I have been looking at curry recipes on an American web site and it gives measurements in teaspoons and tablespoons. I am not familiar with these measurements as we do not use them locally.

Does teaspoon/tablespoon refer to the size of the spoon or its purpose?

If I have spoons that measure only mL, how can I convert a teaspoon/tablespoon measurement to these?

  • 1
    You say "a new website" ... could you tell us what the website is?
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 12, 2011 at 0:20
  • This probably does not work everywhere, but most liquid medicines I see tend to be dosed in 5ml measurements and come with a spoon - very useful when you can't find a teaspoon measure. (or a tablespoon, at x3,or a half teaspoon if you find the double-ended type)
    – Orbling
    Commented Feb 12, 2011 at 2:09
  • Google will convert units for you: google.com/search?q=1+US+teaspoon+in+ml
    – derobert
    Commented Mar 1, 2011 at 18:09

3 Answers 3


You can normally use the guideline that 1 teaspoon is equal to 5 ml and 1 tablespoon is equal to 15 ml. However, do make sure that the website is American and not Australian, as the tablespoon measurement as used in that country equals 20 ml.

There's a helpful table comparing the definition of the teaspoon and tablespoon measurements as used in different English-speaking countries on this Wikipedia page (in the section "Metric measures"):


Though your specific question was about a modern website, others looking into this question may need to keep in mind that teaspoon and tablespoon measures can vary widely in older books published in different countries or even in the same country. I found a blog post with a list of examples for the tablespoon measure from different books varying from as little as 12.5 ml to as much as 25 ml:

  • Margaret Powell (British) 1970 Tablespoon = 18 ml
  • Australian and New Zealand Complete cooking 1973 = Tablespoon = 25 ml
  • Best of Cooking (Hamlyn) - Tablespoon, (Australia) = 20 ml
  • Best of Cooking (Hamlyn) - Tablespoon, (British) = 17,7 ml
  • Best of Cooking (Hamlyn) - Tablespoon, (America) 14,2
  • Indian Cooking, Chowhary 1952 - = Tablespoon = 25 ml
  • Cook and Enjoy, De Villiers 1971 (South Africa) = Tablespoon = 12,5 ml
  • Complete South African Cookbook (South Africa) 1979 Tablespoon = 12,5
  • The Australian Women's weekly 1978 = 20 ml

(Source: http://whitegranny.blogspot.com/2008/11/beware-of-tablespoon.html)

And, though again this is probably not relevant to your specific question, it's interesting to note that in Dutch recipes "a teaspoon" refers to a 3 ml measurement, while "a coffee spoon" refers to a 5 ml measurement. (Source: http://www.dekooktips.com/wegen-meten.htm, in Dutch)

  • this was very much of the help;
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 18:36

It's actually understandable why this would be confusing to non-Americans, because the terms "teaspoon" and "tablespoon" actually have two meanings - one in cooking and one in dining.

Historically, teaspoons and tablespoons were simply two types of silverware. Teaspoons were literally for stirring tea or other liquids. Tablespoons were used for serving. So yes, the terms actually do refer to the purpose of the spoon.

They are also now used as cooking measurements across most of North America and possibly other regions:

  • A standard teaspoon (1 tsp) is approximately 5 mL (4.9 mL)
  • A standard tablespoon (1 tbsp) is 3 tsp or approximately 15 mL (14.7 mL)

For future reference, I use Google as my go-to resource for unit conversions whenever I don't know or can't remember the exact ratios. For example, you can type the phrase 2 tbsp in mL directly into the search box and it will give you the answer (29.57 mL).

  • For the purpose of nutrition labeling, a teaspoon is defined as exactly 5 mL.
    – dan04
    Commented Jun 4, 2011 at 19:27

American standard spoon measurements are:

Tablespoon: 14.8ml (about 15ml)
Teaspoon: 4.93ml (about 5ml)

They say 3 tsp (teaspoon) is equal to 1 tbsp (tablespoon).

In Japan, we use "large" or "small" for measurement spoons, but they work the same (large = table spoon, small = tea spoon).

  • 2
    A US tablespoon is 0.5 fluid ounces, so 14.7867648 mL, so about 15mL (and 3x the size of a US tea spoon) ...
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 12, 2011 at 0:16
  • Afaik a regular tbl spoon is 15ml and an australian tbl sp. is 20ml. I've never heard of a 12ml spoon.
    – SurDin
    Commented Feb 14, 2011 at 9:13

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