Last Updated on October 14, 2022
What a measuring cup does is pretty straightforward. It measures the volume of different types of ingredients, such as water, oil, milk, sugar, flour, or rice. Knowing the exact ratio of the ingredients in your recipe gives you some flexibility. It allows you to understand how the components interact with one another and experiment a bit.
You might eyeball the ingredients whenever you cook, but that technique is bound to fail when you need to double the servings or cook with different utensils. Today, we’ll tell you how measuring cups can improve your cooking skills and what are the best cups you can get.
You Can’t Improve What You Don’t Measure
As we said, eyeballing your ingredients and going with your gut instincts is a great way to cook, but not everyone knows how. To be able to eyeball your food measurements, you need a lot of practice (and a lot of trial and error).
Also, this technique usually works on recipes you keep making over and over. But when you want to try a new recipe, measuring the amount of everything that goes in is a must.
Remember, cooking has a lot to do with chemistry. All that cutting, chopping, slicing, heating, marinating, glazing, fermenting, and whatnot alters the molecular structure of your ingredients and forms those delicious winning bonds. Knowing exactly what you’re doing and putting into your dish is important if you want to understand cooking and become better at it.
So, now that we’ve established the importance of measuring your ingredients, let’s talk about the two types of measuring cups that can help you with it.
Liquid Measuring Cups
Liquid measuring cups are made for — drum roll — measuring liquids like yogurt, milk, water, oil, etc. These cups are made of clear material so that you can see through them. To measure your liquids correctly, place the cup on a flat surface instead of holding it in your hand.
With liquid measuring cups, you get some extra room between the maximum measurement and the rim of the cup so that you can carry and pour the liquid safely, made even safer and mess-free thanks to the pouring spout. If you try to measure liquids with a dry measuring cup, you’ll need to fill it up to the rim, so the liquid will surely dribble or slosh out when you move the cup.
Liquid measuring cups are typically microwave-safe so that you can melt butter or heat up milk in them. They also come in larger sizes than dry measuring cups, up to 8 to 10 cups, which is perfect for measuring the broth or cream quantity for your favorite soups.
Dry Measuring Cups
Dry measuring cups are usually made of lightweight, durable plastic or stainless steel. When measuring dry ingredients like flour, salt, or sugar, you need to fill the measuring cup up to the rim to level off the ingredient easily with a straight object.
Dry measuring cups are also shallow and thus let you scrape out anything that might stick on the bottom.
Best Dry Measuring Cups
A good set of measuring cups should be compact, accurate, and should last for long years. Unfortunately, liquid and dry measuring cups aren’t interchangeable. The good news is, they aren’t especially expensive, and you only need to buy them once.
These dry measuring cups are reportedly highly accurate. They nest inside each other nicely for easy packing. The engraved measurements are very easy to read and won’t fade away no matter how many times you wash them in the dishwasher.
What’s more, these cups come apart from the ring easily, so you can take one out even when your other hand is busy mixing the batter. The only downside of this measuring cup is the impractical design of its handle, as some ingredients can get trapped in the corner of the handle where the plastic meets the steel. It’s not a huge deal breaker but takes an extra minute when cleaning up.
Another accurate set of measuring cups from Simply Gourmet. When you look for measuring cups online, you’ll see many sets resembling this one. That’s because these cups have been cloned, i.e., they come from the same manufacturer but are printed with different labels. Simply Gourmet definitely offers the best deal on the market, which is why it deserves to be on our list.
The cups have short handles that don’t affect their balance too much. Combined with the flat bottom, it’s very hard to trip these cups over once you place them on the counter. This way, you’ll be able to keep your counters from spills and prevent the mess in general.
However, even though the cups sit in each other nicely, there’s no ring or magnets to keep them together, so you can’t really throw them in your drawer and expect them to stay in line for when you reach for them next.
These stainless steel measuring cups are a heavy-duty set. They are also reported to be one of the most precise sets for measuring on the market. The rubber handles make for a soft, non-slip, comfortable grip. The cups are low and wide so that they don’t trip over even when they are empty.
The OXO cups are magnetic, so when you take the one you need in a snap or rummage through your kitchen drawer, the rest remain together in place. You can even put them on your fridge if you use measuring cups that often.
There’s only one thing we didn’t like about this set – the fact that these cups have printed markings instead of engraved ones, which means they’ll probably fade with time. But until that happens, you’ll have enough time to memorize the size of each cup.
From their iconic stand mixer all the way to immersion blenders and hand mixers, KitchenAid produces sturdy, durable, and heavy-duty kitchenware. This set of plastic measuring cups is reasonably priced — unlike their stand mixer — and lives up to the standards of the brand both in terms of quality and design.
The material used to make the cups is BPA-free plastic. It’s rounded and smooth for optimum scooping, but they can’t stand up on their own. The handles are non-slip rubber with printed measurements.
Plastic is a very durable and affordable material, but it’s not as smooth as stainless steel, making the ingredients stick on the surface more often. This is why we only recommend this set if you’re looking for plastic measuring cups in particular or if you think their elegant design is worth the trouble.
Best Liquid Measuring Cups
Design is very subjective, but this set is so modern and smart that it definitely won’t disappoint anyone. The angled surface on the sides lets you see the measurements from above. The non-slip rubber handles are ergonomically shaped, and the pouring sprouts are highly efficient, leaving zero room for dribbles.
The set comes with 3 cups that measure in ounces, milliliters, and cups. The body of the cups is made of BPA-free plastic, and it’s dishwasher safe.
That said, there are two downsides that might discourage you from buying this set. First, the cups aren’t microwave-safe and will definitely lose their shape if you toss them in one. And second, the markings are only printed on the surface and will inevitably fade over time.
These Anchor Hocking cups are reportedly highly accurate. The set includes measures of 1, 2, and 4 cups. The spouts are very well designed, so the pouring is always mess-free. The cups are made of sturdy, tempered glass and have all the universal units on them — ounces, milliliters, and cups.
The red prints make this set a classy addition to your kitchen, and you’ll never have trouble reading the measurements. The grip is simply made of the same material, which is a con in terms of ergonomy but a pro in terms of simplicity. The cups are also dishwasher and microwave friendly.
Best Way to Measure
Measuring cups, both dry and liquid, measure the volume of your ingredients. However, external conditions such as humidity and pressure can affect the quantity of the dry ingredients that fit into a cup, leading to inconsistent measurements. For this reason, using a kitchen scale might be a better solution if you want to be ultra-precise (e.g., when baking, fermenting, coffee brewing, etc.).
A set of measuring cups, on the other hand, will save you lots of time on recipes where you’re supposed to add half a cup of minced onions or a quarter cup of sugar — where accuracy matters, but being slightly off won’t make everything fall apart.
Over and Out!
Cooking is essentially playing with chemistry. Every reaction that happens in the kitchen is a response to an action. And some of the reactions are not so obviously predictable. If you are an aspiring cook, measuring cups and a kitchen scale should be your best friends. The route of trial and error is dangerous and full of dead ends, and without the right tools, you won’t even understand what went wrong.
Knowing exactly what you’re adding to your dishes improves your understanding of the ingredients and how they react to each other and in turn, improves your understanding of cooking fundamentally.