What is 1 4 in a cup?

Quick Answer

1/4 cup is equal to 4 tablespoons or 2 fluid ounces. So if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup of an ingredient like flour or sugar, you would measure out 4 tablespoons or 2 fluid ounces using a measuring spoon or cup. This is a common cooking measurement used extensively in recipes.

Measuring Out 1/4 Cup

When measuring out 1/4 cup of an ingredient, you have a couple options in terms of the measuring tools you use:

  • Dry measuring cups – These are typically round or oval shaped cups with a flat top rim and come in a set of 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup sizes. To measure out 1/4 cup, simply scoop the ingredient until it reaches the line indicating 1/4 cup.
  • Liquid measuring cups – These typically have clear, graduated markings on the side indicating cup and ounce measurements. You would pour the liquid ingredient until it reaches the 2 ounce or 1/4 cup line.
  • Measuring spoons – A set of measuring spoons will have a 1/4 cup (4 tablespoon) spoon that you can fill to measure out the desired amount.

No matter which tool you use, it’s important to level off the top and not pack down the ingredient when measuring to get an accurate 1/4 cup amount.

Common Uses of 1/4 Cup

Here are some examples of when you may need to measure out 1/4 cup of an ingredient for a recipe:

  • 1/4 cup butter or oil – Used for greasing pans, sautéing aromatics, making roux as a thickener, baking, etc.
  • 1/4 cup flour – Often used for dredging meats before searing or for making a roux.
  • 1/4 cup sugar – Used in cookies, cakes, muffins, and other baked goods.
  • 1/4 cup milk or cream – Added to make creamy sauces or to moisten baked goods.
  • 1/4 cup broth or stock – Deglazing pans, making sauces and gravies.

As you can see, 1/4 cup is used extensively in cooking and baking for both liquid and dry ingredients. It’s a versatile measurement that comes up often in recipes.

What 1/4 Cup Equates to in Other Units

Here are some other ways that 1/4 cup converts into other units:

  • 4 tablespoons
  • 12 teaspoons
  • 2 fluid ounces
  • 1/16 of a US gallon
  • 1/32 of a US quart
  • 1/64 of a US liquid gallon
  • 59.1 milliliters
  • 14.79 cubic inches

So if you only have teaspoons handy and need 1/4 cup, you would measure out 12 teaspoons. Or if you needed to convert 1/4 cup to milliliters for a recipe, you would know it equates to 59.1 mL.

Tips for Measuring 1/4 Cup Accurately

To get the most accurate measurement of 1/4 cup for your recipes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Use the right tool – Dry ingredient 1/4 cup measures are most accurate when using a dry measuring cup. For liquids, use a clear liquid measuring cup.
  • Level off – Once you’ve scooped or poured into the 1/4 cup measure, use a knife or other straight edge to sweep off any excess ingredient that’s above the rim.
  • Avoid packing – Don’t tap or pack down an ingredient like brown sugar or flour into the cup measure. This makes it denser and you’ll end up with too much.
  • Measure over a surface – Scoop ingredients over a cutting board or piece of parchment rather than holding the cup measure over the mixing bowl. This prevents any spills before leveling.
  • Use proper technique – Scoop dry ingredients like flour with the measuring cup vs. dipping into a container which compacts it. Pour liquids into the cup at eye level vs. from above.

Adhering to these tips will help ensure your 1/4 cup measures are precise for recipes.

Answers to Common Questions

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about measuring 1/4 cup:

What if I don’t have measuring cups, can I still measure 1/4 cup?

Yes, if you don’t have a standard 1/4 cup dry or liquid measure handy, you can still measure out 1/4 cup using common kitchen items:

  • 4 tablespoons (using a regular spoon)
  • 1/4 of a 1 cup liquid measure
  • Half of a 1/8 cup measure
  • 1/2 of a 1/3 cup measure

Can I use a 1/4 cup measure for dry and wet ingredients?

It’s best practice to use a dry measuring cup for dry ingredients like flour, sugar, spices, etc. and a liquid measuring cup for wet ingredients like milk, water, oil, etc. The dry cups are better suited for dry goods and liquid cups have markings to measure the actual volume. However, in a pinch using an all-purpose 1/4 cup for both dry and wet is fine.

Why do some recipes use weight instead of cup measures?

Measuring ingredients by weight in grams or ounces rather than by volume in cups can actually give you more accurate and consistent results. Dry ingredients especially can vary in density from batch to batch. So 125g of flour is more precise than 1 cup of flour. High-end cookbooks and professional kitchens tend to use weight measures for this reason.

How can I estimate 1/4 cup visually?

While using proper measuring tools is always best, you can make an approximate visual guess of 1/4 cup in a pinch if you don’t have tools handy. It’s about the volume of half a tennis ball or a small egg. Again, these visual analogies are rough estimates and should not replace proper measuring when accuracy is needed.

Converting Between Cups, Tablespoons, and Teaspoons

Since 1/4 cup can also equate to 4 tablespoons or 12 teaspoons, here is a handy reference chart for converting between these units:

Unit 1/4 Cup Tablespoons Teaspoons
1/4 Cup 1 4 12
Tablespoons 0.25 1 3
Teaspoons 0.083 0.33 1

So for example, if a recipe calls for 3 tablespoons and you only have a 1/4 cup measure handy, you would calculate:

* 1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons
* 3 tablespoons = (3/4) of 1/4 cup

So you would fill the 1/4 cup measure 3/4 full to equal 3 tablespoons.


To summarize, 1/4 cup is equal to:

  • 4 tablespoons
  • 12 teaspoons
  • 2 fluid ounces

It’s a common measurement used in cooking and baking recipes for both liquid and dry ingredients. To measure it precisely use the appropriate tool – dry measuring cups for dry goods and liquid measuring cups for wet ingredients. And always level off the top and measure over a surface for best accuracy.

Converting between cups, tablespoons and teaspoons is easy using the handy reference chart provided. And in a pinch, you can estimate 1/4 cup visually as about half a tennis ball size.

Knowing how to accurately measure out 1/4 cup is an indispensable cooking and baking skill. So next time a recipe calls for 1/4 cup of something, you’ll know exactly how to handle measuring it out.

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