Measuring tablespoons to cups is pretty easy: 16 Tablespoons equals a cup. But how many teaspoons in a tablespoon is the sort of question that sends some people right over the edge, never to cook from a recipe again.
Exactly how many Tablespoons in a Cup?
And cooking should be fun. Take that one step further, one smidgen more, because even baking should be fun. Figuring out cooking measurement conversions should not be challenging or difficult.
So hopefully, this helps set cup, teaspoon, tablespoon, ounce, wet, and dry measurement anxieties aside, like the peel destined for the trash from a level cup of cut onions.
Bear with me though, because at first glance measurements can be confusing.
Why are there four Different Forms of Measurements?
Standardization of measurements has come a long way from ancient times, but it still hasn’t quite reached a single consensus. In fact, there are four different types of measurements.
- Imperial Cup System
- International Metric System
- United States Metric System
- United Kingdom Metric System
Let’s cut to the chase here. Unless you are a Nobel nominated scientist whose calculations come down to the microns, then it doesn’t really matter. The difference between them all is not as important as the ratio of tablespoons to a cup.
If you stick with the notion that 16 tablespoons equal one cup, then it won’t matter if you bought your tablespoons and cup measures in France, England, or America.
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Is there a Difference Between Wet and Dry Measurements?
Again, if you are in the lab or dealing with a particularly persnickety fact checker, then there is a difference between measurements of liquids and solids.
But when it comes to cooking measurements, then “liquid” and “dry” ingredients are measured the same exact way.
There, now didn’t that make things a bit easier?
So, if you are measuring a cup of sugar, or a cup of simple syrup, then a cup, is a cup, is a cup. And 16 tablespoons is still going to equal a cup whether it is the turbinado, the powdered, the white or the brown sugar, and the simple syrup is the same no matter how much almond extract you add to it.
This holds true for any liquids like oils, vinegars, etc.
The place to be mindful is the temptation to make your tablespoons heaping tablespoons. Remember we are talking LEVEL tablespoons here.
How to Measure with Tablespoons and Cups
So, this is important to remember, the utensils you use to make your measurements are important to use correctly.
A cup for measuring dry ingredients will have a straight and even top edge to make it easy to level off a perfect measure of the dry ingredients.
However, without getting into fluid dynamics and surface tensions, and all that sort of thing, just know there is a reason liquids are measured in cups that have spouts.
Not only do cups made for measuring liquids make it easier to pour, but it also places the measurement lines slightly lower than the top edge. That is to help avoid spills sloshing over the sides.
Especially if you have shaky hands from drinking too much coffee ahead of doing your measurements.
How many Tablespoons are in a Cup?
Remember, don’t worry about the different metric systems, what the king decided a cup should be back in 1600 or any of those other scientifically designated systems mean.
A metric cup, unit of volume, measuring systems. It’s all so confusing sometimes.
A cup has 16 tablespoons. Sixteen level tablespoons (tbsp) make one cup. Dry or liquid. Liquid or dry. Say it out loud three times so you never forget.
There will be a quiz at the end and if you don’t get it right then we are going to send you back to kindergarten to cook on one of those little Betty Crocker’s kitchen stoves. Just kidding.
But you will want to commit this to memory.
What About Fractions Of A Cup?
Now it is time to really put it to the test. Say the recipe calls for 1/2 cup? Or 3/4 of a cup?
If you guessed 8 tablespoons make half a cup then you win a trip to the kitchen to bake a celebration cake. Guessed 12 tablespoons make ¾ of a cup then you are ready for some advanced level baking. If you do need to work it out with an equation though, then you could simply multiply 16 x ¾ = 12. Or memorize this…
- 4 tablespoons = a quarter cup
- 2 tablespoons = one eighth of a cup
- 8 tablespoons = a half cup
- 12 tablespoons = three fourths of a cup
- 16 tablespoons = a cup
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How many Teaspoons are in a Tablespoon?
Now, what about fractions like ⅔ of a cup? How many tablespoons would that be? If you do the math, 16 x ⅔ then you end up with a fraction, 10.666. So how many tablespoons is that?
Use teaspoons to figure it out. There are 3 teaspoons to a single tablespoon. So two thirds of a tablespoon is two teaspoons. Therefore two thirds of a cup can be accurately measured as 10 tablespoons plus two teaspoons.
Remember it this way:
- ⅓ of a cup is 5 tablespoons plus one teaspoon
- ⅔ of a cup is 10 tablespoons plus two teaspoons
How to Measure Tablespoons and Teaspoons to Ounces
Converting tablespoons to ounces is pretty easy too. Again, without worrying about liquid or dry ingredients, simply remember that two tablespoons make a fluid ounce.
Since three teaspoons make a tablespoon, that means 6 teaspoons make an ounce.
So if a recipe calls for three ounces of an ingredient, then multiply the number by two to figure out how many tablespoons that would be. In this case, 6 tablespoons make three ounces.
For teaspoons, multiply times three. So three ounces in teaspoons is 9 teaspoons.
Use Shortcuts Whenever Possible
Sometimes life definitely doesn’t have to be so complicated. Those are the times when breathing a sigh of relief is in order. Like seeing those measurement lines on a stick of butter.
Or seeing the measurement lines on a mason jar.
Take advantage of those simple guides whenever possible. They make life easier.
Measuring with a Scale
Sometimes it is even easier to just measure ingredients with a scale, especially if the recipe shows ingredient measurements in weights in addition to cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons.
Then the difference in weight between a cup of wet and dry ingredients will differ of course, but measuring by weight does permit greater accuracy. (A cup of milk weighs more than a cup of rice for example).
Just make sure to zero out the scale between measuring each ingredient. Also, make sure you have the scale set for grams or ounces depending on what the recipe designates.
Want a handy guide on tablespoon conversions? Pin this one your favorite Pinterest board. Or download it and tape it inside the kitchen baking cabinet for easy reference. Then you will know how many cups is equal to 64 tablespoons.
Tips on Measuring Tablespoons, Teaspoons, and Cups
Now that you know the way around converting cups and tablespoons, hopefully the anxiety about cooking from recipes is long gone, like the last slice of pie at the potluck.
- Don’t get fancy with your teaspoon, tablespoon, and cup measurements by using heaping portions. I know this is tempting when it comes to ingredients like sugar, but with salt that can ruin everything. So level those spoons off properly. Try to use a dry cup measure for dry ingredients and a wet cup (with a spout) for liquids.
- If you don’t want your biscuits to be like hockey pucks, then make sure to sift your ingredients. Sifting dry ingredients together not only helps mix them thoroughly, but also helps keep things more light and fluffy. That is why it is also always a good practice to measure and mix dry and wet ingredients separately before mixing them together.
- It might be tempting to assume a cup is a cup, but that huge coffee mug isn’t the same as the clear pyrex measuring cup that has the measurement guidelines on the side. Use the right tool for the job. The spoon you eat with isn’t necessarily going to measure a tablespoon.
- When measuring your cups of flour or other dry ingredients, go ahead and overfill but then use a knife or even your finger to level things off.
- A small digital kitchen scale is also handy if you want to get even more precise. But don’t worry about getting a lab coat too. An apron will suffice.
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More Cooking Measurement Tips:
My Favorite Measuring Tools
- Stackable measuring cups and spoons with leveler
- Angled measuring cup
- Nesting measuring cups (down to 1 teaspoon)
- Collapsible measuring cups
Practice these measurement conversion skills on these recipes. As with most things, practice makes perfect!
- Homemade Cream Of Mushroom Soup
- Oven Baked Rice
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
- Cornbread Muffins
- Louisiana Stranger Cake
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Monday 2nd of January 2023
Hello! I love your chart, however, I think the 12 tbsp needs to be fixed. Pretty sure it should be 3/4 instead of 2/4.
Tuesday 3rd of January 2023
OMG yes you are right! Thank you so much! I will make the change and add the new on to the post.