How Many Tablespoons in a Cup, Half Cup, Quarter Cup, Cup of Butter


by Sil Pancho



How tablespoons in a cup,  you ask? The answer is simple but can get more complicated when you want to know how many tablespoons are in a half a cup, a quarter of a cup, or a cup of butter. 

The pandemic has inspired many Americans to cook more of their meals at home. At least 71% of people in the U.S. plan to continue the habit. 

Cooking at home is often more affordable and healthier than dining out or cooking pre-made meals. Plus, it provides a fun creative outlet as well as a sense of accomplishment. 

But when you need to scale a recipe down or your measuring spoons are dirty, you can run into some issues. You might ask yourself things like, ‘how many tablespoons in a cup?’ or ‘how can I cut a tablespoon in half?’. 

Even if math and measurements aren’t your strong suit, we’re here to help. Read on to get the cooking measurements and baking conversions that will help simplify your time in the kitchen. 

How Many Tablespoons Are in a Cup? 

There are 16 tablespoons in one dry US cup. You can use a dry measuring cup to measure ingredients like flour, sugar, and cornstarch. Be sure to understand How Many Ounces Are in a Cup, as the answer varies depending on what you’re measuring. 

If you’re following a US recipe, it’s best to stick to a US measuring cup. US measuring cups use the imperial system rather than the metric, Australian, or British measurements. You’ll get the best results if you make the recipe using the same tools and measurements the creator did. 

A good shorthand is to remember that there are 4 tablespoons in a 1/4 cup. If you ever need more or less than 1/4 cup, simply work up or down from there by tablespoon. Here’s a handy list of tablespoon to cup conversions. 

1 US cup = 16 tablespoons

3/4 US cup = 12 tablespoons

2/3 US cup = 10 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons

1/2 US cup = 8 tablespoons

1/3 US cup = 5 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon

1/4 US cup = 4 tablespoons

1/8 US cup= 2 tablespoons

These conversions will come in handy if you don’t have an equivalent measuring cup handy but you do have a tablespoon. It’s also a quick shortcut if you’d rather measure a 1/8 cup instead of filling 2 tablespoons. 

If you ever need to scale up or down, think of each cup by tablespoon. It might take longer, but you’ll know that the measurements are correct. Make a note of how many tablespoons you used and then convert to cups later on. 

This skill comes in handy if you often cook for just yourself or one other person. You probably don’t need a full-sized casserole or pot of soup if you’re cooking for a few. Once you know these measuring shortcuts, it will be much easier to halve recipes. 

A teaspoon, half teaspoon, and tablespoon sit on a counter to show the size difference.

How Many Teaspoons in a Tablespoon?

In the US, there are 3 teaspoons in one tablespoon. If you’re ever cutting a recipe in half, remember the teaspoon to tablespoon ratio. To cut a tablespoon in half, you’d need 1 1/2 teaspoons. 

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons

1/2 tablespoon = 1 1/2 teaspoons

1/3 tablespoon = 1 teaspoon 

These measurements will come in handy when you’re halving a recipe. They also help if you only have one tablespoon and you don’t feel like washing it while you’re cooking or baking. 

Measuring Liquid vs. Dry Ingredients in a Tablespoon

Thanks to the shape of a measuring spoon, you can accurately measure both wet and dry ingredients in it. For wet ingredients, simply pour it in and stop when it’s level with the top. 

For dry ingredients, use the measuring spoon to scoop the dry ingredient until it looks mounded. Then, use a knife to sweep the excess off the top. This will give you a precise measurement. 

If you’re measuring dry ingredients for a recipe, use this same sweeping method no matter the amount. Make sure to use dry measuring cups rather than liquid ones to measure dry ingredients. These dry cups make it possible to use the sweeping motion while liquid cups don’t.

While cooking a vegan soup, exact measurements aren’t so important. But, when you’re baking, precision is key. Too much baking powder or baking soda can easily make your recipe flop.

A stick of butter with tablespoons shown on the wrapper.

What About Butter?

Butter is where things get a bit different. While one dry or liquid tablespoon equals 16 tablespoons, butter falls into a different category. It’s technically a solid. This is the same with vegan butter such as Earth Balance or Miyoko’s, which is what we use for our amazing Vegan Chocolate Frosting

In its solid state, one tablespoon of butter is marked by a line on the wrapper. If you buy butter quarters (4 sticks to a pound) there are 8 tablespoons in each stick. To get a cup of butter, you’ll need two sticks.

16 tablespoons butter = 2 sticks = 1 cup

8 tablespoons butter = 1 stick = 1/2 cup

4 tablespoons butter = 1/2 stick = 1/4 cup

If you’re ever making cookies, a cake, or even soup, you’ll need to measure out butter. These measurements will make it easier for you to understand how to measure butter.

When using margarine, vegan butter, or shortening in stick form, these same measurements apply. If you’re ever unsure, look at the packaging for more guidance. 

If you’re measuring solid coconut oil or shortening from a can or a jar, you can often scrape out the amount into a dry measuring cup. Just like with dry ingredients make sure the oil is level with the top and scrape off any excess. 

Test Your Knowledge on a New Recipe

Now that you know your way around common kitchen measurements, you’ll have more confidence in the kitchen. You won’t frantically Google ‘how many tablespoons in a cup’ as your pot of soup boils over. That means much calmer cooking or baking experience. 

Once you know there are 16 tablespoons in a cup, you can cook and bake to your heart’s content. 

If you’re looking for a new recipe to try, check out my recipe index by ingredient or type of recipe. Whether you’re looking for something healthy or wholesome, you can find it all on my blog. 

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