I don't have a single tools to measure the weight of ingredient.

I came across recipe with different weight:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons butter
4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Salt (optional)

There are already 5 units, how do you measure them separately? If you use a scale, do you translate the unit?

Also, do you have any picture for the size of cup/tablespoon/teaspoon/etc? I have spoons in different size. And cup, to me, is also unknown in size.

I also welcome recommendations of scales and alternative methods to weigh the ingredients.

  • 1
    With a recipe like this, exact quantities aren't terribly important, but if you're serious about cooking, you'll be a lot happier if you just buy some measuring spoons. The weights aren't really the issue, since as the answer says, pasta is often sold by the pound (or maybe 450 or 500 grams?) and cheese is sold by weight too.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 4:44
  • The alternative to a scale is to know the volume of items... or how to eyeball it. I know a couple pros who can measure portions to 5% accuracy or better, just by hand and knife. Or, just buy a scale?
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 5:27
  • @Bob: I agree, a scale is great - I'm just saying it's not stuff like this that you really really need it for.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 5:28
  • 2
    @Jefromi: Yeah, the only thing here you need a scale for is MAYBE the pecorino romano, if you did the right thing and bought a block of good stuff rather than the pre-grated nonsense at the store. Really there's nothing in this recipe that you shouldn't be able to eyeball and get a good result. Heck, you could just throw in cheese, olive oil, and butter until it looks and tastes good.
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 5:34
  • 1
    @klpos: Taking a look at wikipedia, there are THREE cup measures! In the British Commonwealths (Australia, Canada, etc) a cup is 250 mL. The standard US cup is 236 mL. The "cup" for nutritional labeling is 240 mL. Kill me now, I'm going back to being the oddball American that bakes in half metric.
    – BobMcGee
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 5:08

2 Answers 2


This is something that really puzzled me when I went living in an English-speaking country. Having grown up in Italy, where recipes tell you "Put 120g of this then add 250g of that", I've always used a scale. The first time I saw I recipe with cups and teaspoons I said: yeah, but I've got 10 types of cups in the kitchen... which one should I be using?

Then someone told me that they were real unit of measure and introduced me to measuring spoons (something that in Italy would be very difficult to come by).

So, going back to your question:

  1. I strongly second @Adam's opinion of buying a digital scale: they're cheap and do the job (personally, I would not spend more than $30-40 on it, but you can find $300 ones if you wish).

  2. If your recipe calls for teaspoons, cups, etc. then you can:

    • Buy measuring spoons/cups (you can find a complete set for $10, for instance this)

    • Convert them to g (or whatever your scale measures) using an online calculator. If you google for "teaspoons to grams" or "cups to grams" you'll find plenty.

You can even get an app on your phone. I use this app which works pretty well (I'm sure there's a similar thing for iPhone, but I don't use Apple products, so I can't help there).

  • If I could do more than one upvote on this, I would.
    – bikeboy389
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 13:42
  • +1 for making me remember "What kind of cup? Espresso? Breakfast one?
    – J.A.I.L.
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 10:57

Most people would just use a scale and if your serious about cooking and baking I highly suggest looking for a digital scale that can measure in metric or American standard and is sensitive to the gram. They run about $17.

In this case you are going to have to wing it.Do you have a big soup spoon? Well that's about the size of a tablespoon. Four of those equals 1/4 cup. Or do you have a small water glass. All the ones in my house are one cup so i could use a 1/4 of one of those.

One pound of pasta is easy because pasta is sold in one pound boxes and the cheese is easy because in most American supermarkets grated pecorino is sold in 4 or 8 oz plastic tubs which is why the recipe uses those weights -- it's standard.

Because the obvious answer to this question is a scale, you might want to change the title. What are some alternative ways to measure ingredients?

  • Edited. Thanks. The size of spoon is too subjective without a picture, I think. Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 4:20

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