Some recipes allow you to modify them significantly and correspondingly call for imprecise amounts of ingredients. For example, a soup recipe might request a splash of milk, a glug of olive oil or salt to taste. Other recipes call for precision, especially those for baked goods where dry and liquid ingredients are combined. In these cases, trying to vary the recipe or simply estimating ingredient amounts can lead to a culinary disaster. Measure ingredients accurately to help ensure the success of your recipes.
Fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup with your dry ingredient. Run the back of a knife over the measuring cup to level it off, ensuring you are using exactly 1/4 cup. If you are measuring a liquid, fill the measuring cup to the brim; you do not need to try to level it off. Some ingredients such as brown sugar can be measured in different ways. For example, you may need to pack the brown sugar tightly into the cup rather than measure it loosely. Follow your recipe's guidance for these cases.
Fill a 1/8 cup measuring cup with the ingredient you wish to measure if you do not have a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Level it off with a knife as you would have with a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Pour the ingredient from the 1/8 cup measuring cup into a bowl, then repeat the process. This gives you two 1/8 cup units of the ingredient, which is equal to 1/4 cup.
Measure out four tablespoons of your ingredient, pouring each into a bowl as you finish measuring it. Level off the ingredients with a knife as you would have for a 1/4 cup measuring cup or a 1/2 cup measuring cup. One cup contains 16 tablespoons, so four tablespoons is equal to 1/4 cup.
Fill a 1/2 cup measure approximately halfway full with the ingredient you wish to measure if you do not have a 1/4 or 1/8 cup measuring cup or a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon. This method is somewhat imprecise and may not lead to the best results. Nevertheless, this method can be significantly more reliable than simply guessing.