Whether you’re baking a cake from scratch or following the directions on a box of pancakes, measuring cups help accurately determine the quantities of necessary ingredients. This is why they are among the key staple kitchen tools found in most kitchens, alongside measuring spoons, mixing bowls, spatulas, and baking pans.
However, while many products are called “measuring cups,” they are not all the same. For example, some types of measuring cups are better at achieving accurate measurements of liquid ingredients rather than dry ingredients. With so many choices, there are a number of factors to consider when shopping for the best measuring cups, including the type, material, and capacity.
This guide includes some of these important key considerations to help guide the selection of the right measuring cups to meet your cooking and baking needs. Plus, there’s a list of some of the best measuring cups for baking and cooking below.
- BEST OVERALL: Pyrex 3-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Chef Craft 2-Cup Clear Measuring Cup
- BEST FOR DRY INGREDIENTS: Bellemain Stainless Steel 6 piece Measuring Cups
- BEST FOR WET INGREDIENTS: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set
- BEST ADJUSTABLE: KitchenArt Professional Series 2 Cup Adjust-A-Cup
- BEST COLLAPSIBLE: Prepworks by Progressive Collapsible Measuring Cups
- BEST MAGNETIC: OXO Good Grips 4 Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Measuring Cups
All measuring cups are not created equal. Some are specifically designed for dry ingredients, while others are meant for liquid ingredients. There are measuring cups that offer a greater capacity than others, some may be constructed using materials that are better suited for what’s being measured, others offer varying designs to accommodate storage needs, and some may include unique features to make them easier to use.
Dry vs. Liquid Ingredients
Dry and liquid ingredients benefit from different types of measuring cups to ensure accurate measurements. For dry ingredients, a set of measuring cups with a variety of size capacities allows precise measuring of each ingredient. The entire measuring cup can be overfilled with the dry ingredients, and then the ingredients are leveled off using a knife or leveling tool scraped across the top of the cup. This process ensures the exact amount of each dry ingredient for a recipe to fill a muffin pan, bake a cake, or make a batch of cookies.
This method does not work for liquid ingredients, since filling a cup to the brim with a liquid ingredient may lead to spills on the counter and inaccurate measurements. Measuring cups designed for liquid ingredients usually have space above the measurement marks and feature a pour spout to help neatly pour the measured amount into a mixing bowl. Each cup for liquid measuring usually offers multiple measurement markings to allow the same measuring cup to be used for various quantities.
Liquid measuring cups typically have measurement markings in ¼-, ⅓-, ½-, and 1-cup increments as well as ounce markings for liquid ounces. Dry ounces should be measured using a kitchen scale. Some cups may offer additional measurement markings, including milliliters.
It is also important to consider capacity. Dry measuring cup sets generally come with four to six measuring cups with a range of capacities. Most sets will include a ¼-, ⅓-, ½-, and 1-cup size, while larger sets may add in additional capacities, such as ⅔ or ¾ cup. Liquid measuring cups typically have either a 1-, 2-, 4-, or 8-cup capacity. Measuring spoon sets contain at least five spoons with ⅛-teaspoon, ¼-teaspoon, ½-teaspoon, 1-teaspoon, and 1-tablespoon capacities.
The capacity of each measuring cup will affect how useful and helpful it is for cooking and baking. Finding a dry measuring cup set with additional capacities could make it easier to quickly measure the ingredients you need. For example, if a recipe calls for ¾ cup of flour, rather than separately measuring ½ and ¼ cup of flour, simply reach for the ¾-cup measuring cup. With liquid measuring cups, a larger measuring cup may also make it easier to measure ingredients. If there is only a 1-cup measuring cup, it will need to be filled multiple times to measure 2¾ cups of liquid.
Measuring cups come in a variety of materials. Consider the characteristics, pros, and cons of each option before making a purchase:
- Aluminum is a sturdy material that will resist warping. Most aluminum measuring cups feature embossed measurement markings on the outside of the cup, and these embossed markings also may appear on the inside. While aluminum may pick up odors from foods, most aluminum measuring cups are dishwasher safe.
- Stainless steel is durable, balanced, and nonporous. Unlike some materials like plastic or silicone, it won’t stain or retain old food odors. Some stainless measuring cups are a single piece, as opposed to options with an attached handle. When a handle is attached separately, it is more likely to break off. Consult with the specific care instructions from each manufacturer, but most stainless steel measuring cups are dishwasher safe.
- Plastic measuring cups are generally less expensive than those made from other materials. Because plastic is lighter in weight, plastic measuring cups could more easily tip over and spill ingredients. They also may become stained, pick up odors from foods, or crack over time. Measuring cups made from plastic are usually dishwasher safe.
- Silicone is a very flexible material and is often used to make collapsible measuring cups. Because of this flexibility, it can be easier to release sticky foods, such as peanut butter, from a silicone measuring cup. Press on the base of the measuring cup to invert it and release stuck-on ingredients. However, pressing too firmly on the silicone while measuring could result in an inaccurate measurement or cause ingredients to spill. Silicone may also be used to add a nonskid base to a plastic measuring cup. While it may pick up odors from foods, silicone is dishwasher safe.
- Glass is a popular choice for liquid measuring cups because it is nonporous and does not stain or hold on to food odors. While glass measuring cups are typically tempered to reduce the chances of cracking, they may still break if they are dropped. Measuring cups made from glass are dishwasher safe.
Storage is important in any kitchen but especially kitchens that are tight on space. Some measuring cups offer special designs to allow for more compact storage. When purchasing a set of measuring cups, look for options that will nest together. This reduces the amount of space they will take in a cabinet or drawer.
In addition to considering the amount of space each measuring cup or set will take, also think about how easy it will be to find what you’re looking for. Dry measuring cups and measuring spoons sometimes come with a ring or magnetic handles to keep the set together. This can be helpful in preventing a spoon or smaller measuring cups from getting lost in the back of a drawer. Other measuring cups may have holes in their handles to allow them to be stored on hooks.
Ease of Use
How easy each measuring cup or set will be to use is important. Manufacturers may add special features to make their products more user-friendly. These features may include the following:
- Nonslip grips can prevent the cup from sliding on the counter.
- Silicone handles add comfort when gripping or pouring.
- Angled designs make it easier to read the measurement markings.
- Larger fonts help those with sight issues.
- Multiple measurement markings on a cup (on the side, bottom, handle, etc.) allow individuals to quickly find the size they need.
- Lids that cover or store ingredients in the measuring cups can be helpful.
Our Top Picks
To help the search for the right measuring cup for a variety of needs, a mix of measuring cups for both dry and liquid ingredients have been selected for the top picks. Included are options made from different materials and ones that offer a variety of features. Some of the best measuring cups on the market are described below.
Pyrex’s glass measuring cups are an ideal choice for those looking for a liquid measuring cup. The set includes 1-, 2-, and 4-cup measuring cups for versatility. They offer measurement markings in cups, ounces, and milliliters for smaller measurements. Each measuring cup is made from tempered glass that can safely go in the dishwasher, microwave, freezer, or a preheated oven. The glass also is nonporous and doesn’t absorb flavors, odors, or stains from foods.
The three measuring cups each feature L-shaped handles with curved spouts for pouring. Three BPA-free plastic lids are included with the set to cover or store ingredients. The lids can be safely used in a microwave or freezer, and they are top-rack dishwasher safe.
If a budget buy is a priority, this measuring cup from Chef Craft may be the right pick. It offers a 2-cup capacity with measurement markings in cups, ounces, and milliliters. The measurement gradations are clearly labeled against a black background for ease of reading.
The measuring cup is made from a durable clear plastic material to allow the quantity of the ingredients to be easily verified. The plastic material also makes this measuring cup lighter in weight and easier to hold than some other options. It offers an ideal design for measuring liquids but also could be used to measure powders and other solids. This measuring cup is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
The Bellemain Measuring Cup set boasts weld-free stainless steel construction with an 18/8 finish for long-lasting durability. The cups feature flat bottoms to prevent tipping and wide handles for easy use. The cups nest together for compact storage in a cabinet or drawer.
Six measuring cups are included in this set. In addition to the ¼-, ⅓-, ½-, and 1-cup sizes found in most sets, this set also includes ⅔- and ¾-cup sizes to simplify recipe prep when mixing ingredients. Each cup is clearly labeled with both the cup and milliliter size. This set also is dishwasher-safe.
This three-piece set of liquid measuring cups from OXO Good Grips features a patented angled design. The front of the measuring cup rises up at an angle toward the spout. OXO added the cup measurements to this angled slope, making it easier to quickly identify the exact amount of liquid in the measuring cup for precise measurements without needing to squat down to verify the amount. In addition to the standard cup measurement going up the slope, ounce and milliliter markings are included on the side of each cup.
This set includes 1-, 2-, and 4-cup measuring cups. Each measuring cup is made from a durable BPA-free plastic that is dishwasher safe. A nonslip handle is integrated into the design of each measuring cup for comfortable holding and pouring.
The 2-cup KitchenArt Adjust-A-Cup features a unique adjustable design. This two-piece measuring cup has a sliding base that allows users to set it to the desired measurement level for dry, liquid, or semisolid ingredients, such as peanut butter or shortening. Once the ingredients are measured, simply pour them into the bowl or press up on the plunger to push them out of the measuring cup.
The measuring cup’s adjustable and versatile design also makes it a more compact option to reduce necessary kitchen storage space, as it can take the place of separate liquid and dry measuring cups. Measurements are included for cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, ounces, and milliliters. It is made using food-safe plastic and silicone. For best results, the manufacturer recommends hand-washing.
Those looking for a space-saving set of measuring cups may want to consider the Prepworks by Progressive collapsible measuring cups. Each measuring cup has a flexible silicone base that collapses when not in use. This makes the measuring cups flat for more compact storage. The flexible silicone base also assists in releasing sticky ingredients since users can press on it from the outside to loosen ingredients. Each measuring cup offers beveled edges to loosen tightly packed ingredients.
This set of five measuring cups includes ¼-, ⅓-, ½-, ¾-, and 1-cup sizes. For easy identification, both standard and metric measurements are molded onto each handle, and the silicone base of each measuring cup is a different color.
OXO Good Grips’ nesting stainless steel measuring cups feature magnetic handles to prevent the cups from separating and getting lost in storage. The magnetic design also makes it possible to remove just the one cup that is needed for measuring ingredients for a recipe. The cups are made from a durable and sturdy stainless steel material and feature a nonslip grip handle.
The set includes ¼-, ⅓-, ½-, and 1-cup measuring cups. The measurement markings for each cup are permanently etched at the base of the handle for easy identification. The cups also feature smooth and flat edges to allow precise leveling for accurate measurements. This set of measuring cups is dishwasher safe.
FAQs About Measuring Cups
If there are a few remaining questions about selecting or using the best measuring cups for dry or wet ingredients, the following may help provide the needed information. Gathered below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about measuring cups for baking and cooking.
Q. What is the difference between dry and liquid measuring cups?
Dry measuring cups are designed to be filled to the brim and leveled off to measure a specific quantity. These measuring cups have the exact makings for the quantity of dry ingredients needed.
Liquid measuring cups offer additional space above the measurements. This space prevents liquids from spilling out of the cup and making a mess or throwing off the measurements for a recipe.
Q. What sizes do liquid measuring cups come in?
Liquid measuring cups typically come in 1-cup increments with markings for smaller measurements on the cup. The most common sizes include 1 cup, 2 cups, 4 cups, and 8 cups.
Q. What are the four types of measuring cups for dry ingredients?
The four standard sizes for measuring cups for dry ingredients are ¼ cup, ⅓ cup, ½ cup, and 1 cup.