Recently, someone asked me what measuring cup I use. Is it US measuring cup or is it Metric?
My answer: “I use US measuring cup.”
But then I realized the answer is not that simple. And I also remembered that I have always wanted to write about US and Korean cup measurements. Because Korean measuring cup is 200 ml and US legal measuring cup is 240ml. Also, many Korean recipes will say 1 Korean paper cup (종이컵) which is 180 ml instead of 200ml.
OK, so here I go again…I need to get to the bottom of what people mean by US measuring cup and what is the correct volume? And then I was curious about what other different size cups other countries use?
First, a quick summary table of my findings:
Below is a table of different measuring cup sizes throughout the world. Please let me know if I’m missing anything or if you find anything that needs to be corrected.
Measuring cup sizes in ml for different countries
KOREAN Measuring CupsFortunately, Tablespoons are mostly 15ml throughout the world except for US customary, Australia and Canada.
Korean recipes commonly use 4 different measuring cups :
- international metric cup = 250 ml
- Korean cup = 200 ml (same as Japanese 1 cup)
- small Korean paper cup (종이컵) = 180 ml
- soju glass (소주잔) = 40~50 ml.
The Korean paper cup is the same size cup you get from a coffee vending machine all throughout Korea. Usually, pastry and baking recipes use 250 ml as 1 cup. Traditional Korean recipes usually use 200 ml as 1 cup.
So when reading Korean recipes, pay close attention to what they mean by 1 cup (컵).
IMPORTANT : NOT all US MEASURING CUPS are EQUAL
It is important to note that what I have stated above for US cups and what is actually commonly used is often different. Of about 25 different US measuring cups I checked –
- only ONE by Martha Stewart has 1 cup = 236ml
- only TWO: Martha Stewart and Bellemaine have 1 cup = 240ml
- about TEN: OXO, Progressive, All clad, Chef N, etc have 1 cup = 250 ml
- rest were unmarked but it’s safe to assume is 250 ml
- ** all my FOUR 1 cup measuring cups are 250 ml, including one bought in London
A little more info on each US cup:
US Customary cup = 236ml is defined as 8 oz or 1/2 pint and was used customarily throughout United States. But it seems this is no longer popular.
US Metric cup = 250ml is what you will find in most stores. Betty Crocker defines 1 cup as 250 ml. And then Julia Child’s pyrex measurement cup (on display at Smithsonian) actually has both: 1 US cup as 8 oz (240ml or 236 ml to be exact) and 1 Metric cup as 250ml. Some American recipe books will say 1 cup (240ml) but then there’s some that has 1 cup (250ml).
So BE AWARE of what your measuring cup size is.
So WHY are US measuring cups all different??
Reason 1: Partly because we are dealing with the traditional US cup size of 236 ml which then got rounded to 240 ml by government and then some chefs decided to go with 250 ml which is what is widely used internationally, especially in French cooking.
Reason 2: We are all confusing the use of DRY vs WET measuring cups. After spending many hours looking at many measuring cups and reading many documents, I think it is safe to say that most DRY measuring cups measure 250ml and most WET measuring cups measure 240ml. But since people often don’t differentiate the two measuring cups, it gets all mixed up…
DRY vs WET (LIQUID) measuring cups
Many of you may know that there are different measuring cups for DRY vs WET (liquid). The measuring cups that come in 1, 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 cup sizes (like the ones you see in the pictures above) are actually meant for DRY ingredients like flour and sugar. Easy to scrape off the top for accurate measurement. For WET or liquid measure, there is the good old clear glass Pyrex measuring cups with a spout. If you look closely, these pyrex cups actually measure 1 cup = 8 oz = 240 ml on one side and 250ml on the other side.
But if you ask around, everyone will say that the DRY and WET measures all have the same volume. NOT SO!!! According to my research, DRY tends to be 250 ml and WET is 240 ml. But, problem is, many just use DRY cups a lot of times.
So, when trying out a recipe from a cookbook or a blog, if the recipe is not working out, you may want to check what their measurement is for 1 cup and then also make sure you know exactly what ml volume your cups have. Now for most cases, it will not make much of a difference since the error will most likely be around +/- 10 ml for both the author and yourself. If you know what I mean.. 🙂 But it is going to make a quite a bit of difference if you are talking about 10 cups…cause 10 ml x 10 = 100 ml which is almost 1/2 cup difference!!!
Well, hopefully that was helpful and not too confusing.
BTW, all my DRY measuring cups measure 250 ml = 1 cup. For WET measuring cups, I use Pyrex 1, 2, 5 cup measures. So for any recipe that contains more than 2 cups of liquid measure, I’ve always used Pyrex cups for WET measure, so please take a note of that.
- Good general info on Cups: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cup_(unit)
- Good discussion about DRY vs WET measures: http://www.cooksinfo.com/measuring-cups
- Good video on how to measure DRY vs WET: http://www.marthastewart.com/1100808/how-properly-measure-wet-and-dry-ingredients
- Good info on which measuring cups are best: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/the-best-measuring-cups/