and should be used instead of spoons intended for eating.  They are used for both liquid and dry ingredients.

Measuring Dry Ingredients: gently fill a dry measuring cup to heaping, using a large spoon.  While holding the cup over the canister or storage container to catch the excess of the ingredient, level the cup off, using something with a straight edge, such as a knife or the handle of a wooden spoon.

Dry Measuring Cups: to measure dry ingredients, such as sugar, and solid ingredients, such as butter.  These cups are made to hold an exact amount when filled to the top.  They usually come as a set of cups that contains ¼-, ?-, ½- and 1-cup sizes.  Some sets may also have a ?-cup (2 tablespoons) and/or 2-cup size.

Measuring Brown Sugar or Solid Fats: fill a dry measuring cup, using a spoon or rubber spatula.  Pack down the ingredient, and level off, if necessary, so it is even with the top of the cup.

Measuring Chopped Nuts, Shredded Cheese or Cereal: fill a dry measuring cup lightly without packing down the ingredient, and level off so it is even with the top of the cup.

Measuring Butter or Margarine Sticks: cut off the amount needed, following guidelines marks on the wrapper, using a sharp knife.  A whole ¼-pound stick equals ½ cup, half a stick is ¼ cup, an eighth of a stick is 1 tablespoon.

Measuring Salt, Pepper, Herbs and Spices: fill measuring spoon with salt, pepper or a ground spice such as cinnamon; level off.  For fresh chopped or dried herbs, lightly fill the spoon to the top.