how to not screw up your next recipe. (measuring 101)

soooooo i’ve cried over muffins before.

yes. tears over muffins. i was sooo excited for my whole wheat blueberry muffins to bake up perfectly soft and dreamy, but when they came out of the oven… they tasted like cardboard. and spongecake. at the same time. they were too salty, not sweet, and just… gross. the problem? i wasn’t paying very close attention to my measurements.

i’ll say this one time and i’ll say it again. baking is not very forgiving.  estimating the measurements of an ingredient in a recipe spells disaster. by eye-balling flour, sugar, and over estimating a teaspoon of baking soda, those blueberry muffins tasted like… crap.

thankfully, i learned my lesson. case in point.

what went wrong with your last baking disaster? your measurements could be completely off.  understanding the correct measuring technique for a particular ingredient will guarantee better baking results of your finished product.

Flour: I always use the spoon & level method for flour. Do not use the measuring cup to scoop the flour out of the container/bag. You could end up with 150% of the correct measurement doing it this way! Rather, using a large spoon, scoop the flour into the measuring cup. Do not “pack” the flour.  Do not tap the measuring cup, as this causes it to settle in the cup and become more dense.  After you’ve spooned the flour into the measuring cup, use the back of the knife to level off it off evenly with the top of the measuring cup.  One correctly measured cup of flour should weigh 120 – 125 grams.

Oats: I use oats a lot in my recipes for things like granola, oatmeal bars, or oatmeal cookies.  Use the same spoon & level method of measuring as you do with flour.

Baking powder & Baking soda: Shake up the baking powder or baking soda container a bit. Using a measuring spoon, lightly scoop out of the container. Use a knife to level it off evenly with the top edge of the measuring spoon.

Sugar: Unlike flour, sugar is measured by scooping the measuring cup or spoon into the container/bag until it is overflowing, then leveling it off with the back of a knife. Sugar is more forgiving in recipes than other ingredients, because the sweetness of a finished product depends on your tastebuds.  However, it is always best to measure the ingredients exactly as the recipe states, because sugar crystals are imperative to break down other ingredients. For example, sugar crystals allow the butter in a recipe to “cream.”

Brown sugar:  Unless the recipe states otherwise, brown sugar needs to be packed into the measuring cup or measuring spoon.

 Powdered sugar: MUST BE SIFTED.  I cannot state this enough.  I’ve ruined buttercream before by not sifting the powdered sugar beforehand.  So, make sure to sift the powdered sugar, otherwise you will end up with lumps throughout your recipe.  Once sifted, powdered sugar must be measured by spooning the sugar into the measuring cup or spoon from the container/bar.  Then, level off with a knife.  Powdered sugar is measured like regular white sugar.

 Butter & solid fats: Butter has measuring amounts marked on the sides of the paper wrapping.  Shortening is measured by packing it into a cup, then leveling off with the knife.

*One quarter pound stick of butter =  1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons. 

 Liquid ingredients: Liquids, like water or oil, need to be measured at eye level. Using the a liquid measuring cup, pour the liquid into the cup. Then, bend over to make sure the liquid is EXACTLY at level with the measuring requirement from the recipe. I use this liquid measuring cup.

Semi-Liquid ingredients:  I often use semi-liquid ingredients in my recipes, like applesauce, yogurt, or peanut butter. Measure these types of semi-liquid ingredients in dry measuring cups because they are too thick to be accurately measured in liquid cups.  Level off with a knife, like you do with sugar or flour.

Add-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruit, chopped candy, etc): pour ingredient into measuring cup and level off.

how many tablespoons are in a cup?  how many cups are in a pint?  i find the baking equivalent charts below helpful while i’m in the kitchen.

Dry Ingredient Equivalents

  • 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
  • 1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup = 5-1/3 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup =  tablespoons
  • 2/3 cup = 10-2/3 tablespoons
  • 3/4 cup = 12 tablespoons
  • 1 cup = 16 tablespoons

 Liquid Ingredient Equivalents

  • 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces = 1/2 pint
  • 2 cups = 16 fluid ounces = 1 pint
  • 4 cups = 32 fluid ounces = 2 pints
  • 8 cups = 64 fluid ounces = 1 quart

now go back up something incredible! 😉

rainbow m&m cookies

pineapple upside down cake

peanut butter & jelly granola

snickers bar stuffed chocolate chip cookies

mini chocolate chip cookie sandwiches

sweet & salty caramel pretzel m&m blondies



  1. Oh my goodness! What useful information. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’m guilty of scooping the flour with the measuring cup. Bad Micha, bad. I will try and remember to use a spoon to scoop!

  3. i support all the calories in these recipes!!!

  4. There are some fabulous tips in this – thanks so much 😀
    And I totally understand – I have sobbed over scones 😛

    Choc Chip Uru

  5. This will totally change how I measure flour! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great Pointers! I will definitely be using them for my future baking recipes!

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