Weights and Measures

The ingredients in my recipes are given in metric form, using South African measuring conventions.

I make a huge effort to be accurate about cooking measurements, because precise amounts can make all the difference to the final taste of a dish.

I'm not saying you shouldn't feel free to tinker with my recipes' recommended amounts of, say, fresh chillies or pepper or garlic.

But measuring accurately is so important when you're using dominating flavourings such as saffron, vanilla, nutmeg, honey, cinnamon, passion fruit, and so on. And it's vital carefully to measure ingredients when you're dealing with chemically crucial ingredients such as baking powder, yeast and gelatine.

What I mean by 'conventions' is that the quantities I specify - such as 'a cup', 'a teaspoon' and 'a tablespoon' - consistently refer to an exact number of millilitres, whether you're measuring dry or liquid ingredients.
Please note:  Until a year or so ago, I used the abbreviations 't' and 'T', for teaspoons and tablespoons, respectively. I've switched to using 'tsp' and 'Tbsp' since then, for clarity.
I occasionally give measurements in grams (particularly in baking recipes, where weight is more important than volume) but for the most part my ingredients are expressed in spoons and cups (and I always supply the millilitre equivalent).

I've taken this approach because almost everyone has a set of measuring spoons and cups, but not that many cooks own a digital kitchen scale.

For UK and US readers of this blog who still use imperial fluid ounces, and who are not sure what I mean by 'a teaspoon' or 'a cup', these quantities can represent a challenge, so I've drawn the up quick-reference table below.

To convert measurements in millilitres to pints, quarts, and so on, please use this easy online tool. 

Also, please note that in the UK, a ‘pint’ is about 560 ml.  In the US, a pint can be interpreted as 473 – 550 ml, depending on whether the ingredient is wet or dry. Yes, I know that’s confusing, and it baffles me too.  If you’re making recipes from my blog, I suggest you buy a set of metric spoons and cups, and use those.

Measuring conventions in South African cookery

In South Africa, a 'teaspoon' equals 5 ml (millilitres), a 'tablespoon' is equivalent to 15 ml, and a 'cup' is 250 ml, whether or not you're measuring liquid or dry ingredients.

Here is an easy-reference table showing how many millilitres are contained in South African teaspoons, tablespoons and cups.

Note: All these measurements have been rounded off, for convenience. For example, a third of a cup is actually 83.333 ml, but in this table it is snipped down to 80 ml.

Same as…
In fl.ounces
¼ teaspoon
1.25 ml 
‘a pinch’
½ teaspoon
2.5 ml

1 teaspoon
5 ml

2 teaspoons
10 ml

3 teaspoons
15 ml
1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon
15 ml
3 teaspoons
2 tablespoons
30 ml

3 tablespoons
45 ml

4 tablespoons
60 ml
¼ cup
¼ cup
60 ml

1/3 cup
80 ml

½ cup
125 ml

2/3 cup
160 ml

¾ cup
180 ml 

1 cup
250 ml

1½ cups
375 ml

2 cups
500 ml
½ litre
3 cups
750 ml
¾ litre
4 cups
one litre


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Chandra said...

Hello, what does 8 tablespoons of butter equate to in grams please.



Jane-Anne said...

Hi Chandra. Apologies for the delay in replying. Butter is one of the only ingredients that is roughly equal in volume and weight. Therefore 8 tablespoons (120 ml) is about 120 g. I hope that helps!