Understanding Liquid Ingredient Measurements
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated December 28, 2018)
When I first began cooking, for some reason I had the hardest time understanding liquid ingredient measurements, what the abbreviations meant, and how they were different from dry measurements. I mean, how much different could a fluid ounce be from a regular ounce, really? The answer is quite a lot.
Here are some of the most common liquid ingredient measurements, the abbreviations used, and what they mean. Think of this as something along the lines of a miniature dictionary or a reference chart. Please note that most of these are listed in the American system of measurement, with the metric equivalent given where possible.
- Teaspoon. This is without a doubt one of the more common forms of measurements found on ingredient lists and recipes. Teaspoon is usually written out as tsp., and is roughly equivalent to 1/3 of a tablespoon, or 4.67 grams in weight.
- Tablespoon. Tablespoon is another of the more common forms of measurements found on recipes and ingredient lists. This form of measurement is most often written down as Tbsp., and is equivalent to 1/2 fluid ounce, or to 30 grams in weight.
- Fluid ounce. A fluid ounce, sometimes written out as fl oz, is usually used as an ingredient measurement when exactness counts. This is a more accurate form of measurement used when in the indeterminate areas of measurement that is between tablespoons and cups. 1 fluid ounce is the equivalent of 1/8 cup and will weigh about 60 grams.
- Cup. Perhaps the single most common form of liquid ingredient measurement, Cup is often written out as just that, cup. One cup is equivalent to 8 fluid ounces, 16 tablespoons, or 48 teaspoons, and will weigh roughly 228 grams or half a pound.
- Pint. Pint or pt as it is written on ingredient lists and recipe cards is a step up in size from cups. One pint is the same thing as two cups, and will weigh about one pound or 454 grams, and is also the equivalent of 16 fluid ounces.
- Quart. When listed on a recipe card, or an ingredient list quart is usually written out as qt. This form of measurement is going to be made up of two pints, four cups, 32 fluid ounces...well, you get the idea.
- Gallon. A gallon is usually the largest form of measurement that is used for liquid ingredients. When written out on a recipe or ingredient list it is written as gal. A gallon is made up of 4 quarts, 8 pints, 16 cups, or 128 fluid ounces. In addition, a gallon will usually weigh about 8 pounds, or 1,816 grams (1.816 kilograms).
- Liter. Often only seen on the sides of soda bottles, a liter is written out as L and used occasionally on recipes and ingredient lists. A liter is slightly smaller than a gallon as it will take about 3.78 liters to make one gallon.
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