Old Fashioned Recipe Measurements

Historically homemakers used what they had on hand to make measurements when cooking. For example, a tablespoon or teaspoon often meant the spoons they had in their silverware drawer.

It was not until almost 1900 that kitchen measurements became standardized. While you can successfully use modern spoons and cups measurements when recreating old recipes, below are some vintage recipe measurement equivalents in the context of the times.

Note however that not all conversions will necessarily be equal to today’s equivalents. So, here are some measurement terms you may find in old recipes and how they relate to modern usage.

  • Wineglass = 1/4 Cup
  • Jigger = 1.5 fluid ounces
  • Gill = 1/2 Cup
  • Teacup = scant 3/4 Cup (scant = slightly less than the full quantity)
  • Peck = 8 quarts
  • Spoonful = 1 tablespoon, mounded
  • Salt spoon = 1/4 teaspoon
  • Dash = 1/8 teaspoon
  • Pinch = 1/16 teaspoon (what will fit between thumb and finger when pinched)
  • Saucer = 1 cup, slightly mounded
  • Butter the size of an egg = 1/4 Cup
  • Butter the size of a walnut = 2 tablespoons
  • One saltspoon equals a quarter teaspoon
  • Two gills equals one cup
  • One wineglass equals one half gill
  • Sixty drops make a tablespoon
  • Three teaspoons equals one tablespoon
  • Eight rounded tablespoons of dry material equals one cupful
  • Sixteen tablespoons of liquid equals one cupful
  • One cup of liquid is half a pint
  • One heaping tablespoon sugar is one ounce
  • One heaping tablespoon butter is two ounces
  • One cup butter or sugar is half a pound
  • Two cups of flour is a pound
  • One cup of rice is half a pound
  • One cup of Indian meal is six ounces
  • One cup bread crumbs is two ounces
  • One pint of ordinary liquid is one pound
  • Two tablespoons butter is one ounce
  • Two tablespoons granulated sugar is one ounce
  • Four cups sifted pastry flour is one pound
  • Spoon measurements may indicate in order of quantlty as either scant (slightly less than level) level, rounded (mounded), or heapng (as much as you can get on the spoon without spilling).
  • In the old days a cup a cup meant a teacup and a glass or tumbler was a small water glass