How to Measure Recipe Ingredients Properly

Your baked goods will improve after you learn these techniques!

When you’re cooking dinner, it’s not always super important to measure ingredients with precision. The recipe might say a teaspoon of salt, but throwing in a little more or a bit less won’t really affect the dish’s outcome. It’s not like a pork loin will fail to come up to temp if you under salt it! When it comes to baking, though, it’s crucially important that you know how to measure recipe ingredients properly.

Baking is closer to a science than an art. It’s a chemistry of ingredients coming together to make cakes rise or create tender crumb in bread. So it’s really important to have exact amounts of your dry and wet ingredients. To learn how to measure recipe ingredients properly, let’s first take a look at the types of ingredients and how to measure each differently.

Dry Measurements

Dry ingredients are any ingredient that don’t contain liquid. Common dry ingredients are flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, oatmeal, baking soda, and baking powder. The most common way to measure dry ingredients is with measuring cups and spoons.

You have two choices for using dry measurement cups. Either dip the cup into the package of the ingredient or use a spoon to scoop the ingredient into the desired measuring cup size. Make sure you overfill the cup slightly, then level it out by running the flat side of a butter knife along the top. This will remove any excess and leave you with the exact cup measurement.

Some dry ingredients (like cheese and brown sugar) call for “packed” cups. This means you should use your hands to firmly press the ingredients into the cup as you add them. This forces the ingredient to take up all the available space.

Liquid Measurements

Liquid ingredients are any fluid material, like water, milk, honey, syrup, or oil. The best way to measure precise amounts of liquid is with a liquid measuring cup. These cups sit level on the countertop and have lines for specific measurements.

With the measuring up level on a countertop, pour the liquid ingredient into the cup. Bend down to view the line at eye level to make sure the ingredient has not edged up over the line. Some measuring cups allow you to view the lines from a bird’s eye view so you don’t have to bend down.

Sticky ingredients like honey or peanut butter are hard to get out of a measuring cup. Want to know a trick to getting these ingredients to slide out more easily? Spray the measuring cup with nonstick spray first. The oil won’t add any volume to the measurement but it will make removal so much easier.

Measuring by Weight

Some recipes call for measurements by weight – pounds, ounces, or grams. Unlike measuring by volume (the amount of space something takes up in a cup), weight measurements are much more specific. For example, one cup of sifted flour takes up more space (so weighs less) than a cup of unsifted flour (which will weigh more).

To measure by weight, place a bowl on top of your scale and hit the “zero” or “tare” button. Click the “units” button until the appropriate measurement (usually ounces) appears. Place the ingredient in the bowl and spoon or pour your ingredient until you reach the correct weight.

If you’re feeling brave, you can set the scale back to zero after measuring and add the remaining ingredients, zeroing out the scale after every addition. Just be careful not to over add, because it will be difficult to remove just the last ingredient once they start mixing.

Now you know how to measure recipe ingredients properly. You will feel more confident that our SkinnyMs baking recipes will turn out perfectly, every time! This is a good thing because we have so many healthy and tasty baking recipes. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest to find new and exciting dessert recipes.



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Chef Lindsay

Lindsay D. Mattison is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer. After graduating from Cascade Culinary School, Lindsay worked as the executive chef of a farm-to-table restaurant in Bend, Oregon. She is passionate about using local, organic ingredients and loves teaching home cooks how to incorporate seasonal food into their diet. While she spends most of her time writing these days, she still exercises her culinary muscles on the regular, taking any opportunity to create beautiful meals for her family. She lives with her husband in Colorado, where she enjoys the trials and errors of gardening.

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  1. I’m cooking in England and have NO idea as to the size of a cup that is asked for in the Spanish recipes I’m doing!
    Give me a clue please.
    Many thanks.

    1. This is where Google is a great resource! If you type in “1 cup equals how many (your unit of measure)” in to the search bar Google with convert the amount for you!

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