How many tablespoons of butter equals one stick?

Quick Answer

One stick of butter contains 8 tablespoons. So if you need 1 tablespoon of butter, it would be 1/8 of a stick. If a recipe calls for 4 tablespoons, that would equal 1/2 a stick of butter.

How Many Tablespoons in a Stick of Butter

A standard stick of butter in the United States contains 8 tablespoons. Each tablespoon holds about 14 grams of butter. So a full stick contains 113 grams or 4 ounces of butter.

Here is a breakdown of the tablespoon measurements in a full stick of butter:

Unit Amount
1 stick 8 tablespoons
1 tablespoon 1/8 stick
2 tablespoons 1/4 stick
3 tablespoons 3/8 stick
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) 1/2 stick
5 tablespoons 5/8 stick
6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) 3/4 stick
7 tablespoons 7/8 stick

As you can see, one full stick contains 8 tablespoons. Half a stick would be 4 tablespoons. One quarter stick would be 2 tablespoons. This pattern continues all the way down to just 1 tablespoon, which would be 1/8 of a full stick.

Why Is a Stick of Butter 8 Tablespoons?

This standard size for a stick of butter in the U.S. was established in the early 1900s. Before that, butter was sold in varying sizes and shapes.

In the 1920s, dairies started producing butter in 1 pound blocks that were divided into 4 quarters. Each of these quarters weighed 4 ounces, which happened to be the equivalent of 8 tablespoons of butter.

This size stuck and became the standard. So now, when you buy a box of butter sticks in the grocery store, each stick is packaged at 8 tablespoons, or 1/4 pound.

Butter Stick Sizes in Other Countries

While a stick of butter in the U.S. contains 8 tablespoons, this is not the standard everywhere. Here are some common sizes for butter sticks in other parts of the world:

  • Canada – 8 tablespoons (same as U.S.)
  • Europe – 250 grams
  • Australia – 250 grams
  • New Zealand – 250 grams
  • South Africa – 250 grams
  • India – 500 grams

So if you are outside of the United States and using butter in recipes, be sure to check the size of the packaging to know how many tablespoons are in each stick.

When to Use Tablespoons vs Sticks of Butter

Whether you should use tablespoons or sticks depends on the recipe you’re making. Here are some guidelines:

  • Use sticks for baking – Since most baked good recipes call for a whole stick, it’s easier to just cut off what you need instead of measuring tablespoons.
  • Use tablespoons for small amounts – If you just need a small bit of butter like for sautéing veggies or greasing a pan, tablespoons are more convenient.
  • Use your judgment – If a recipe calls for 5 tablespoons, you can cut off a stick instead of digging into the butter tub for tablespoons. Or you can use tablespoons if you only need 1 or 2.

Sticks are great when you know you need a whole stick. But tablespoons are good for small amounts or when you need an odd measurement like 3 tablespoons.

How to Substitute Butter Sticks and Tablespoons

If you only have sticks when a recipe calls for tablespoons, or vice versa, have no fear. Here is how to easily substitute between the two:

Converting Sticks to Tablespoons

  • 1 stick = 8 tablespoons
  • 1/2 stick = 4 tablespoons
  • 1/4 stick = 2 tablespoons
  • 1/8 stick = 1 tablespoon

So if you need 5 tablespoons of butter and only have sticks, cut off 5/8 of a stick. Easy!

Converting Tablespoons to Sticks

  • 8 tablespoons = 1 stick
  • 4 tablespoons = 1/2 stick
  • 2 tablespoons = 1/4 stick
  • 1 tablespoon = 1/8 stick

If your recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter but you only have tablespoons measured out, use 16 tablespoons (2 sticks * 8 tablespoons per stick).

Tips for Measuring Butter

To get the most accurate measurements, follow these tips when measuring butter:

  • Use measurable sticks – If your butter box contains one solid block, cut it into sticks first or use a butter knife to slice off what you need.
  • Level off tablespoons – Use a straight edge like a butter knife to level off the butter in the tablespoon.
  • Soften first – Let refrigerated butter sit out to soften before cutting or measuring for more accuracy.
  • Pack tightly – When measuring tablespoons, pack the butter firmly into the spoon for a solid 1 tablespoon amount.
  • Measure cold – For baking, measure colder firmer butter, as melted butter will pack down and change the volume.

Getting an exact full stick or level tablespoon is important for many baking recipes to turn out right. With practice, you’ll be able to smoothly measure butter either way.

Common Butter Amounts

Here are some of the most common amounts of butter called for in recipes and their stick/tablespoon equivalents:

Recipe Amount Tablespoons Sticks
2 tablespoons 2 tablespoons 1/4 stick
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) 4 tablespoons 1/2 stick
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon About 2/3 stick
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) 8 tablespoons 1 stick
2/3 cup (10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons About 1 1/3 sticks
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) 12 tablespoons 1 1/2 sticks
1 cup (16 tablespoons) 16 tablespoons 2 sticks

As you can see, common baking amounts like 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup equate perfectly to 1/2 stick and 1 full stick of butter. This conversion chart can help when making substitutions in recipes.

How to Soften Butter

Butter straight from the fridge can be too firm and difficult to measure or cut into tablespoons. Here are some easy ways to soften butter quickly:

  • Microwave – Microwave butter for 5-10 seconds at a time until softened. Be careful not to melt it.
  • Room temperature – Leave refrigerated butter out on the counter for 30-60 minutes to come to room temperature.
  • Hot water – Place butter in a bowl and dip the bottom of the bowl in hot water for 1-2 minutes.
  • Grate – Use a cheese grater or zester to grate cold butter into flaky pieces that are easier to measure.

Use these tricks to make measuring and cutting cold butter easier. With softened butter, it spreads smoothly and cuts like a charm.

Butter Equivalents and Substitutions

In a pinch, you can use these butter equivalents:

  • 1 stick butter = 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup butter = 2 sticks butter
  • 1 tablespoon butter = 1/2 ounce butter
  • 1 cup butter = 8 ounces butter
  • 1 pound butter = 2 cups butter = 4 sticks butter

And if you need to substitute for butter, these options work well:

  • Oils – Substitute 1:1 for melted butter. Canola, olive oil, grapeseed oil work well.
  • Applesauce – Replace butter with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce.
  • Yogurt – Use the same amount of plain Greek yogurt instead of butter.
  • Mashed banana – Use 1/4 cup ripe mashed banana for every 1/2 cup butter.

With these substitutions and equivalents, you can adapt any recipe to the ingredients you have on hand.

Storing Butter

To maintain freshness and prevent spoilage, store butter properly:

  • Refrigerate after opening – Keep butter tightly wrapped in fridge for up to 3 weeks.
  • Freeze for longer storage – Freeze sticks or tablespoons of butter for 4-6 months.
  • Use a butter bell – These special containers keep butter at room temperature but sealed in water to prevent spoilage.
  • Store in airtight packaging – If freezing or refrigerating, use airtight containers or bags.

With proper storage methods, butter can retain its delicious flavor and smooth texture. Follow these tips for keeping unused butter fresh.

Common Questions

Why are there 8 tablespoons in 1 stick of butter?

Early in the 1900s, U.S. dairies started producing butter in 1 pound blocks divided into quarters. Each quarter weighed 4 ounces, which happened to equal 8 tablespoons of butter. This size stuck as the standard.

Is butter sold in tablespoons?

Butter is not commonly sold pre-packaged in tablespoons. However, you can easily cut a stick into tablespoons at home. One stick contains 8 individual tablespoons.

Is a stick of butter the same as 1/2 cup?

Yes, a full stick of butter equals 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons. So if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup butter, you can simply use 1 stick instead of measuring.

Can I measure cold butter for baking?

Yes, for baking it’s best to measure butter when it is cold and firm. Use a straight edge to level off exact tablespoons. Pack it tightly into the spoon.

What are some substitutes for butter?

Some good butter substitutes are oils like canola or olive oil in a 1:1 ratio, applesauce, plain Greek yogurt, or mashed bananas. Adjust other liquids in the recipe as needed.

Key Takeaways

  • A standard stick of butter contains 8 tablespoons.
  • Always check butter packaging as sizes vary in different countries.
  • Use sticks for baking convenience or tablespoons for small amounts.
  • Soften cold butter before measuring for accuracy.
  • Recipes can be adapted using butter equivalents and substitutions.


Whether you have a recipe that calls for butter in sticks or tablespoons, you can easily convert between the two using the basic equivalence: 1 stick = 8 tablespoons. With this handy conversion and proper measuring techniques, you can seamlessly bake and cook with butter in any recipe.

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