Is 2 tablespoons 30 ml?

Whether 2 tablespoons is equal to 30 ml is a common question for bakers, cooks, and anyone who needs to convert between tablespoon and milliliter measurements. With the importance of accurate measurements in cooking and baking, it’s essential to know the right conversions.

The quick answer is: Yes, 2 tablespoons is approximately equal to 30 ml. However, the exact conversion depends on where you live and which definition is being used. Keep reading as we explore this measurement conversion in detail.

Defining tablespoons and milliliters

To understand if 2 tablespoons equals 30 ml, we first need to define these units of measurement:

  • A tablespoon (tbsp) is a common unit of volume typically used in cooking recipes and nutrition information. 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons.
  • A milliliter (ml) is a metric unit of volume. There are 1000 milliliters in 1 liter.

Tablespoons and milliliters are both units used to measure the volume of liquids and powders. However, they originate from different measurement systems. Tablespoons are part of the customary United States measurement system, while milliliters are part of the modern metric system used globally in science, medicine and industry.

The 2 systems of measurement

The key difference between the metric (ml) and customary (tbsp) measurement systems is in how they define measurements:

  • The metric system uses decimal-based units with standard conversions. For example, 1000 ml = 1 liter.
  • The US customary system uses non-decimal conversions. For example, 2 cups = 1 pint, 2 pints = 1 quart, 4 quarts = 1 gallon.

The metric system provides simple conversions, while the customary US system uses more complex conversion ratios. Understanding this helps explain why tablespoon and milliliter conversions are not always straightforward.

How measurements are defined

Measurements like tablespoons and milliliters need to be precisely defined in order to make accurate conversions. There are some key differences between how tablespoons and milliliters are defined:

Tablespoon definition

A US tablespoon is defined as exactly 1⁄2 fluid ounce according to US FDA food labeling regulations. 1 US fluid ounce is defined as exactly 29.5735 ml.

Doing the math:
1 fluid ounce = 29.5735 ml
1 tablespoon = 1/2 fluid ounce
Therefore, 1 tablespoon = 14.7868 ml

This means that according to the US FDA definition used for nutrition facts labels, 1 tablespoon = 14.7868 ml.

Milliliter definition

A milliliter is defined as 1/1000 of a liter based on the international definition of the metric system. The liter is defined by the volume occupied by 1 kg of distilled water at the temperature at which water has its maximum density (3.98°C).

Therefore, by these scientific definitions, 1 ml always represents the exact same volume – 1/1000 of a liter measured at 3.98°C. All metric measurements can be traced back to this standardized scientific definition.

Comparing definitions

When we compare the definitions of tablespoons and milliliters, two key differences emerge:

  • Tablespoon – Based on a US customary fluid ounce which is defined relative to a milliliter (29.5735 ml).
  • Milliliter – Scientifically defined based on the density of water at 3.98°C.

This means a milliliter has a more rigorous scientific definition, while a tablespoon relies on the definition of the milliliter.

How this impacts conversions

Since the tablespoon relies on the milliliter for its definition but provides a different volume, conversions between milliliters and tablespoons involve rounding.

For example, the US FDA’s 1 tablespoon = 14.7868 ml. But in practice, a tablespoon is rounded to 15 ml. This creates a discrepancy between the two units.

These differences in definition and rounding lead to variation in real-world conversions between tablespoons and milliliters.

Real-world conversion factors

Due to the differences in how tablespoons and milliliters are defined, several different conversion factors are used in practice:

  • 1 tablespoon = 14.7868 ml (US FDA food labeling definition)
  • 1 tablespoon = 15 ml (Common rounding for practical use)
  • 1 tablespoon = 14.2 ml (Used in some non-US countries)

This has created confusion around tablespoon and milliliter conversions. Which conversion factor is correct depends on the context:

15 ml per tablespoon

The most commonly used conversion in the US, Canada and the UK is:

1 tablespoon = 15 ml

This is the conversion seen in many recipes and cooking websites. It provides an easy rounding from 14.7868 ml per tablespoon.

14.2 ml per tablespoon

In some countries like Australia and New Zealand, a tablespoon is defined as 14.2 ml by law to align with the metric system.

14.7868 ml per tablespoon

The US FDA requires 14.7868 ml be used on nutritional labels on food packaging in the US. This provides an exact conversion between US fluid ounces and milliliters.

So in summary, the commonly used real-world conversions are:

  • 1 tablespoon = 15 ml (Common international rounding)
  • 1 tablespoon = 14.2 ml (Official in Australia/NZ)
  • 1 tablespoon = 14.7868 ml (US FDA label standard)

This is why a specific tablespoon-to-milliliter conversion may differ between countries, recipes, and regulatory standards.

Converting 2 tablespoons to milliliters

Now that we understand how tablespoons and milliliters are defined and used, let’s convert 2 tablespoons into milliliters:

Using the international rounding of 1 tbsp = 15 ml

  • 1 tbsp = 15 ml
  • 2 tbsp = 2 * 15 ml = 30 ml

So using the common international rounding, 2 tablespoons = 30 ml exactly.

Using the US FDA food label definition

  • 1 tbsp = 14.7868 ml (US FDA definition)
  • 2 tbsp = 2 * 14.7868 ml = 29.5736 ml

Using the exact US FDA definition, 2 tablespoons = 29.5736 ml.

Using the Australian/NZ metric standard

  • 1 tbsp = 14.2 ml (Australian/NZ metric)
  • 2 tbsp = 2 * 14.2 ml = 28.4 ml

So in Australia/New Zealand, 2 tablespoons = 28.4 ml by the official metric conversion.

Since tablespoons are defined slightly differently in various countries, the conversion of 2 tbsp to ml ranges between 28.4–30 ml depending on the definition used.

Summary and Key Points

To summarize the key points about converting 2 tablespoons to milliliters:

  • Tablespoons are based on the US customary system, while milliliters are part of the international metric system.
  • Tablespoons are defined in terms of milliliters, leading to rounding discrepancies in conversions.
  • There are several real-world definitions of the tablespoon-to-milliliter conversion ratio due to differences between countries.
  • The most common conversions are:
    • 1 tbsp = 15 ml (International standard)
    • 1 tbsp = 14.2 ml (Australia/NZ metric)
    • 1 tbsp = 14.7868 ml (US FDA)
  • Using the common international rounding, 2 tbsp = 30 ml exactly.
  • But using US FDA or Australian/NZ conversions, 2 tbsp works out to between 28.4 – 29.5736 ml.

So in summary, while 2 tbsp is commonly rounded to 30 ml, the conversion can range from 28.4 – 30 ml depending on the definitions used.

When precision matters

For casual cooking and baking, the common 2 tbsp = 30 ml conversion works fine in most cases. But there are some situations where precision matters more:


Precision is especially important in baking recipes where ingredient amounts impact the chemistry and structure of baked goods. Using the exact tablespoon definition for your country helps ensure best results.

Nutrition tracking

If tracking calories or nutrients carefully, it’s best to use the US FDA label standard (14.7868 ml/tbsp) for accuracy.

Science and medicine

In scientific, medical, and industrial settings, metric milliliter measures are typically used for reliability.

International tablespoon variation

Complicating things further is that tablespoon measurements can vary between countries based on the actual spoon size.

International differences

Some regions like Australia/New Zealand use a 20 ml tablespoon instead of the more common 15 ml.

Region Tablespoon size
US, Canada, UK 15 ml
Australia/NZ 20 ml
Japan 10 ml

So in Australia, 2 tablespoons (of 20 ml size) = 40 ml while in Japan 2 tablespoons (of 10 ml size) = 20 ml.

Causes of variation

These regional tablespoon size differences have roots in history. Some reasons for the variations include:

  • Differences between imperial teaspoons/tablespoons vs. metric spoons.
  • The use of different utensils called “tablespoons” in different cultures.
  • Adoption of metric standard tablespoons in some countries.

So tablespoon sizes can vary internationally depending on local customs and metric standardization efforts. This causes more confusion in tablespoon-milliliter conversions.

Consistency is key for cooking

With all this confusion between definitions and spoon sizes, some helpful tips include:

  • Be consistent within a recipe – don’t mix different tablespoon definitions.
  • Use metric milliliters for scientific precision.
  • Refer to your local standards for conversions.
  • Specify in a recipe which type of tablespoon is used.

The most important thing is to be consistent. If a recipe lists tablespoons, make sure to use the same corresponding milliliter conversion throughout. Don’t mix different conversion factors within the same recipe.


While 2 tablespoons is commonly approximated as 30 milliliters, the precise conversion depends on where you live and which definition you follow. Standards range from 14.2 ml up to 15 ml per tablespoon around the world.

For simplicity, most recipes use the 2 tablespoons = 30 ml conversion. But for scientific work, nutrition tracking, or baking, you may want to look up your local tablespoon-to-milliliter ratio for greater precision.

The main takeaway is to be consistent within a recipe and understand that tablespons and milliliters differ slightly between countries and applications due to their separate origins. But in most everyday cooking scenarios, the 2 tbsp to 30 ml approximation works sufficiently.

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