What is a Cup Measurement in American Recipes?

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measuring cup containing oil in focus. Other baking ingredients in background

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Unarguably, baking is a science where each ingredient reacts with the other to produce tasty baked food. To have a balanced reaction and desirable end product, ingredients are usually measured according to the particular recipe used for that dish.

Suffice to say; a baked product can come out a success or failure due to the measurement used; hence, precision is required when measuring ingredients. This is why measuring tools have been designed for ingredients measurement.

While the kitchen scale measures mass or weight, measuring cups are designed in different sizes to measure the volume of liquid ingredients and quantity of dry ingredients. However, we cannot assume that everyone has a set of measuring cups and spoons in their kitchens. 

Whether you bake often or not, it is something to worry about when you suddenly discover that you have no measuring cup to use one day! But, suppose you find yourself in that dilemma; there are ways you can measure your ingredients without using a standard measuring cup. But first, what is a cup measurement in American recipes?

What is a cup measurement in American recipes?

A cup measurement in American recipes measures the volume of ingredients primarily used in cooking and baking. There are designated standard measuring cups in different countries. 

The two main types of measuring cups we have are:

  1. Dry measuring cup: To measure flour and other dry ingredients.
  2. Liquid measuring cup: To measure water, oil, and other liquid ingredients.

What is a US cup in grams?

The weight of a US cup in grams varies depending on the density of the ingredient you are measuring. For instance, a US cup of water is about 240 grams, while a US cup of bread flour is 130 grams.

Is a cup an actual cup?

No, a cup measurement in American recipes is not an actual cup. The measuring cup is a measure of volume, usually associated with cooking recipes and serving sizes. On the other hand, actual drinking cups vary in size and are very much different from the size of the standard measuring cup.

How much is 1 cup of flour in grams?

One cup of all-purpose flour weighs between 120-125 grams, depending on how tightly or loosely packed the flour is. However, considering the other types of flour, the weight of 1 cup of any flour varies greatly, as it mainly depends on the density of that particular flour. For instance, 1 cup of bread flour is about 130 grams, while 1 cup of cake flour is about 114 grams.

How many grams is a cup of liquid?

The mass of a cup of a liquid varies with the liquid’s density. For instance, 1 US standard cup of water is 236.59 grams, rounded off to 240 grams by the United States Food and Drugs Administration (FDA)

How many dry ounces (oz) are in a cup?

On average, a dry measuring cup equals 6.8 US dry ounces. But, of course, this is not the same for every ingredient because of differences in densities.

How can I measure 1 cup at home?

You can measure one cup using a liquid or a dry measuring cup, depending on the ingredient you are measuring.

How to measure 1 cup of liquid

Place the liquid measuring cup on your kitchen counter, table, or flat surface (do not measure the liquid by merely holding the measuring cup in your hand).

While bending or squatting so that your eye levels with the graduation on the measuring cup, pour the liquid into the measuring cup slowly until the lower meniscus is on the same level as the one cup mark on the cup.

How to measure 1 cup of dry ingredient (like flour)

Scoop, spoon or sift the dry ingredient into a dry measuring cup until it overflows. Then, level it with the cup’s brim by running a straight edge such as a chopstick or butter knife across the top of your measuring cup. 

How do you measure 1 cup without a measuring cup?

Measuring cups and spoons are must-haves in your kitchen, especially if you bake often. But what happens when you lose or misplace them? It is frustrating when you want to bake and cannot find one of your measuring equipment.

Some people keep an extra set of measuring cups and spoons, but if you don’t have any extra set, I will show you how to measure 1 cup without a measuring cup using any of these three methods:

  1. Using a kitchen scale, measure the weight equivalent of the ingredient to be measured.   
  2. You can convert to smaller equivalents such as measuring spoons.
  3. You can also decide to use visually approximate measurements.

Are liquid and dry measuring cups the same? Can I interchange them?

Liquid and dry measuring cups aren’t the same, although they measure the same volume. While liquid measuring cups are specifically designed to measure fluids/liquids such as cooking oil, water, broth, syrup, etc., dry measuring cups are specifically designed to measure dry ingredients such as flour, sugar, berries, grains, seeds, and nuts.

Liquid measuring cups are made of glass or plastic material and graduated (marked with the measurement units) to allow you to measure the exact amount of liquid without spilling.

Liquid measuring cup

On the other hand, dry measuring cups are usually made of metal, plastic, or porcelain material and require that when used to measure an ingredient, the top should be levelled off with a flat/straight edge.

There are separate cups for measuring dry and liquid ingredients for a reason, so you should not interchange them. 

When measuring liquids, you read the lower meniscus for the correct measurement, which is why liquid measuring cups are always transparent. But dry measuring cups make it difficult to read the meniscus since you must fill the cup to the top with the dry ingredient without any extra space left at the top.

Apart from risking a wrong measurement if you use a dry measuring cup for a liquid, you can also easily overfill the cup and spill the liquid. In the same vein, you should not use a liquid measuring cup for dry ingredients, as you will be unable to level or flatten the top of your dry ingredient with a flat edge.

All these can be avoided by simply using the appropriate cup for the type of ingredient you are measuring.

As I mentioned earlier, baking requires precision; therefore, measuring cups and spoons are essential utensils in the kitchen, especially if you bake often.

Thankfully, you now know what cup measurement in American recipes is, and you can even measure 1 cup without a measuring cup. However, it is recommended that you have a set of measuring cups handy, especially if you do not have a kitchen scale.


American recipe / cup measurement / dry ingredients / liquid ingredients

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