How much does 1/2 cup mean?

Quick Answer

1/2 cup is a common cooking measurement that equals 8 fluid ounces or 118 milliliters. It’s half the volume of a standard US cup, which is 8 fluid ounces or 240 milliliters. So when a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of an ingredient like flour, sugar, milk, etc., it means you should measure out 8 fluid ounces or 118 ml. Some key details about 1/2 cup:

  • Volume – 8 fluid ounces or 118 ml
  • Half of a standard US cup
  • Used for measuring both solid and liquid ingredients
  • Common in US recipes

What Is a Cup?

The cup is a standard unit of measurement used extensively in cooking and baking, especially in the United States. A standard US cup contains 8 fluid ounces or 240 ml. It’s primarily used for measuring volumes of liquid ingredients like water, milk, oil, etc.

However, the cup can also be used for solid ingredients such as flour, sugar, oats, etc. In those cases, ingredients are loosely spooned into the cup and leveled off for an approximate measurement.

Some key details about a standard US cup:

  • Volume – 8 fluid ounces or 240 ml
  • Used for both liquid and solid ingredients
  • Most common in US recipes
  • Some variation between dry vs. liquid measurements

Cups used in cooking have evolved over time and there are some slight regional variations. However, most modern US recipes are based on the standard 8 oz/240 ml cup.

What Does 1/2 Cup Mean?

When a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of an ingredient, it simply means half the volume of a standard US cup. So 1/2 cup equals:

  • 8 fluid ounces
  • 118 milliliters
  • Half of a 240 ml / 8 fl oz cup

So if you need 1/2 cup of milk for baking, it’s 8 fluid ounces. And 1/2 cup of flour would be around 118 ml when loosely spooned into the cup and leveled off.

Half cups are very common in recipes when a smaller amount of an ingredient is needed. It provides a convenient way to halve the standard cup measurement.

Measuring 1/2 Cup

There are a few easy ways to measure out 1/2 cup:

  • Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup – Many sets of measuring cups will contain a 1/2 cup size. Simply fill to the brim for an exact 8 oz/118 ml.
  • Use a 1 cup measure and eyeball half – Fill up a 1 cup measure halfway and this will be close to 1/2 cup.
  • Use a liquid measuring cup – Use the measurement lines on a clear liquid cup to measure out 8 oz/118 ml.
  • Weigh it – For dry ingredients, weigh out half the weight of a cup on a kitchen scale.

When measuring 1/2 cup, make sure to level off the ingredients for the most accurate amount, particularly for dry ingredients.

For liquids, 1/2 cup is easy to measure out precisely using a liquid measuring cup or 1/2 cup measure filled to the brim.

Common Uses for 1/2 Cup

Here are some of the most common uses for 1/2 cup in cooking and baking:

  • Flour – Many baking recipes call for 1/2 cup of flour as a main dry ingredient or as a thickening agent.
  • Sugar – Adding 1/2 cup of white or brown sugar sweetens batters, doughs, sauces, etc.
  • Milk – Half cups of milk are found in recipes for baked goods, creamy sauces, oatmeal, etc.
  • Broth – A 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth can add savory flavor in cooking.
  • Wine – Deglazing a pan with 1/2 cup of wine adds flavor when making sauces.
  • Nuts – Baking recipes may call for 1/2 cup of nuts like walnuts, pecans, etc.

In general, 1/2 cup is used whenever a smaller amount of an ingredient is needed. The convenience of halving the standard cup size makes it very versatile in cooking.

1/2 Cup Equivalents

For convenience, here are some common equivalents for 1/2 cup:

  • 8 fluid ounces
  • 118 milliliters
  • 4 ounces by weight (for water)
  • 3 1/2 ounces by weight (for flour)
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons
  • 24 teaspoons
  • 16 tablespoons

So if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of an ingredient and you need to substitute a different unit amount, these equivalents should help. The weight equivalents will vary slightly for ingredients other than water or flour, but this gives a general guideline.

1/2 Cup FAQs

Here are answers to some common questions about 1/2 cup measurements:

Is 1/2 cup the same for dry and liquid ingredients?

Yes, 1/2 cup means the same volume – 8 fluid ounces or 118 ml – whether you are measuring liquid ingredients like milk, water, oil, etc. or dry ingredients like flour, sugar, oats, etc.

However, the actual weights may vary slightly between dry and wet ingredients when packing into the cup.

Can I use a 1/2 cup measure for liquids?

Yes, a 1/2 cup measuring cup can be used for measuring liquids. Simply fill it to the brim for an accurate 8 fluid ounce/118 ml amount. The only caveat is that a 1/2 cup measure alone won’t allow you to measure amounts other than 1/2 cup.

Why do recipes specify 1/2 cup instead of 4 ounces?

Most recipes use volume measures like cups because it’s easier for home cooks than weighing out ingredients. Cups work for both solid and liquid ingredients. Specifying 1/2 cup also keeps the recipe consistent with the other ingredients measured in cups.

What if I don’t have a 1/2 cup measure handy?

No worries, you can still measure 1/2 cup accurately without a 1/2 cup measure. Simply use a regular 1 cup measure and fill it halfway, or use measuring spoons and aim for around 24 teaspoons. A liquid measuring cup can also be used to measure out 8 fluid ounces (1/2 cup) precisely.

Can I estimate 1/2 cup by sight?

It’s better to measure 1/2 cup properly, but with some practice you may be able to visually estimate a 1/2 cup amount. Start by measuring out 1/2 cup of a few common ingredients like flour, sugar, milk, etc. so you have a visual reference point. Just keep in mind that eyeballing it may affect the results compared to measuring accurately.


1/2 cup is a handy cooking measurement that comes up often in recipes. It equates to 8 fluid ounces or 118 ml – half the volume of a standard US cup. While there are slight variations in weighing dry vs. liquid ingredients packed into a 1/2 cup, the volume remains the same at 8 oz or 118 ml.

Measuring out 1/2 cup is easy with a 1/2 cup measure, liquid cup, or basic kitchen scale. It can be used for both wet and dry ingredients. Keeping in mind the conversion to other units like tablespoons, teaspoons, grams, or ounces makes substituting even easier.

So next time a recipe calls for 1/2 cup of anything – water, flour, sugar, chocolate chips, you name it – you’ll know exactly how to measure it out. Whether you need a full cup or just half, consistent measurement using cups, fractions of cups, and their equivalents helps ensure your recipes turn out perfectly every time!

Quantity Volume Weight (Water) Weight (Flour)
1 cup 8 fl oz / 240 ml 8 oz / 227 g 5 oz / 142 g
3/4 cup 6 fl oz / 180 ml 6 oz / 170 g 3.75 oz / 106 g
2/3 cup 5.3 fl oz / 158 ml 5.3 oz / 150 g 3.3 oz / 94 g
1/2 cup 4 fl oz / 118 ml 4 oz / 113 g 2.5 oz / 71 g
1/3 cup 2.7 fl oz / 79 ml 2.7 oz / 75 g 1.7 oz / 48 g
1/4 cup 2 fl oz / 59 ml 2 oz / 57 g 1.25 oz / 35 g

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