Differences in measurements

Monday 13 December 2010


There seems to be a bit of confusion about measurements on here sometimes. I try to always post my directions in both North American measures (cups, which goes basically by volume) and in British measurements (generally by weight, not volume).

Here is what a typical measuring cup looks like that I would use to measure out liquids. (these measurements could be in fluid ounces, cups or millimeters.) You just pour in the liquid to the line which is painted on the outside of the glass. These are not the same cups you would use for fats and or other solids like flour and nuts, coconut etc.

These are measuring cups you would use to measure out solids, such as fat, flour, sugar, coconut, nuts, etc. They are squat and mine are made of metal, but you can get them made of plastic as well. You spoon into the cup what you are measuring and level it off at the top with the flat side of a knife.

In the case of fats you must press down to make sure that the cup is completely filled, likewise with brown sugars. With flour, white sugar, coconut, etc. you just spoon in what you are measuring until the cup is filled and then level off the top. They usually come in 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/4 cup sizes. You can also get 2 cup sized ones.

Over here in the UK we normally measure by weight. We have scales which help us to do that. I am lucky I have a little Salter scale that measures in ounces, grams, etc. I use this for all my solid weights. I use a glass measure for my liquid measurements, which are generally in fluid ounces.

In my recipes you will usually see two sets of measurements. The British ones, or the ones that are meant to be weighed out will be first and the North American measurements will be next to that or at the end in brackets.

For example I might say:

4 ounces of butter (1/2 cup)

This means that the recipe calls for 4 ounces (weighed) of butter, but if you are in North America you can use a solid cup measure to measure out 1/2 cup.

8.5 ounces of plain flour (2 cups)

This would mean that you weigh out 8.5 ounces of the flour, but if you are in North America you could use a solid cup measure to measure out 2 cups.

In the case of a liquid measurement, the recipe might call for

2 ounces of milk (1/4 cup)

In that case you would use a glass beaker to measure it out, here in the UK 2 ounces on the cup or in North American 1/4 cup.

I hope this clears up any confusion!

I have a very good link in my side bar which leads you to the King Arthur Flour cups to weight chart. It's excellent and has most ingredients included.

There is also a very good chart HERE.


  1. I hope that one day everybody would convert to ml and g. What would life be easy! No confusion about American or British cups per volume or weight.
    I purchased a scale a long time ago that measures in weight (oz, lb and grams) and volume. It is pretty handy. I can only recommend to buy one, too.

  2. Being Canadian introduces a third problem: some recipes are American measures, and some Imperial measures. And, they don't usually say. It's all mixed up. Yes, weight or metric is better, or at least, state which. My old cookbooks are generally Imperial, and the newer ones? You never really know. My measuring cups are...I have no idea. They are made in China, as is almost everything here.) It doesn't say on them, whether they are American or Imperial: just 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4. The Pyrex glass measuring cups one finds in almost all Canadian kitchens show metric and ... I don't know. One cup measure in my metal measuring cup poured into the Pyrex measuring cup comes to just over one-cup.

    The newest Canadian Living cookbook, which I have here and which should be a trusted standard (test kitchens) used metric and 'cups'. But it doesn't say: is it a six-ounce cup, or an 8 ounce cup, or 125 ml, or what?

    I have four sets of measures here, and only the Pyrex like in your picture equates an Impreial measure with the metric. Ackkk. And some chefs have the nerve to ridicule our foremothers "about a handful of X" style of measure. It was no less trustworthy than this new cookbook which has a $40 price tag.


  3. Sorry I mis-typed. "One cup measure in my metal measuring cup poured into the Pyrex measuring cup comes to just over one-cup. "

    Should read: "comes to just over one-half cup."

  4. thank you for the help!

  5. Goodness me - I must have stayed in bed the day you wrote this little treasure Marie! Can I chuck another cup measure into the mix (pardon the pun): Australian cups. They are apparently different again. I jus steer well clear of cup measures of any sort! Though I'm more familiar with Imperial weights and measures which we use in UK, I do think the metric ones are more precise. However, I couldn't tell you what a gram of sugar looks like! An ounce would be a slightly rounded tablespoon but I bet your 'slightly rounded' looks different from mine. It's a wonder we ever get anything successfully cooked!


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you so do not be shy!

Did you make the recipe as directed? Recipe results are not guaranteed when changes have been made.

Is this comment helpful to other readers? Rude or hateful comments will not be approved. Remember that this website is run by a real person.

Are you here to complain about ads? Please keep in mind that I develop these recipes and provide them to you for free. Advertising helps to defray my cost of doing so, and allows me to continue to post regular fresh content.

Thanks so much for your understanding! I appreciate you!