Converting German Measurements to American Measurements

How much is a coffee cup of flour anyway?

dry measuring cups with spices
Brian Macdonald/Photolibrary/Getty Images

You may have a recipe from Grandma that includes phrases such as "a spoonful of sugar," or even a "teacup of flour." Many times this is due to the fact that years ago these tools were all the cook had in her kitchen. Interestingly enough, German recipes also seem to follow these guidelines. Perhaps you have a recipe handed down from a German relative, or you are dying to make a specific German dish but the only recipe you can find is written in the traditional way (or in German!).

What is the equivalent of a coffee cup? Or a knife tip? Germans measure liquids with everyday utensils, and solids by weight, so it can be tricky converting a recipe in your American kitchen. 

Liquid Conversions

Instead of using cups, tablespoons, and teaspoons, German recipes will have liquid ingredients listed with things like a soup spoon, or "EL." Here are a few equivalents to help you navigate that German recipe. 

  • 1 coffee cup (Tasse or T) = approximately 150 ml or about 2/3 cup
  • 1 large soup spoon (Essloeffel or Eβlöffel or EL) = approximately 1 level tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon (Teelöffel or Teeloeffel or Teel. or T) = approximately 1 level teaspoon
  • 1 knife tip (Messerspitze) = 1/8 teaspoon or 1 pinch

Measurement Modifiers

You may come across certain German terms proceeding some ingredient measurements, like​ "teaspoon". Gehäuft(e) means heaping, as in heaping teaspoon, and gestrichen(e) means level, as in level teaspoon.

Metric Conversions

If ingredients aren't measured using items found in the kitchen, then they will be in metric measurements, such as milliliters and grams. Use this chart, as well as the handy conversion tool, which will convert just about any measurement proportion from metric to U.S. equivalents and vice-versa by plugging in the number and the unit desired.

Don't be afraid to experiment with a German savory recipe—if your measurements are a little off, it won't be the end of the world—but if you are baking, be sure to convert from metric since baking is a science and requires precise measurements. 


Metric to U.S. Equivalents
100 ml2/5 cup
250 ml1+ cup
1 liter1 quart + a bit
100 grams white flour7/8 cup
100 grams white sugar1 cup
100 grams butter7 tablespoons