How to Measure a Cup of Water Without a Measuring Cup

Measuring cups are a key item when baking, whether you’re whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies or baking brownies. Regardless, measuring cups will provide accurate measurements for superior results. So what happens if you don’t have a measuring cup?

You don’t necessarily need a measuring cup. Although it will make your baking life oodles easier, you can get by without one. The best option is to use a kitchen scale and weigh the water. You can also opt for teaspoons and tablespoons. As a last resort, eyeball it.

Hey! I’m Michelle, a home baker that’s enjoyed the past ten years in my kitchen whipping up all kinds of treats and bread loaves. While I typically have measuring cups on hand, I have baked sans measuring cups plenty of times. I’m here to share what works best.

Read on to find out how to measure a cup of water without a measuring cup!

3 Ways to Measure a Cup of Water Without a Measuring Cup

Water is a very common liquid ingredient in baking, and being precise is vital for the success of your baked goods. However, that doesn’t mean you have to have a measuring cup for accuracy. Below are the top three ways to measure a cup of water without a measuring cup.

1. Kitchen Scale (Best Option)

Your best option is to use a kitchen scale – not a regular scale. (Honestly, I recommend buying a kitchen scale to hand on hand, regardless. You will use it a lot more than you might think!). 

  • Turn on the kitchen scale. It won’t work if you don’t turn it on. (Duh, Michelle!)
  • Place a glass cup on top of the kitchen scale. The cup should be empty at this point.
  • Tap the “tare” or “zero” button. This will put the scale back to “0” so you can get an accurate measurement without the weight of the cup factored in.
  • Pour water into the cup slowly until you reach your desired weight. Pause every so often to check the weight.

How much should it weigh? Well, that depends solely on how much water you need. Here’s a handy chart to help you out.

¼ cup3 ounces85 grams
½ cup4 ounces170 grams
⅔ cup8 ounces227 grams
1 cup12 ounces340 grams

2. Teaspoons/Tablespoons (Runner-Up)

Plenty of people have teaspoons and tablespoons in their kitchen drawer, even if they don’t have a measuring cup handy. Does this sound like you? Then you can rely on your trusty, smaller measurements.

Yes, this method is a little bit more of a nuisance. After all, one cup of water equates to a whopping 16 tablespoons and 48 teaspoons; you’ll spend a lot of time pouring and measuring. However, it provides top-notch, accurate results.

The only thing you need to know is how many teaspoons or tablespoons for the amount of water requested in your recipe. Here’s a handy guide.

¼ cup4 tablespoons12 teaspoons
½ cup8 tablespoons24 teaspoons
⅔ cup10 ½ tablespoons32 teaspoons
1 cup16 tablespoons48 teaspoons

3. Eyeball It (Least Recommended, But Usable)

If you don’t have a kitchen scale or any tablespoon or teaspoon measuring spoons, you will need to rely on your good ole eyeballs. Yes, this is the least accurate method, but it will still get the job done.

To use the “eyeball” method, you will need to find items that closely resemble your desired measurement and go from there. You can place these items inside or next to a glass cup to get a better idea of how much water you need to pour.

  • ¼ cup = large egg
  • ½ cup = tennis ball
  • 1 cup = apple


Who knew you could measure water without ever needing to use a measuring cup? (OK, but I still recommend investing in some good measuring cups.) If you want to learn more about this fun topic, I’ve added a couple of commonly asked questions for you to check out.

What is the easiest way to measure 1 cup?

Of these three options, the kitchen scale is the easiest way to measure one cup of water. That’s because you don’t have to fuss with “guesstimates” or pouring a million tablespoons or teaspoons. Simply pour the water until you reach the desired weight and viola!

How do you measure a cup with your hand?

You can technically measure water with your hand. (I don’t know if anyone will appreciate you doing this, though). If you decide to use this method, you will need to fill up your cupped hands to the top with water. This is the equivalent of one cup of water – although not very accurate.

How do you make a measuring cup?

You can make your own measuring cup, but you will need a scale or tablespoons and teaspoons to measure accurately. Either way, you can use a permanent marker to jot down the line when it reaches ¼, ½, ⅔. 1, 2 cups, etc. 

You Don’t Need a Measuring Cup to Measure Water

While I highly recommend investing in a measuring cup for future baking adventures, you can get by with a kitchen scale or using your spoon measurements. If all else fails, use approximations with other items in your kitchen.

Have you used any of these techniques? Do you have any to add? Help us out!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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  • Sporty of MN

    Hi Michelle, l used the pressure cooker method last night to make Carmel. That l drizzled on my Apple Crisp. Then added about a scoop of New York Vanilla, spinkled that with a dash of cinnamon. Words can hardly describe how much l enjoyed the treat! Thanks for that Carmel method.

    As for measuring a cup without measuring cups. Personally I’ve always used a pint Mason jar. Far as I’m concerned, if you have a pint Mason jar. You’ve got the only “measuring cup” a person needs. Bonus They’re also great for making Jello! As long as eating the jello is more important then looks. I’ve found; if u get a leathery layer on the bottom of your jar. I’ve had good luck placing the jar on a wire shelf in the fridge versus a solid plastic shelf. I’m my non professional opinion it cools more evenly.

    • Michelle

      That sounds delicious, my mouth is watering! Glad we could help. Also, that’s a great idea. Thanks for sharing!