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How to Measure Ingredients for Better Baking

Get the basics for measuring liquids, dry ingredients, butter and more with these easy tips.

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Measuring Dry Ingredients

Spoon dry ingredients such as flour, sugar or cornmeal into a dry measuring cup over a canister or waxed paper. Fill cup to overflowing, then level by sweeping a metal spatula or flat side of a knife across the top.

This is particularly important for measuring flour. Get the full how-to here.

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Measuring Liquids

There is a difference between liquid and dry measuring cups, so it’s important to have both on hand.

To measure liquid, place a liquid measuring cup on a level surface. View the amount at eye level to be sure of an accurate measure if using a traditional measuring cup. Do not lift cup to check the level. Some newer liquid measuring cups are made so that they can be accurately read from above.

Spray the measuring cup with cooking spray before adding sticky liquids such as molasses, corn syrup or honey to make it easier to pour out the liquid and clean the cup.

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Oats in measuring cupiStock / RightOne

Measuring Bulk Dry Ingredients

Spoon bulk dry ingredients such as cranberries, raisins, chocolate chips or oats into the measuring cup. If necessary, level the top with a spatula or flat side of a knife.

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Measuring Brown Sugar

Since brown sugar has a unique moist texture, it needs to be packed into a dry measuring cup. Firmly press brown sugar into the cup with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Level with the rim of the cup. Brown sugar should hold the shape of the cup when it is turned out.

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Measuring Sour Cream and Yogurt

Spoon sour cream and yogurt into a dry measuring cup, then level the top by sweeping a metal spatula or flat side of a knife across the top of the cup.

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Measuring Stick Butter

The wrappers for sticks of butter come with markings for tablespoons, 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup and 1/2 cup. Use a knife to cut off the desired amount.

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Measuring Shortening


Press shortening into a dry measuring cup with a spatula to make sure it is solidly packed without air pockets. With a metal spatula or flat side of a knife, level with the rim. Some shortenings come in sticks and may be measured like butter.

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Using Measuring Spoons

For dry ingredients such as flour, sugar, or spices, heap the ingredient into the spoon over a canister or waxed paper. With a metal spatula or flat side of a knife, level with the rim of the spoon.

For shortening or butter, spread into spoon and level off. For liquids, pour into measuring spoon over a bowl or custard cup. Never measure over the batter, because some may spill and you may end up with too much in the batter.

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