How to work with kitchen measures

Have you ever felt lost when figuring out the amount of ingredients you need for your recipe?

Recipes come in imperial, metric or cup / spoon measure.  And as if that is not enough, there’s also slight variance between American and Australian cup / spoon measures.

Most recipes come with conversions in brackets to help you choose which measure you’d like to follow.  It is very important you do not use different types of measures interchangeably because conversions are approximate.  Example:  150ml is precisely 5.2794 fl ozs, but it would be impossible to buy a measure for 5.2794 fl ozs, so a recipe would be rounded off.

What measures do you need?

You do not need to invest in very expensive kitchen equipment unless you choose to.

But if you want your cooking to go off at a good start, you require some basic measuring tools such as kitchen scales, a measuring jug, a set of cup measures and a set of spoon measures.

How to measure ingredients

How important is it to measure your ingredients?

Measuring your ingredients is vital.

When you are cooking everyday food, you can get away with tweaking your recipe slightly, but when you are baking or preparing sweets, it is not advisable to make changes.

Recipes are tried and tested until the balance of ingredients is perfected for best results.  If you decide to halve the sugar, for example, you can easily imbalance your recipe with disastrous consequences.

Do not be tempted to guess the weight of your ingredients.  If you get the proportions wrong, your recipe is doomed to failure, even before it goes in the oven or on the hob.

With everyday food you can experiment more. If you are trying a recipe for the first time, it is a good idea to go by the book.  However, after using the recipe for a couple of times, you may choose to reduce the liquid for thicker consistency, or omit / replace an ingredient which did not go down too well.

By and large, a number of food recipes still work well if you make minor tweaks or if you do not weigh or measure your ingredients religiously.

Weighing scales

weighing scalesIn the catering industry, chefs use scales with weights.  However, these take up a lot of space and are not practical in the domestic kitchen.  Choose a precision-made model; I prefer digital scales because they are very accurate.  Some models come with a setting to choose whether you want to work with imperial or with metric weights. Go for what works best for you.  If you prefer working in metric, you do not need to find a model which converts from one system to another.

Most recipes come with the various types of measurements or you can convert if you’re working with online recipes.

Cup and spoon measures

cups and spoonsCup and spoon measures come in plastic or metal.  They are used for measuring small quantities of dry or liquid ingredients.  Do not be tempted to use normal spoons; sizes vary greatly and they are not good to measure ingredients because they will imbalance your recipe.

Do not over-fill spoon / cup measures.  Dry ingredients should not be heaped. Run the back of a knife over your dry ingredients to level the contents to the edge of your measure.

When measuring liquids, the content should be level to the edge of your spoon or cup.

Measuring jug

measuring jugThere are a variety of measuring jugs on the market.  Do not go for the cheapest one around because it may not be suitable to measure hot liquids.  Go for a jug which is heatproof and clear as this type proves to be the most durable and practical.

When measuring liquids or dry ingredients in a jug, place it on a flat surface and go down to see the contents at eye level.


5 tips to remember

  • Make your life easy: convert your recipes before you download them.
  • Choose one type of measure and stick to it throughout your recipe.
  • Do not be tempted to use normal spoons or cups.
  • Do not be tempted to guess the weight of your ingredients.
  • Download this cheat sheet and stick it in your kitchen.

Did you find this information useful? Leave a comment or drop me an email

My thanks go to

Good Cooking Kitchen Know-How for the video for images and for the links




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