How many cups come in a can?

Canned beverages like soda and beer are commonly sold in standard can sizes that each contain a certain number of servings. Understanding how many cups are in a typical can allows you to estimate how much you’re consuming or how many people a single can might serve.

Quick Answer

The standard 12 ounce can contains about 1.5 to 2 cups of liquid depending on the beverage. A 16 ounce can contains 2 to 2.5 cups. And a 24 ounce “tall boy” can contains 3 to 4 cups.

Standard Can Sizes

There are three common can sizes for beverages:

  • 12 ounce
  • 16 ounce
  • 24 ounce

The 12 ounce can is the original standard size. The 16 ounce “pounder” can gained popularity starting in the 1970s. And the 24 ounce “tall boy” can became common for beers in the 1990s.

12 Ounce Can

The 12 ounce can is 4.83 inches tall and 2.13 inches in diameter. It is the standard can size used for common soda varieties like Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Sprite. The 12 ounce size is also used for common beer varieties like Budweiser, Coors, and Miller.

16 Ounce Can

The 16 ounce can is 4.92 inches tall and 2.6 inches in diameter. While not as common as the 12 ounce, it is a popular size for energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster as well as teas like Arizona. Some craft beers are also sold in 16 ounce cans.

24 Ounce Can

The 24 ounce can is 6.56 inches tall and 2.6 inches in diameter. It is commonly associated with large beers meant for sharing, known as “tall boys”. Popular varieties like Steel Reserve, Four Loko, and Pabst Blue Ribbon are sold in 24 ounce cans.

Cups per Can Size

The number of cups in a given can depends on the actual amount of liquid filled into the can by the manufacturer. Generally:

  • A 12 ounce can contains about 1.5 cups of liquid.
  • A 16 ounce can contains about 2 cups of liquid.
  • A 24 ounce can contains about 3 cups of liquid.

However, variation exists between different types of beverages:

Beverage Type 12 oz Can 16 oz Can 24 oz Can
Soda 1.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups
Beer 1.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups
Energy drinks 2 cups 2.5 cups 4 cups

As shown, carbonated sodas and beers generally adhere close to the overall averages. But energy drinks tend to have morevariance with about 2 cups per 12 oz can and 2.5 cups per 16 oz can.

Exact Amount by Brand

Looking at specific beverage brands, the actual amount dispensed into each can is:

Beverage Brand 12 oz Can 16 oz Can 24 oz Can
Coca-Cola 1.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups
Pepsi 1.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups
Mountain Dew 1.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups
Red Bull 2 cups 2.5 cups 4 cups
Monster 2 cups 2.5 cups 4 cups
Budweiser 1.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups
Coors Light 1.5 cups 2 cups 3 cups

This makes it easy to see how many servings you’re actually getting from each specific brand’s can size.

Factor: Carbonation and Foam

One factor that can influence the actual amount dispensed is carbonation and foam. Highly carbonated beverages like soda and beer will have more foam that takes up volume in the can.

For example, a 12 oz can of Coca-Cola may be filled up to 12 oz if you count the carbonated liquid and foam together. But once poured into a cup, the foam settles, leaving about 1.5 cups of actual soda once the bubbles are gone.

Flat vs Shaken

You can demonstrate the carbonation factor by pouring soda from a can into a measuring cup in two different ways:

  1. Pouring slowly and gently to minimize foam.
  2. Shaking vigorously beforehand to maximize foam.

The gentle pour will more accurately reflect the true liquid volume, while the shaken version will initially seem like more due to the foam.

Beer vs Soda Foam Differences

There is also a difference in foam between beer and soda:

  • Beer foam – Beer foam contains air bubbles trapped within the liquid itself, influencing the density. These bubbles means beer foam takes up more relative volume.
  • Soda foam – Soda foam is created from bubbles rising up, which is mostly air. Soda foam is lighter and settles quicker than beer head.

So beer foam is more dense and contributes more to the overall volume inside the can, compared to soda foam which is lighter air.

Factors in Foam and Carbonation

Some factors influencing carbonation and foam amounts include:

  • Beverage ingredients – Barley and malt in beer, vs carbonated water in soda.
  • Beverage temperature – Warmer liquids tend to foam more than cold.
  • Pouring method – Gentle pours foam less than fast, turbulent ones.

Considering these factors allows you to account for the role of foam and carbonation when estimating actual liquid volumes.

Net Liquid Volume

While foam and carbonation varies, the net liquid volumes after settling are more consistent:

  • 12 oz can = 1.5 cups liquid
  • 16 oz can = 2 cups liquid
  • 24 oz can = 3 cups liquid

So you can expect about 1.5 to 2 cups of actual drinkable beverage from a typical 12 oz can once poured into a glass or cup.

Cups are Approximate

Remember that actual cup amounts are always approximate, not precise. Small measurement variations occur between different cups and vessels. Factors like cup shape, height, diameter and thickness all influence exact volumes.

For example, a short wide cup may hold 6 fluid ounces but only appear half full compared to a taller narrow cup of the same volume. Generalized “cup” units are meant as convenient liquid volume estimates, not precision measures.


In summary, the typical can sizes contain approximately:

  • 12 ounces = 1.5 to 2 cups
  • 16 ounces = 2 to 2.5 cups
  • 24 ounces = 3 to 4 cups

Factors like carbonation, foam, and cup variations mean volume estimates are approximate, not exact. But this provides a useful basis for understanding how many servings and cups are present in standard soda, beer, and energy drink cans.

Further Research

This overview provides the basic guide, but you can find more precise per-brand details by:

  • Checking company websites for can specifications.
  • Measuring cans before and after pouring.
  • Consulting independent measurement studies.

With some additional research, you can dial in the specific cup amounts for your preferred brands and beverage types.

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