Ask the TK: Dry vs. Liquid Measurements

March 24, 2009 | By | Comments (12)

Occasionally, I am confused about a measurement when it
calls for a certain number of ounces of a given ingredient. For instance, if a recipe calls for 3 ounces
of chocolate chips, does that mean 3 ounces in a measuring cup? Or should I be weighing the
ingredient for a 3-ounce portion?

Answer: That’s a good question, and one that we are asked frequently. The short answer is, it depends on the recipe. If it calls for a weight (not a cup measurement), you should weigh the ingredient. However, when one of our recipes calls for a weight, we also give you an approximate cup measurement. For chocolate chips, we usually specify both.

A note on measuring cups: There are two main types — liquid and dry. The liquid ones are
usually glass or plastic with a handle. They allow you to pour a liquid into the
cup and bring it even with a measurement line without spilling. Dry measuring cups (like the one shown above) hold
the exact amount and are designed to be leveled off with a flat edge. Trying to measure liquids in a dry measuring cup usually results in spilling.

An ounce for an ounce? Not exactly: The ounce
measurement can be confusing. The liquid measuring cups indicate that 1 cup = 8 ounces. But it really means 1 cup of liquid = 8 ounces. Dry
ingredients, however, vary greatly in weight. For example, 1 cup of all-purpose flour
weighs only 4.5 ounces — not 8 ounces.

How to measure flour: This is especially important when baking, as improper measuring can throw off a recipe. For best results, stir the flour and lightly spoon it into the dry measuring cup. Do not tap or
pack the flour into the cup; doing so would add more flour than the recipes calls
for. Level the flour by taking a flat edge and pushing it across the top of the
measuring cup to remove the excess.

Have a culinary conundrum? Ask the TK! Submit your question to our our Test Kitchen professionals by emailing us. We can’t answer every question, but will try our best.


  1. Victoria Taloni

    If recipe asks for dry ingredients in ounces, and I have a 2 pound box of (say powder sugar)how do I measure that. I assume it needs to be weighed and not measured in an 8 oz measure cup explain.

    September 22, 2016 at 10:46 am
  2. Chris

    So, the difference really seems to be one of volume (liquid ounce) and one of weight (dry ounce). That makes a lot of sense to me.

    May 7, 2016 at 8:48 am
  3. maddie

    my recipe calls for 1lb of powdered sugar and i only have 2 lb bag. I know that i need to only use 16 oz for it to be 1 pound, but i don’t exactly know how to measure that out. i know i would use dry measuring cups, but how many?

    November 30, 2014 at 2:29 pm
  4. NyKera

    Is dry mearsurment utensils same measuring in liquid measurments?

    October 9, 2012 at 1:19 am
  5. thomas sabo

    Thats my boy!! Be careful Vince.

    May 30, 2011 at 9:08 pm
  6. Bren

    I was trying to make some brownies and it said to steep the cocoa in the boiling water for 5 minutes, but the water volume said to only use “tk”, so how much is that exactly?

    April 7, 2011 at 10:54 am
  7. Darcy

    There are two main types — liquid and dry. The liquid ones are usually glass or plastic with a handle.

    February 19, 2011 at 2:18 am
  8. UGG Bailey Button

    It’s a Very helpful article for me. Actually, I am fond of reading online punjabi news. Thanks for writing such a complete ..And,I wantn’t to miss them.
    Thank you for sharing..

    January 3, 2011 at 11:37 pm
  9. sure


    October 28, 2009 at 6:49 pm
  10. MaryJo

    I have a recipe that calls for 1 cup of grated parm cheese. The container it came in said it cotaines 5oz.. Do I measure it in a dry measuring cup?

    May 26, 2009 at 3:45 pm
  11. The eds

    Thanks for your question. There’s a difference between dry and liquid measuring cups.
    1 cup = 8 FLUID ounces. The measuring cups that show 1 cup = 8 ounces are liquid measuring cups, which usually have a spout. So 1 cup of water, chicken broth, juice, etc. will absolutely weigh 8 ounces.
    But 1 cup of a DRY ingredient will weigh less. For all-purpose flour, 1 cup = 4.5 ounces. You should measure dry ingredients in dry measuring cups (those with flat tops for leveling off the top).
    For best results, avoid measuring flour in a spouted liquid measuring cup.

    April 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm
  12. mary fanger

    On page 150 and page 158 of the April 2009 issue of Cooking Light, the receipes call for all-purpose flour. Now my question is on page 150, 9 ounces does not equal (about 2 cups) and on page 158, 4.5 ounces of all-purpose flour does not equal (1 cup). All my measuring cups show 8 oz. equal one (1) cup. Please advise what the receipes mean as I have already tried one of the receipes and it did not turn out.

    April 14, 2009 at 12:46 pm

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