The Ultimate Guide to Measuring

The Ultimate Guide to Measuring gives you all the tips, tricks, and info you need to make everything you bake turn out wonderful with accurate measuring.

Ultimate Guide to MeasuringThe most foolproof path to baking success is to measure accurately. I get dozens of comments every week asking why a baking recipe didn’t turn out properly, and I’d say half the time it’s likely due to inaccurate measuring. Baking is a science where precision is rewarded in perfectly delicious treats. I’ve laid out ALL the tips, tricks, and methods you need to know to measure accurately so everything you bake will be delightful. I hope you find it helpful! If you like this guide, don’t forget to sign up for my emails to get more baking recipes and tricks (you’ll also get a free Favorite Desserts cookbook).

The most accurate way to measure is by weight, so I HIGHLY suggest you invest in a digital food scale if you don’t already have one. It’s a small investment to ensure baking success, especially because baking ingredients can get pretty pricey. Weighing your ingredients is easy, fast, and clean. Plus, it’s how the pros do it. I’ve been using this Escali scale for years with absolutely no issues. I’ve also used and enjoyed this OXO Scale. Everything just goes directly into the bowl, no measuring cups to clean!

Ultimate Guide to Measuring

To use a digital kitchen scale, place your mixing bowl on the scale. Press the “zero” or “tare” button to take away the weight of the bowl. Add your ingredients until you achieve the weight called for in the recipe. You may need to give or take a few tablespoons to land directly on that number. Hit the tare button again to reset the weight to 0 before moving on to the next ingredient. It’s that easy!

If you don’t have a scale and don’t plan on using one, I’ve also included tips for measuring by volume with dry and liquid measuring cups below. There’s also a breakdown of volume to weight measurement conversions that will come in handy when you’re in the kitchen. Please note that different ingredients have different densities, meaning 1 cup of every ingredient will not weigh the same. Think about it, 1 cup of feathers would not weigh the same as 1 cup of lead, right? Same goes for baking and cooking. Also note that some brands of the same product can have slightly different weights. If you are following a recipe from a baking cookbook, follow the ingredient weights provided either in the ingredient list or in a conversion appendix in the book.

Liquid vs. Dry Measuring cups:

The general rule is if you can pour it, use a liquid measuring cup (oil, honey, maple syrup, etc.). If you can smooth the top, use a dry measuring cup (peanut butter, sour cream, etc.). Always measure at eye-level with liquid measuring cups. Always fill dry measuring cups to the brim then scrape off any excess. Make sure to use quality measuring cups and spoons, they do make a difference! I like these measuring spoons because they fit wonderfully inside small jars and these stainless steal dry measuring cups because they’re super durable. Also, avoid 2-cup dry measurements because they tend to compact the food, giving you an inaccurate measurement. Most any liquid measuring cup should work just fine.

Flour:

This is arguably the most important ingredient to accurately measure. A mis-measured cup of flour can ruin your baking project. Unfortunately, flour can be very difficult to measure by volume (using measuring cups).

Scooping your measuring cup directly into your container of flour to measure can pack the flour in, causing your measurement to be much more dense. In fact, this method of scooping can lead a cup of flour to weigh almost 2 ounces more than the spoon and level method! This can make a HUGE difference in the composition of your baked goods. If you’ve ever had cookies not spread in the oven or turn crumbly or heavy or had homemade bread turn out dense, those are just two examples of what too much flour can do in baking.

Use the “spoon and level” method:

Ultimate Guide to MeasuringFluff up your container of flour. Spoon the flour into your measuring cup, then scrape off the excess with a straight edge. A flour scoop is the best tool for this. This will get you about 4.5 ounces or 127 grams of all-purpose flour per cup.Flour Measuring 101

All-purpose flour: 1 cup = 4.5 ounces = 127 grams
Bread flour: 1 cup = 4.5 ounces = 127 grams
Cake flour: 1 cup = 4 ounces = 113 grams
Whole Wheat Flour: 1 cup = 4.5 ounces = 127 grams

Butter

Ultimate Guide to Measuring
There are SO many methods of measurement used for butter in recipes and I know it can be absolutely confusing. I try to call for both sticks and at least one other measurement, tablespoons if it’s a small amount, and ounces if it’s a larger amount. I know this is still confusing if you aren’t in America, so here is a super useful equivalent for butter measurements you may want to put into your phone or print out for your kitchen.

1 stick = 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup = 4 ounces = 113 grams

Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Shake up the container of leavener slightly then use a measuring spoon to lightly scoop a mound. Use a flat edge to scrape off the excess.

ALWAYS use fresh baking powder and baking soda. Toss anything older than 6 months. Sometimes baking soda and baking powder can expire before the stamped expiration date.

Here’s how to check for freshness:

Baking Soda: Place 1/4 teaspoon in a bowl and pour 1 teaspoon distilled vinegar on top. If it bubbles up, it is fresh. If nothing happens, throw away.
Baking powder: Place 1 teaspoon in a bowl with 1 cup hot tap water. If it bubbles up, it is fresh. If nothing happens, throw away.

Active Dry or Instant Yeast

Measure like baking powder or baking soda.

1 packet of yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons = .25 ounces = 7 grams

How to check for freshness:

Ultimate Guide to Measuring
In a liquid measuring cup combine 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water (110 to 115°F). Add in one package, or 2 1/4 teaspoons, of active dry yeast and stir until there are no more yeast granules floating on top of the water. Within five minutes, the yeast should have absorbed enough water to activate. After ten minutes the yeast mixture should be very foamy and have risen to at least the 1-cup measurement. If your yeast did not rise to the 1-cup mark, it should be discarded.

Granulated Sugar

Measuring granulated sugar is a little more simple than flour. Use your measuring cup as a scoop to dip into the container then use a flat edge to scrape off any excess.

1 cup = 7.05 ounces = 199 grams

Brown Sugar

Pay attention to the measurement direction written in the recipe, it will usually say “brown sugar, lightly packed.” This is basically the opposite of flour measuring and means you pack the brown sugar into the measuring cup until it reaches the brim. Make sure to break any large clumps before measuring.

1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar = 7.05 ounces = 200 grams

Powdered Sugar

Also called confectioners’ sugar, this stuff can make a huge mess when measuring. Spoon the sugar into your measuring cup then use a straight edge to scrape off any excess. It also often needs to be sifted before being adding to recipes since it is usually lumpy.

Make sure you understand the order of sifting before measuring:

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted = sift AFTER measuring
1 cup sifted powdered sugar = sifted BEFORE measuring

1 cup unsifted powdered sugar = 4.4 ounces = 125 grams
1 cup sifted powdered sugar = 3.6 ounces = 102 grams

Cocoa Powder

Spoon the cocoa powder into the measuring cup then scrape off the excess with a straight edge. As with powdered sugar above, make sure to sift before or after measuring as instructed by the recipe. Sifting cocoa powder is always a good idea because it is naturally very lumpy.

1 cup cocoa powder = 3.5 ounces = 100 grams

Liquid Sweeteners

If a recipe calls for oil and a liquid sweetener, measure the oil first to grease the measuring cup. You can also spray nonstick cooking spray inside the measuring cup before measuring sticky ingredients.

1 cup honey = 8 ounces = 227 grams
1 cup molasses = 12 ounces = 340 grams
1 cup maple or corn syrup = 11 ounces = 311 grams

More helpful ingredient weights:

1 cup chocolate chips = 6 ounces = 170 grams
1 cup coconut, sweetened flakes = 3 ounces = 85 grams
1 cup coconut, grated unsweetened = 4 ounces = 113 grams
1 cup milk = 8 ounces = 227 grams
1 cup rolled oats = 3.5 ounces = 99 grams
1 cup vegetable oil = 7 ounces = 198 grams
1 cup peanut butter = 9.5 ounces = 268 grams
1 cup sour cream = 8 ounces = 227 grams

Helpful Dry Ingredient Equivalents:

Dash or pinch = 1/8 teaspoon
1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons
1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons

Helpful Liquid Ingredient Equivalents:

1 cup = 8 fluid ounces = 1/2 pint = 237 milliliters
2 cups = 16 fluid ounces = 1 pint = 473 milliliters
4 cups = 32 fluid ounces = 2 pints = 946 milliliters
8 cups = 64 fluid ounces = 2 quarts = 1892 milliliters

*This post contains affiliate links

55 Responses to “The Ultimate Guide to Measuring”

  1. #
    Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness — July 7, 2014 at 3:26 am

    I love the spoon and level method for flour (although I own a scale for the purpose of weighing it!) You always have the BEST ultimate guides…I love them all! This is so helpful, thanks! Pinned 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — July 7, 2014 at 6:51 am

      Thanks Taylor!

  2. #
    Consuelo - Honey & Figs — July 7, 2014 at 4:09 am

    I agree with Taylor – you post the best ultimate guides. They’re super helpful and this one is no exception! Thank you so much for sharing Tessa!
    I hope you had a great long-weekend! <3

    • #
      Tessa — July 7, 2014 at 6:52 am

      Awh thanks so much!

  3. #
    Consuelo - Honey & Figs — July 7, 2014 at 4:10 am

    ps: I just got your ebook and it looks absolutely gorgeous! Everything sounds aaahhhmazing. Congrats! x

  4. #
    Joanie — July 7, 2014 at 5:03 am

    8 Cups = 64 fluid oz. = 2 Quarts (not 1)

    • #
      Tessa — July 7, 2014 at 6:48 am

      Thanks for catching that 🙂

  5. #
    Daniel — July 7, 2014 at 6:05 am

    I’m gonna print and laminate this to leave it in my kitchen!
    Thanks, Tessa! It’s really helpful!

    • #
      Tessa — July 7, 2014 at 6:52 am

      Awesome idea!!

  6. #
    Amanda — July 7, 2014 at 6:48 am

    What a great guide. I love my kitchen scale, most used item ever 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — July 7, 2014 at 6:52 am

      Right?! Thanks Amanda 🙂

  7. #
    Veronika — July 7, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Thanks so much for this!! I prefer using my kitchen scale rather than measuring cups (which you don’t use at all in my country, bought them when being on a holiday in the UK, ust so that I will be able to try out English-speaking recipes), this makes life so much easier for me!!

    • #
      Tessa — July 7, 2014 at 6:53 am

      I’m so happy to hear that!

  8. #
    Gaby — July 7, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Great tips! I couldn’t do without my scale!

  9. #
    Taylor — July 7, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Hi, I have a question about using a kitchen scale. If you put the ingredients in a bowl on the kitchen scale, do you subtract the weight of the bowl when measuring the ingredients from the total weight that shows up? Sorry I realize this is very confusing but I was thinking of buying a scale. Thank you for these tips!

    • #
      Tessa — July 7, 2014 at 8:38 am

      Yep! I actually mention this in the post, “To use a digital kitchen scale, place your mixing bowl on the scale. Press the “zero” or “tare” button to take away the weight of the bowl. Add your ingredients until you achieve the weight called for in the recipe. You may need to give or take a few tablespoons to land directly on that number. Hit the tare button again to reset the weight to 0 before moving on to the next ingredient. It’s that easy!”

  10. #
    Taylor — July 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I can’t believe I missed that…thanks again! Your information has been very helpful!

    • #
      Tessa — July 8, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Glad to hear it!

  11. #
    Lena — July 8, 2014 at 12:36 am

    I’m stunned that using a kitchen scale really seems to be something odd for some people… in Germany NOT using a kitchen scale would earn you odd looks 😀 And I’m really glad to have those conversion tables at hand now, even though I have measuring cups at hand. I now use the cups and then verifiy my measurements on the kitchen scale 😉 So thanks a lot, Tessa! 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — July 8, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Haha isn’t it strange!? I don’t know why it’s so unpopular in the US. I’m so glad the conversions are helpful!

  12. #
    Shayna — July 8, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks for the post! It’s so useful. I’ve been a big fan of yours for years and I love all of your dessert recipes.:)

    • #
      Tessa — July 9, 2014 at 8:32 am

      Thank you so much!

  13. #
    liesbeth — July 9, 2014 at 8:42 am

    thanks a lot, a really love this ! now I can finally try recipes that are written in English.
    I have one question: could you maybe transfer the liquid ingridients in (milli)liters, we don’t use cups, quarts or ounces in Belgium

    • #
      Tessa — July 9, 2014 at 10:04 am

      That’s a great idea. I’ll get to work on that and add it into this post!

  14. #
    Luisa — July 10, 2014 at 12:53 am

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post, Tessa!
    Super helpful!
    I am Italian and..I’m definitely not used to use “cups” so the equivalents in grams is essential for me! 😉

    ps. I just love your blog/YT channel, it’s my addiction!!!

    • #
      Tessa — July 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm

      Thanks so much!!

  15. #
    Jasmine — September 22, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Thanks! 🙂

  16. #
    Dottie — November 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Should you sift the flour before measuring. It always looks like too much flour if I don’t sift it?
    Your brownie recipe looks devine. I love the way you make a large pan recipe in a smaller pan

    • #
      Tessa — November 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      When it comes to sifting it’s important to sift in the order the recipe calls for. For example “1 cup flour, sifter” means you measure out the flour first then sift it to use in the recipe. I hope that helps, and I hope you make the brownie recipe!

  17. #
    victoria — November 20, 2014 at 1:45 am

    would you do a post on the brands of flour, powdered sugar, etc, you use? thanks x

    • #
      Tessa — November 20, 2014 at 10:54 am

      I’ll add that to the list – thanks for the suggestion!

  18. #
    Jamie — February 5, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Thanks for these!!! It really is very useful!!! 🙂

  19. #
    Ronja — February 6, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Big thanks 🙂
    Adore your ideas and tips!
    Love, Ronja

  20. #
    juan — February 10, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    huehuehuehue

  21. #
    Louise — July 27, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Hi Tessa, is the amount of cocoa powder in a cup, as specified above, before or after sifting? You said: 1 cup cocoa powder = 3.5 ounces = 100 grams….

    Tried converting a US cup coco a power online here: http://www.traditionaloven.com/culinary-arts/baking/cocoa-powder/convert-us-measuring-cup-to-gram-g-of-cocoa-powder.html

    But it said 1 US cup of cocoa powder is 118g….which doesn’t match your conversion…help!

    • #
      Tessa — July 29, 2015 at 7:31 am

      Before sifting. Everyone food publication and resource is likely to have slightly difference conversions, and there can be variations based off brands. I actually tested cocoa powder conversions and found some resources were way too heavy and it ended up negatively affected the texture of the recipe, and some were too light and negatively affected the chocolate taste. I found 100 grams to be a sort of goldilocks amount and easy to remember 🙂

  22. #
    Jennifer — August 18, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Tessa I could just faint with relief!! I’ve been trying to learn baking and am demoralised that no matter how carefully I follow the recipe it doesn’t work. With your tips and tricks, I’m hoping to be able to become more intuitive about whether my dough/better is the right consistency, and if my cakes a mutent, why that might be.

    • #
      Tessa — August 19, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      I hope they help Jennifer! Happy baking 🙂

  23. #
    April — January 29, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Great post- wish you had it in a PDF without the pictures…. Or should I start copy/pasting away and make one- because I need to add this to the front of my kitchen binder asap!

  24. #
    Elizabeth — March 18, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Some I knew and someI was surprised. Good work . I need to get a digital scale for my kitchen!

  25. #
    James Bergman — March 22, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Ever since I first used a scale in my science class I have wanted one for my baking. Like you said, cooking is a science, and therefore you want it to be accurate to get the same results every time. The only way to do this is probably a kitchen scale. However, I have just never put it in my budget. So, I really appreciate your other measuring tips, especially about flour. I’ll have to use them until I get my scale.

  26. #
    Nazeera — March 29, 2016 at 8:42 am

    Hi tessa! Is this mean, if it required me to measured 1 cup of milk, i HAVE to use the liquid measurement cup? .. does the quantity become different if i use 1cup of liquid in dry measurement cup?

    • #
      Tessa — March 29, 2016 at 10:29 am

      Yes, liquids should be measured in a liquid measuring cup. You’ll always end up with less in a dry measuring cup simply because you can’t perfectly level it off without it overflowing.

  27. #
    Nana Kat — May 22, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Blessings an many thanks

  28. #
    Huma — August 6, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    Your recipes got me interested in baking!! Thank you soooooo much dear for the ultimate guides and very well explained recipes! It gets you more interested when you follow a perfectly described, no hidden secret ingredients and no hidden secret techniques recipe and the product turns out perfect!! I think after my sister, its my time to fall in love with baking 🙂

    • #
      Tessa — August 7, 2016 at 8:50 am

      Thank you so much! So glad to hear that 🙂

  29. #
    Le — December 9, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Thank you so very much Tessa for all your free advice, just want you to know it is very well appreciated. I used to live in Trinidad and Tobago and my mom used the scale all the time in the kitchen, it was the only way I knew how to bake accurately, however since moving to the US I confusingly adapted my mother in law way of baking and now reading your post I am amazed that people still do used a scale.
    My question to you is, when a recipe calls for measurements in cups, should I weigh the ingredients instead? And how would I know what 1cup etc should weigh on the scale?
    Thanks in advanced and once again, your work is very much appreciated your cookbook is in my Christmas wishlist

  30. #
    Alex — January 30, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Hi – I’ve noticed several of your conversions are slightly different than other sources on the internet. I know in one of the previous comments about the cocoa powder you said it may vary based on the brand. How do we test our brands to ensure we are using the accurate measurement?

    • #
      Tessa — February 1, 2017 at 8:26 am

      Use the nutrition label weight measurement. It should say what the serving size is and what the ounce or gram weight of that size is. That can be your base calculation to figure out what the recipe calls for. Hope that makes sense!

  31. #
    Shannon Schell — May 24, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    I don’t have a website. I am a beginner in baking. I have a question. Is all purpose flour the same as “plain” flour. Is cake flour the same as plain flour. I am confused with flours. Could you please help me. Thank you.

  32. #
    louise — May 30, 2017 at 2:17 am

    hi there’s no mention of self raising flour? or margerine?

  33. #
    Shirley — July 9, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Tessa, I watch food shows and Alton Brown also suggests weighing dry ingredients. I have begun to do this since I started making bread. I found that my measuring cup was quite a bit more than the 127 grams when weighing flour. Could it be that my measuring cups need to be replaced? I see that you shared your choice with us. Are they more accurate when measuring then weighing dry ingredients? Thanks!

  34. #
    Peter — July 29, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    Tessa
    You have provided so much information that would have cost quite a bit of money by buying baking books that don’t always provide as much information as your time consuming efforts has provided to this baking community.
    Your detailed information is so simple and easy to follow and understand.
    I look forward to trying many of your recipes.
    Peter

    • #
      Tessa — July 31, 2017 at 11:25 am

      Thanks so much, Peter! That makes me very happy to hear.

  35. #
    Debra — October 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Tessa, Do you have a printable or PDF version available? Print doesn’t seem to be working.

Leave a Comment

Join the Handle the Heat Community

Join the Handle the Heat Community
Do you want a more delicious life?
Instead of digging through cookbooks and magazines and searching the internet for amazing recipes, subscribe to Handle the Heat to receive new recipe posts delivered straight to your email inbox. You’ll get all the latest recipes, videos, kitchen tips and tricks AND my *free* Cookie Customization Guide (because I am the Cookie Queen)!

Instagram

As Seen On....
NPR People Time Glamour Readers Digest The Huffington Post BuzzFeed
Now available: The Magic of Baking Online Class  Learn More