Measuring ingredients is a precise practice. And knowing how to accurately measure ingredients like spices, vanilla extract and baking powder, is crucial to the success of making recipes. In this article, we’ll answer a few common questions like what is a teaspoon? What is a tablespoon?  And how do you convert teaspoons to tablespoons (tsp to tbsp)?

to represent how many teaspoons in a tablespoon there are several different sizes of measuring spoons scattered and filled with different herbs and spices

Being successful in the kitchen, especially when baking, requires the accurate measurement of ingredients. When following recipes to make a meal, you might be able to eyeball the amount of herbs and spices and other ingredients when making a dish, but baking is a different ballgame. It’s important in baking to be more concise with measurements. If you add too much flour or too little, the outcome of your recipe might not be what you had hoped for.

to represent how many teaspoons in a tablespoon (tsp to tbsp) there is a white pot filled with vegetable noodle soup. A mixture of measuring spoons filled with different herbs sits next to the po.

Cooking and baking can be very rewarding when the recipe turns out! Knowing how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon (tsp to tbsp) is helpful for you to achieve success in the kitchen.

What is a Teaspoon

A teaspoon is a common measurement of ingredients used in cooking and baking. Teaspoon is equivalent to 0.16 fluid ounce, 1/3 of a tablespoon or 5 mL. A teaspoon is abbreviated in recipes as “tsp,” “tsps” or just the lower case “t”. Teaspoons are used to measure dry ingredients like dried herbs and spices, baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar. It can also be used to measure liquids like pure vanilla extract, honey, maple syrup, mustard and mayonnaise. 

What is a Tablespoon

A tablespoon is a common measurement of ingredients used in cooking and baking. Tablespoon is equivalent to 0.5 fluid ounce or 15 mL. A tablespoon is commonly abbreviated in recipes as  “tbsp” or “tbs”.  Like teaspoons, tablespoons are also used to measure dry ingredients like dried herbs and spices, baking powder, baking soda and cream of tartar. It can also be used to measure liquids like pure vanilla extract, honey, maple syrup, mustard and mayonnaise. 

What’s a Pinch, Dash and Smidgen

Even though the obscure measurements of a pinch, dash and smidgen are so small that they are unlikely to make any really difference in the outcome of your recipe, they do in fact have actual concrete sizes. You can purchase measuring spoons for dash, pinch and smidgen and take the guesswork out things for the next time you need a pinch of salt, nutmeg or some other ingredient.

How much is a tad?

A tad is 1/4 teaspoon

How much is a dash?

A dash is 1/8 teaspoon and is typically used for liquid ingredients 

How much is a pinch?

A pinch is 1/16 teaspoon, and in theory the dry ingredient should fit between your thumb and forefinger.

How much is a smidgen?

A smidgen is 1/32 teaspoon

How much is a drop?

A drop is 1/64 teaspoon, and is used for liquid ingredients

stainless steel measuring spoons

Even though teaspoons and tablespoons are used to make recipes throughout the world, their mL volume varies in different countries. The United States uses the Imperial System, many other countries use the metric system.  A metric tablespoon measures 15 mL and a metric teaspoon measures 5 mL. There are almost always 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon, except in Australia where 1 tablespoon measures 20 mL and 1 teaspoon measures 5 mL.

Imperial (US) System vs Metric System

The United States uses the Imperial System for measurements, where most countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada have adopted the metric system using measurements like grams, meters, liters, kilograms and kilometers. There aren’t significant differences in volume between the Imperial (US) and Metric measuring systems. You can easily use US teaspoons and tablespoons for metric measurements if a recipe is written using the Metric system.

  • 1 US tablespoon (Imperial tablespoon) = 1/2 fluid ounce (14.79 milliliters) and 1 UK and Canada Metric tablespoon = 15 milliliters.
  • 1 US teaspoon (Imperial teaspoon) = 1/6 fluid ounce (4.93 milliliters) and 1 UK and Canada Metric teaspoon = 5 milliliters

How Many Teaspoons Are in a Tablespoon (tsp to tbsp)

These are some basic conversions that are good know (like tsp to tbsp), especially if you spend a lot of time cooking and baking. 

How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?

There are 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon.

How many teaspoons are in two tablespoons?

There are 6 teaspoons in two tablespoons.

How many teaspoons are in 1/4 cup?

There are 12 teaspoons in 1/4 cup.

How many teaspoons are in 1/3 cup?

There are 17 teaspoons in 1/3 cup.

How many teaspoons are in 1/2 cup?

There are 24 teaspoons in 1/2 cup.

How many teaspoons are in 3/4 cup?

There are 36 teaspoons in 3/4 cup.

How many teaspoons are in a cup?

There are 48 teaspoons in a cup.

a colored chart with measurements converting teaspoons to cups

Common Cooking Measurement Abbreviations

Knowing and understanding standard measurement abbreviations are an important part to successful cooking. We’re already familiar with tsp to tbsp, here is a list of some other common abbreviations that are helpful to know.

Standard Imperial (US) System Measurement Abbreviations

Unit of Measurement = Cooking Abbreviation(s)

  • pound = lb
  • gallon = gal
  • pint = pt
  • quart = qt
  • cup = c
  • fluid ounce = fl. oz.
  • ounce = oz.
  • teaspoon = tsp or t
  • tablespoon = tbsp or T

Standard Metric System Measurement Abbreviations

Unit of Measurement = Cooking Abbreviation(s)

  • Milliliter = mL
  • kilogram = kg
  • liter = l
  • grams = g

Essential Kitchen Tools

Mixing Bowls

Glass, ceramic, plastic or stainless steel. The choice is yours. Stainless steel bowls are light-weight, unbreakable and you can heat or freeze foods in them. Just make sure you purchase nesting bowls so they take up very little space.

Measuring Cups

Dry measuring cups are usually nested inside each other and are marked with 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 3/4 and 1 cup for measuring dry ingredients like flour and sugar. Liquid measuring cups are usually glass (or Pyrex) that have a mug-like handle with measurement lines marked on the surface.

Measuring Spoons

I like stainless steel measuring spoons the best. Sometimes ingredients will get stuck in plastic measuring spoons.

Parchment Paper

Parchment paper makes baking a lot easier. It’s not necessary to grease baking sheets if they are lined with parchment paper. It’s much easier to lift a cake out of a pan that has been lined with parchment paper first. You can find parchment paper at most grocery stores. You can find pre-cut parchment paper circles online or at many kitchenware stores, or just make your own by tracing the outer rim of the bottom of your baking pan and cut out the circle. 

Kitchen Scale

Whether you’re a novice cook or a seasoned baker, having a kitchen scale can make your next baking (or cooking) endeavor much easier, more reliable with a better outcome for success. It’s a great tool for precise measurements, especially when baking. If you “tare” the scale first, you can measure your ingredient directly into mixing bowls when using a kitchen scale. To “tare” a scale means to reset the scale to zero and subtract the weight of the bowl or cup that your ingredient is in from the measurement.

Tips to Measure Like a Pro

  • A good rule of thumb is to use a dry measuring cup or a tablespoon when measuring dry ingredients, use a liquid measuring cup when measuring liquids, and use a kitchen scale when you need to measure your ingredients by weight.
  • Dry ingredients can compact over time, so it’s best to use a tablespoon or a fork to fluff it up a bit before scooping it up with your measuring cup. This will provide you with a more precise measurement. You always want dry ingredients like flour and brown sugar to be light and fluffy when measuring them (unless a recipe calls for packed brown sugar).
  • Be sure to fill dry ingredients such as flour and sugar to the brim of the measuring cup, and scrape away the excess from the top.
  • Before measuring, make sure your measuring cups are sitting level on the counter. If you hand-hold liquid measuring cups while you measure, you might not end up with a precise measurement.
  • When measuring liquids, make sure the measuring cup is sitting level on the counter and squat down to eyeball the measurement line to make sure you have the precise measurement.
  • When measuring a tablespoon, the tablespoons should also be level to ensure a precise measurement. Give the tablespoon a little tap on the counter to make the ingredient as level as possible. Or you can run your forefinger across the top of the measuring spoon to remove the excess.
  • Some wet ingredients like yogurt, sour cream don’t settle precisely in a liquid measuring cup, so you can spoon the ingredient into dry measuring cups. Tap the cup on the counter to help settle and remove air pockets before leveling the top with the back of a knife. 
  • For a “heaping tablespoon” include more of the dry ingredient piled on top of the tablespoon.
  • Carefully read the recipe before measuring the ingredients. If a recipe calls for chopped ingredients, such as onion, shallots or nuts, you would chop the ingredients before measuring them.
  • Measure dry ingredients over a piece of waxed paper or parchment to make cleanup easier.
  • Never “pack” flour like you would brown sugar.

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