What can make 1 cup?

When it comes to cooking and baking, measuring ingredients precisely is extremely important for achieving the desired results. Many recipes call for ingredients to be measured in terms of cups, especially when it comes to liquids and dry goods. But what exactly constitutes 1 cup? Here are some quick answers about what common kitchen items can make 1 cup:

Dry Goods

There are several dry goods that can be measured to make 1 cup:

  • All-purpose flour (spoon and sweep method)
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar, packed
  • White rice, uncooked
  • Rolled oats
  • Chopped nuts
  • Dried beans, lentils, or peas
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Cornmeal
  • Powdered sugar (sifted)

When measuring dry goods, it’s important to use the proper technique for an accurate 1 cup. The spoon and sweep method involves spooning the ingredient into a measuring cup, then leveling it off by sweeping the back of a knife or other straight edge across the top.


There are also several liquid ingredients that are commonly measured in cups:

  • Water
  • Milk (whole, 2%, 1%, skim)
  • Heavy cream
  • Buttermilk
  • Oil (vegetable, olive, canola, etc.)
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Molasses
  • Broth (chicken, beef, vegetable)
  • Juice (orange, apple, cranberry)

For accurate measuring, liquids should be poured into a liquid measuring cup with the measuring lines. The cup should be placed on a flat surface and viewed at eye level to get the right amount.

Butter and Shortening

When a recipe calls for butter or shortening, the standard measurement is 1 stick = 1/2 cup. So 2 sticks of butter or shortening would equal 1 cup. The wrappers on grocery store butter are typically marked with tablespoon lines to make cutting easier.

Common Kitchen Items

In addition to pantry staples, there are some common kitchen items that conveniently equal 1 cup in volume:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cupcake
  • 5-6 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • About 20 standard graham cracker squares
  • 24 standard ice cubes
  • 1 small apple, chopped
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 large banana, sliced
  • 1 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup green peas, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup blueberries or raspberries
  • 1 cup walnuts, halved

The list could go on and on, but this covers some of the most common kitchen items that conveniently correspond to a 1 cup measurement.

Packaged Foods

Many packaged foods are designed to be 1 cup for convenience in recipes:

  • 1 (8oz) block of cream cheese
  • 1 (6oz) container of yogurt
  • 1 box of Jell-O powder
  • 1 sleeve of graham crackers (5 full crackers)
  • 1 package of ramen noodles
  • 1 package of instant pudding mix
  • 1 package of instant oatmeal
  • 1 (4oz) box of chicken or vegetable broth concentrate

Always check the labels on packaged items for exact volumes. In some cases 1 cup and 8 ounces may not be equivalent.

Measuring Tools

In addition to kitchen items, there are some specific measuring tools and vessels that can be used to measure 1 cup:

  • 1 liquid measuring cup
  • 1 dry measuring cup
  • 16 tablespoons
  • 1/2 pint
  • 8 fluid ounces
  • 237 milliliters

Having a set of measuring cups and spoons allows you to precisely measure 1 cup of any ingredient. Dry and liquid measuring cups are calibrated differently to account for density.

Odd Shaped Items

Some foods are irregularly shaped or sized, making measuring by cups tricky:

  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 cup fresh herbs, packed
  • 1 cup chopped fruit or veggies
  • 1 cup nuts, whole or halved

For these items, gently pack the cups and level off for an approximate 1 cup measurement. Weighing on a food scale can give a more accurate quantity.

Food Scale Weights

While measuring by volume in cups is most common, weighing ingredients provides more consistent results:

Ingredient Weight of 1 Cup
All-purpose flour 120 grams
Granulated sugar 200 grams
Light brown sugar, packed 220 grams
Butter 227 grams
Milk 244 grams
Heavy cream 244 grams
Olive oil 218 grams
Honey 340 grams
Strawberries, sliced 145 grams
Walnuts, chopped 125 grams

Investing in a digital kitchen scale can make recipes more precise. Just remember to use the tare function to zero out the weight of any container.

Typical Recipes Calling for 1 Cup

Here are some examples of common recipes that use 1 cup ingredient amounts:

  • Pancakes: 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 1 cup blueberries
  • Muffins: 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • Coffee cake: 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup sour cream
  • Meatloaf: 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1 cup ketchup
  • Chili: 1 cup dried beans, 1 cup broth, 1 cup onions, 1 cup tomatoes
  • Trail mix: 1 cup peanuts, 1 cup raisins, 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Granola: 1 cup oats, 1 cup sliced almonds, 1 cup coconut flakes
  • Quesadillas: 1 cup shredded cheese, 1 cup salsa
  • Guacamole: 2 avocados (about 1 cup), 1 cup tomatoes, 1 cup onion
  • Hummus: 1 cup chickpeas, 1 cup tahini, 1 cup olive oil

As you can see, the 1 cup measurement is frequently used for both wet and dry ingredients in all types of recipes.

Substituting Ingredient Amounts

In a pinch, you can substitute these rough ingredient amounts:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour = 1 cup + 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar = 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup oil = 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup milk = 1 cup half and half = 1 cup heavy cream plus 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup canned beans, drained = 1 1/4 cups cooked dried beans
  • 1 cup nuts, chopped = 1 cup seeds like sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese = 1 cup crumbled feta or goat cheese

While the substitutions may not be exactly equivalent, they can work when you’re missing an ingredient.

Measuring Tips

Here are some key tips for successfully measuring 1 cup:

  • Use the right cup for the ingredient – dry vs liquid measuring cups
  • Level off ingredients evenly using a knife or other straight edge
  • Don’t scoop measuring cups into ingredient containers to reduce mess
  • For sticky ingredients like peanut butter or shortening, spray the cup with nonstick spray first
  • When packing brown sugar, press it down firmly and evenly
  • Microwave sticky liquids like honey for easier measuring
  • Weigh ingredients for the most accuracy whenever possible

With practice and the right techniques, measuring ingredients by the cup can become second nature!

Metric Conversions

For those outside the United States, here are some handy conversions of 1 cup into metric units:

  • 1 cup = 16 tablespoons
  • 1 cup = 48 teaspoons
  • 1 cup = 8 fluid ounces
  • 1 cup = 237 milliliters
  • 1 cup = 250 grams
  • 1 cup = 225 grams

The weight in grams may vary depending on the density of the ingredient being measured. But the above conversions provide a good reference for commonly used items.


Whether following a recipe or making adjustments, knowing what makes 1 cup is an essential kitchen skill. From dry goods to liquids to odd shaped items, a wide variety of ingredients can be measured using the handy 1 cup volume. With the proper techniques and tools, measuring by cups can be fast, easy, and accurate. Next time you need 1 cup of anything – flour, sugar, milk, or even blueberries – you’ll know what to use.

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