How do I get 1/3 of a cup?

Getting exactly 1/3 of a cup can be tricky without the right tools. In this comprehensive 5000 word guide, we will cover everything you need to know to easily and accurately measure 1/3 cup. Whether you’re baking, cooking, or simply measuring out ingredients, this article will provide all the tips, tricks, and tools to get it right every time.

Quick Answer

The quick answer is to use a 1/3 cup measuring cup. These are readily available at any grocery store or online. Metal, plastic, or glass options are all effective. Make sure to level off the measuring cup for an exact 1/3 cup.

Why Do You Need 1/3 Cup?

There are many reasons you may need to measure 1/3 cup:

  • Following a recipe – Many baking recipes call for fractions of cups, like 1/3 cup of oil or sugar.
  • Measuring small amounts – Getting an exact 1/3 cup is useful when measuring small quantities of ingredients.
  • Dividing into three portions – 1/3 cup is helpful when dividing a cup of food into three equal parts.
  • Precision – Sometimes a recipe needs to be followed exactly for the best results, so an accurate 1/3 cup is key.

Whether you’re an avid baker, casual cook, or simply want to portion out leftovers, getting 1/3 cup on the nose can make all the difference in your kitchen endeavors.

Tools for Measuring 1/3 Cup

Here are some of the best tools for getting an accurate 1/3 cup measure:

1/3 Cup Measuring Cup

A 1/3 cup measuring cup is the standard, purpose-built tool for measuring 1/3 cup. The cup has markings specifically for 1/3 and 2/3 cup. These are available at grocery stores, kitchen supply stores, or online in metal, plastic, or glass options. Plastic is lightweight and inexpensive while metal is the most durable choice. Look for cups that have measurements etched or imprinted for the most reliable results.

Standard Measuring Cups

A standard set of measuring cups includes 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 and 1 cup sizes. The 1/3 cup measurement can be used to measure out the needed amount. Verify it measures to the 1/3 cup line for accuracy. Standard cups are typically plastic or stainless steel.

Liquid Measuring Cup

A clear liquid measuring cup allows you to see the measurement markers clearly. The cups have etched or printed lines indicating 1/4, 1/3, 1/2 cup increments and up to 4 cups. They are made of glass or plastic. Fill to the 1/3 line for a precise 1/3 cup.


A food scale or kitchen scale can weigh out 1/3 cup measurements by switching to ounce or gram mode. For dry goods, 46 grams = 1/3 cup. For liquids, 5 1/3 oz = 1/3 cup. Scales provide very precise measurements down to the decimal.

How to Measure 1/3 Cup Accurately

Using proper technique is vital for getting an accurate 1/3 cup measure every time. Here are some key tips for precision measuring:

Use the Right Tool

Be sure to use an appropriate measuring tool designed to measure in cups – 1/3 cup measures, standard or liquid measuring cups. Estimating in cooking spoons or other cups can lead to inaccuracies.

Verify Measurements

Check that the measurement lines on any new tool align properly with the 1/3 cup line before using. Measurements can sometimes be off on inexpensive cups.

Level Off

It’s important to level off dry ingredients for an exact measure. Too much or too little can throw off baking chemistry. Use a straight edge tool like a butter knife to scrape off excess.

Avoid Packing

Don’t pack flour and sugar into the cup measure. The ingredients should be lightly spooned in and leveled off for accuracy.

Liquid at Eye Level

When using a liquid measuring cup, set it on a flat surface and bend down to verify the liquid reaches the 1/3 cup line. The measurement can look different when viewed from an angle.

Measure Over Mixing Bowl

When measuring ingredients for baking, measure over the mixing bowl to capture any spillage and prevent loss of any volume.

Tips for Dividing into Thirds

In some cases you may need to divide a larger quantity into three equal 1/3 cup portions. Here are some methods to evenly divide into thirds:

Estimate Visually

For semi-solid foods like yogurt or applesauce, you can spoon the food into three equal mounds in separate containers.

Use a Scale

Weigh the total quantity on a food scale, then divide the total weight by three to calculate the weight per third. Weigh out each 1/3 portion to match.

Portion with Measuring Cup

Use a 1/3 cup measure to portion out scoops until the entire volume is used up – each scoop will be roughly 1/3 cup.

Level the Surface

For dry goods, spread and level the ingredient out evenly in a container, divide into thirds lengthwise, then portion each third into a 1/3 cup measure.

Common 1/3 Cup Conversions

Here are some common conversions for handy reference:

Unit Quantity
Tablespoons 5 and 1/3 tablespoons
Fluid Ounces 2 and 2/3 fluid ounces
Grams 46 grams
Milliliters 79 milliliters
Cubic Inches 10 and 1/3 cubic inches

Substitutions for 1/3 Cup

In a pinch, there are a few handy ingredient substitutions for 1/3 cup:

  • 3 and 1/3 Tablespoons
  • 1/6 cup + 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
  • 6 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
  • Half of 2/3 cup

While not exact, these conversions can work well enough in some recipes if you don’t have an actual 1/3 cup measure available.

When Precision Matters

There are some cases when precision is paramount and approximating 1/3 cup just won’t cut it:

  • Baking – Baking recipes rely on the right ratios for chemistry and texture.
  • Portion Control – Getting nutritional ratios correct requires accuracy.
  • Batch Consistency – Restaurant portions need to be uniform when cooking in bulk.
  • Food Costs – Inaccurate portions lead to food waste and cost inefficiency.

For any application requiring consistency and precision, it’s best to use proper measuring tools and methods for the most accurate results every time.

Common Questions

What household items can I use to measure 1/3 cup?

If you don’t have measuring cups, some common household items include a 5.3 ounce yogurt container or a tennis ball which equals approx. 1/3 cup. The inside of a bar of soap filled to the top is also close to 1/3 cup.

Should I use volume or weight to measure 1/3 cup?

For dry goods, weighing with a kitchen scale is the most precise. For liquids, using liquid volume measuring cups is best. Either method will result in an accurate 1/3 cup.

What are some things I would need 1/3 cup of in cooking or baking?

Common ingredients using 1/3 cup measures include oils like canola or olive oil, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, honey, maple syrup, tomato sauce, broth, herbs, spices, and extracts like vanilla.


With the right tools and methods, measuring 1/3 cup can be easy and accurate. Specialty 1/3 cup measures, basic measuring cups, scales, and liquid measures can all produce a precise 1/3 cup result when used properly. Leveling off dry ingredients and verifying the fluid meniscus are key for accuracy. For dividing into thirds, use visual portioning, weighing, or measuring repeatedly. When precision matters most for baking, nutrition, or batch consistency, take the time to get it right with proper technique – it makes all the difference in your recipes and cooking.

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