How much is a 2 q?

A 2 q is an imperial unit of volume used in the United Kingdom up until metrication, when it was replaced by the liter. It is equal to 2 imperial quarts, which is approximately 2.273 liters. The ‘q’ stands for ‘quart.’ Understanding imperial units like the 2 q and how they convert to metric units can be useful for cooking, DIY projects, and other applications.

What is a 2 q?

As mentioned, a 2 q is an imperial unit of volume equal to 2 imperial quarts. One imperial quart is approximately 1.136 liters. So a 2 q equals:

2 quarts = 2 * 1.136 liters = 2.273 liters

Therefore, a 2 q is approximately 2.273 liters. This was a common unit of volume used in Britain before the country switched to the metric system. The imperial system contains many units derived from the quart, including the pint (1/4 quart), the gallon (4 quarts), and the peck (2 gallons). The 2 q unit sat between the quart and gallon in capacity.

Origin of the Quart Unit

The quart unit dates back to medieval England. Some historians believe its origins relate to the quarter, as in one quarter of a gallon. The word quart itself comes from the Latin “quartarius” meaning fourth. Early definitions of the imperial quart range from about 0.95 to 1.14 liters. By the 1800s, it standardized to 1/4 of a British gallon, or 1.1365 liters.

The imperial system was formalized in the British Weights and Measures Act of 1824. This act legally defined the imperial quart and gallon for the first time. The imperial quart was set as 1/4 gallon, equivalent to 40 fluid ounces or 1.1365 liters. This value remained constant until Britain adopted the metric system in 1965.

Uses and Conversions

In the past, 2 q containers were commonly used in Britain for bottling and storing beer, cider, milk, oil, and other household liquids. A 2 q jug was convenient for pouring multiple servings. In cooking, a 2 q volume is good for making large batches of soup, stew, batter, marinade, stock, and other wet recipes.

Here are some handy conversions for the 2 q unit:

2 quarts (2 q) = 2.273 liters
= 2.365 US liquid quarts
= 0.473 imperial gallons
= 0.579 US gallons
= 80 imperial fluid ounces
= 85.049 US fluid ounces

As you can see, the 2 q converts to just over 2 liters in the metric system. It equals almost 2.4 American liquid quarts, since the US quart is slightly smaller than the imperial quart. The 2 q is close to half of an imperial gallon and just over half a US gallon.

2 q in Cooking

In recipes and food preparation, the 2 q volume has many uses. Here are some examples:

– Making large batches of soup, chili, stew, curry, etc – 2 q is good for yielding 8-12 servings

– Mixing up a big batch of pancake, waffle, muffin or cake batter

– Marinating 2-3 pounds of meat, fish or poultry

– Soaking beans, grains or dried fruit before cooking

– Creating a large quantity of stock from chicken, beef or vegetable scraps

– Making a sauce, vinaigrette, dip, dressing or gravy by the quart

– Preparing lemonade, punch or sangria for a crowd in a 2 q pitcher

– Infusing olive oil, vinegar or alcohol with herbs and spices in a 2 q jar

So when a British recipe calls for a “2 q” of liquid, you know it equates to around 2 liters or a half gallon. This volume is good for making plentiful portions for gatherings and parties.

Metric Conversions

Since the imperial system is no longer used in the UK, today the 2 q unit would be replaced by liters in recipes and measurements:


As we’ve discussed, 2 quarts is approximately equal to 2.273 liters. So any references to 2 q can be converted to 2.3 liters for practical purposes. Most metric recipes are rounded to the nearest 100 ml anyway.

For simplicity, a 2 q amount can be converted to:

– 2 liters
– 2.25 liters
– 2.3 liters

Depending on the degree of precision needed, 2 to 2.3 liters is an accurate equivalent.


To convert 2 q to milliliters, we multiply the liter amount by 1000:

– 2 liters = 2000 ml
– 2.25 liters = 2250 ml
– 2.3 liters = 2300 ml

So for milliliter conversions, anywhere from 2000 to 2300 ml would be appropriate.


Since 1 ml of water equals 1 gram, we can also convert 2 q to grams of water:

– 2 liters of water = 2000 grams
– 2.25 liters of water = 2250 grams
– 2.3 liters of water = 2300 grams

Again, the 2000 to 2300 gram range represents the 2 q volume in terms of mass. This can be useful when substituting by weight in recipes.

Usable Volumes

When converting between units, it’s important to remember that containers hold different usable volumes. A 2 q jug may not actually contain exactly 2.273 liters of liquid. This depends on the dimensions, shape, and material of the vessel.

Jugs and Pitchers

Plastic and glass jugs or pitchers marked 2 q or 2 quarts rarely hold exactly that volume. Their playable volume is usually a bit less, around 2 to 2.2 liters. This accounts for headspace needed when pouring. So for a 2 q pitcher, expect a usable capacity of about 2 liters.

Bottles and Jars

Glass bottles and canning jars also have slightly lower real volumes than their labeled size. A 2 q glass jar may hold approximately 2.2 liters when full. Again, headspace allows room for capping and expansion. So when substituting jars, use a 2 liter or 2.2 liter size.

Approximate Volumes

General liquid measurements only need to be approximate. For instance, preparing marinade doesn’t demand high precision. So consider these usable volumes for 2 q containers:

– Plastic or glass jug ~2 liters
– Glass jar ~2.2 liters
– Mixing bowl ~2.25 liters

Anything in the 2 to 2.25 liter range can substitute for an old 2 q vessel. The exact volume isn’t critical for most kitchen purposes.

Converting Recipes

To convert a British recipe that uses 2 q volumes, you’ll need to:

1. Determine the metric amount based on the above conversions. In general, 2 to 2.3 liters or 2000 to 2300 ml is appropriate.

2. Choose a container with a usable volume close to the converted amount. Opt for standard metric measures like 2 liter plastic jugs or 2.25 liter glass jars.

3. Adjust any other ingredients as needed to maintain the proper proportions. You may need to convert the other volumes and weights as well.

4. Note the changes in your converted recipe. For instance:
– Original recipe: Mix 2 q flour and 1 q milk
– Converted recipe: Mix 500 g flour and 1 liter milk

With these simple steps, you can easily update old British recipes that call for 2 q amounts. Converting to grams and liters makes them accessible to modern cooks and bakers.

Substituting Containers

In some cases you may need to actually substitute for a 2 q vessel used in a recipe. Here are some options:

2 Liter Soda Bottle

Plastic soda bottles provide an exact 2 liter volume. Dump out the soda, rinse thoroughly, and use the empty plastic bottle as a 2 q substitute. Remove the label for visibility.

Half Gallon Jar

Canning jars are a common kitchen item. A half gallon (64 oz) mason jar holds almost exactly 2.3 liters. So use a clean empty one in place of a 2 q mixing bowl or pitcher.

1 Quart Cartons

Some ingredients like milk and broth come in 1 quart aseptic cartons. Pour two cartons for a quick 2 q substitute. This avoids washing a pitcher.

Measuring Cups

For small 2 q amounts, use liquid measuring cups. Combine 2 quarts or 64 fluid ounces measured in metric cups. Or measure out 2 liters by volume.

Graduated Pitcher

Any large pitcher or mixing bowl with metric volume markings can work. Measure out 2 liters or 2.25 liters on the graduated lines.

With these handy container substitutions, you can mimic a 2 q vessel for recipes. Improvising with what’s already in your kitchen makes conversion easier.

Weight vs. Volume

One dilemma when converting recipes is whether to use weight or volume measurements. Many modern recipes specify ingredients by mass in grams instead of by volume in liters and milliliters. Here are some pros and cons when deciding between the two:

Volume to Weight

– Pro: Volume measurements are more traditional and accessible to home cooks. Cups and spoons are common kitchen tools.

– Con: Volume varies based on density, temperature, humidity and other factors. Weighing ingredients gives more consistent results.

– Pro: Volumes like liters or quarts are easy substitutes for old imperial units like 2 q.

– Con: Flour and other dry ingredients settle and compact over time, altering measured volumes.

Weight to Volume

– Pro: Weight in grams or ounces is not affected by environmental conditions or packing density. It gives very precise measurements.

– Con: Weighing requires a kitchen scale, which not all home cooks own. Cup measurements are more convenient.

– Pro: Weight proportions ingredients accurately for baked goods like bread that rely on ratios.

– Con: Converting weight in recipes means looking up the densities of each ingredient. It’s more complex.

For casual cooking, volume is often easiest. But for baking or precision, weight is preferred. Pick the method that suits the recipe and your kitchen tools.

Regional Variations

In places like Canada and Australia that also used imperial units historically, regional differences existed between the British and local systems. Here is how 2 q compares in those areas:


Canada also employed imperial quarts and gallons. However, the official Canadian quart is slightly larger at 1.136 liters, compared to the British 1.137 liters. So 2 Canadian quarts would be 2.272 liters vs. the UK’s 2.274 liters. This minor difference means 2 q conversions can also work for old Canadian recipes.


Australia had its own unique quart of ~1.042 liters and gallon of exactly 4 liters. So 2 Australian quarts converts to 2.084 liters, quite a bit less than the UK 2 q. Therefore, British volume conversions won’t apply precisely to vintage Australian recipes. The differences need consideration.

New Zealand

New Zealand used the same imperial system as Britain, so 2 q conversions are identical. Recipes from New Zealand will convert the same as UK ones.

Legality of Use

While imperial units like quarts, gallons and ounces are no longer official or taught in Britain, they can still be used informally. For example, pints of beer are still common vernacular in pubs. And people can discuss their weight in stone and pounds.

However, it’s important to note that imperial units are no longer legally approved for official use in the UK and other metricated countries. Since 2000, it has been illegal to use imperial units for trade, packaging, transportation, advertising and other commerce in Britain. Other metric countries have similar laws restricting imperial units. So while imperial system may be used colloquially, the metric system is the only lawful standard.

Teaching the Next Generation

For younger generations raised with metric units, imperial measurements can be confusing and unfamiliar. Those educated after metrification likely have little experience using or visualizing quarts, gallons and fluid ounces.

To pass down old family recipes that use 2 q or other imperial volumes, it helps to:

– Convert recipes to metric units. This avoids frustration and mistakes.

– Explain what a 2 q amount equates to in liters or milliliters. Provide both versions.

– Show photos of old 2 q containers for context. Describe the quart unit and how it related to gallons.

– Stick to round metric amounts. Precise conversions to grams aren’t truly necessary.

– Emphasize the practical usable amounts that substitute well. Like 2 liter soda bottles.

With this guidance, young cooks can correctly interpret and convert vintage recipes. Precision isn’t vital – close approximations in metric work perfectly fine. The goal is to preserve and enjoy old favorites from past generations.


The 2 q was once a commonplace unit of volume in British kitchens and homes. But since adopting the metric system, Britain no longer uses or recognizes quarts. For today’s cooks, approximating the 2 q as 2 to 2.3 liters is the most relevant conversion. This allows easy substitution in old recipes. Standard containers like 2 liter soda bottles can stand in for vintage 2 q vessels. While imperial measurements are obsolete in the UK, they still appear in classic recipes handed down through families. With simple yet practical metric conversions, we can continue cherished food traditions and customs while bringing them into the modern kitchen.

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