Baking is both an art and a science. Sometimes it can feel like a real-life math test, especially if you’re trying to double, triple, and halve a recipe. US cups have little correlation with any other measuring system, so if you’re getting confused by all the odd fractions, rest assured that you’re not alone! Everyone has wondered at some point in the process: How many tablespoons are there in a cup?
This is a crucial question to answer for any food-lover in America. Thankfully, it’s a very simple calculation that you can commit to memory right away.
Cups are found in US recipes to account for the volume of both dry and liquid ingredients. They usually come in sets that include ¼ cup, ⅓ cup, ½ cup, and 1 cup. Cups were originally comprised of any random cups a homemaker might find in their pantry, from teacups to wine goblets. Fanny Farmer first popularized a more standard approach to cup sizes in her foundational cookbook, The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, first published in 1857.
A tablespoon really is a spoon, typically sold in sets attached to various teaspoons. It’s the largest spoon included, as it takes 3 teaspoons to equal 1 tablespoon. Note that this is different from a table spoon (two words) which refers to a utensil of any size that can be used to eat soup or serve food at the dinner table. You may see it abbreviated as “T,” “tbsp,” or “tbs.”
16 tablespoons = 1 cup
Other common conversions to remember are as follows:
|2 tablespoons||⅛ cup|
|4 tablespoons||¼ cup|
|8 tablespoons||½ cup|
|12 tablespoons||¾ cup|
|16 tablespoons||1 cup|
To ensure consistent measurements for all your baked goods, there are specific techniques for using your cups and tablespoons correctly. Dry ingredients such as flour and sugar can fill a different amount of space depending on how they’re added to the measuring utensil.
That’s why it’s best to use the “spoon and sweep” method. To do so, spoon the dry ingredients into the cup or spoon, overfilling it, then use a flat object like a butter knife to sweep the excess off. That leaves a perfectly level, flush fill every time.
It’s not advisable to use the cup or measuring spoon itself to scoop directly into the ingredients you want to measure, because that packs it in more densely. You could end up with 25 to 50% more of that component than intended this way, throwing the ratios off and creating less than ideal results.
US cups are slightly smaller than Metric cups. Metric cups, used in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, equal 250 mL or 8.5 oz, whereas US cups equal 236.588 mL or 8 ounces. That difference can add up quickly, especially when it comes to finely tuned baking ratios. Double check to make sure you’re using the right one to calculate the results accurately!
We hope you found this easy conversion guide useful for understanding how to convert tablespoons to cups! This article was written with support from Hannah Kaminsky and edited by Rachel Lessenden. Photos by Amanda McGillicuddy for World of Vegan, all rights reserved.