Measuring out ingredients is usually an easy task as long as you don't need to convert your measurements! Every cook has probably encountered a situation where the measuring spoon they need seems to have disappeared. Remembering just how many tablespoons equal half a cup can be tricky, especially if you're in the middle of a complicated recipe. But you can use a simple table showing equivalences between common units of culinary measurement to help you easily convert between them.
|1 teaspoon||1/3 tablespoon||1/6 fluid ounce|
|1 tablespoon||3 teaspoons||1/2 fluid ounce|
|1/8 cup||2 tablespoons||1 fluid ounce|
|1/4 cup||4 tablespoons||2 fluid ounces|
|1/3 cup||1/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons||2 3/4 fluid ounces|
|1/2 cup||8 tablespoons||4 fluid ounces|
|1 cup||1/2 pint||8 fluid ounces|
|1 pint||2 cups||16 fluid ounces|
|1 quart||4 cups||32 fluid ounces|
|1 liter||1 quart plus 1/4 cup||4 1/4 cups|
|1 gallon||4 quarts||16 cups|
Note that the measurements above are volume measurements, not weight.
Using the metric system spares us the confusion between volume and weight. If you're really looking to be precise, most digital scales let you set your units to be grams or ounces and easily switch between them.
Helpful Conversion Tricks
Probably the most useful kitchen measurement to remember is that a tablespoon is equal to three teaspoons. You'll need to know this anytime you want to cut a recipe in half and discover that you don't have a half-tablespoon on your measuring spoon set.
A couple of things you can do in that case. First is to know that half a tablespoon is 1 1/2 teaspoons. And second is to get yourself a set of measuring spoons, like this one, that does have a half-tablespoon on it.
Another good frame of reference is to keep in mind that in the United States, a standard can or bottle of beer is 12 ounces or 1 1/2 cups. That's true for canned soda as well. The standard single serving soda bottle—the size you get when you buy a bottle of soda from a machine—is 20 ounces or 2 1/2 cups.
As for pints, you usually only see something described in pints if it's a dairy product. Milk, cream, cottage cheese, ice cream, half and half and so on are typically packaged in pints. Certain deli salads, such as macaroni salad, potato salad and so on, are also packaged in pints. And, of course, when ordering a beer, a pint is the standard unit.
Remembering how to convert your measurements is the first step to in learning how to scale a recipe.