How To Measure Baking Ingredients Correctly

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Success in baking is often dependent on properly measuring ingredients, both wet and dry. This guide will show various methods for measuring different ingredients for recipe success!

various baking ingredients on countertop.

While using measuring cups for dry ingredients is standard, some dry ingredients require special care to ensure the measurements are accurate and consistent. For liquid ingredients, measuring with liquid measuring cups will ensure that the volume is correct. 

How to Use a Measuring Scale

4 images show how to measure flour on a scale.

A kitchen scale is the most accurate way to measure baking ingredients. There are many different designs, but all will have the same basic settings. To use a scale:

  1. Place the mixing bowl onto the scale, and use the “tare” or “zero” function to zero out the scale.
  2. Use a spoon or measuring cup to scoop an ingredient into the bowl, slowing down when you are nearing the needed weight.
  3. After each ingredient, be sure to use the tare function once more to zero out the bowl for the next ingredient to be weighed.

How To Measure Dry Ingredients


There are two basic methods for measuring flour – the “scoop and sweep” method and the “spoon and level” method.

To “scoop and sweep” the flour, use the appropriate measuring cup to scoop it up without packing it in. Then use the edge of a butter knife or icing spatula to sweep the excess flour off the top of the measuring cup.

scooping flour with a measuring cup and levelling it with a flat edged offset spatula.

If the flour in the storage container is too packed, loosen it with a spoon or fork before measuring.

Be consistent when scooping out the flour with the measuring cup, as using softer or harder pressure will result in more lightly or heavily packed flour.

To “spoon and level” the flour, fill the measuring cup little by little with a spoon without packing it in. Then use the edge of a butter knife or icing spatula to scrape off the excess off the top.

spooning flour with a measuring cup and levelling it with a flat edged offset spatula.

I recommend choosing the spoon and level method if a recipe doesn’t specify.

If a recipe’s ingredients call for sifted flour, pay attention to when the sifting should occur, as this will provide vastly different weights of flour.

For example, 250g of sifted flour means the flour should be sifted before measuring. Alternatively, 250g of flour, sifted means that the flour should be sifted after measuring. If the recipe ingredients don’t specify then do not sift the flour before measuring.

Lighter cakes often call for sifting before measuring the flour with measuring cups. In contrast, other recipes call for sifting after using the scoop and sweep method to ensure no clumps in the flour and allow other ingredients to mix easily into the flour.

Use a sifter or fine strainer to aerate the flour, and if sifting occurs before measuring, make sure to use a light hand when scooping the flour up to keep it from becoming too densely packed.

Granulated Sugar

Granulated sugar being scooped with a measuring cup and levelled out with a flat edged offset spatula.

Sugar typically follows the scoop and sweep method. Use a measuring cup to scoop up the sugar and a butter knife or flat icing spatula to sweep the excess off. 

Brown Sugar

Due to the high moisture content, brown sugar is dense and will pack nicely into a measuring cup.

Brown sugar being packed into a measuring cup then added to a bowl.

Scoop up or spoon in the brown sugar, and use the backside of a slightly smaller measuring cup or spoon to firmly pack the sugar into the measuring cup.

Scoop up more if needed and repeat. Tap the measuring cup onto the mixing bowl to release the packed brown sugar into your bowl. 

Confectioners’ Sugar

Also known as powdered sugar, this sugar is extremely finely ground and prone to clumping.

confectioners sugar being sifted over and bowl and measured with the scoop and sweep method.

If the confectioners’ sugar has too many clumps, use a flour sifter or fine strainer to sift the sugar into a large bowl, then use the scoop and sweep method to measure.

You can also use the backside of a spoon to break up any clumps before measuring.

Cocoa Powder

This ingredient is another that is very prone to large clumps, so it will typically need to be sifted. When scooping, use a spoon or measuring cup to break up any large chunks, and sweep the excess cocoa powder off with a butter knife or flat icing spatula.

Use a flour sifter or fine strainer to sift the cocoa powder into your mixing bowl, using a spoon to break up any clumps and press them through the sieve. 

Baking Powder and Baking Soda

Baking powder often comes in a jar with a built-in flat surface for sweeping off any excess.

baking soda being measured with a measuring spoon and levelled with an flat edged offset spatula.

For both of these ingredients, scoop up with a measuring spoon, and use the flat surface of the container or a butter knife to sweep off the excess. 

Dry or Instant Yeast

Yeast is an ingredient that is light enough to shake off any excess picked up by the measuring spoon.

Use the measuring spoon to scoop up the yeast in rounded spoonfuls. Gently shake the spoon from side to side to allow the excess to spill off until it has flattened out across the spoon. 


When a precise measurement of salt is needed (as opposed to a “pinch”), scoop the salt with the required measuring spoon, and shake the spoon gently from side to side to pour off the excess.

If the salt is in a container with a pour spout, pour in the salt while gently shaking the spoon to level the salt.

Ground Spices

Spices vary in density but are typically called for in amounts small enough for weight not to matter. Measuring spoons are the preferred method of measuring out ground spices.

Use a clean measuring spoon to dip into each spice container and scoop out the appropriate amount of the ground spice. Either gently shake the measuring spoon to level the spice or use a butter knife.

Chocolate Chips

Chocolate chip chunks being poured into a measuring cup.

Pour chocolate chips into the measuring cup and gently shake it to settle them down into the measuring cup to ensure the cup is as full as possible. There is no need to level the measuring cup completely. 

Rolled Oats

While oats are larger than ground ingredients, they’re very easy to measure in measuring cups. Scoop up the oats and shake the measuring cup gently from side to side to settle and shake off the excess, leveling out the measuring cup. 


Because nuts are larger than most ingredients, getting a consistent measurement can be a bit more challenging.

Fill the measuring cup with nuts, shaking it from side to side to allow them to settle down into the cup, and get the top as level as possible without crushing or breaking the nuts. 

Dried Fruits

raisins being packed into a measuring cup.

Since dried fruits are often bulky or sticky, use clean hands to fill the measuring cup, gently pressing them in but not packing so tightly that the dried fruit sticks together. 

Vegan Butter, Margarine, and Shortening

Many brands of plant-based fats are sold in block or stick form with marked lines and measurements on the wrapper for tablespoon and cup amounts.

As standard, one stick of vegan butter or margarine equals a quarter cup, 4 ounces or 113 grams. One block is usually sold in half-cup or one-cup amounts.

Vegan margarine being measured by the stick measurements and with a  measuring cup levelled with a spatula.

To measure vegan butter, margarine or shortening sticks, cut along the marking for the desired amount.

For tub varieties, scoop out the plant-based fat with the measuring spoon and use the edge of a butter knife or a flat icing spatula to level it off.

For larger quantities, use a rubber spatula to scoop out the desired amount and press it into a measuring cup. Use the spatula to ensure it is level.

The spatula will also help scoop the fat out of the cup and into the mixing bowl.

How to Measure Liquid Ingredients

Because liquids are different volumes when measured with cups versus weight, it is important to use a liquid measuring cup instead of a dry ingredient measuring cup.

These measuring cups often have both cup and ounce measurements to ensure accuracy. 

Using Measuring Cups

Place the measuring cup on a flat surface, and slowly pour the liquid you will be measuring, such as oil, maple syrup, or plant milk, into the measuring cup.

vegan milk in a glass measuring cup.

Try to stay at eye level with the measuring line, if possible, to assess accurately when the liquid has reached the correct line. If the liquid goes over the line, pour the excess out slowly until the liquid is at the mark. 

Using Measuring Spoons

You may use measuring spoons for smaller amounts of liquid, such as vanilla extract. Use a small bowl to steady the spoon and catch any overflow drips. Slowly pour the liquid into the measuring spoon and stop when it becomes level with the edge of the spoon.

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