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How to Convert from the US Measurements to the Metric System

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In this article, we dive into how many cups are in a pint and all the other basic kitchen conversion measurements you need to know. We'll also explain conversions from the US system to the metric system.

Have you ever found yourself super excited to try out a new recipe only to discover upon starting that all the measurements are in metric system units? Yeah, me too.

There’s nothing more frustrating than having to stop the cooking process every couple of minutes to (for the millionth time) google, how many quarts are in a liter? Or how many grams of flour are there in a cup? 

Don’t you just wish there was an easy, accurate, and quick solution? Well, the good news is that there is!

Below are tables and accompanying explanations that will help you perfectly convert between the metric system and the US customary system without getting a headache!

What is the Difference Between the USCS and the Metric System?

The Metric System

The difference between the USCS and the metric system boils down to base units used. The metric system is based completely on three individual units: meter for length, gram for weight, and liter for liquid and dry volume.

Each of these different units has “subunits” that increase or decrease in multiples of 10. For example, a single kilogram is equivalent to 1000 grams.

The same goes for a kilometer vs a meter and so forth. See the table below for a visual representation of how this works.

Here's a visual kitchen conversion chart to show standard conversions from cups to pints and quarts, and so on.

visual kitchen conversion chart, cups in pint and more

When it comes to baking and cooking, you will mostly be working with the metric units of grams, kilograms, and liters. 

The US Measurement System

The USCS on the other hand uses a variety of different measurements such as ounces, gallons, pints, quarts, pounds, cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, and so on.

If you grew up using this system, it can seem rather simple. However, when comparing the USCS to the metric system, it is actually far less logical, so let me break it down for you. 

Let’s start with liquid volume. As you’ll recall in the metric system, both liquid and dry volumes are measured using liters.

This is not the case for the USCS where liquid goods are measured completely differently than dry goods.

When measuring liquid volume, you’ll often see units such as teaspoons, tablespoons, fluid ounces, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons.

Use the table below for a better understanding of how to convert between these units. 

kitchen measurement unit conversions

Next comes dry volume. Metric system-using countries don’t do a lot of dry volume measuring. However, here in the US, we do. This is where we get all our dry volume “cup” units such as ¼ cup, ½ cup, 1/3 cup, and so on.

Teaspoons, tablespoons, and all their half and quarter amounts are also used to measure the volume of dry goods. You probably have a good idea of how this system works, but for a refresher, see the table below. 

kitchen conversion chart

Finally, let’s talk weight. As I mentioned above, it is not very often that you see dry goods measured by volume in the metric system.

So, you might be asking yourself, “how do they measure dry goods?”

The answer is by weight. Because we in the US have such an effective and well-known system for measuring dry volume, we often don’t measure recipe ingredients by weight.

However, it still might be helpful to know that the units of weight in the US are ounces and pounds. (NOTE that these ounces are different from the liquid ounces mentioned above!) 16 dry ounces equal one pound. 

How To Convert between US and the Metric System Measurements

Is your brain is totally bogged down with all this talk of grams, liters, cups, and ounces? You can make a metric system-based recipe using USCS measuring devices.

To do this, you will need to convert all the metric system measurements into the USCS measurements you’re more familiar with. 

First, you'll want to determine if the ingredient you’re using would normally be measured using the USCS liquid volume system (water, milk, fruit juices, etc.), the USCS dry volume system (flour, sugar, salt, spices, etc.), or the USCS weight system (meats and some produce).

Once you have this figured out, you can easily convert it to the previously determined system.

It should be noted that for dry ingredients, you’ll most likely need to convert not only from metric units of weight to USCS units of weight but then from USCS units of weight to USCS units of dry volume (this will take some specific googling).

  • For example, a recipe calls for 1 liter of water. First, determine that water is an ingredient that is normally measured in USCS liquid volume.
  • Next, search the chart below to find what USCS measurements are equivalent to a liter. You’ll discover that 1 Liter equals about 34 USCS liquid ounces.
  • Finally, use a glass measuring cup to measure out 34 USCS liquid ounces. Then use the appropriate amount of water in your recipe!

Kitchen Scales

Owning a digital kitchen scale equipped with both USCS and metric system unit readouts will often save you time. If you have a kitchen scale, there will be no need for conversion between the USCS and the metric system. 

For example, you have an awesome recipe for Nutella cookies, but all the measurements are in the metric system.

Instead of converting each of these amounts into the USCS, I can simply pull out my kitchen scale. Using my scale, I can measure all kinds of ingredients in grams and liters!

For this reason alone, I believe a kitchen scale to be an excellent investment. 

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