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How to Measure Without Measuring Cups

Colleen Stinchcombe


Causes & Culture

I'm the Community Editor at SheKnows. My perfect day would be camped in the middle of nowhere, reading an excellent book and writing something true.

You can still cook when your measuring cup is MIA

Have you ever gone to cook something only to realize you misplaced one — or all — your measuring devices? I have. Sooner or later, all of us are going to have to take an educated guess when we're trying to whip up some something in the kitchen. You've probably already started. When's the last time you measured out the 2 tablespoons of olive oil a recipe called for rather than just adding some to the pan? Yeah, that's what we thought.

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If it's been a while since you measured out a cup or a teaspoon, it can be a little daunting. While you could eyeball it and hope for the best, there are some very decent visual aids to help you with your accuracy.

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Here are the best references we could find (and a few we've been using for years) to make your next recipe a cinch.

  • 1/8 teaspoon is about one good pinch between your thumb and both your forefinger and middle finger.
  • 1/4 teaspoon is about two good pinches between your thumb and both your forefinger and middle finger.
  • A teaspoon is about the size of the tip of your finger (joint to tip).
  • A tablespoon is about the size of half a ping-pong ball or the size of an ice cube.
  • 1/4 cup is about the size of a large egg.
  • 1/2 cup is about the size of a tennis ball.
  • 1 cup is about the size of an apple or a baseball.

(Bonus: Remember that a stick of butter is 1/2 cup and has tablespoons (and sometimes 1/4 and 1/3 cups) marked on the label. It's a great visual reference and is likely hanging out in your refrigerator already.)

Now, go bust open the pantry doors and get cooking.

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