I'm looking at a recipe for chickpeas (garbanzo beans) roasted in a spice mix, which looks yummy, but I'm confused by some items in the ingredients list.

I'm happy with this:

1 heaping teaspoon curry powder

I simply take my 5ml measuring spoon, and get a heaped scoop of curry powder.

But for

1 heaping teaspoon sesame, coconut or olive oil

1 heaping teaspoon sriracha

I can see that sriracha might well hold its shape enough to form a heap. But what about the oil??

  • 12
    @mkrieger1 A teaspoon is a standard measure unit that approximates to 4,92892 ml
    – xDaizu
    Jun 27, 2017 at 12:42
  • 14
    technically, coconut oil could be heaping, depending on the temperature.
    – barbecue
    Jun 27, 2017 at 12:53
  • 8
    I think that means some is dibbling over (and into your dish) before you turn the measuring spoon over and empty it measured amount. But, yeah, not the best use of language there. Jun 27, 2017 at 13:20
  • 5
    @Mark I believe that in American, 'heaping' is the standard adjective
    – AakashM
    Jun 27, 2017 at 19:59
  • 6
    You can sorta heap a spoon of liquid if you use a spoon with sufficiently vertical sides, surface tension allows you to slightly overfill it. Though i'm by no means sure if thats what they mean.
    – Vality
    Jun 27, 2017 at 22:50

4 Answers 4


It was a typo - the poster has corrected it, by deleting the 'heaping' on the oil. But, mysteriously, left it on the sriracha. Maybe her sriracha comes in powdered form... I don't think it's a second-language issue, her English looks native to me.

  • 3
    Sriracha is a bit thicker than other liquids. Otherwise, sounds like a viscous cycle. Jun 28, 2017 at 22:22
  • After so much interest and useful comment, turns out to have been a typo. I see Seasoned Advice doesn't have a 'too localized' close reason, so let's call it a day here...
    – AakashM
    Jun 29, 2017 at 8:43

Obviously you can't "heap" a liquid.

What helps is if you remember that in cooking measurements are not set in stone. The amount given in a recipe can basically always be tweaked to your liking - a tablespoon need not be the "perfect" amount, but should be a good starting point. E.g. the siracha: some like their dish hotter, some less so.

In your case I'd interpret "heaping" as "generous" or "a bit more than". (The opposite of "scant", where you'd fill the spoon not quite full.)

I'd start with a spoonful and add more to taste, if necessary.

  • 18
    Technically it is possible to "heap" liquids thanks to surface tension, to a certain degree at least. (I like the answer, just thought of mentioning this bit of trivia.)
    – undercat
    Jun 27, 2017 at 11:39
  • @undercat please make that an answer, because IMHO that's what the recipe means. The more viscous a liquid, the more it can be heaped.
    – Shautieh
    Jun 28, 2017 at 11:34

The recipe looks like it was written by someone who doesn't speak English as their first language. A heaping spoon of a liquid is nonsensical. My best guess is to use about half-again the spoon measurement, so 7-8ml.

  • 5
    @theonlygusti That's why it's a guess! Personally, I would assume the use of 'heaping' means 'somewhat more than', but like I said, it's just a guess.
    – Jolenealaska
    Jun 27, 2017 at 13:26
  • 16
    @theonlygusti I find it much more likely that a non-native speaker would think "a heaping teaspoon means 'a bit more than a teaspoon'" and not realize the nuance that you can't heap a liquid, than that they'd think "a heaping teaspoon is just a teaspoon." Jun 27, 2017 at 14:09
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby 'heaping teaspoon' is a bit idiomatic. If it was literal, it would be a 'heaped' teaspoon. We aren't using the teaspoon to heap things. A 'heaping helping of whoop-ass' is not actually a bunch of whoop-ass arranged in heap. It seems quite likely that if someone might not know what 'heaping' means and just know that's what you call an teaspoon filled above the top.
    – JimmyJames
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:32
  • 2
    @JimmyJames That's exactly what I said: they'd think a heaping teaspoon means a bit more than a teaspoon, not that it's just a strange way of saying "a teaspoon". Jun 28, 2017 at 8:24
  • 1
    @DavidRicherby It seems I parsed your sentence incorrectly.
    – JimmyJames
    Jun 28, 2017 at 12:58

From looking at the recipe, and from my experience with roasted chickpeas, I think it would be fine with or without "heaping". If I think of heaping oil, I would just fill the spoon until it's just about to overflow, or even overflows a bit. I honestly don't think it would make a huge difference either way with this recipe.

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