Measuring dry ingredients like flour, sugar, spices, etc. can be tricky if you don’t have a kitchen scale on hand. Many baking recipes call for measurements in cups, tablespoons, or teaspoons. But if you need to convert to ounces or grams for nutrition facts or any other reason, it helps to know some common conversions. Let’s start by looking at how many ounces are in 4 tablespoons of a dry ingredient.
4 tablespoons (Tbsp) of a dry ingredient is equal to approximately 1 ounce (oz) in weight.
So if you need 4 Tbsp of something like flour or brown sugar for a recipe, you can estimate that it weighs about 1 oz on a kitchen scale.
Dry Volume Versus Weight
When measuring dry ingredients, there is an important distinction between volume and weight.
Volume measures the amount of space an ingredient takes up, like cups, tablespoons, etc. Weight measures the actual mass of an ingredient, like ounces or grams.
Why Volume and Weight Are Different
The volume of a dry ingredient can vary quite a bit depending on factors like:
- How finely it is ground
- How settled or compacted it is in the measuring cup
- Variations in product density
For example, 1 cup of all-purpose flour that is sifted and lightly spooned into the cup will be less dense and weigh less than 1 cup of flour that is scooped and packed down.
This means volume is not always an accurate or reliable way to measure dry ingredients. Weight provides a much more precise measurement.
Converting Between Volume and Weight
Since volume and weight are different, a conversion is required when substituting one for the other in a recipe. Useful conversions to know by heart include:
- 3 teaspoons (tsp) = 1 tablespoon (Tbsp)
- 2 tablespoons (Tbsp) = 1 fluid ounce (fl oz)
- 1 cup (c) = 16 tablespoons (Tbsp)
- 1 cup (c) = 8 fluid ounces (fl oz)
However, converting between cups or tablespoons and ounces gets more complicated, since the weight varies depending on the ingredient. So it requires consulting a conversion chart or doing a test measurement.
How Many Ounces in 4 Tablespoons?
Now that we understand the difference between volume and weight measurements, let’s specifically look at how many ounces are in 4 tablespoons of a dry ingredient.
There are a couple approaches we can use:
Generic Volume to Weight Conversion
A general rule of thumb is that 4 tablespoons (Tbsp) of any dry ingredient equals approximately 1 ounce (oz) by weight.
So in theory, you can substitute 4 Tbsp and 1 oz in any recipe. However, this conversion can vary slightly for different ingredients.
- 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour weighs about 1.1 oz
- 4 Tbsp granulated sugar weighs about 0.9 oz
- 4 Tbsp brown sugar weighs about 1.0 oz
So while the 1:4 ratio works in a pinch, it’s not extremely precise. For accuracy it’s better to look up specific conversions.
The most accurate way to convert between tablespoons and ounces is to use a conversion chart or do a custom measurement for the specific ingredient you’re using.
For common baking ingredients, conversions are usually available on the package or online. Some examples:
- All-purpose flour: 1 Tbsp = 0.3 oz / 4 Tbsp = 1.1 oz
- Granulated (white) sugar: 1 Tbsp = 0.5 oz / 4 Tbsp = 0.9 oz
- Brown sugar: 1 Tbsp = 0.5 oz / 4 Tbsp = 1 oz
- Powdered sugar: 1 Tbsp = 0.4 oz / 4 Tbsp = 0.9 oz
- Cornstarch: 1 Tbsp = 0.2 oz / 4 Tbsp = 0.7 oz
As you can see, there is quite a bit of variance between different dry ingredients when converting tablespoons to ounces.
For the most accuracy, look up a specific conversion chart for the exact ingredients your recipe calls for.
Tips for Measuring Dry Ingredients
To get reliable measurements, whether using volume or weight, follow these best practices:
Volume Measurement Tips
When measuring dry ingredients like flour, sugar, spices, etc. by volume (cups, tablespoons, teaspoons):
- Use standard dry measuring cups and spoons designed for dry ingredients only. Do not use liquid measuring cups.
- Spoon ingredient lightly into measuring cup, then level off top using a straight edge like the back of a knife.
- Do not pack or tap measuring cup to settle contents.
- When halving measurements, fill measuring spoon halfway between the lines.
- Measure over a sheet of wax paper to catch spills.
Weight Measurement Tips
When measuring dry ingredients by weight (ounces, grams):
- Use a digital kitchen scale for accuracy.
- Weigh empty bowl or container first, then tare (reset) the scale to 0 before adding ingredient.
- Weigh ingredients directly into the bowl when possible.
- Check that scale is placed on a flat, level surface.
- Verify scale is measuring in the desired units (oz, g, etc).
Following these tips will remove some of the variation and guesswork from measuring dry ingredients.
Measuring Butter and Other Fats
Butter, shortening, and oils are a special case because their consistency and density changes with temperature. Follow these guidelines when measuring fats for baking:
- Butter should be well softened but still cool. Not melted, but malleable enough to cream.
- Use smooth, firm fats. Avoid whipped or liquid fats.
- Pack butter and shortening firmly into measuring cups and level off the top.
- Measure oils and melted butter in liquid cups.
- Always melt butter or chocolate slowly over low heat. Keep close eye to avoid burning.
- Let melted ingredients like chocolate cool slightly before adding to batter.
Getting an accurate measurement of fats prevents recipes from turning out too oily, greasy, or heavy.
Tips for Accurately Measuring Liquids
With liquids like milk, buttermilk, cream, or oil it’s also important to use proper technique:
- Always use clear liquid measuring cups with pouring spouts.
- Read liquid amounts at eye level for accuracy.
- Add liquids carefully so you don’t exceed the amount needed.
- To measure viscous liquids like oil, spray measuring cup with nonstick spray first to help it pour out easier.
- For smaller amounts of water, use a graduated teaspoon to measure.
Proper liquid measurement ensures batters don’t end up too thin or dry.
Why Accurate Measurement Matters
You might wonder why being precise with weighing and measuring dry and wet ingredients is so important in baking. There are two main reasons:
It Affects Texture
Using too much or too little of a given ingredient can throw off the moisture balance and chemistry in a baked good. This can negatively affect the final texture.
For example, too much flour can make muffins tough and dry. Too much oil can make cakes greasy. Even small measurement errors add up in batters.
It Impacts Rising
In recipes with chemical leaveners or yeast, accurate measurement is crucial. Too much or too little leavener can make baked goods overflow or collapse in the oven.
With yeast doughs, improper proportions of flour, liquid, eggs, etc. can prevent the dough from rising properly. Relying on approximations makes troubleshooting much harder when baked goods don’t rise as expected.
Use a Scale for Best Results
While measuring cups work decently well for most baking recipes, using a kitchen scale offers greater precision and accuracy. There are a few advantages to weighing dry and wet ingredients:
- Removes human error and approximations from measuring.
- Provides a highly accurate, standardized measurement.
- Eliminates volume variations in dry ingredients.
- Easily adjusts recipes up or down while maintaining ratios.
- Allows consistent replication of recipes and batch after batch.
For these reasons, many professional chefs and bakers prefer to prepare recipes by weight rather than volume. Scales are the gold standard for accuracy.
So in summary, 4 tablespoons (Tbsp) of a dry ingredient generally weighs about 1 ounce (oz), with some variance between different ingredients. This conversion provides a helpful guideline when ounces or grams are called for but you only have measuring spoons on hand.
However, for maximum precision it’s best to look up specific weight conversions and use a kitchen scale. Careful measuring along with proper scaling of ingredient amounts will remove a lot of the guesswork from baking recipes and lead to better, more consistent results.