The Basics of Weighing Ingredients

The Importance of Weighing Ingredients

One of the most important things that I learned when I first started to gain my footing in the kitchen was the value of a kitchen scale. The ability to weigh ingredients and get precise measurements is incredibly valuable when baking, which comes down to a lot of science and chemical reactions. It was well over four years ago now when I first got on my soapbox about why I prefer weighing ingredients. Since then, I’ve included weight conversions in a number of recipes, but given the sheer volume of comments and emails I’ve received about ingredient weights, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the topic here.

The Problem

The most common misconception that I hear in emails and comments with regards to weighing is the overarching belief that 8 ounces = 1 cup… forever and ever, amen. No matter what. For all ingredients. Always.

This is simply not true.

For liquid ingredients like water and milk, yes, this is true. Butter is an anomaly of solid ingredients and it, too, weighs 8 ounces per cup. This is about where that line of thinking ends.

All other solid ingredients (and even ones you can pour like honey and molasses), have vastly different weights per 1 cup of volume.

Common Weight Measurements

These are the ounce measurements for 1 cup of some of the most common ingredients in your pantry:

All-Purpose Flour: 4.25 ounces

Bread Flour: 4.25 ounces

Butter: 8 ounces

Cheese: 4 ounces

Chocolate Chips: 6 ounces

Honey: 12 ounces

Maple Syrup: 11 ounces

Molasses: 12 ounces

Peanut Butter: 9.5 ounces

Sugar (Granulated): 7 ounces

Sugar (Light or Dark Brown): 7.5 ounces

Sugar (Powdered): 4 ounces

Vegetable Oil: 7 ounces

Whole Wheat Flour: 4 ounces

As you can see, if you tried to use the conversion of 8 ounces per 1 cup for every single ingredient, you would likely end up with some disasters in your kitchen. For a complete, comprehensive list, check out (and bookmark!) this Master Weight Chart by King Arthur Flour. This is my go-to source for converting ingredients to weight measurements. With the ounce measurements in hand, you can easily do a conversion to grams if that is your preferred unit of measurement.

My Scale Recommendation

I currently use the OXO Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, which has a 22-pound capacity. It measures in ounces and grams, as well as milliliters and cups for water. I previously used the Escali Pana Volume Measuring Scale for years; this is a great scale if you’re new to weighing ingredients. It comes with a chart of ingredients and accompanying codes, so you enter the code and it automatically adjusts the measuring to a volume readout, i.e. in cups and tablespoons. I replaced it because I was often maxing out the weight capacity on it; I have not yet had that issue with the OXO scale.

Bottom Line

I know that some people feel very strongly one way or the other about weighing your ingredients or using the traditional measuring cups. Sure, weighing seems more like science class when you could be using pretty measuring cups shaped like birds, but the truth is… it’s just more accurate. If you crave consistent results with your baked goods, and especially if you venture into pastries or breads, you’ll want to get in the habit of weighing ingredients.

I try to include weight measurements where possible, and will be striving to do so even more going forward, so keep an eye out!

Now, grab a scale, your favorite ingredients, and bake up something wonderful! :)

Share This Post...



58 Responses to “The Basics of Weighing Ingredients”

  1. Pieliekamais on January 8, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Thank you for this! I bookmarked the chart.
    I usually use my deciliter measuring cup because I want things to happen quickly. I use my kitchen scale mostly to weigh butter :)
    Please share more kitchen stuff like this, it’s fascinating!

    Reply

  2. Gry on January 8, 2014 at 2:29 am

    I find it much easier weighing the ingredients. And less cleaning, as in many cases you can weigh and add the ingredients directly to the bowl you are using to make the dough. Yes, I’m lazy …..

    Reply

  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks on January 8, 2014 at 2:37 am

    This is so good. Thank you. I can send people here. Pinned to my How To board. As in, how to measure :)

    ” the overarching belief that 8 ounces = 1 cup… forever and ever, amen.” I have people write to me correcting me all the time when I say 6 oz/1 cup choc chips. They say it should be 8oz. No, not really. And also with w.w. flour vs. AP flour. 1 cup of each weighs different amounts so you cant always just sub 1:1 like people expect. Thank you!

    Reply

  4. Patrizia on January 8, 2014 at 3:32 am

    In Italy (I’m Italian) we always weigh dry ingredients. I love when you, bloggers, give us indication of oz so I can make your lovely sweets more easily! Pinned!

    Reply

  5. Mademoiselle C. on January 8, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Thanks for this! I always struggle with measurements, especially because I am in France and they use a weird system here. They don’t even have measuring cups here!
    http://www.creamstop.com

    Reply

  6. Taylor @ Food Faith Fitness on January 8, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Such a great post! I always weigh my ingredients, especially in baked goods! I never thought to post the weight values in my recipes though. After this, it seems like a good thing to start! Thanks for being so informative!

    Reply

  7. DrRandy on January 8, 2014 at 5:48 am

    Flour, in particular, depends a great deal on your technique, and even somewhat on the brand. Cook’s Illustrated says one cup of all-purpose flour should weigh 5 ounces, and bread flour 5.2 ounces.

    Reply

  8. Linda Jean on January 8, 2014 at 6:33 am

    After a life time of baking (I’m 54), I finally started using a scale last year – it has made baking so much easier and the results so much more consistent. Another benefit, when the recipe says divide dough into halves, thirds, or whatever, just switch to grams and it’s easy to do the math and get it right. Love your posts and recipes!

    Reply

  9. Becca @ Crumbs on January 8, 2014 at 7:32 am

    This is such a great post Michelle! And very useful for me as a Brit because we very rarely use cups anyway. Thanks!

    Reply

  10. Danielle on January 8, 2014 at 8:03 am

    I think may recipe writers don’t always differentiate between ounces and fluid ounces. http://www.mathsisfun.com/measure/us-standard-volume.html

    Reply

  11. Marlene on January 8, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Great post! Weighing is a good idea for accuracy and consistency. I imagine each cup of flour I measure out is slightly different. My scale died before Christmas, and lucky me, there was a new one under the tree.

    Reply

  12. Terri C on January 8, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Thanks, I’ve never weighed but have wanted to. I need a scale. Thanks for your thoughts on them.

    Reply

  13. Kasha @ The FarmGirl Cooks on January 8, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Once a recipe has been converted, weighing is the fastest, simplest way to bake, for sure.

    I try to write/distribute recipes in which I’ve weighed ingredients (such as veggies and pasta) for savory dishes as well because Mother Nature never makes 2 peppers the same size. Weighing is certainly the great equalizer!

    Reply

  14. Gale on January 8, 2014 at 9:08 am

    In Canada we use the metric system of measurement, recipes with metric measurements clear up any confusion of weigh vs volume.

    Reply

  15. Cindi on January 8, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Being Italian, my grandmother taught me how to bake and her “measuring” cup for everything was a broken old china teacup, lol. By some miracle EVERYTHING she made was amazing. Me? well, lets just say I have taken to using the metric system and weigh everything in grams. It helps with consistency and cost control of my ingredients. It was very hard at first as we are “a little of this and a little of that” kind of family. I have bookmarked your weight chart. Thank you!

    Reply

  16. Lloyd Hamilton on January 8, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Thank you for posting this! I, too, came to realize the importance of weighing instead of measuring. it was a little challenging at first, but now it’s second nature.
    This truly makes a difference, especially with breads and cakes, where excess humidity can have adverse affects on the final product. Weighing ingredients is the way to go!
    BTW, love your blog! It’s my go-to when I’m in need of inspiration, or just a darned good recipe!

    Reply

  17. Neal on January 8, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Thank you for this post! I just bought a scale in December in time for holiday cooking baking but, when I measured out 1 cup granulated sugar from a recipe I’ve made before and weighed it, the weight was off by a few ounces from the expected weight. In fact, it was off enough that I chickened out and went back to using the measuring cups for the recipes since I know that’s worked previously! In your experience, have you noticed that the weight of 1 cup of something like granulated sugar can change up to a few ounces from measurement to measurement?

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 8th, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      Hi Neal, I’ve never experimented with sugar, but I did experiment with flour and the difference was astounding. I’ve also noticed similar differences with cocoa powder, brown sugar, etc.

      Reply

  18. Pennie D on January 8, 2014 at 10:33 am

    I have just bought a scale. I was tired of not being able to make certain recipes because I knew just putting in measurements in cups was not going to turn out the results I wanted. Thank you for this.

    Reply

  19. Casey C on January 8, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I never even thought about weighing ingredients for baking until I started making some of your cookie recipes (Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, specifically). These days, I am so anal about it that not only do I weigh the ingredients, but I also weigh the finished dough, divide it by the number of portions, and make sure each portion weighs the proper amount. It takes a little more time, but I take pride in going the extra mile in the kitchen. Thanks for all your tips, Michelle!

    Reply

  20. Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen on January 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

    “The most common misconception that I hear in emails and comments with regards to weighing is the overarching belief that 8 ounces = 1 cup.” <— THIS. THANK YOU. I am going to start directing people to this post from my blog…I have a very popular pasta recipe where the ingredients list "8 ounces uncooked penne pasta (about 2 1/2 cups)" and have gotten multiple emails from people telling me that I'm wrong, and that 8 ounces of pasta is equivalent to 1 cup. Uhh, no. You explained it much more patiently than I can :)

    Reply

  21. Mark B on January 8, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Scales are cheap so there should be no reason a serious baker wouldn’t have one. I always use weights if the recipe provides them. If it does not, I use the volume they indicate (in cups) and, if the recipe works, I write down what the weight was. If it doesn’t, I guess more or less (or throw the recipe out!)

    Reply

  22. Lonna on January 8, 2014 at 11:21 am

    I love this post! Thank you so much! I love weighing ingredients when I cook because I hate measuring them–for me, that is the most odious part of cooking and baking! I find it especially helpful when I am halving recipes for my small family–it is much easier to weigh my ingredients instead of trying to measure out half of 1/3 cup, for instance!

    Reply

  23. Laura on January 8, 2014 at 11:33 am

    I prefer to weight my ingredients most of the time. For one, it’s just easier – not as many cups and spoons to get dirty. Also, I have found that if I try to use a measuring cup to measure certain things (like flour), I am way off. It’s just nearly impossible to be accurate that way. I tend to get way too much flour if I use a measuring cup instead of weighing. I have found, though, that in handed down recipes from my mom and grandma who never used a kitchen scale, it’s best to try to match their method.

    Reply

  24. Myra on January 8, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Thanks for your guidance on this, Michelle. Just curious…what do you do with respect to AP Flour weight when you are using a Cook’s Illustrated recipe? As mentioned in one of the earlier comments, the CI family uses 5 oz for 1 cup of flour. The CI recipes contain both cups and ounces. Do you go by their cup guidance or weight guidance? Also, what brand of AP flour do you usually use? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 8th, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      Hi Myra, I do find it strange that Cook’s Illustrated and King Arthur Flour are so far apart on their weights for 1 cup of all-purpose flour. If a recipe includes a weight measurement, I always use that weight. I use King Arthur Flour unbleached all-purpose flour. I order the 25-pound bags :)

      Reply

  25. Natasha on January 8, 2014 at 11:49 am

    As someone who is in England I appreciate measurements in oz or g as using cups is not a method we use over here in general.

    Reply

  26. Cate @ Chez CateyLou on January 8, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I love weighing my ingredients, and I reference that King Arthur Flour chart all the time! I think weighing is actually easier, and I know the amounts will always be correct

    Reply

  27. April @ Queen-Acres on January 8, 2014 at 11:53 am

    If reference to “weighing seems more like science class” I ask, is that a bad thing? ;) As a chemist, we weigh things because it’s accurate and it works. As a baker, we weigh things because it’s accurate and it works. Like a previous commenter posted about weighing in the very bowl you’re using – (when possible) we definitely support that technique in the science lab, because it leaves less room for error, less substance loss in transfer, and well, less dishes to clean.

    Now, I’m starting to nerd about my scale. In lab, the scale stays in the exact same spot and is balanced at all times. (I literally have tape around our scales and will only allow “professionals” to clean or move them). My kitchen scale is not like this because I have such limited space. In all reality, I know it doesn’t make that much difference, but if I had my dream kitchen …. ;)

    Reply

  28. Vickie on January 8, 2014 at 11:56 am

    I’m with the other commenters here. I have much better end products when the ingredients are weighed. You can actually taste and feel the difference. I have the old-fashion spring scale and it works beautifully.

    Reply

  29. Vicki Pieranunzi on January 8, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Ha, ha, what would Dalgesa and Zia think! You have converted me though. It takes some figuring but you can always use the info on side panel to help you get the right weight per cup.

    Reply

  30. Niki Baker on January 8, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    I weigh EVERYTHING!! Lol….like others have said it is so much easier to measure everything into the mixing bowl and not have tons of measuring cups to wash. I always measure in grams because it is so easy to halve or double recipes. Here are a couple of links that I love for weights:
    http://allrecipes.com/howto/cup-to-gram-conversions/

    http://www.traditionaloven.com/tutorials/conversion.html

    Reply

  31. Dana on January 8, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you! Not only is weighing your ingredients important when cooking and baking, it’s also critical when eating. I lost 30 pounds eating exactly what I want, but weighing it and recording it. People think it’s a hassle, but it actually makes things so much easier – it takes the guesswork out!

    Reply

  32. Christoph on January 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Hi,
    I came across your website just a few days ago and I read many great recipes.
    I live in Austria and here we are just weighing our ingredients (grams).

    It would be SO great if you would write such measurements in your recipes, like on joyofbaking.com
    Those are much more accurate when it comes to weigh flour for example.

    Reply

  33. Catherine Wilson on January 8, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Like many commenters, I love that you include weights in your recipes! I too try to convince others to invest in a scale if they intend on doing any “serious” baking. I think that all of my recipes (that did not come with weights already noted) have scribbles in the margins for the weights of the ingredients so that I don’t have to do any more volume measuring than absolutely necessary.
    I wonder if the difference between Cooks Illustrated and King Arthur Flour has to do with sifting or using the dip-and-sweep method prior to measuring by volume, then putting on the scale to weigh it. That is the only reason I can come up with for such a drastic difference in weights for one cup of AP flour.
    Thanks for a great post – and a great blog!

    Reply

  34. Kristen on January 8, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Oh I love you for this! The weight conversions are great!

    Reply

  35. Gina on January 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    Michelle, Thanks so much for posting this. I have been wanting to start using my scale when I bake, but I was confused how to convert from cup to ounces. Really hope to start seeing more recipes with the ounces listed. Thanks.

    Reply

  36. Arthur in the Garden! on January 8, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Great tips!

    Reply

  37. Lindsay Ann @ dollhousebakeshoppe.com on January 8, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    Love this! I just did a video on my new YouTube channel (youtube.com/lindsayannbakes) all about weighing flour and how different the weights can be for 1 cup, if you are just scooping out of the bag. Feel free to check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2D_u_F_JF8

    Reply

  38. Martha in KS on January 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I have the same scale & have been weighing ingredients if the weight is on the recipe. I wonder how long the battery lasts. I’ve been able to split packaged sauce mixes because the scale is so accurate. I too recommend it. My other favorite blog, Leite’s Culinaria, is giving one away – http://leitesculinaria.com/94056/giveaways-oxo-digital-scale.html. Michelle, he’s a big fan of yours too.

    Reply

  39. Charity on January 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    AMEN!! :) I also have the same scale & I love it! Scale is the way to go when baking!!

    Reply

  40. Debbiee on January 8, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I echo EVERYTHING you said about weighing ingredients! I have been one of your readers in the past that has requested weight measurements in addition to the volume equivalents so I eagerly await more of that in the future! When I use a KAF recipe, I always switch the recipe to the version with the weights. I have also written the weight conversions in the margin of recipes I use frequently. The KAF Master Weight Chart is kept in page protectors inside the cabinet that is immediately in front of the spot where I do all my prep work because I refer to it quite often. I also like using a scale because I mess up fewer bowls, cups, etc. Can you tell I’m a scale convert??

    Reply

  41. Tammy on January 8, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I rarely accurately measure wet or dry ingredients. I get consistent, reliable results all the time. Baking isn’t a science, it is far less complicated than the professionals make it out to be. Baking, like cooking, is easier when the home cook experiments and finds out what works best for them and the environment they live in. For example, I live in a very dry environment and my baking requires more liquid than those that live in more humid climates. Baking and cooking are far more initiative than scientific. If you bake and cook with love it shows in your food.

    Reply

    • Lynne on January 9th, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Tammy, I agree – I was thinking the same thing – isn’t that why bread recipes always describe how the dough should feel/look and instructions to add 1/2c flour at time to get it to the right consistency? I’m just wondering how you convert those recipes to an exact weight of flour – if you can – then I suppose weighing is worth it, but if you still end up having to adjust, then it doesn’t seem worth the effort.

      Reply

      • Michelle on January 9th, 2014 at 11:26 am

        Hi Lynne, Almost all bread recipes I have used include weight measurements. The reason for adjustments is because the air temperature and quality (i.e. humidity) in any one place can affect bread-baking. That is why incremental adjustments may need to be made. If it is particularly humid in someone’s kitchen, they will typically need more flour as the dough will be more hydrated. If it’s bone-dry, the dough may actually need more water. It may seem counter-intuitive, but I think weighing takes less effort – you just use one bowl and keep adding instead of taking out and dirtying a ton of measuring cups :)

        Reply

        • Lynne on January 10th, 2014 at 8:57 am

          Interesting – granted, I don’t bake bread too often, but the recipes I do make (my mom’s pecan sticky rolls, for example) all have had measurements in cups.

          Reply

  42. AK on January 8, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    This was incredibly helpful- thank you!!

    AK
    http://www.simplyfour.blogspot.com

    Reply

  43. Michelle on January 9, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Hi Michelle! I think this is very interesting as I have never weighed ingredients rather using only measuring cups and spoons. I’ll have to try weighing ingredients very soon. I have 2 questions regarding this: how do you convert “backwards” – from cups/tsp/tbs to weight measurements as so many American recipes use the “traditional” quantities? And secondly, have you ever heard of a layered bar type cookie called Russian Pita? It’s a yeast dough rolled out and layered with an apricot filling layer and a nut/sugar/cinnamon layer. The dough layers should bake up like a nut roll dough would. However, I try this every year at Christmas and my dough layers seem to bake up on the crispier side. I’m wondering if I weighed rather than measured my ingredients if this would help? Also, I was wondering if this is a recipe you might consider doing a post on??? I would love to see you do one :)

    Let’s go Pens!!

    Reply

    • Michelle on January 9th, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Michelle, Converting from cups to weight measurements is just as easy as using the weight chart I linked to. Find the ingredient, and then calculate how much you need in ounces.

      I have never heard of a Russian Pita, but it sounds delicious! I’ll have to do some researching :)

      Reply

  44. Maaike on January 9, 2014 at 9:26 am

    Since I live in the Netherlands, I always weigh my ingredients (in grams, metric system). Math is so much easier using the metric system instead of the American system with liquid/solid ounces and cups etc. I do have a set of measuring cups, but I only use them if a recipe doesn’t provide weighing information. I always check the amount of grams that’s in the cup of that kind of ingredient and write it down. This way, I only use the cups the first time I am making a new recipe and the next times (if a recipe is satisfying) weighing is so much easier than baking with cups!

    Reply

  45. Lynne on January 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Confession time – not only do I not weigh my ingredients, I don’t even usually level off my measuring cup/spoon. I can honestly say that I’ve never had a baking disaster. I can honestly say that no one ever has commented on my toll house cookies that they seemed “off” and needed something else – they are usually unable to talk because of a mouth full of cookie :-) I do understand that baking is part science where ingredients react to each other, but I think that recipes are much more forgiving than we think – that’s why there are so many versions of them – just search on “sugar cookie recipe”, and you’ll find thousands of recipes that differ in amounts of flour, sugar, eggs, leavening, salt, etc.
    I do have a cheap scale that I use (typically for a BEB recipe) to measure ingredients from time to time, but I actually wouldn’t trust it for all my measuring.

    Reply

  46. Becky on January 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    LOVE my scale! I make alot of bread and pizza doughs and it comes in very handy when you have a recipe that measures in weight. I am sometimes too lazy to convert it if it does not. But this chart will be very helpful – thank you! I now have 2 scales as my husband just bought me a hario http://www.amazon.com/Hario-Coffee-Drip-Scale – to use for coffee preparations and it comes in very handy as some scales do not weigh in small weights like for yeast or salt. Thank you for telling more people about the joys of measuring! I especially like measuring in grams as it is more accurate than ounces or lbs.

    Reply

  47. Robin on January 11, 2014 at 5:51 am

    Weighing ingredients is the only way to go if you are serious about baking. If you attend any sort of professional baking course you will be taught to weigh your ingredients, even eggs. I am a transplanted American who has been living in Britain for many years, and had to get to grips with the metric system, which is actually far more logical the US cups system that I grew up with. I have totally embraced weighing ingredients as it is far more accurate, less messy, and you can use any recipe from anywhere without worrying about conversions. For example, a US pint is 16 fluid ounces and a British pint is 20, so unless you know where your recipe is from you are going to have difficulty if a recipe asks for half a pint of liquid Thank you for posting this.

    Reply

  48. Laura Dembowski on January 12, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I have a kitchen scale and use it on occasion but I have never used it to make an entire recipe. It seems like more work, but it sounds like it is worth it.

    Reply

  49. Tags on January 12, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Thank you! It always used to drive me crazy when someone would try and say the 8oz-cup trick. Cup is a measurement in quanity, not weight. A few years ago I was presented with a measurement scale that weighs ounces, grams, and pounds and couldn’t have been happier to receive anything from my folks! (aside from the ice cream maker and kitchenaid mixer of course. Hehe) This is a very useful chart for those who do not have scales, thank you for sharing!

    Reply

  50. Pamelaine on January 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I mentioned to my husband that I needed a scale for certain recipes. He did all of the research and bought me the same scale that you have. I love it! He was happy when I showed him this.

    Reply

  51. Kucki on March 14, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I am following your blog from Germany. Over here we have used scales to measure ingredients ever since. No kitchen without a scale. I own an old completely mechanical balance I inherited from my grandma and I only bought an electronic one 3 months ago – also because it can give measures in ounces. Actually I always wondered how you can reliable baking results with measuring volumes, tiny differences in the moisture content of a dough for example can make such a big difference to the result……

    Reply

Leave a Comment





(Your comment may need to be approved before it will appear on the site. Thanks for your patience! If it is your first time commenting you may want to review the Comment Guidelines.)