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I was reading a question here on Food and Cooking and no one seemed to know how much it is. I tried to Google convert it to cups but no dice.

So how much is it?

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A knob is not a "unit", it's an expression. Just like a "pinch" of something. Use you own personal preference. If it was critical a good recipe would specify it. It's used here just for taste and texture reasons –  TFD Jul 30 '12 at 9:58
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5 Answers 5

up vote 14 down vote accepted

In this Gordon Ramsey scrambled eggs video he uses a "knob" of butter. It appears to be about 2 Tbsp.

I don't think it's intended to be a specific term. You'd never see "knob" used for baking, where exact amounts matter. When cooking, recipes tend to be a general guideline rather than a strict set of instructions.

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This page agrees, a couple tablespoons, but definitely not an exact measure: ochef.com/300.htm –  stephennmcdonald Aug 24 '10 at 18:27
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In particular, it's a common English term. Jamie Oliver uses imprecise measurements all the time (a handful, a glass of wine, knob of butter). My (English) mother thinks this is in large part because the average Englishman thinks of a cooking as a woman's job or a bit queer for a man to be doing. To get around this, male chefs tend to be a bit nonchalant about things like measuring, leaving an "I'm a man, I just throw it together" kind of vibe. –  yossarian Aug 24 '10 at 19:03
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As a chef who is queer as a three dollar bill, I don't think your mother is on the right track. (FWIW, my parents are English too). The nonchalance comes with confidence and knowing that a little more of this or a little less of that in home cooking is really going to make very little difference to the end result. –  daniel Aug 24 '10 at 20:36
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My mother cooked some things without measuring. My grandmothers often cooked without measuring. One advantage is that you can compensate for variations in ingredients and the weather, for example, if you're not locked into "precision" but more focused on achieving a desired result and have a sense of whether what you're doing is going to succeed. I'm "nonchalant" about it to some extent because there are a lot of things that don't require any precision and sometimes the result of a variation results in a pleasant surprise. Perhaps it's "Darwinian" cooking. –  Dennis Williamson Aug 24 '10 at 22:58
    
Looks more like he sliced a bit of butter off the stick. Precision is actually bad for these kinds of cooking, because the amount of butter also depends on things like the size of the pan, type of butter, or the other ingredients it's going with. Much like herbs and spices, you'll have to practice winging it. –  Muz Feb 9 at 4:30
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I tend to treat it as 'a knifeful' but thinking about now it its probably about 1-1.5 tbsp, depending on how soft the butter is.

If the butter is too cold to get a knife to scoop it with, and I have to cut it, I try to cut a corner off starting about 1 cm into the edge, creating a pyramid type shape.

As @hobodave pointed out Gordon Ramsey uses about 2 tbsp, but that tends to be the same with the chefs, they go heavy on the salt and the butter and the cream.

YMMV.

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Perhaps it's equivalent to a "pat" of butter.

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A pat of butter to me is less than one tablespoon, more like half of one. –  hobodave Aug 24 '10 at 21:15
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2 or 3 tablespoons is equal to a knob. Also it depends on what you want, it is your choice how much your eggs taste of butter.

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I believe the term "knob" of butter was developed and used in the days before standardized measuring. The amount is about 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons -- about the size of a knob on a kitchen drawer.

Other non-exact measurements: palm, handful, wooden spoonful, size of a walnut, size of an egg, a glassful ...

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