When a Cup is Not a Cup


Or, rather, a tale of unequal cups.

As I mentioned earlier, the Indian Cooking Challenge recipes were even more of a challenge because the recipes are coming from the UK or India, where British Imperial units aren’t exactly the same as US Customary, even if they do carry the same names. For those first few recipes, logic was telling me that certain quantities just weren’t going to do the trick and I would have to adjust until things looked right.

The ‘duh’ moment came when I was flipping through Polly Clingerman’s The Kitchen Companion (great book, out of print but if you find a used copy for under $30 snap it up!) and found this short list of common differences. If you do any sort of across-the-pond cooking or even historical recreation, these conversions might help things come out a bit more correct the next time you’re in the kitchen.

British US
Teaspoon 1 1/2 teaspoons
Dessertspoon 1 tablespoon
Measuring tablespoon 1 1/2 tablespoon
Coffee cup (demitasse) 1/3 cup
Gill 2/3 cup
Teacup 3/4 cup
Cup or breakfast cup 1 1/4 cups or

10 fl ounces

Pint 20 fl ounces

The most common substitution I’ve had to make were the cup conversions and the teaspoons. Still, when you’re dealing with small measurements and not everything is different by the same proportion, little differences can make a big impact on the results.

Or, when in doubt, use metric!