How to Measure Without Measuring Cups

You can still cook when your measuring cup is nowhere to be found. Here's how to measure without measuring cups using items you have on hand.

Baking Ingredients on Wooden Board; Photo: Shutterstock / Jiratthitikaln Maurice

Have you ever gone to cook something only to realize you misplaced one—or all—of your measuring devices? I have. Sooner or later, you find yourself trying to take an educated guess when you’ve already started whipping up something in the kitchen. While you could eyeball it and hope for the best, there are better ways to measure without relying on measuring cups.

What Can I Use Instead of Measuring Cups?

Here are the best references we could find (and a few we’ve been using for years) to make your next recipe a cinch when you’re figuring out how to measure without measuring cups.

  • 1/8 teaspoon is about one good pinch between your thumb and both your forefinger and middle finger.
  • 1/4 teaspoon is about two good pinches between your thumb and both your forefinger and middle finger.
  • A teaspoon is about the size of the tip of your finger (joint to tip).
  • A tablespoon is about the size of half a ping-pong ball or the size of an ice cube.
  • 1/4 cup is about the size of a large egg.
  • 1/2 cup is about the size of a tennis ball.
  • 1 cup is about the size of an apple or a baseball.

For liquids, because there is a difference between measuring dry and liquid ingredients, use a mason jar. Just calculate the amount of cups based on how many fluid ounces the jar holds. (For example: a 16-ounce mason jar equals about 2 cups.)

Bonus: Remember that a stick of butter is 1/2 cup and has tablespoons (and sometimes 1/4 and 1/3 cup) marked on the label. It’s a great visual reference and is likely hanging out in your refrigerator already. Be sure to check out our other hacks for how to measure ingredients, too!

Now, go bust open the pantry doors and get cooking.

Get Started with These Easy Recipes.
1 / 60

Popular Videos