Weights and Measures

The ingredients in my recipes are given in metric form, using South African measuring conventions. What I mean by 'conventions' is that the quantities I specify - such as a cup, a teaspoon, or a tablespoon - consistently refer to a specific number of millilitres, whether you're measuring dry or liquid ingredients.

➯ Click here to go straight to the weights and measurement chart

I make a big 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 mustn't tinker with my recommended amounts of, say, fresh chillies or pepper or garlic. But measuring accurately is so important when you're using dominating flavours like saffron, vanilla, nutmeg, honey, cinnamon, passion fruit, and so on. And it's vital to measure quantities carefully when you're working with make-or-break ingredients such as baking powder, yeast and gelatine.

I occasionally give measurements in grams (mostly 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. Tip: to quickly convert measurements in millilitres to pints, quarts, and so on, 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, a tablespoon is 15 ml, and a cup is 250 ml. Here is an easy-reference table showing how many millilitres are contained in South African teaspoons, tablespoons and cups. 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.

South African Weights and Measures

Same as…
Fluid 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

⅓ cup
80 ml

½ cup
125 ml

⅔ 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
1000 ml
1 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!