The Best Measuring Cups

To share this page via email, fill out the fields below:
Message Sent!
Oops! Please try again
Send

After putting in more than 30 hours of research and testing, speaking with four expert bakers, and trying 33 models over the past two years, we confidently recommend KitchenMade’s Stainless Steel Measuring Cups for dry ingredients and Pyrex’s 2-Cup Measuring Cup for liquids. They’re more durable than other cups, easier to clean, and the most compact to store of those we tried. They’re also quite accurate (as far as cups go).

Last Updated: July 27, 2015
KitchenMade’s Stainless Steel Measuring Cups are our new pick for best measuring cups for dry ingredients, while last year’s pick for best measuring cup for liquids, the Pyrex 2-Cup Measuring Cup, is still our favorite. If our top dry pick is unavailable, the Lee Valley Lifetime Measuring Cups are our runner-up are similar to our top pick but more expensive. Our runner-up cup for measuring liquids is the Arc International Borosilicate 17 Ounce, which works well under extreme temperature differences but has markings that are harder to read.
KitchenMade Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
These are sturdier than most dry cups we’ve found, standing up to repeated abuse without bending. They won't fall over while you're measuring, unlike other cups we tried, and they give accurate measurements.
Pyrex 2-Cup Measuring Cup
This design classic is one of the most durable glass cups we’ve found. Its fade-resistant markings are more legible than other glass cups' we tested, and it cleans up better than plastic versions.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $5.

Of course, if you’re a diehard baker or food scientist you already know that using a scale is a far more accurate measuring method. With apologies to Fannie Farmer, we should be driving the last nail into the coffin of the dry measuring cup; volume-measuring dry ingredients is inaccurate and faux scientific. But until we can persuade American recipe writers to abandon the archaic, imprecise convention of the cup, these picks will do.

KitchenMade’s Stainless Steel Measuring Cups have more durable handles than other cups, so you can dip into a jar of flour or sugar without bending the metal. Their shorter handles offer better balance than longer, skinnier grips. The wide-mouthed cups are also more convenient than narrower versions for pouring things like lentils and oats directly into them, and they stack better for easier storage. We also like their rare secondary etched markings, which allow you to use one cup for multiple measures. They’re practically indestructible, so you’ll never need to buy another set again.

For measuring liquid ingredients, Pyrex’s 2-Cup Measuring Cup ($9) once again comes out on top. Its clear, fade-resistant markings are easier to read than on other cups. The nonporous glass won’t absorb stains or smells like plastic, and its bent handle allows for easier storage than those with a rounded handle. The Pyrex is also a design classic; iterations of it have been around since 1925.

Also Great
Lee Valley Lifetime Measuring Cups
These are nearly identical to the KitchenMade dry cups but cost a few bucks more after shipping.

The Lee Valley Lifetime Measuring Cups were our previous top pick and, except for dual pour spouts, they look like a carbon copy of the KitchenMade cups. They’re sturdy and accurate, and feature secondary markings like our winner. But they end up costing a few dollars more after shipping. If the KitchenMade cups sell out, these would make a solid alternative.

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.

Arc International Borosilicate 17 Ounce Measuring Cup
The markings on this cup are harder to read, and its imperial pint measures could throw off unsuspecting bakers and cooks. But this is a better choice for using with extreme temperature differences, as it’s made from more thermal-shock-resistant borosilicate glass.

We can’t imagine the ubiquitous Pyrex cup selling out, but if you’d prefer a cup better suited for extreme shifts in temperature—like setting a hot cup on a wet counter—the Arc International Borosilicate 17 Ounce Measuring Cup is a good bet. While the Pyrex is made of tempered soda-lime glass, the Arc International is made of more thermal-shock-resistant borosilicate glass. The cup itself performs similarly to our top pick, although its measurement lines are thin and can be more difficult to read. Its imperial pint markings may also throw off measurements if you’re not paying attention. At $25, this cup is nearly three times the price of our main pick, so if you don’t need that thermal shock resistance we’d definitely go for the Pyrex.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

This updated guide is the combined result of more than 44 hours of research. We interviewed several professional experts to get their takes, including Joanne Chang, cookbook author and chef-owner of Flour Bakery; Leah Koenig, author of The Hadassah Everyday CookbookBetter Homes and Gardens test kitchen director Lynn Blanchard; and Tina Ujlaki, executive food editor of Food & Wine. In addition, we looked to editorial reviews from Cook’s Illustrated and Consumer Reports.

We also pulled from our personal baking, cooking, and reporting experiences. Ganda Suthivarakom, the first half of our measuring team, has been published in Saveur, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and New York (among others) and has reviewed kitchen equipment for The Sweethome since 2013. Ray Aguilera has worked as a restaurant critic in San Francisco, is an avid cook and home brewer, and has written and edited product reviews since 2006.

Cups are imperfect measuring tools

Measuring with cups—which rely on volume and don’t take density into account—is an approximation at best.
Measuring cups are a fairly new and fairly flawed invention. Many American recipes prior to the 1800s were based on weight, which gives consistently replicable results. Measuring with cups—which rely on volume and don’t take density into account—is an approximation at best.

When you measure something like flour, a cup can mean anywhere between 4 and 6 ounces (a variation of at least 30 percent), depending on how tightly you’ve packed the flour in, whether or not you’ve sifted, and whether you’ve dipped the cup into your canister or spooned the flour in before sweeping off the top. Obviously, this wide variance could really screw with a recipe.

On the left we directly scooped flour from the bag and scraped to level it off before measuring. On the right, we spooned it into the cup before leveling it off. Ganda Suthivarakom

On the left we directly scooped flour from the bag and scraped to level it off before measuring. On the right, we spooned it into the cup before leveling it off. Ganda Suthivarakom

For consistency, most serious bakers use a kitchen scale to weigh ingredients, as a pound of flour is always a pound of flour (assuming you stay on Earth). While many non-American cookbooks and recipes are written with weight measures, American recipes still mostly rely on the dry measuring cup. Those who want to rely on a scale alone will have to be sure to keep the different densities of ingredients in mind when converting cup-based recipes. So cups are still a convenience for anyone who cooks from American recipes.

For an in-depth look at the history of measures, check out the footnote at the end of this guide, and if you’re interested in switching to more accurate weight-based recipes, read our guide to kitchen scales.

Who should get this?

KitchenMade and Pyrex measuring cups

Our favorite dry and liquid measuring cups from KitchenMade and Pyrex. Ray Aguilera

If you don’t currently have a glass liquid measuring cup and a set of metal dry cups, you should invest in both. Liquids level themselves, so measuring against a fixed line on a clear container works best. Flour and other dry ingredients mound, and are generally measured using a dip-and-sweep method, so cups with flat rims work best for scooping and leveling .

Joanne Chang, author of Flour and Flour, Too (and chef-owner of Boston’s renowned Flour Bakery) elaborates. “If you try to measure liquids in a dry cup, they will spill over the edge if you fill up correctly. And then you will lose liquid. If you try to measure dry in a liquid cup, it’s very difficult to level the dry ingredient (unless it’s something like sugar, in which case you can tamp the measuring cup so that it levels off). And when you try to level off the dry you will pack in more than you probably want or get an uneven level, leaving you with a mismeasured item.”

If you’re currently using flimsy plastic or metal dry measuring cups, upgrading to a sturdy stainless steel set will make scooping and cleanup easier. You should also replace a liquid cup if its markings have worn off, the plastic interior has scratched, the cup drips when you pour, or it’s too small for recipes you usually cook.

How we picked and tested

For dry measuring cups, most experts we spoke with prefer stainless steel. Leah Koenig, author of The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook, told us she likes metal because “they feel sturdier and are less likely to knock over if I’m pouring lentils, rice, or whatever into them.” Based on this, we looked for cups that could stand on their own. Larger cups usually have enough mass to stand upright, but sometimes the smallest cups in a set aren’t balanced properly, toppling over when empty.

Lynn Blanchard, test kitchen director for Better Homes and Gardens told us that she prefers stainless steel with sturdy handles. These will stand up to the abuse of scooping flour, brown sugar, and other heavier ingredients without bending.

Tina Ujlaki, executive food editor of Food & Wine, prefers short handles and lighter materials. She told us, “It’s nice to have them when they’re not so heavy, when they’re easy to hold, and when they have a comfortable handle. Some of them are really cute and have a long, artisanal, artistic handle. They’re not so great when you’re measuring wildly all day long.”

MIU measuring cup long handles

MIU France’s long handles are elegant. They also make the smaller cups tip over and are hard to fit inside some containers when scooping ingredients. Ray Aguilera

Etched measurements are better than printed, as ink may wear off after many rounds in the dishwasher. Half-measurements etched on the cups are helpful for halving a recipe (or for those who want to wash fewer cups). Milliliter markings are useful for converting European recipes. We also looked for cups wide enough to easily pour ingredients into, as it can get messy scooping from some narrow containers.

Thunder Group measuring cup bent handle

The handle bent the first time we scooped flour with this cup from Thunder Group. Ray Aguilera

For liquid measuring cups, the most important requirement was easy-to-read markings for cups, ounces, and milliliters that won’t fade after many washings.
For liquid measuring cups, the most important requirement was easy-to-read markings for cups, ounces, and milliliters that won’t fade after many washings. Our experts wanted an easy-to-pour spout that won’t dribble, and we preferred bent handles to looped ones so that we could stack multiple cups together for storage.

In our original guide, we dismissed plastics because most of our experts preferred glass. Several of the pros microwave liquids directly in their measuring cups. Tina Ujlaki told us, “We never put plastic in the microwave.” Lynn Blanchard also expressed a preference for glass measuring cups, which she uses in the microwave “to warm milk, melt butter.” For this update, however, we included some plastic cups to make sure we weren’t missing anything.

This year, we also tested one specialty “sticky” measuring cup, marketed specifically for use with ingredients like honey or peanut butter. Our experts generally rely on standard dry or liquid measuring cups for this purpose. Leah Koenig said, “My basic rule of thumb is, if you can pour it, then use a liquid measure. So, oil, maple syrup, and honey I use a liquid measuring cup. For thicker, scoopable ingredients like peanut butter, yogurt, ricotta, et cetera, I use a dry measure.”

Measuring cups 2013 test group

The dry cups we tested in 2013. Ganda Suthivarakom

When we wrote our original guide in 2013, there weren’t many in-depth editorial reviews of measuring cups. That still holds true. For this update we built on our previous research and experience, looking to the limited editorial reviews as well as user reviews. We considered dozens of dry and liquid measuring cups, ultimately calling in seven dry and eight liquid cups for testing, including our previous top picks, Pyrex’s 2-cup measuring cup and Lee Valley’s Lifetime measuring cups.

Measuring cups 2015 test group

The 2015 contenders. Ray Aguilera

To test the dry cups, we eyeballed a cup of water and weighed the results on a digital scale for accuracy, following Cook’s Illustrated’s lead. We checked the smallest cup to see if it could sit balanced on its own. We scooped oats from a large canister to see how each cup fared in a narrow space. We also swept flour to make sure that no dry ingredients got stuck in crevices that would throw off the measure. We poured viscous honey and peanut butter in and scraped them out to see how well each cup handled thick, sticky ingredients, and how hard each was to clean out. Finally, we tried to bend the handles with a reasonable amount of pressure against a glass container.

Measuring cups filled with tomato sauce

We tested for staining with hot tomato sauce. All of the cups cleaned up like new afterward. Ray Aguilera

For the liquid measuring cups we measured for accuracy using the same eyeball water weight test we used for dry. We poured hot tomato sauce in and let it sit for 10 minutes to check for stains and smells. We heated a pot and set it against the lip of the measuring cups to make sure nothing melted. We poured a tablespoon of oil into each cup, swished it around, and tried to wash them by hand in the sink.

In order to define the weight of 1 cup of water at room temperature, we reached out to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Office of Weights and Measures. They told us, “As far as how much a cup (8 fluid ounces) of water should weigh: According to our metrologist, 1 fluid ounce of water at 20°C (68°F) will weigh approximately 0.065081506 pounds—8 fluid ounces will be about 0.520652 pounds.” Rounding to the nearest gram (the resolution of our test scale), that means 1 cup of water weighs 236 grams, the standard we used for all of our testing.

Best for dry ingredients

KitchenMade Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
These are sturdier than most dry cups we’ve found, standing up to repeated abuse without bending. They won't fall over while you're measuring, unlike other cups we tried, and they give accurate measurements.

After more than 30 hours of research and testing, our new favorite dry cups are KitchenMade’s Stainless Steel Measuring Cups ($25). They’re among the sturdiest cups we tested and didn’t topple over on the counter the way some did. They were easier to clean than cups built with two-piece construction, and they nest well for storage. Etched secondary markings are useful, and they’re among the most accurate cups we tried, within a few grams of our measurement standard. The KitchenMade cups are nearly identical to three other sets we tested, but our winner comes at a slightly better price.

Some of the cups we’ve tested literally buckled under all the stress. KitchenMade’s cups didn’t bend, no matter what we were scooping. Compare that with the very first time we scooped flour with a Thunder Group cup: The thin metal handle bent, immediately knocking out the cheapest cups from consideration. We ran into a similar problem with thin-handled cups from AMCO and King Arthur in our previous tests.

As our experts noted, balanced handles are important, too. Three of our test sets (Culina, AMCO, amd MIU France) contained cups that were off balance, sending the smallest measures toppling over when setting them on our work surface. All six of KitchenMade’s cups were able to stand upright on their own, which comes in handy when you’re working with small containers like spices, where you’re pouring ingredients into the cup, rather than scooping from a larger container.

KitchenMade’s single-piece construction means there aren’t any seams, nooks, or crannies to trap flour or other ingredients. This made cleanup a snap, and since stainless steel is nonporous, we had no trouble with stains or smells lingering. We tested some two-piece cups—Thunder Group, for example—and found that flour tended to work its way into small spaces between the handle and body of the cups, which made cleanup more difficult. The KitchenMade cups also feature convenient etched alternate measure markings, enabling you to minimize cleanup by using a single cup for multiple measurements. For example, the 1-cup measure also has ½- and ¾-cup marks.

Thanks to a small nub on the outside of the rim opposite the handle, the cups nested neatly inside each other. The small footprint makes it easy to store an entire set of cups in even a shallow kitchen drawer. On the other end of the spectrum, the long, heavy handles of the MIU France set cause the cups to tilt upward when stacked, making them impossible to store in shallow drawers due to the increased height.

There’s a small pour spout on one side of the KitchenMade cups, which is probably easier for right-handed users than lefties, but it’s more cosmetic than practical. Smooth edges helped the cups pour just as well from the opposite side without the spout, and in all honesty, all of the cups poured ingredients like white sugar just as easily. The small spouts might make pouring liquids a tiny bit easier, but for accuracy’s sake you should be measuring liquids in liquid measuring cups anyway.

Measuring cups test group

Four of the cups we tested were nearly identical. We wanted to see firsthand what the differences were. Counterclockwise, from top left: KitchenMade, Bellemain, RSVP, Lee Valley. Ray Aguilera

KitchenMade’s measuring cups are nearly identical to our prior top pick, the Lee Valley Lifetime Measuring Cups. In fact, they’re also almost indistinguishable from the Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set and RSVP 6-Piece Stainless Steel Nesting Measuring Cup Set, which we also tested. We reached out to each of the companies to clarify, but have not heard back regarding the similarities between the designs. There are a few slight differences—Bellemain and RSVP lack the secondary measurements, while Lee Valley offers dual pour spouts. But overall, these four cups are more alike than different, and are so close—read: nearly identical—in design and construction that we’d be surprised if they weren’t simply branded takes on the same OEM design. Ultimately, we sided with the KitchenMade cups as our pick because they have those secondary markings, and with Amazon Prime shipping they come at a slightly better price than the Lifetime cups.

KitchenMade’s 1-cup measure averaged 238 grams, just slightly off our 236-gram standard. This was in line with the other three similar designs, which all averaged within 2 grams of our standard. In comparison, MIU France and Thunder Group were close, too, off by 1 and 3 grams respectively, but Culina’s measure was off by 10 grams.

Although a few stray posts contain favorable reviews, the KitchenMade cups haven’t been editorially reviewed yet by any of the sites we usually trust. They do average a 4.9-star rating across 823 Amazon user reviews. This looks like a case of astroturfing, since several of the positive Amazon user reviews mention receiving free samples in exchange for reviews. Ultimately, however, the positive reviews matched our experience, and they performed well throughout testing.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

As we mentioned earlier, using cups is a flawed way to measure—especially for dry ingredients. For that reason, we’re able to forgive small inaccuracies of a few grams. KitchenMade was only two grams over our 236-gram standard for one cup of water, and the small variability was within the range of most of the other cups in our test, so we can’t really fault them.

KitchenMade offers a “No Hassle Lifetime Guarantee.” We do have some reservations about the company, which never responded to queries sent via its web contact form while we were researching and writing this guide. This would probably be a dealbreaker for a different product, but given the simplicity of a measuring cup and the near indestructibility of these in particular, we can’t imagine them failing under normal kitchen use.

Runner-up (dry)

Also Great
Lee Valley Lifetime Measuring Cups
These are nearly identical to the KitchenMade dry cups but cost a few bucks more after shipping.

Lee Valley Lifetime Measuring Cups ($20 + $8 shipping), our previous winner, are still a great option. In almost every way, they’re identical to the KitchenMade. Their main difference comes down to price. After shipping charges ($8 and up), they end up costing a few bucks more than the KitchenMade (which come with Prime shipping on Amazon).

They have dual pour spouts, which are also just as useless as the ones on the KitchenMade cups.
But if the KitchenMade cups sell out, the Lee Valley cups are a solid choice. They have the same sturdy handles, balanced design, etched markings, and they nest conveniently for storage. They’re also just as accurate as the KitchenMade. They have dual pour spouts, which are also just as useless as the ones on the KitchenMade cups.

Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn (same parent company) were the source that turned us on to these Lifetime Measuring Cups. Faith Durand said, “They are by far the best measuring cups I’ve ever owned.” They are not sold on Amazon, and the Lee Valley site doesn’t offer user reviews.

Best for liquid ingredients

Pyrex 2-Cup Measuring Cup
This design classic is one of the most durable glass cups we’ve found. Its fade-resistant markings are more legible than other glass cups' we tested, and it cleans up better than plastic versions.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $5.

Pyrex’s 2-Cup Measuring Cup ($8) remains our favorite. Compared to others, it features easier-to-read markings and its heavy, heatproof glass makes it one of the most durable liquid cups we’ve found. The glass isn’t porous and it doesn’t retain stains or smells, so it cleans up better than plastic versions. It’s also well-designed, with a good pour spout that minimizes drips, an L-shaped handle that allows it to nest inside other cups, and a wide, short shape that’s more versatile for mixing ingredients. The classic design, which hasn’t changed much since 1941, has earned a place in nearly every kitchen everywhere. You can even find Julia Child’s Pyrex cups in the National Museum of American History.

Pyrex’s bold red markings make reading measurements easy. One side shows US cup and ounce markings, while the reverse has a metric scale in milliliters. Many of the other cups we tested opted for shorter measurement lines centered on the face of the cup, but we found that the staggered arrangement on the Pyrex was easier to read without being too crowded. The markings on the Pyrex were significantly bolder and easier to read than the Arc International cup’s thin measurement lines. It’s a small detail that makes a huge difference. And the marks stand up to repeated washings—in fact, the markings on a well-used six-year-old measuring cup are barely distinguishable from a new version, and are all clearly visible.

It is more impact resistant, which is a bigger concern on a day-to-day basis.
Aside from dropping and breaking it, there’s little you can do to damage the Pyrex cup. The soda-lime glass is less resistant to thermal shock than borosilicate cups, such as the one we tested from Arc International (or older Pyrex cups), but it is more impact-resistant, which is a bigger concern on a day-to-day basis.

Unlike plastic cups, the Pyrex’s nonporous glass surface won’t melt when left in contact with hot cookware. We didn’t have much trouble cleaning any of the cups we tested, but glass models were definitely easier to clean than plastic ones, such as those from OXO and Rubbermaid. In fact, the Pyrex was considerably easier to clean than the OXO Angled cup. Thanks to its top-down markings, the OXO has plenty of nooks and crannies for oily or sticky stuff to cling to.

The Pyrex’s heft, compared to lighter plastic or glass models, actually made it a bit easier to pour from, especially for thin streams of liquids when making emulsions. Drips are minimal, which is particularly nice when measuring multiple ingredients in succession while cooking.

Three of the liquid cups we tested (Rubbermaid, Cambro, and Catamount) featured loop handles, but we prefer the L-shaped handle of the Pyrex because it allows you to nest it inside a larger cup or bowl. It takes up less space in the cupboard, and it’s convenient to store tools like measuring cups and mixing bowls together.

The Pyrex’s wider footprint made this cup more versatile overall. The wider dimensions enabled us to whip and mix ingredients more easily than taller, narrower cups, such as those from Cambro, Rubbermaid, and Catamount.

When it came to accuracy, 1 cup of water in the the Pyrex cup averaged 238 grams, less than 1 percent more than our 236-gram test standard. In fact, almost all of the liquid cups we tested were accurate to within a few grams, so accuracy was surprisingly one of the lesser issues when considering what to recommend. The only outliers were the Catamount, which was under by a full 5 percent, and the OXO Angled Measuring Cup, which was over by 4 percent when read from above (but only off by 1 gram when using the side markings).

Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) calls the Pyrex “hard to beat—years of use in the test kitchen have demonstrated that it is nearly unbreakable, with minimalistic, red-painted markings that resist fading.” Author and blogger Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt uses a standard Pyrex liquid measuring cup, too. “Love it,” she told us for our original guide. Bee Wilson, British author of Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, says in her book, “…one of the greatest measuring tools is the modest Pyrex measuring cup.” It is also the best-selling measuring cup on Amazon, with a 4.5-star average rating across more than 2,700 reviews, and has wide support from editorial and user reviews.

Measuring cups test group

The liquid cups we tested. Ray Aguilera



Flaws but not dealbreakers

On our most recent test unit, the printed measurement markings were the tiniest bit crooked. It’s not a huge deal—we’re making muffins, not performing lab experiments in space—but it was slightly annoying. Once we zeroed in on the right spot to measure, everything was fine, and it was probably something we never would have noticed if not for the repeated measurements required when testing more than a dozen different cups at the same time.

Runner-up (liquid)

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $22.

Arc International Borosilicate 17 Ounce Measuring Cup
The markings on this cup are harder to read, and its imperial pint measures could throw off unsuspecting bakers and cooks. But this is a better choice for using with extreme temperature differences, as it’s made from more thermal-shock-resistant borosilicate glass.

If you can’t find the Pyrex liquid cup, the Arc International Borosilicate 17 Ounce Measuring Cup ($25) makes a decent, if much more expensive, alternative. It performed identically to the Pyrex cup, and Arc actually owns the license to sell Pyrex in Europe. Like our top pick, it’s stain-resistant and easy to clean, has an L-shaped handle, and was only off by 2 grams in our weighed water test. But it has a couple of flaws.

We didn’t find it as easy to use as the Pyrex. The US markings are thinner than those on the Pyrex and can be difficult to read, and the lines themselves are short. As some users have noted, the pint markings on the reverse side are based on Imperial Pints (20 ounces) rather than the 16-ounce pints that Americans are used to. This might cause some confusion in measuring if you’re not paying attention to that difference.

The cup is made of old-fashioned borosilicate glass, making it more resistant to thermal shock. Most glass measuring cups—including US Pyrex—are currently made of tempered soda-lime glass, which is cheaper to manufacture and easily recyclable. Unfortunately, it’s not as resistant to thermal shock as the borosilicate variety, leading to breakage when going quickly from one temperature extreme to the other. The issue, though, is likely more important for glass bakeware, which Consumer Reports tested extensively in 2011. If you really need the better thermal shock resistance that borosilicate glass provides, the Arc International is a good bet. Frankly we’re far more likely to drop a measuring cup than to heat it up and then set it onto a cold, wet countertop.

The Arc only has limited Amazon user reviews, but does receive a flush five stars from four reviewers.

Care and use

Everything we tested was fairly easy to clean, and in the case of our winners, a quick hand-wash with a little soap and warm water is all that’s needed. All of the cups are dishwasher safe, although personal experience has shown that dishwashers have a tendency to fade the printed markings on liquid cups, so you’re better off hand-washing for longevity’s sake (although even hand-washing faded some of the markings a bit).

For measuring sticky ingredients, such as honey or peanut butter, Joanne Chang gave us a pro tip: “I use a liquid cup that I spray with pan spray.” Tina Ujlaki also suggested oiling the cup beforehand. (We tried it—it works!).

The competition

Dry

Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set, 6 Piece: Another set with design and construction that are nearly identical to our top pick’s. Bellemain omits the secondary markings inside, however, making this set less useful overall.

RSVP 6-Piece Stainless Steel Nesting Measuring Cup Set: Essentially a carbon copy of the Bellemain set, RSVP’s set also lacks the secondary markings.

Culina Stackable 6-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cups: This set is sturdy, and we appreciated the deep, clear size markings etched into the handles. But the smallest cup is poorly balanced, barely able to stand on its own, and there are no alternative measurements inside the cup. This was also the least accurate dry cup we tested in 2015, coming in more than 4 percent over our standard weight.

AMCO Advanced Performance Measuring Cup Set: Their accuracy left much to be desired (the one cup measure came in about 5 percent underweight) and the smallest cup doesn’t stay upright on a countertop.

All-Clad Stainless Steel Measuring Cups: They’re beautiful, accurate, and feel indestructible. But the high price feels excessive, especially given reports that the stainless steel rusts over time.

CIA Masters Collection Stainless Steel 4-Piece Measuring Cup Set: These were praised for their indestructible design, but the flared lip could cause over-measuring—a clean sweep of fine particles like flour would throw off measurements. The mL and ounce markings are inconveniently hidden on the underside of the handle.

MIU France 7-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set: The long, slim handles are elegant, but they get in the way when you’re trying to scoop ingredients out of narrow containers. They also leave the two smallest cups off balance and unable to stand on their own. Also, the set we received had two cups in different sizes labeled “1/2 Cup.” Oops!

Thunder Group Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set: With a four-star average rating on Amazon, and at only $6.50, we thought we’d give these cups a shot. Unfortunately in this case, “affordable” means “cheap as hell.” The handles bent the first time we scooped flour, making these cups a no-go from the start.

King Arthur Flour measuring cups: Also sold under the name RSVP on Amazon. We like the sharp lip and the long handles, engraved with cup and milliliter amounts. Unfortunately, the two smallest cups topple over, and the soldered handle bent fairly easily against a glass container.

AMCO Measuring Cups: They were a top pick for Cook’s Illustrated, but we strongly disliked them. The flimsy metal handles bent easily, as many reviewers testified. They were also the least accurate of the cups we tested, with the ¼ cup underweight by almost 10 percent.

Liquid

Rubbermaid Commercial Products 1 Pint Bouncer Measuring Cup: The durable plastic can easily survive spills, and the printed markings haven’t shown signs of fading after several vigorous scrubbings. Still, it’s not quite as easy to clean as glass, and the looped handles prevent nesting.

OXO Good Grips 2-Cup Angled Measuring Cup: The lightweight plastic is durable and easily survives falling from the countertop onto a tile floor. The biggest problem, though, is the angled read-from-above interior markings. They’re convenient, yes—no more bending over the counter to read quantities. But they’re inconsistent with the scale on the side, reading about 4 percent higher. Plus all those extra edges and corners make cleaning more of a chore.

Catamount 2 Cup Measure: This beaker-style measuring cup is made of borosilicate glass, but for use in kitchens, we prefer the thicker, sturdier feel of Pyrex. This was one of our least-accurate cups, 5 percent below our standard weight. Also, the loop handle makes nesting impossible.

Cambro Camwear 1-Pint Polycarbonate Measuring Cup: This is made of durable plastic, and it cleans up easily—but we still prefer glass measuring cups overall. The molded markings won’t wear off, although the red and blue printing is already showing signs of wear after only a few washings by hand. Loop handles prevent nesting.

OXO Good Grips Measuring Cup for Sticky Stuff: It’s a plunger-style cup intended to push viscous ingredients like honey or peanut butter. It’s a bit clumsy to use and more difficult to clean than a standard measuring cup. It’s tall, narrow, and top-heavy when filled. Peanut butter and honey both slid out easily when the plunger was pushed into the body of the cup. But any time or effort saved scraping out a standard cup was more than overshadowed by the time it takes to clean the two-piece cup.

Camry Digital Kitchen Scale Food Scale 11 Pounds Measuring Cup: The Camry attempts to give you the best of both worlds with a kitchen scale in the form of a measuring cup. It worked fine, but the removable measuring cup is flimsy and lightweight. It has a 6-cup capacity, but with only 2 cups of water in it, we worried that the thin handle would bend and spill the contents. The scale is accurate but a bit temperamental, and the measuring cup form limits what you can weigh in it. If you want to start using a scale, you’re better off with a traditional model.

Other models we looked at but didn’t test:

Dry

ChefsGrade Stainless Steel Measuring Cups: Another close relative of our winner, but with a higher price and a relatively short track record of user reviews

Cuisipro Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set: They’re popular with many food bloggers, but Cook’s Illustrated dismissed these for being unreasonably heavy.

OXO Good Grips Measuring Cup Set: The new design is a major improvement on the bendy handles of the previous design. The set is beautifully simple, but we dismissed it for its lack of half-measurements, odd-sized cups, and lack of mL markings some of our experts wanted.

ChefLand 8-Piece Deluxe Stainless Steel Measuring Cup and Measuring Spoon Set: A top seller on Amazon, but there are frequent complaints about rusting and sharp edges.

Zyliss Perfect Pour 4-Piece Measuring Cup Set: Our experts had a strong preference for stainless steel. These cups are made of translucent red plastic, which could warp after many trips to the dishwasher.

Sur La Table Stainless Steel Measuring Cups: Beautiful and sturdy, but we couldn’t stomach the $55 price tag.

Le Creuset Stainless Steel Measuring Cups, Set of 4: They’re beautiful, but 45 bucks only gets you four cups rather than the standard six.

Progressive PL8 Stainless Steel Measuring Cups: The slim design is interesting, but these cups were unavailable at the time of testing.

Norpro Stainless Steel 5-Piece Measuring Cup Set: Most of Cook’s Illustrated’s testers disliked the shape, and several Amazon reviewers have complained of incorrect measurement markings on the cups.

Liquid

Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen Liquid Measuring Cup with Lid: This does double-duty as a storage container, but the short markings could be difficult to read, and we couldn’t find much in the way of editorial or user reviews.

Pyrex 2-Cup Measuring Cup, Read from Above Graphics:  Expensive, and users report inaccurate measurements. It was widely panned and has been discontinued. Cook’s Illustrated called it a “disaster,” but it can still be found online. Avoid this one!

The Container Store Borosilicate Glass Measuring Cup: The beaker-style cup is made of durable, shock-resistant borosilicate. Unfortunately, it was unavailable at test time, but we would like to test it in a future update.

Good Cook Clear Measuring Cup with Measurements, 2-Cup: It was recommended by Cook’s Illustrated, but it can’t be heated and was more expensive than our glass pick when we wrote our original guide.

Arrow Cool Grip Measuring Cup 2.5c:  Claims to be made of microwave-safe plastic, but Amazon users report cracking in the plastic after use in the microwave.

iSi Basics Flex-it 2-Cup Measuring Cup: It’s made of heat-resistant silicone. However, our experts weren’t fond of silicone, and personal experience with a similar cup has shown that it is hard to clean, particularly when fats are involved.

Taylor Digital Measuring Cup and Scale: This is another model with a built-in scale, but since the cup doesn’t detach from the electronics, it can’t be immersed in water for washing up. It’s a hybrid product that does neither function very well.

Wonder Cup Two Cup Adjustable Measuring Cup: This is the one frequently seen on Alton Brown’s Good Eats. Amazon reviewers complain about leaks and difficult assembly.

Footnotes:

1. The French quatre-quarts cake, known in English as pound cake, is a classic example of a weighed recipe—quatre quarts means “four fourths,” and the recipe calls for equal parts flour, butter, eggs, and sugar by weight. According to the King Arthur Flour website, volume measuring became more prevalent in America as scales were hard to come by, especially in “the trail west.” But the capacity for cups varied from household to household.

Before the standardization of the cup measure, people would use eyeball measures like “butter the size of a walnut” or “fists” of flour. Tina Ujlaki, executive food editor of Food & Wine, told us, “Cup recipes made it easier to understand proportions; they were a modification from using coffee cups or tea cups to measure.”

Fannie Farmer, author of 1896’s The Boston Cooking School Cook Book, popularized them at the end of the 19th century. In her book, she said, “Correct measurements are absolutely necessary to insure the best results,” and advocated for every home to have measurement cups divided into quarters or thirds, as well as measuring spoons.

But, as we’ve mentioned, measuring in cups doesn’t take into account density of ingredients. In fact, take a look at Fannie Farmer’s own Table of Measures and Weights:

Fannie Farmer's Table of Measures and Weights

Ganda Suthivarakom

While a cup of pastry flour today is generally accepted as 4¼ ounces, making 2 cups 8½ ounces, she lists 2 cups of flour as equal to 1 pound of flour (16 ounces). Huh?

The cup itself is a measurement that lacks clear definition. Here’s what was defined for us by the National Institute of Standards and Technology:

  • 1 measuring cup equals exactly 8 fluid ounces
  • 1 fluid ounce equals 29.57353 milliliters
  • 8 fluid ounces equals 236.58824 milliliters

However, for some reason, the FDA defines a cup as 240 mL for nutritional label purposes. Bewilderingly, the NIST also lists 1 cup as equivalent to 240 mL on its “Approximate Conversions from U.S. Customary Measures to Metric.”

For this guide, we tested measures that equate a cup with 240 mL, 239 mL, and even 237 mL. Why the variance? NIST’s Office of Weights and Measures referred us to the NIST Handbook’s stance on rounding: “In all conversions for the purpose of showing an equivalent SI or inch-pound quantity to a rounded inch-pound or SI quantity, or in calculated values to be declared in the net quantity statement, the number of significant digits retained must be such that accuracy is neither sacrificed nor exaggerated.” NIST representative David Sefcik told us, “So rounding up from 236.5 mL to 240mL is not especially significant.”

Yet 3.5 mL might make a difference in a baking recipe. Part of the problem comes down to history. “Well, welcome to the US, land of the barleycorn inch and medieval wine gallon,” the author of the Metric Maven blog told us. “First, you must understand that a cup is a vessel from which you drink, a liter is a unit of measurement. The metric system was created so that any person of mild intellectual means could check for accuracy. Olde English–not so much.” The Metric Maven, an electrical engineer by profession, is referring to the US volume measuring system, one based on the volume of a gallon of wine (also known as the Queen Anne gallon) and subsequently divided into the non-decimal units of quarts, pints, cups, and fluid ounces.

According to food historian Bee Wilson who wrote about measurements in her awesome book, Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat, in 1795 the French adopted the brilliant metric system, which based its unit, the kilogram, on the mass of 1 cubic meter of water at 4 degrees Celsius. This makes 1 milliliter of water equal to 1 gram of water. (Temperature will change the density slightly.) Rather than acknowledge the brilliance of the French, the patriotic English redefined their gallon as an Imperial gallon, based on the volume of 10 pounds of water, but slightly adjusting the oddball quarts, pints, and ounces. And rather than follow the English, George Washington asked Thomas Jefferson to devise an American system, but his proposals were rejected by Congress, and the Americans wound up keeping England’s old wine gallon, now obsolete in its homeland. This splintering of measurement systems is the reason that there are so many different cup measurements listed on the Wikipedia entry.

The US fluid ounce (29.5735 mL) is larger than the imperial fluid ounce (28.4131 mL). But the imperial pint (20 imperial fluid ounces) is significantly larger than the US pint (16 US fl oz). The imperial cup (284 mL) is not really used anywhere in the world anymore. And the metric cup, pretty much only used in Australia and New Zealand, is a bizarro hybrid concept that measures 250 mL. (For more about the completely convoluted volume measurement system, we highly recommend the “Measure” chapter from Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork; be prepared for some pretty harsh burns against Fannie Farmer.)

Once you start digging into the history of the measuring cup, it’s hard to believe we still use them today. Recipes for almost every other country (perhaps excluding our fellow metric holdouts Liberia and Myanmar) list ingredients in grams and deciliters or milliliters instead of cups. Jump back.

To share this page via email, fill out the fields below:
Message Sent!
Oops! Please try again
Send

Sources

  1. Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery, Interview
  2. Leah Koenig, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook, Interview
  3. Lynn Blanchard, Better Homes and Gardens, Interview
  4. Tina Ujlaki, Food & Wine, Interview
  5. National Institute of Standards & Technology
  6. Consumer Reports, January 2011
  7. Liquid Measuring Cups, Cooks Illustrated, September 2012 (Subscription Required)
  8. Bee Wilson, Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

Originally published: July 27, 2015

We actively moderate the comments section to make it relevant and helpful for our readers, and to stay up to date with our latest picks. You can read our moderation policy FAQ here.