How many cups in 5 lbs?

There are many times when knowing how to convert between pounds and cups can be useful in cooking and baking. For example, a recipe may call for 5 pounds of flour, but you may only have measuring cups on hand. Or you may want to double a recipe that calls for ingredients in cups, but you only know the pound equivalent. Converting between pounds and cups is simple, but does require knowing a few key details.

Key Details for Converting Pounds to Cups

Here are the key things to know when converting pounds to cups:

  • 1 pound (lb) is equal to 16 ounces (oz).
  • 1 cup is equal to 8 fluid ounces when measuring volume.
  • However, weight and volume are different. The weight of 1 cup of flour is different than the weight of 1 cup of sugar, for example.
  • For dry ingredients like flour, sugar, rice, etc:
    • 1 cup weighs approximately 4-5 ounces by weight.
    • So 1 pound of a dry ingredient equals approximately 3-4 cups by volume.
  • For liquid ingredients like milk, water, oil, etc:
    • 1 cup weighs approximately 8 ounces by weight.
    • So 1 pound of a liquid ingredient equals exactly 2 cups by volume.

Knowing these conversions allows you to easily move between pounds and cups for recipes. Next, we’ll look specifically at converting 5 pounds of a dry ingredient like flour to cups.

Converting 5 Pounds of a Dry Ingredient to Cups

Since 1 pound of a dry ingredient equals approximately 3-4 cups, we can estimate:

  • 5 pounds x 3 cups per pound = 15 cups
  • 5 pounds x 4 cups per pound = 20 cups

So we can estimate that 5 pounds of a dry ingredient like flour yields between 15-20 cups when measured by volume.

To be more precise, it’s helpful to know that commonly used dry ingredients like flour and sugar weigh approximately 4.25 ounces per cup on average.

So for a dry ingredient weighing 4.25 oz per cup:

  • 1 pound (16 oz) = approximately 3.75 cups (16 oz / 4.25 oz per cup)
  • 5 pounds (80 oz) = approximately 18.75 cups (80 oz / 4.25 oz per cup)

This means 5 pounds of flour, sugar, or a similar dry ingredient would be close to 19 cups by volume.

To summarize:

  • 5 lbs of a dry ingredient weighs 80 oz
  • With dry ingredients commonly weighing about 4.25 oz per cup
  • 5 lbs yields around 19 cups when measured by volume

Metric Conversions

For those working in metric units:

  • 1 pound (lb) = 453.592 grams (g)
  • 5 pounds (lb) = 2,267.96 grams (g)
  • 1 cup = 236.588 milliliters (ml) for dry ingredients
  • So 5 pounds equates to approximately 9.6 cups when converting to metric units.

Using a Conversion Table

For precise conversions, you can also use a pounds to cups conversion table. Here is a sample conversion table showing how many cups are in 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 pounds of a dry ingredient:

Pounds Cups
1 lb 3.75 cups
2 lbs 7.5 cups
3 lbs 11.25 cups
4 lbs 15 cups
5 lbs 18.75 cups

This conversion table shows that 5 pounds yields 18.75 cups when converting to a dry ingredient like flour.

Converting Other Common Ingredients

While dry ingredients follow the general rule of 4.25 ounces per cup, some common baking ingredients differ. Here are the cup conversions for a few of them:

Ingredient Ounces per Cup 5 Pounds equals…
All-purpose flour 4.25 oz 18.75 cups
Granulated white sugar 7 oz 11.5 cups
Brown sugar 8.5 oz 9.5 cups
Butter 8 oz 10 cups
Powdered sugar 4 oz 20 cups

As you can see, while general rules of thumb are helpful, looking up the specific conversion rates for certain ingredients gives the most accurate cup measurements.

Converting When Cooking

When actually cooking and baking, most people measure dry ingredients by weight rather than volume. So you’re more likely to see a recipe call for the ingredient in grams or ounces.

But kitchen scales were not always commonplace, so many traditional recipes use volume measurements like cups. Knowing pound-to-cup conversions can help when following old recipes.

There are also some cases when measuring by volume makes practical sense over weight. For example, measuring small amounts of herbs and spices.

And many commercial products, like a 5 pound bag of flour, display the weight so you may need to convert to cups for a recipe.

Limitations of Converting Pounds to Cups

While knowing pound-to-cup conversions is handy, there are some limitations and drawbacks to this method:

  • It’s not as precise as measuring by weight.
  • Dry ingredients settle and compact over time so volumes can vary.
  • You need to know if 1 cup is sifted or packed for accuracy.
  • Humid or arid conditions can impact measured volumes.
  • It’s less accurate across different brands and types of the same ingredient.

For these reasons, most professional bakers and chefs recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh dry ingredients whenever possible for accuracy.

But home bakers can still achieve good results by measuring cups carefully and leveling off ingredients correctly. And knowing pound equivalents still comes in handy.

Should You Sift Flour Before Measuring?

When measuring flour by volume, you need to consider one more factor – sifting. Flour tends to compact and become dense when stored.

So sifting helps lighten and aerate the flour before measuring cupfuls. But sifting alone can reduce the volume by around 20%.

There are a few schools of thought on pre-sifting:

  • Some say to always sift first, then spoon flour into cups and level off.
  • Others recommend dipping the measuring cup directly into the unsifted flour and sweeping off any excess.
  • Occasionally recipes specify “1 cup sifted flour” or “1 cup flour, unsifted”.

The key is to be consistent and follow the same process every time when working with cup measurements. Don’t sift just some of the time.

And know that sifting first will yield fewer cups for the same weight of flour.

How to Accurately Measure Dry Ingredients

Whether sifting beforehand or not, use these tips for the most accurate dry cup measurements:

  • Use the right cups – Only use standard, dry measuring cups specifically made for dry ingredients. Do not substitute liquid measuring cups.
  • Spoon and level – Lightly spoon flour or sugar into the cup without packing down. Then level off evenly with a knife.
  • Avoid compacting – Do not tap or shake the cup when filling. This compact the ingredients.
  • Use proper sized cups – Don’t substitute with random household cups or glasses.
  • Measure over a bowl – Hold the measuring cup over a mixing bowl, plate or paper to catch any excess.
  • Be precise – Carefully level off, don’t leave extra heaping flour in the cup.

Being meticulous when measuring dry ingredient volumes will ensure your conversions are as accurate as possible.


Knowing how to convert pounds to cups for dry ingredients can be extremely useful for cooking and baking. While measuring by weight is the gold standard, you will still often need to use cup measurements.

The general rule of thumb is that 1 pound of flour, sugar or similar dry goods equals 3-4 cups by volume. Or approximately 18.75 cups for 5 pounds.

However, you need to pay attention to specifics like sifting and ingredient densities for true precision. Weighing key ingredients with a kitchen scale helps account for such variances.

But by understanding the relationship between pounds and cups, following the tips above, and using good judgement you can achieve excellent results. Converting between pounds, ounces and cups expands the flexibility of any recipe.

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