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Which Measuring Cup Is Right for You? Liquid vs Dry and More

Which Measuring Cup Is Right for You? Liquid vs Dry and More

Words Erin Zimmer

Measuring cups are not all designed equally. But what’s actually different between dry and liquid measuring cups? Which ones are microwave-friendly and which work best for sticky things like peanut butter?

Difference Between Dry and Wet Measuring Cups

Before we jump in, are you still wondering what the difference is between dry and wet measuring cups? Me too! It’s actually pretty minimal: when measuring liquids, you want the meniscus (the bottom of the curved surface line of the liquid) to touch the measurement mark. If you measure liquids in a dry cup instead, it’s easy to overfill the cups since the surface tension of liquid allows it to sit slightly higher, hence some possible spillage-over the sides of the cup. So it’s best to use liquid measuring cups for liquid… now back to our field guide for measuring cups.

plastic measuring cups

Classic Cups for Dry Ingredients: Plastic Measuring Cups

Flour, sugar, beans, rice, oats—you name it. These classic cups can do it all when it comes to measuring dry ingredients. You can easily dip them into bags or canisters to scoop up dry goods and there’s a scraper included in the set to level off the measurement precisely. This 7-piece set includes a nice variety of measurements between 1/4 cup to 1.5 cup, including that lesser-common 1.5 cup! Plus they all snap together for easy storage.

stainless steel measuring cups

Sleeker-Looking Cups for Dry Ingredients: Stainless Steel Measuring Cups

If you want a sleeker look and sturdier heaviness to your measuring cups, go with this stainless steel set. They will score you some style points and are just as reliable at measuring as the plastic cups. The set comes in four sizes between 1/4 cup to 1 cup, plus this one has a nice magnetic feature so they all stack easily and stay in place without getting lost in the drawer.

liquid measuring cups

Best All-Around for Liquid Ingredients: Angled Measuring Cup

This liquid measuring cup has an angular shape instead of the more traditional round shape so you can easily look straight down into the cup and see the measurement markings without having to bend your neck. The plastic is lightweight and is designed for all types of liquids: oil, water, milk, buttermilk, vinegar, you name it! You’ll find yourself using this cup all the time.

measuring cup beakers

Ideal for Smaller Liquid Measurements (and for Kids!): Measuring Beaker Set

These nesting beakers come in a range of sizes from 1-teaspoon all the way up to 1-cup. The smaller ones are not only adorable, they’re great for measuring liquids like vanilla extract, lemon juice, or booze in cocktails (one OXOnian even uses them to measure her kid’s medicine). It’s way better than having your liquids splash around when carefully trying to pour into measuring spoons. While you don’t necessarily need these beakers if you already have a liquid measuring cup, they’re pretty darn cute. Also they don’t take up much real estate since they all nest inside of each other, Russian doll-style. Also good during bathtime with kids if they like playing scientist in the tub!

adjustable measuring cup

Ideal for Sticky Ingredients (Dry or Wet!): Adjustable Measuring Cup

You know those times when you have to measure peanut butter, molasses, maple syrup, or honey? And you dread scooping out all that sticky business and having to wash it after? Enter the Adjustable Measuring Cup. OXO designed this one specifically for sticky ingredients. Just fill up to the desired amount then turn the knob to push the contents right into your bowl. The plunger acts as a squeegee, getting out every last bit, which means more precise measurements and more simple to clean! One side measures dry; the other side measures wet, so all your bases are covered.

silicone measuring cups

Ideal for the Microwave: Silicone Measuring Cups

Silicone cups are ideal for melting butter or chocolate (mmm, melted butter and chocolate). Or if you want to warm up some milk or chicken broth. The BPA-free silicone is durable enough to withstand heat and the honeycomb pattern protects your hands by dissipating heat faster, so you can comfortably take it out of the microwave without burning your hands. It’s also squishy and flexible so it’s easy to squeeze the spout and precisely drizzle melted butter over popcorn or pancake batter into a pan, or to water small pots of succulents.

Ready to get baking? Try our favorite easy dessert recipes, best tips for baking with kids, and essential tools for home bakers. Or forgo the measuring cups and learn how to bake with a food scale.

Shop this post

7 Piece Plastic Measuring Cups 7 Piece Plastic Measuring Cups Shop Now
Stainless Steel Measuring Cups Stainless Steel Measuring Cups Shop Now
3 Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set 3 Piece Angled Measuring Cup Set Shop Now
4 Piece Mini Measuring Beaker Set 4 Piece Mini Measuring Beaker Set Shop Now
2 Cup Adjustable Measuring Cup 2 Cup Adjustable Measuring Cup Shop Now
3 Piece Squeeze & Pour Silicone Measuring Cup Set 3 Piece Squeeze & Pour Silicone Measuring Cup Set Shop Now
By Erin Zimmer

Erin Zimmer is a freelance writer and photo stylist for OXO. The former managing editor of James Beard award-winning food website Serious Eats, Erin is based in New Orleans, where she loves adventures in her canoe, evenings on the porch, and long bayou walks with her dog Lillie.

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