Measuring Dry or Solid Ingredients

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A set of white measuring cups with 1/3 cup, 1/4cup, 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, and 1/4 teaspoon written in red on the corresponding cup/spoon.

Measuring dry or solid ingredients


To measure large amounts of dry or solid ingredients, like flour or butter, use dry measuring cups. To measure smaller amounts, use measuring spoons. When purchasing your dry measuring cups and spoons, choose cups with the measurements molded or engraved onto them, so that you can still read the measurements if the ink wears off over time.

Use a measuring cup that is exactly the size you need.

Most sets of dry measuring cups will include ¼-cup, 1/3-cup, ½-cup, and 1-cup sizes. Some sets will also include 1/8-cup and 2/3-cup sizes.

Fill the measuring cup all the way to the top.

Here are tips for different types of ingredients.

  • For most dry ingredients, like sugar or rice: use the measuring cup to scoop the ingredient out of the container, or pour from the container into the measuring cup.
  • For flour: hold the measuring cup over the container of flour or over the sink. Use a large spoon to scoop flour out of the container and into the measuring cup until the cup is overflowing. Do not pack the flour into the cup. Use the flat side of a knife (not the sharp side) to run over the top of the cup, scraping off the extra flour.
  • For dense, semi-solid ingredients like softened butter, margarine, or peanut butter: use a spoon to scoop the ingredient from the container. Use the spoon to press the ingredient into the cup to prevent air pockets. Continue to add and press until the measuring cup is full.
  • For brown sugar: use a spoon to scoop the brown sugar from the container. Use the spoon to press the brown sugar into the measuring cup. If your recipe calls for “lightly packed” brown sugar, press lightly. If it calls for “packed” or “firmly packed” brown sugar, press harder until all the air spaces are filled. When the cup is turned over, the brown sugar should come out in the shape of the measuring cup.

Level the ingredients with the top edge of the measuring cup.

Run the flat edge of a knife across the top of the cup to scrape off any excess ingredient. Do this over the original container or over the sink, to make cleanup easier.