How many ounces is a cup dry weight?

Measuring dry ingredients like flour, sugar, oats, etc. by volume using cups is very common in cooking and baking recipes. But ounces are a weight measure while cups are a volume measure. So how do they relate? How many ounces are in a cup of dry ingredients? The answer depends on the ingredient and its density. Generally, a cup of most dry ingredients weighs between 4-5 ounces. But the exact conversion varies.

What is a Cup Measure in Cooking?

A cup is a standard unit of volume measurement used extensively in cooking and baking recipes in the U.S. One cup measure is equal to 16 tablespoons or 8 fluid ounces.

Cup measures are convenient for measuring liquids. But they are also commonly used for dry ingredients. When measuring dry ingredients by cup, the ingredients are lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off. Measuring cups designed for dry ingredients have an upright straight edge to assist with leveling.

Factors Affecting Ounces per Cup of Dry Ingredients

The weight in ounces of a cup of any dry ingredient depends on two key factors:

Density of the Ingredient

Density refers to the mass per unit volume of a substance. The denser a dry ingredient, the heavier it is by volume. For example, one cup of flour weighs more than one cup of powdered sugar because flour is denser than powdered sugar.

Density can vary greatly between ingredients. But it can also vary between varieties or brands of the same ingredient. Whole wheat flour is more dense than all-purpose flour for example. The grind size and moisture content of ingredients also impact density.

How the Ingredient is Measured

How loosely or densely an ingredient is packed into a cup greatly affects its weight. For consistency, most recipes specify lightly spooning an ingredient into a cup. But the method can still vary between bakers.

Professional recipes often provide weights along with cup measures. Weighing dry ingredients removes the variation associated with cup measurements.

Ounces per Cup for Common Dry Ingredients

Here is an overview of the approximate ounces in one cup for some common dry ingredients:

Ingredient Ounces per Cup
All-purpose flour 4 to 5 ounces
Whole wheat flour 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 ounces
Granulated white sugar 7 ounces
Brown sugar 7 1/2 ounces
Confectioners’ sugar 4 ounces
Cocoa powder 3 ounces
Cornmeal 4 to 5 ounces
Rolled oats 3 ounces
Rice flour 4 ounces
Almond flour 4 ounces

As you can see, the range is approximately 3 to 7 ounces per cup depending on the ingredient. Granulated white sugar is at the higher end at 7 ounces per cup. Light and fluffy powders like confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder are at the lighter end at 4 ounces per cup.

Measuring Dry Ingredients by Weight Instead of Volume

The variability in ounces per cup between ingredients is why most professional bakers recommend measuring dry ingredients by weight instead of volume. This removes the guesswork and makes recipes more precise.

Kitchen scales make weighing ingredients easy. Instead of needing to lightly spoon an ingredient into a cup, you simply place the container or bowl with the ingredient directly on the scale and measure to the target weight. Digital kitchen scales designed for home use are inexpensive, accurate, and widely available.

When using a recipe that only provides volume measures, you can still weigh out the ingredients for better accuracy. Use the ounces per cup estimates provided above to determine the target weight of each dry ingredient.

For example, if a recipe calls for 2 cups of all-purpose flour, estimate that each cup weighs approximately 4.5 ounces. So 2 cups would be equivalent to about 9 ounces of flour by weight. Use a kitchen scale to directly weigh out 9 ounces of flour instead of spooning into a 2 cup measure.

Metric Volume Versus Weight Conversions

In metric system countries like Australia, Canada, and the UK, dry ingredients may be specified by weight in grams instead of by volume. However, cups are still frequently used in recipes for home bakers.

The weight conversions for common volume measures are:
– 1 teaspoon = 5 grams
– 1 tablespoon = 15 grams
– 1 cup = 250 grams

So if an Australian or Canadian recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, you would weigh out approximately 500 grams. Recipes may provide both volume and gram weight measures for accuracy.

Again, actually weighing the ingredients on a kitchen scale is better than relying on volume conversions to grams. Density, moisture content, and how loosely packed the ingredient is will affect the accuracy.

Should You Sift Dry Ingredients Before Measuring?

Some bakers recommend sifting or whisking dry ingredients before spooning them into a cup measure. This helps break up any clumps and incorporates air which greatly affects volume.

For example, you may end up with over 20% more flour in a cup if the flour is sifted first versus just spooning it directly into the cup. This will throw off the accuracy of your measurements.

To be consistent, you should follow the recipe directions regarding sifting or not. In general, it is best to skip sifting before measuring unless instructed to do so. Measuring dry ingredients by weight also eliminates this issue.


While very convenient, using cup measurements for dry ingredients can introduce variance into recipes. The weight of a cup can range from 3 to 7 ounces depending on the density of the ingredient. For improved consistency, it is best practice to weigh dry ingredients instead of using cup measurements when baking. Investing in an inexpensive digital kitchen scale can greatly improve your baking. But when using volume measures, you can use the general guide that most dry ingredients weigh 4 to 5 ounces per cup. Granulated sugar is heavier at 7 ounces per cup. And confectioners’ sugar is lighter at 4 ounces per cup. Refer to recipes for specific weights whenever possible.

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