How do you measure 3 tablespoons of butter?

When baking or cooking, accurately measuring ingredients like butter is very important for achieving the desired results. So how exactly do you measure 3 tablespoons of butter? There are a few key things to keep in mind.

Use proper measuring tools

First, it’s essential to use the right measuring tools. For tablespoons, you’ll want to use an actual measuring spoon that is designed to measure tablespoons. A typical set will include 1 tablespoon, 1/2 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1/2 teaspoon spoons. The tablespoon spoon will likely hold exactly 3 teaspoons or 15mL.

Some other points on measuring spoons:

  • Use official measuring spoons, not regular cutlery spoons which often don’t measure accurately.
  • Use spoons designed specifically for dry or liquid ingredients as appropriate.
  • Make sure your spoons are level, not heaped, when measuring.
  • Metal spoons are more durable, but plastic or silicone can be useful if cooking with non-stick pans.
  • Be exact with your measurements and avoid rounding up or down.

While special butter knives with measurement markings on the side are also available, these are harder to be precise with. Measuring spoons are the most reliable option.

Measure it correctly

Once you have the right tablespoon measuring spoon, using the proper technique is also crucial:

  1. Use room temperature, softened butter. Cold, hard butter is difficult to measure accurately.
  2. Pack the butter firmly into the spoon without leaving air gaps, pressing it in with a spatula or knife if needed.
  3. Level off the top of the spoon with a straight edge like a knife to get exactly even with the rim.
  4. Repeat twice more to get 3 level tablespoons of butter.
  5. Use a measuring cup or scoop if measuring larger amounts like a stick of butter.
  6. Avoid scraping butter from the wrapper which leaves residue behind.

Taking your time to pack, level, and repeat ensures an precise 3 tablespoons every time. Rushing or failing to level off properly can lead to over- or under-measuring the butter.

Use proper substitutions if needed

If you discover mid-recipe that you’re short on butter, you have a few options to replace 3 tablespoons:

  • Oil: Substitute 3 tablespoons of oil, like canola or vegetable oil. Due to the lower fat content, you may need to slightly increase other liquid in the recipe.
  • Shortening: Use 3 tablespoons of shortening instead. Avoid strongly flavored shortening like coconut.
  • Margarine: Swap in 3 tablespoons of margarine. Stick margarines work best as a 1:1 replacement.
  • Ghee: Use 3 tablespoons ghee, clarified butter, if you have it on hand. It brings a slightly nutty flavor.

Ideally, stick with actual butter if the recipe calls for it. But in a pinch, these alternatives can work.

Common butter measuring mistakes

There are also a few things to avoid when measuring butter. Common mistakes include:

  • Not leveling off the butter leading to extra in the spoon.
  • Packing too loosely leaving gaps and less than 3 tablespoons.
  • Using the wrong spoon size like a teaspoon vs tablespoon.
  • Estimating or rounding instead of carefully measuring.
  • Melting the butter first, making it impossible to measure accurately.
  • Using markings on a butter wrapper that aren’t reliable or standardized.

Being aware of these measuring pitfalls can help you avoid them. Taking a few extra seconds to properly level and pack the butter will lead to better results.

Tips for measuring butter

To recap how to accurately measure 3 tablespoons of butter:

  • Allow butter to soften to room temperature before measuring if it was previously refrigerated.
  • Use metal or plastic measuring spoons designed specifically for tablespoons.
  • Press butter firmly into the spoon and level off the top using a straight edge.
  • Repeat with the same spoon for a total of 3 level tablespoons.
  • Use a butter knife or small scoop when measuring larger amounts like a stick.
  • Measure precisely – no rounding up or down.

With the right tools and proper technique, getting an exact 3 tablespoon measure of butter is easy. This ensures your baked goods, dishes, and other recipes turn out perfectly.

Why accurately measuring butter matters

You may be wondering why it’s so important to meticulously measure butter. Here are a few key reasons:

  • Chemistry – Butter contains fat, water, proteins, and sugars that interact with other ingredients in precise ways during baking and cooking. Too much or too little butter throws the whole recipe off.
  • Ratios – Especially in baking, the ratio of butter to other ingredients like flour and sugar needs to be just right to achieve the desired texture and rise.
  • Substitution – If substituting butter for oil or another fat, you need to do so in an equal ratio to get similar results.
  • Calories – Butter packs 90 calories per tablespoon. For health, weight loss, or other nutrition goals, too much can really add up.
  • Flavor – Butter has a rich, creamy flavor. Too much overwhelms other ingredients while too little may be undetectable.

Whether baking cookies, making sauces, or spreading on toast, the precise amount of butter can make or break the finished product. So don’t estimate – measure!

How to soften butter for measuring

As mentioned above, one key for accurate measuring is having the butter at room temperature. Here are some tips for softening refrigerated butter:

  • Leave the butter out on the counter for 1-2 hours until completely softened.
  • Slice cold butter into thin slices to speed up softening.
  • Leave butter overnight on the counter to come to room temperature slowly (65-75??F).
  • Cut butter into small pieces and let sit for 30 minutes to soften quicker.
  • Use the defrost setting on a microwave for 5-10 second bursts, checking often.
  • Place cold butter in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
  • Grate cold butter on a box grater for fast softening.

Avoid methods like heat that can melt butter entirely. Soft but still solid at room temp is the goal. Test softness by gently pressing a finger into the butter.

Butter measurement conversions

When working with butter, you may need to convert between tablespoons and other units. Here are some handy butter measurement conversions:

3 Tablespoons Equals
1.5 fluid ounces 44 ml
0.42 cup 100 ml
1.5 sticks 24 teaspoons
0.25 cup Half a stick

Be sure to level off tablespoons and other units precisely when converting. Handy conversions like these can be useful when substituting amounts in recipes.

How to measure butter in grams

In some recipes, butter may be measured in metric units like grams instead of cups or tablespoons. Here’s how to convert:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter equals 42 grams
  • 1 tablespoon of butter is around 14 grams
  • 1 cup of butter equals 240 grams
  • 1 stick (8 tbsp) of butter is 113 grams

Kitchen scales designed for food make measuring butter in grams quick and easy. Scales are actually more accurate than household measuring cups and spoons in many cases.

Common butter usage amounts

How much butter you need depends entirely on the recipe, but here are some typical amounts called for:

  • Baked goods – Often between 1/4 cup to 1 cup (2 to 8 tbsp) for cookies, cakes, muffins, etc.
  • Frosting – Around 4 tablespoons per 2 cups of powdered sugar for buttercream.
  • Sauces – Hollandaise uses 3 tbsp per egg yolk while beurre blanc is 4-5 tbsp butter.
  • Roux – Equal parts butter and flour, often 3-4 tablespoons each.

When in doubt, stick closely to the specified butter amount in any recipe for ideal results.

Storing and handling butter properly

To keep butter fresh for accurate measuring when you need it, be sure to store and handle it properly:

  • Keep butter tightly wrapped at all times in the fridge.
  • Store open sticks in a butter dish or lidded container.
  • Refrigerate unused butter immediately after measuring.
  • Let refrigerated butter come to room temperature before measuring.
  • Avoid introducing water into the butter.
  • Don’t mix new and old butter as flavor declines over time.

With air-tight storage in the fridge, butter can last up to 3 months past the sell-by date. For the freshest taste, use within 1 month of purchase.

Myths about measuring butter

There are also some common butter-measuring myths and misconceptions:

  • Myth: Butter can be measured when cold from the fridge.
  • Fact: Cold butter is too hard to measure accurately. Always allow it to soften first.
  • Myth: You can substitute 1/4 cup margarine for 1/4 cup butter.
  • Fact: Margarine often has a lower fat content so don’t substitute 1:1 without adjusting other liquids.
  • Myth: Melted butter and solid butter can be used interchangeably.
  • Fact: Recipes are formulated for either solid or melted butter. Stick to what’s specified.

Understanding the realities around proper butter measuring can help avoid these common mistakes.

What recipes call for 3 tablespoons of butter?

Many recipes call for 3 tablespoons of butter. Here are just a few examples:


  • Classic chocolate chip cookies
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Snickerdoodles
  • Gingerbread cookies
  • Thumbprint cookies

Frosting and Fillings

  • Buttercream frosting or glaze
  • Pastry cream
  • Lemon curd
  • Frangipane
  • French buttercream


  • Compound butter
  • Beurre blanc
  • Beurre Monte
  • Brown butter sauce
  • Mustard pan sauce

Everything from muffins to mashed potatoes can call for 3 tablespoons of butter. Pay close attention to the specified amount in any recipe you use.


Whether you’re baking cookies or making an elegant French sauce, accuracy is vital when measuring 3 tablespoons of butter. Use proper tools, avoid common mistakes, soften butter correctly, and stick precisely to recipe amounts. With the right techniques, getting perfect results with 3 tablespoons of butter is easy every time.

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