How many tablespoons is 1 cup dry ingredients?

When it comes to measuring dry ingredients for recipes, it’s important to know the conversions between different units of measurement like cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons. Understanding these conversions allows you to accurately measure ingredients and ensure your recipes turn out right. One of the most common dry measurement conversions is between cups and tablespoons. So how many tablespoons are in 1 cup of dry ingredients?

The Quick Answer

The quick answer is: 1 cup of dry ingredients equals 16 tablespoons. To break this down:

  • 1 cup = 16 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons
  • 1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons

So if you need to measure out 1/4 cup of flour for a recipe, you would use 4 tablespoons instead. Knowing these basic conversions allows you to measure dry ingredients for cooking and baking recipes with ease.

The Longer Answer

While the quick answer gives the basic conversion, there’s a bit more that goes into accurately measuring dry ingredients by volume. Here’s a more in-depth look at measuring cups, tablespoons, and other details.

Volume Measurements

In cooking and baking, dry ingredients like sugar, flour, oats, etc. are typically measured by volume using measuring cups and spoons. Volume measures the amount of space an ingredient takes up rather than its weight.

There are a few different types of measuring cups and spoons to be aware of:

  • Dry measuring cups – These are typically round, nesting cups with flat rims used to measure dry ingredients by scooping. They usually come in 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup sizes.
  • Liquid measuring cups – These have pouring spouts and clearly marked measurements on the side for measuring liquid ingredients like milk, water, oil, etc.
  • Measuring spoons – These come in small spoon sizes to measure teaspoons and tablespoons. They often come in 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon sizes.

It’s important to use the right measuring tool for dry vs wet ingredients to get accurate measurements.

How a Dry Measuring Cup Works

A standard dry measuring cup is designed to measure the volume an ingredient takes up when lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off. A general approach is:

  1. Lightly spoon the dry ingredient like flour or sugar into the appropriate size dry measuring cup. Heaping or packing it tightly will result in too much.
  2. Use a straight edge like a knife to sweep across the top of the cup to level off the ingredient.
  3. The cup should not be heaping and overflowing. The ingredient should just come to the top edge of the cup.

When you level off a dry ingredient in a measuring cup, you end up with the approximate volume measurement for that cup size – like 1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, etc.


Here are some common abbreviations used for measuring dry and liquid ingredients:

Abbreviation What it Stands for
c Cup
tbsp Tablespoon
tsp Teaspoon
oz Ounce
g Gram
ml Milliliter
l Liter

Knowing these abbreviations allows you to accurately interpret recipe instructions.

Measuring Tablespoons and Teaspoons

Measuring spoons are used to measure smaller amounts of dry or liquid ingredients. Common sizes include:

  • 1 tablespoon (tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon (tsp)
  • 1/2 tablespoon (1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 tsp)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1/4 tsp)
  • pinch
  • dash

To measure dry ingredients like spices, baking soda, or cornstarch, dip the measuring spoon into the ingredient so it piles up and is mounded on top. Then use a straight edge to sweep off any excess to level it off.

For sticky, liquidy ingredients like honey, maple syrup, or oil, you can spray the spoon with nonstick spray before measuring to make it easier to drizzle off any excess.

Cup to Tablespoon Conversions

So now that we’ve covered some basics about measuring dry ingredients, let’s look specifically at the conversion between cups and tablespoons.

Here are the most common cup to tablespoon conversions to remember when cooking and baking:

Volume Tablespoons
1 cup 16 tablespoons
3/4 cup 12 tablespoons
2/3 cup 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
1/2 cup 8 tablespoons
1/3 cup 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon
1/4 cup 4 tablespoons
1/8 cup 2 tablespoons
1/16 cup 1 tablespoon

You can use these conversions anytime a recipe calls for a fraction of a cup of something like flour, sugar, oats, etc. For example, if a cookie recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups flour, you could measure out 1 cup (16 tbsp) + 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) = 20 tablespoons of flour.

Metric Conversions

For bakers and cooks outside the United States, metric conversions may be more useful.

Here are some approximations between cups and grams or milliliters:

Volume Grams Milliliters
1 cup 120 grams 240 milliliters
3/4 cup 90 grams 180 milliliters
2/3 cup 85 grams 160 milliliters
1/2 cup 60 grams 120 milliliters
1/3 cup 40 grams 80 milliliters
1/4 cup 30 grams 60 milliliters

Keep in mind that these are approximations since the conversion depends on the density and weight of the specific dry ingredient. But it gives a baseline for converting between volume and weight.

Tips for Measuring Dry Ingredients

Here are some useful tips to get accurate measurements when working with dry ingredients for recipes:

  • Use the right tool – Dry ingredients should be measured in dry measuring cups vs liquid measuring cups.
  • Don’t pack or compress – Lightly spoon ingredients into the cup without packing down.
  • Level off – Use a straight edge to sweep off any excess ingredient heaped over the top of the cup.
  • Measure over a surface – Scoop ingredients over a cutting board, sheet pan or other surface to catch any spills.
  • Check your conversions – Double check cup to tablespoon conversions as needed.
  • Label containers – Write the measurement right on storage containers for pre-measured ingredients.

Taking these steps helps ensure you measure dry ingredients properly so recipes turn out as intended.


Why do dry and liquid ingredients need to be measured differently?

Dry and liquid ingredients require different measuring tools because of the way they behave physically. Dry ingredients like flour and sugar are lightweight and fluffy so they need to be lightly spooned into a measuring cup and leveled off. Liquids like milk and oil are fluid and pour easily, so they are measured by volume in a liquid measuring cup.

Can I use a liquid measuring cup for dry ingredients?

It’s not recommended. A liquid measuring cup is meant for fluid ingredients so dry ingredients won’t pack correctly into the cup measurements. Using a dry measuring cup designed to be filled by scooping and leveling will result in more accurate measurements.

Do I need to sift flour before measuring?

It’s generally not necessary to sift flour before measuring it for recipes. Simply stir the flour before lightly spooning it into the cup and leveling it off. Sifting is useful for incorporating air into flour when you want a light texture, like for cakes. But regular measuring doesn’t require sifting.

How should I measure brown sugar?

Brown sugar should be lightly packed into a dry measuring cup since it contains more moisture than granulated sugar. Use a spoon or your hand to firmly press the brown sugar into the cup so there are no air pockets. Then level off the top as usual. Packing gives an accurate measurement since the moisture makes brown sugar more dense.

Can I measure in advance when baking?

Yes, it can be helpful to measure ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, etc. ahead of time when baking. But only do this with dry ingredients. Pre-measured liquid ingredients may leak or spoil. Just be sure dry ingredients are properly stored in airtight containers at room temperature until ready to use.


Knowing how to accurately measure dry ingredients is an important skill for anyone who enjoys cooking and baking. While it may seem straightforward, using the proper technique and tools makes a difference.

Remember these key points:

  • Use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients, liquid cups for wet ingredients
  • Lightly spoon ingredients into the cup without packing
  • Level off ingredients with a straight edge
  • 1 cup = 16 tablespoons or 48 teaspoons
  • Write conversions on storage containers for reference

Mastering dry measurements allows you to confidently follow any recipe and achieve the perfect results intended. So whether you need 1/4 cup of flour or 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, you’ll know exactly how to measure it.

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