32 fluid ounces--that's the answer to the title question. If all you need is that answer, you can stop reading. But there's a little more to it than this.
You see, fluid ounces are different than ounces. Ounces are a unit of weight, and fluid ounces are a unit of volume.
If you don't understand what that means, or why it's important, you will by the time you're done reading this article.
(Our conversion tables will be a big help, too.)
Part 1: An Overview of Measuring Ingredients (And Why It's Confusing)
The English System and the Metric System
Skip this section if you know the difference
Probably the broadest overview to start with is that there are two main systems of measurement: the English (also called "Imperial") system and the Metric system.
Most countries use the metric system. Liberia, Myanmar, and the United States use the English system.
The English system is based on archaic standards such as the length of the king's foot (a foot). The British switched to the metric system in 1965, but the US still uses their English system.
For cooking and baking in the US, the biggest repercussion is that if you find a recipe written outside the US, you have to know how to measure the metric units, or convert them to the English system.
The Metric System, also called the International System of Units (abbreviated "SI"), is a decimal system, meaning that it's based on multiples of 10. It began in France in the late 18th century ("SI" stands for Systéme International).
Though the metric system has not been officially adopted yet, product weights or volumes in the US are given in both English and metric units, and more and more American recipes also list both units. (Recipes from outside the US usually have only metric units.)
In other words, it has become easy (in most instances) to use either system even in the US. Why? The metric system is more accurate, easier to use, and easier to convert to other units than the English system. It's also the internationally recognized system, used by scientists, doctors, researchers, and other officials the world over (yes, even in the US).
Now that you understand the two systems of measurement we operate under in the US, let's look at weight and volume.
Weight and Volume: What's the Difference And Why Is It Important?
Let's go back to the basic question: how many ounces are in a quart?
There's an error in the question itself because ounces are a unit of weight, and quarts are a unit of volume.
A lot of people use "ounce" and "fluid ounce" interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. But they don't, except in one special case: water. (We'll explain this in a minute.)
If you're confused, you're not alone. You can blame whoever thought it was a good idea to give two different units of measure the same name; of course it's confusing. (Although once you understand their relationship, you'll see that it sort of makes sense.)
It will help to commit this factoid to memory: When someone refers to the number of ounces in a quart (or other unit of volume such as pint, gallon, cup, etc.), it is assumed that they mean "fluid ounces." In which case, the answer is always 32, no matter what liquid you're talking about.
There are 32 fluid ounces in a quart. However many ounces that quart weighs depends on the kind of liquid it is (e.g., cooking oil is going to have a different weight than milk).
This is the difference between weight and volume: Weight (ounces) measures mass, and Volume measures area.
What Is Weight?
It might seem like a dumb question, but defining weight will help us understand the difference between weigt and volume.
Technically, weight is the amount of gravitational force that acts upon an object. Weight measures how heavy an object is. "Mass" is often used interchangeably for "weight," and for our purposes on planet Earth, that's fine: mass and weight are essentially the same thing: they measure the heaviness of an object.
English units of weight: In the English system, the most important units of weight for cooking and baking are ounces and pounds, abbreviated "oz." and "lb" respectively.
Metric units of weight: In the metric system, the most important units of weight for cooking and baking are grams and kilograms, abbreviated "g" and "kg" respectively.
In general, weight is used to measure solids in a recipe: flour, salt, pepper, sugar, chocolate, etc.
You can measure the weights of liquids, too, and this is sometimes useful. But in recipes, liquids are almost always given in volume (true for both English and metric systems).
What Is Volume (or Area)?
Volume is the amount of space an object occupies. Objects can weigh the same but have different volumes. A popular example is a pound of feathers vs. a pound of lead: they both weigh a pound, but the feathers are going to have a much larger volume than the lead: it takes a lot of feathers to make up a pound, while it takes a small amount of lead to make up a pound.
English units of volume: In the English system, most units in recipes are volume: teaspoons ("tsp"), tablespoons ("T"), cups ("C"), pints ("pt"), quarts ("qt"), gallons ("gal"), and fluid ounces ("fl. oz.") are all units of volume.
Note also that, as we said above, if a recipe calls for a liquid in ounces, you can assume it means fluid ounces and measure by volume; this will be correct at least 99% of the time.
Metric units of volume: In the metric system, the most important units of volume for cooking and baking are milliliters ("ml") and liters ("l").
You may also sometimes see "cc" in the metric system. This stands for cubic centimeter, a unit of volume equivalent to a milliliter.
Why Is It Important to Know the Difference?
Volume is used to measure liquids, but as you can see, it is also commonly used to measure everything in recipes in the English system (e.g., teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups). You may not have given this much thought, but if you're using teaspoons, tablespoons and cups in your recipes, you're using volume--and there's a good reason why this isn't always the best way to measure ingredients.
Weight is more accurate than volume for dry ingredients. So if you use volume measurements in your recipes and want to be a better cook--or especially a better baker--you should learn when to use weight instead.
Just making this one change, from volume to weight, will greatly improve your baking, and it can improve your cooking, too.
Measuring flour is a prime example: depending on how you scoop and level it, a cup of all-purpose flour can weigh anywhere from 120g to 180g. That's a huge difference!
However, if you weigh your flour, you will always use the same amount; no matter how you scoop it out of the bin, no matter how compacted or fluffed up it is, it's always going to be the right amount if you weigh it.
This is a huge game changer!
If you've ever wondered why your cakes or cookies turn out dry, it's probably because you're measuring your flour by volume.
Water: How Ounces and Fluid Ounces Are Related
Ounces and fluid ounces aren't totally unrelated. For water, they are the same measurement: an ounce of water is equivalent to a fluid ounce of water. Or in other words, one fluid ounce of water weighs one ounce.
This is a convenient fact you can use in your cooking and baking. If a recipe calls for water or a liquid close to the density of water (e.g., milk, orange juice) in ounces, you can use any measuring cup and know that you're measuring out an accurate amount.
In fact, most liquids are going to be close enough that using weight or volume won't make a huge change to a recipe.
It even works for many solids, which is why volume is such a popular way to write recipes in the English system: most people find that it's more convenient than pulling out a scale, which they believe adds a step to every measurement. (More on that in a minute.)
Part 2: How to Measure and Weigh Ingredients (With Videos!)
Now that we've covered the basics, let's talk about how to measure ingredients.
How to Measure Dry Ingredients
The best way to measure dry ingredients is by weight.
You can use weight for liquids, as well, but recipes usually provide liquid amounts in volume.
Use a Scale Whenever Possible
The best way to measure dry ingredients is by weight. That means that you need a scale.
This may seem like a pain, an extra and unnecessary step. But weighing ingredients is the only way to ensure accurate amounts.
It's more important for some ingredients than for others. Flour is one of the most important things to weigh because volume measures can vary so much. But you'll also benefit from weighing ingredients like salt, sugar, spices, yeast and more.
In general, weighing is extremely accurate, and will produce better results in recipes.
Whether using ounces or grams, weighing is better.
Here's a 5 minute video from America's Test Kitchen about using scales, as well as the best ones to buy (they like the same one we like, the 11 lb OXO Good Grips):
The OXO Good Grips scale has been updated, and it now weighs ounces in decimals rather than fractions. This isn't as good a system because you can't weigh to an eighth or a quarter of an ounce; this is unfortunate because when using ounces, you really want those fractions. So, we recommend you try to find an older model, or go with the bigger one (22 lb) for about $20 more; this one still has fractions.
Once you get the hang of using a scale, it's easy. You can tare out a bowl (that is, put the bowl on the scale and set it to "Zero") and just weigh everything into it, taring after every addition so you don't have to do any math in your head.
How to Use Dry Measuring Cups
If you absolutely don't want to switch over to using a scale, you can make dry measuring cups work (though they will never be as accurate as a scale). To get accurate measurements every time, you have to develop a method and stick with it to ensure correct, consistent weights.
As with other measuring, it's easier to show the process than to describe it. Here's a two-minute video from Food Network about how to measure dry ingredients (at the end, they also encourage you to use a scale, as we do):
We like this set of dry measuring cups from Laxinis: it includes 3/4 and 2/3 cups as well as 1.5 Tablespoon and 1.5 teaspoon--all measurements you'll see often--and the square shape of the spoons are easier (than round) to fit into spice bottles. The cups have flat handles for easy leveling (very important!) and they are heavy enough to stand up even when empty.
Here's another stainless steel set that includes a leveler, pasta measures, and a coffee spoon. If you need all that, it's a great deal.
What If the Recipe Doesn't Provide Weights?
Most recipes today provide both volume and weight measurements. For example, a recipe will call for one cup of flour and then in parentheses give the weight, like this:
1 C all-purpose flour (4.25 oz.).
Or, it will give the weight in grams:
1 C all-purpose flour (125g).
Many recipes list both English and metric weights:
1 C all-purpose flour (4.25 oz., 125g).
If a baking recipe doesn't provide weight measurements, just follow the volume measurements as carefully as possible. Watch the video above for guidance on how to measure dry ingredients by volume.
We'll add that if you're not tied to the recipe--if it's new to you or not a favorite--you may want to consider finding a different recipe. We're serious about this, especially for Internet recipes: if a website doesn't provide weights as well as volumes, it's an indication that the recipe writer may not be very conscientious.
Of course, this doesn't apply to old family recipes passed down for generations, or recipes out of older cookbooks (such as your mom's hand-me-down edition of Joy of Cooking). In this case, just use the measurements as given (using the proper volume-measuring techniques), or convert the volumes to weights so you can use your scale. (We promise, once you get the hang of it, you're going to love using a scale.)
To convert volume to weight, you can use one of our handy conversion charts at the bottom of the page--it's a lot easier than you probably think it is.
How to Measure Liquids
Nearly all recipes have liquid amounts in volume. And if the unit is ounces, you can assume it means fluid ounces. If a liquid is listed in grams or pounds, then you know you should weigh it instead of using a measuring cup.
For best results, you need to have the correct measuring cups for liquids and you have to know how to read them. Here's another short (one minute) video from Food Network that shows you how to measure liquids; it's not hard, but there is a right way to do it:
The most important tip in the video is to view the cup at eye level: looking down at it from above will give you the wrong reading.
Note also that measuring spoons are used for both dry and liquid ingredients (e.g., salt and vanilla extract). Measuring spoons work fine for tiny amounts--but for best results, measure over a bowl or the sink.
If a recipe has liquids listed by weight (fluid ounces or grams), you just use the same procedure as you would for measuring dry ingredients: put a bowl on the scale, tare it, and pour in the liquid.
Or, assume that ounces are close enough to fluid ounces that the recipe will be fine (true for liquids which have about the same density as water).
How to Use Liquid Measuring Cups
You can see right away that liquid measuring cups have a very different design than dry measuring cups:
- They have a spout (for pouring)
- They're clear (or have a clear panel) so you can level the liquid to the fill line easily (and read it at eye level)
- They are marked so you can use them for several amounts (dry measuring cups are meant to be filled and leveled)
- The measurements don't go up to the top (so you won't spill)
- They're marked in multiple units: cups, ounces (fluid ounces, remember), and milliliters/liters.
You do not want to fill a liquid measuring cup to the top because it can slosh out and cause both a mess and an inaccurate amount.
We prefer glass for liquid measuring because it holds up well and doesn't scratch like plastic can, so it stays easy to read. The set from Amazon Basics shown above has everything you need. If you don't think you'll use a 64 oz. measuring cup (that's 8 cups, or half a gallon), the set below is a better option (or you can click over to Amazon to shop--there are a lot of options).
We recommend that you buy a set with at least a 4-cup, a 2-cup, and a 1-cup measure. You might be tempted to just get the big one and use it for everything, but your measurements will be more accurate if you use a measuring cup closest to the amount you're measuring.
Plastic has advantages, too: it won't break, it's easier to store, and it's less expensive than glass. If you prefer plastic, these oval shaped cups are a good choice:
What About Eggs and Butter?
Most recipes give the egg amount in number of eggs or whites and yolks. This can be inaccurate because eggs vary so much in size, even among eggs of the same grade (e.g., medium, large, extra large, etc.).
If a recipe just asks for a number of eggs, the assumption is that you're using large eggs. If you don't have large eggs, you'll just have to guess at how much of the larger or smaller eggs to use.
More and more, recipes call for eggs by weight. This is helpful because you can use an exact amount of egg.
If a recipe calls for more than just a number of eggs, it could be written in Tablespoons, ounces, milliliters, or grams. From Wikipedia:
One large egg (without shell) = 3.25T = 2 oz = 57g = 46ml. Keep in mind these are approximate because the sizes of eggs will vary slightly--and, that these measurements will be different for eggs of different sizes.
One medium egg (without shell) = 3 T = 1.75 oz = 49.6g = 43ml.
If you want more information, here's a good article about large eggs in baking.
Butter is actually very easy to use. Most butter wrappers have measurements so you can just cut off the amount of butter that you need.
One standard stick of butter = 0.5 C = 4 oz = 0.25 lb = 110g.
Why Is the Metric System Better?
Just as measuring by weight will improve your cooking and baking, switching to the metric system--using grams instead of ounces--will also improve it.
Metric units are smaller. so your measurements will be more precise. For example, there are about 28 grams in an ounce, so grams are much more accurate than ounces, or even quarter and half ounces.
Also, because the metric system is based on multiples of 10, it's easier to do conversions (just move the decimal point). This is true for both volume and weight measurements in the metric system.
Weight and volume are closely related in the metric system. Just as a fluid ounce of water weighs an ounce, a milliliter of water weighs a gram--so you have the same basic relationship, except the units are much smaller and therefore more accurate.
Once you memorize these key points, the metric system is super easy to use. Whether it's weight (grams) or volume (milliliters), it's always multiples of 10.
Why Using a Scale Is Easier
If you're used to using teaspoons, tablespoons and cups, it may seem like a huge hassle to pull out a scale.
It's an extra step.
Only it isn't; not really.
Here's why.
Put your bowl on a scale and tare (zero) it. Add an ingredient and tare it again. Repeat until you've add all of your ingredients.
If you remember that fluid ounces are equivalent to ounces for most liquids, you can use the same method.
So, one bowl, and no measuring cups (though you may want to measure out small amounts like teaspoons). That's pretty easy!
What About Small Amounts?
For baking in particular, once you're in the habit of weighing, you will want to weigh everything. You'll probably want to start weighing your salt and spices instead of using teaspoons and tablespoons. This means that you'll need a gram scale. You may also want some weighing boats, which make it easy to work with tiny amounts of ingredients.
As with volume measuring cups, using the scale meant for the size you're weighing will produce more accurate results. Teaspoons and tablespoons work for many recipes, but for others, you'll want to use a gram scale.
Also, weighing eradicates any issues with, for example, the size of the salt crystals: while a teaspoon of fine-grained salt won't work in a recipe calling for coarse-grained salt (it will be way too salty!), 5g works for any type of salt. You'll always use the right amount if you go by weight.
You may think you'll hate having to use two scales when you bake, but you'll appreciate the accuracy it provides and the huge improvement in your baking.
Part 3: Printable Conversion Charts and Converter Tool
You can click the link below each chart to open a printable PDF document.
Liquid/Volume Conversion Chart (English and Metric)
Tsp | Tblspn | Cup | Pint | Quart | Fl oz | mL | Liters | |
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|
1 tsp = | 1 | 0.33 | -- | -- | -- | 0.17 | 5 | -- |
1 T = | 3 | 1 | -- | -- | -- | 0.5 | 15 | -- |
1 C = | 48 | 16 | 1 | 1/2 | 1/4 | 8 | 237 | 0.24 |
1 pt = | 96 | 32 | 2 | 1 | 1/2 | 16 | 473 | 0.47 |
1 Qt = | 192 | 64 | 4 | 2 | 1 | 32 | 950 | 0.95 |
1 Fl oz = | 6 | 2 | 1/8 | -- | -- | 1 | 30 | -- |
1 ml = | 0.2 | -- | -- | -- | -- | -- | 1 | 0.001 |
1 Liter = | 202 | -- | 4.2 | 0.94 | 0.94 | -- | 1000 | 1 |
Common Liquid/Volume Conversions 1 t = 5 ml 1 T = 3 tsp = 1/2 fl oz =15 ml 1 fl oz = 2 T = ⅛ C = 30 ml ¼ C = 4 T = 2 fl oz = 60 ml ⅓ C = 5 T = 80 ml ½ C = 8 T = 4 fl oz = 120 ml ⅔ C = 10 T = 160 ml ¾ C = 12 T = 6 fl oz =180 ml 1 C = 16 T = 8 fl oz = ½ pt = 240 ml 2 C = 1 pt = 16 fl oz = 475 ml 4 C = 2 pt = 1 qt = 950 ml 4 qt = 1 gal = 3.8 l | Conversion factors: To convert tsp to ml: Multiply tsp by 4.93 To convert ml to tsp: Multiply ml by 0.20 To convert fl oz to ml: Multiply fl oz by 29.57 To convert ml to fl oz: Multiply ml by 0.034 To convert T to ml: Multiply T by 14.79 To convert ml to T: Multiply ml by 0.068 To convert Cups to ml: Multiply Cups by 236.6 To convert ml to Cups: Multiply ml by 0.004 To convert quarts to liters: Multiply by 0.95 To convert liters to quarts: Multiply by 1.06 |
Print out Liquid/Volume Conversion Chart: Click link to open a PDF, then click the Print button.
Weight Conversion Chart (English and Metric)
Header | Oz | Lb | Gram | Kg |
---|---|---|---|---|
1 oz = | 1 | 0.06 or 1/16 | 28.3 | 0.03 |
1 lb = | 16 | 1 | 453.6 | 0.45 |
1 g = | 0.035 | 0.002 | 1 | 0.001 |
1 kg = | 35.2 | 2.2 | 1000 | 1 |
Common Weight Conversions ½ oz = 14 g 1 oz = 28 g 1 ½ oz = 42 g 2 oz = 56 g 4 oz = 113 g 5.3 oz = 150 g 8 oz = ½ lb = 225 g 12 oz = ¾ lb = 340 g 16 oz = 1 lb = 450 g | Weight Conversion Factors To convert ounces to grams: Multiply ounces by 28.35. To convert grams to ounces: Multiply grams by 0.035. To convert pounds to kilograms: Multiply pounds by 0.45. To convert kilograms to pounds: Multiply kilograms by 2.2. |
Print out Weight Conversion Chart: Click link to open a PDF, then click the Print button.
Conversion Chart: Weights of Standard Ingredients
If you check other sources, you will probably find some differences in these conversion factors. (For example, we've seen a cup of AP flour listed at several different weights, from 120g to 150g.) But we think these are the most accurate conversion numbers.
For a more complete list of ingredient conversion, check out the King Arthur Ingredient Weight Chart--it's amazing.
Ingredient | Volume | Weight |
---|---|---|
Almond flour | 1 C | 90g/3.2 oz |
Butter | 1 T 1/2 C (1 stick) | 14g 113g/4 oz |
Cheese, grated | 1 C | 113g/4 oz |
Chocolate chips | 1 C | 170g |
Cocoa powder | 1 T 1 C | 6g 100g/3.5 oz |
Corn meal | 1 C | 120g/4.2 oz |
Corn starch (corn flour) | 1 T | 10g |
Eggs (1 large) | app. 3 1/4 T | 57g/2 oz |
Flour (AP, bread) | 1 C | 130g/4.6 oz |
Flour (cake) | 1 C | 120g/4.2 oz |
Flour (whole wheat) | 1 C | 130g/4.6 oz |
Olive oil (most cooking oils) | 1/4 C | 50g/1 3/4 oz |
Rolled oats | 1 C | 95g/3.4 oz |
Salt, coarse ground | 1 tsp | 4.58g |
Salt, fine ground | 1 tsp | 6g |
Sugar, white, granulated | 1 T 1 C | 12g 200g/7 oz |
Sugar, brown, packed | 1 T 1 C | 13g 180g/6.4 oz |
Sugar, confectioner's | 1 T 1 C | 6g 120g/4.2 oz |
Water | 1 T 1 C | 14g 227g/8 oz |
Print out Common Ingredient Weight/Volume Conversion Chart: Click link to open a PDF, then click the Print button.
Converter Tool
If you need to convert something we haven't mentioned here, you can use an online converter tool. There are thousands of free tools to choose from. We like this one at mathisfun.com because it's quick and simple to use.
If you're doing a lot of conversions, bookmark the site (or one of your choosing) so you can access it easily and make quick work of your kitchen conversions.
Final Thoughts
We hope this conversion information is helpful. If you're just learning to bake by weights or still new to metric numbers, we suggest you print out these charts and tape them inside your cabinet for easy reference.
Thanks for reading!
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