Kitchen Measurements

Antique Kitchen ScalesAntique Scales for Accurate Kitchen Measurements
(Source: ©chris-elwell/123RF)

Old fashioned kitchen measurements like the gill, grain, scruple, and dram (drachma) are little used nowadays, so if the quantities called for in Grandma's dessert recipes seem unclear, just refer to the historical weights and measures tables below.

And if you're still unsure, you can always do what Grandma did, she simply took what she called an "educated guess."


Historical Weights and Measures

Spoon MeasuresLevel, Rounding, and Heaping Spoon Measures
(Source: ©Don Bell)

All kitchen measurements are level, unless otherwise specified. Because of the loss or gain of moisture constantly happening in dry ingredients, exact measures are not possible; but for ordinary purposes, and for home cooking and baking, the following kitchen measurements are approximately correct:

  • About 25 drops of any thin liquid = 1 teaspoonful

  • 1 Pinch = 4-1/2 grains, or less than 1/8 teaspoonful

  • 1 Saltspoonful = 1/4 teaspoonful

  • 1 Scruple = 20 grains, or about 1/2 teaspoonful

  • 3 Saltspoonfuls = 1 dram (drachma), or 27-1/3 grains

  • 1 Teaspoonful = 4 saltspoonfuls, or 36-1/2 grains

  • 4 Teaspoonfuls = 1 tablespoonful liquid

  • 2 Tablespoonfuls, or 16 drams (drachmas) liquid = 1 fluid ounces

  • 4 Tablespoonfuls = 1 wineglass, or 1/2 gill, or 1/4 cupful

  • 2 Wineglasses = 1 gill, or 1/2 cupful

  • 2 Gills = 1 coffee-cupful, or 16 tablespoonfuls, or 8 fluid ounces

  • 1 Tumblerful = 1 coffee-cupful, or 1/2 pint

  • 1 Goblet = 10 fluid ounces

  • 2 Coffee-cupfuls = 1 pint

  • 2 Pints = 1 quart

  • 4 Quarts = 1 gallon

  • 16 Ounces = 1 pound, or 1 pint of liquid

Note: A set of measuring cups (with small lips), from 1 pint to 1/4 cup, will be found convenient in every kitchen, though common pitchers, bowls, glasses, teacups, wineglasses, etc., may be substituted.

Kitchen Measurements

Antique Kitchen Scale Dial

Equivalent Measures are level unless otherwise indicated:

  • 1 pinch of salt or sugar = 4-1/2 grains or less than 1/8 teaspoonful

  • 1 tablespoonful of salt = 1 ounce


  • 8 rounded tablespoonfuls of granulated sugar = 1 cupful

  • 2 cupfuls of granulated sugar = 1 pound

  • 1-1/2 coffee-cupfuls of granulated sugar = 1 pound

  • 1 pint of granulated sugar = 1 pound


  • 3-1/2 cupfuls of powdered (confectioners') sugar = 1 pound

  • 2 coffee-cupfuls of powdered (confectioners') sugar = 1 pound

  • 1-1/3 pints of powdered (confectioners') sugar = 1 pound


  • 2-1/2 cupfuls of best brown sugar = 1 pound

  • 1-3/4 coffee-cupfuls of best brown sugar = 1 pound

  • 1 pint of best brown sugar = 13 ounces


  • 1 square Baker's chocolate = 1 ounce

  • 3 tablespoonfuls of grated chocolate = 1 ounce


  • 4-1/3 cupfuls of coffee = 1 pound


  • 2 teaspoonfuls of flour, heaped = 1 tablespoonful

  • 4 tablespoonfuls of flour = 1 ounce

  • 7 to 8 rounded tablespoonfuls of flour = 1 cupful

  • 4 cupfuls of pastry or bread flour = 1 pound

  • 3 coffee-cupfuls of sifted flour = 1 pound

  • 1 quart of sifted flour, heaped = 1 pound

  • 1 quart of unsifted flour = 1 pound 1 ounce


  • 3-7/8 cupfuls of whole wheat flour = 1 pound

  • 2-2/3 cupfuls of corn meal = 1 pound

  • 4-1/2 cupfuls of graham flour = 1 pound

  • 4-1/8 cupfuls of rye flour = 1 pound

  • 4-3/4 cupfuls of rolled oats = 1 pound

  • 2-2/3 cupfuls of oat meal = 1 pound

  • 3-1/2 cupfuls of Indian meal = 1 quart

  • 2-3/4 coffee-cupfuls of Indian meal = 1 quart

  • 1 quart of sifted Indian meal = 1 pound 4 ounces


  • 1 Fleischmann's 0.6-ounce yeast cake = 1 envelope dry yeast

  • 1 Fleischmann's 2-ounce yeast cake = 3 envelopes dry yeast


  • 6 tablespoonfuls of baking powder = 1/2 ounce


  • 16 tablespoonfuls of any dry ingredient = 1 cup


  • Butter the size of a walnut = 1 ounce

  • Butter the size of an egg = 2 ounces

  • 1 tablespoonful of soft butter, well rounded = 1 ounce

  • 4 tablespoonfuls of soft butter, heaped = 1 cupful

  • 1 cupful of butter, pressed down = 1/2 pound

  • 2 cupfuls of butter, pressed down = 1 pound

  • 1 pint of soft butter = 1 pound


  • 2 cupfuls of lard = 1 pound


  • 2 cupfuls of finely chopped meat = 1 pound

  • 1 pint of finely chopped meat = 1 pound


  • 10 ordinary-sized eggs = 1 pound

  • 9 large-sized eggs = 1 pound


  • 2 cupfuls of milk = 1 pound


  • 1-7/8 cupfuls of rice = 1 pound


  • 3 cupfuls of raisins = 1 pound

  • 2 cupfuls of raisins, packed = 1 pound


  • 2-1/4 cupfuls of currents = 1 pound


  • 2 cupfuls of stale bread crumbs = 1 pound


  • 40 small prunes = 1 pound

  • 28 large prunes = 1 pound

  • 75 apricot pieces = 1 pound

  • 3 large bananas = one pound


Yeast Cake Measurement

Cake Yeast has been sold in different sizes formerly; so, it's easiest to calculate the dry yeast needed based on how much flour is called for in the recipe. For instance...

  • Up to 4 cups flour, use 1/4 ounce (2-1/4 teaspoons) of dry yeast

  • 4-8 cups flour, use 1/2 ounce (4-1/2 teaspoons) dry yeast

  • 8-12 cups flour, use 3/4 ounce (6-3/4 teaspoons) dry yeast

  • 12-16 cups flour, use 1 ounce (9 teaspoons) dry yeast

About the Kitchen Measurements

Published kitchen measurements were vitally important to 19-century cooks. Most homes didn't have the luxury of weigh scales and some didn't even have a proper set of measuring cups. So, available containers such as cups were used as kitchen measures, and ingredient quantities were often approximated.

If you knew the weight of one ingredient, the weight of another could often be guessed. For instance, if 1 cup of butter, pressed down, equals one-half pound, you could estimate that 1 cup of lard would equal the same weight — close enough for most recipes. And if you knew one measurement, another could be obtained. For instance, 2 wineglassfuls equal 1 gill, or 1/2 cup.

Historical weights and measures tables and kitchen measurements can still be of help in today's modern kitchens when experimenting with older recipes. After all, it's always good to have some "scruples."

Wink Icon

Sorry, please excuse my lame pun.

(Just if you might be wondering, a scruple is 1/2 teaspoon.)

Do you need additional help with kitchen measurements?

Click Here to visit a site where you'll find calculators that convert between U.S., British, Canadian, and European kitchen units. This page will remain open, so you can easily return to it.


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