Measuring cup on patterned cloth showing metric measurements. Measuring cup on patterned cloth showing metric measurements.

Sip, Pour, Measure: How to Navigate Between Cups and Liters Like a Pro


A cup is a system of measurement that is used to measure ingredients (both wet and dry) usually when making a recipe. 

But if you’re like me – not a pro at cooking – you will know that it’s easy to get confused with the measurements. And heck, who makes it like that? if you think, “is this cup supposed to be this big when it comes to a one cup measurement”, you’re not alone.

I think measurements are nuts too. Like if we read one teaspoon, how big is the teaspoon? And what do I do if I have a smaller or bigger spoon?

Think about the cup as a measurement unit too. It is also equal to 16 tablespoons volumetrically or 16 ounces. And then we also have the liter – and cups and liters – well each food items use them interchangeably. why?

Think about it. A liter is a unit of measurement that equals 1000 milliliters. Or we can say 4.2 cups or 1.76 pints. And although this measurement convention was started to represent 1 kilogram of water at 4 degrees Celsius, but now can be used to weigh various liquids. 

Now that we know a liter has approximately 4 cups, implying a glass of water is 250ml.

When we drink a liter of water we consume 4 glasses of water or 4.2 cups of water.

For healthy and glowing skin, with proper metabolism, it is advised that every adult consume a minimum of 3 liters of water every day; which is roughly equal to 12 glasses. 

And we need to know the conversion of cups to liters 0 here is why…

Whenever you are cooking something by following any recipe it is best to use a standard measuring mechanism like cups which is easy at home, this not only helps you to replicate the recipe the first time but also whenever you make the same recipe you can follow an easy and accurate measurement system to prevent any shortcomings. 

Also, when you can easily convert you will have an idea of how much quantity is required for the preparation of any dish, so there will be no excess or wastage. 

Suppose we are in between a recipe that has a lot of ingredients in various quantities and you do not have equipment enough for that measurement. I would be like “I don’t know what I am doing!”. Unless I know this conversion.

Then, I can simply convert all the measurements into liters or cups so that you can simplify the process and easily get ahead with your recipe. 

The Icy Whiz team talked to Brandon Melillio, the Founder of GlutenFreeArmy, about the issues in using cups and liters as measurement units. Here is what he said:

Brandon Melillo
Brandon Melillo

“In the culinary world, using cups and liters often draws a line between traditional, home-based cooking and the precise demands of professional kitchens.

Cups, predominantly used in the United States, offer convenience for quick, everyday recipes. Liters, part of the metric system, are favored for their accuracy and ease of scaling, which is crucial in professional environments and recipes requiring exact proportions.

The challenge in using these units interchangeably lies in the conversion process, which can lead to errors affecting the final dish.

A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology emphasizes the importance of accurate measurement in baking, where even minor deviations can impact texture and flavor. Therefore, familiarity and caution with conversions are paramount.

To navigate between cups and liters effectively, I recommend:

  • Using a digital/food scale for precise ingredient measurement.
  • Consulting reliable conversion charts or digital tools for accurate conversions.
  • Practicing with recipes that require conversion to build familiarity with the process.

The more you cook and familiarize yourself with measuring in both systems, the easier it becomes. And soon, you might even get to the point where you don’t even need to use online conversions! Practice makes perfect.”

How Many Cups Make a Liter?

 There are 4.26 cups, or 4 one by six to be more precise, or 33.8 US ounces that make a liter.

The important thing to remember in this measurement and all recipes also is that the cup needs to be constant because there can be bigger or smaller cups also, which might disrupt the actual measurement.

However, if we want to convert more than 1 liter into cups then simply multiply the number by 4.22, implying that for 2 liters: 2×4.22 = 8.22. So, 2 liters have 8.22 cups.  

Converting Liters to Cups 

To convert any number of liters into a cup measurement simply divide the number by 4.22.

Now that you know this conversion you can easily use it for not just cooking but brewing as well and the accuracy in the conversion will help to make better end products and reduce the chances of mistakes.

Converting Cups to Liters 

To convert cups to liters simply take the number of cups and multiply it by 4.22, so in 5 cups you will have 5×4.22 = 2.11 liters.

Convert Units - Multi-Step Conversion

Knowing these conversions is useful for cooking and baking purposes as it helps to increase accuracy. One liter, for instance, has approximately 8 of 8 ounces cups, to be precise 8.45 cups. And the rule stands the same as water and a liter of milk also contains 4.2 cups of milk. 

Some examples of everyday items that are measured in liters or cups 

  • milk
  • juice
  • water
  • soft drinks
  • soda
  • flour
  • sugar
  • oil/butter 

We interviewed Tammy Spencer, Recipe Creator at Shop Scotch & Scones, on navigating between cups and liters in cooking. Here is what she had to say:

Tammy Spencer
Tammy Spencer

“As a recipe developer and baking blogger, I give my readers the option to choose between using US standard volumetric measurements and metric weight measurements.

I always convert recipes to weight measurements (especially for baking) because it is much more accurate and gives consistent, repeatable results when using a kitchen scale.”

Dry Measuring Cup and Liquid Measuring Cup 

Based on the ingredients you want to measure two types of cups are available in the market.

For the liquid ingredients liquid measuring cups are used for liquids like oil, water, and milk whereas for dry ingredients like flour, sugar, and rice we use dry measuring cups. 

The dry measuring cups are marked differently as compared to the liquid measuring cups. 

Catherine Rall, Certified Nutritionist at Happy V, talked to the Icy Whiz team on this. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Catherine Rall
Catherine Rall

“When all you’re doing is following a recipe, it’s a lot easier to mix different types of measurements; you don’t need to have a clear sense of ratios if you’re not trying to modify anything or cook from scratch.

As soon as I try to make my changes to a dish, especially if I’m scaling it up or down, one of the first things I’ll do is try to standardize the measurements.

I’m based in the U.S., so I’ll usually default to cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons, largely because those are more commonly used in our recipes and it’s easier to find the measuring cups and spoons I need.”

Some Easy and Quick-to-Make Mug/Cup Recipes

  • Cinnamon Bun  – Take flour, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract. Add it with butter and milk, mix the whole thing thoroughly in a cup/mug, and microwave it for 5 minutes until your cinnamon bun is ready.
  •  Mug Macaroni – Boil the amount of macaroni that you want to consume, grease a mug with butter add salt and pepper along with cheddar cheese in the macaroni and mix well. Now microwave on low for 3-4 minutes, and bon appetite!
  • The 2-minute Hot Chocolate – In a mug add milk, to this add brown sugar, chocolate chips, salt, and vanilla extract. Stir the whole thing and microwave for 2 minutes at a high temperature. Enjoy your hot and yummy chocolate drink now.
  • Sizzling Brownie – In a mug add flour, butter, baking powder, and vanilla extract. To this add some warm water, oil, and sugar. Bring together the whole mixture. Now microwave at low for 2-3 minutes and enjoy your sweet delicacy!
  •  Banana Bread Muffin – Take some banana that is ripen, and add its puree in a mug to this add vanilla extract, flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt. Now mix the whole batter and let it sit for a couple of minutes then microwave it for 4-6 minutes at low and your favorite breakfast is ready.
  • Broccoli Rice – Quickly boil a cup of rice and broccoli florets, now in another cup add these along with cornstarch, milk, cheese, and salt. Microwave the mixture for about 90 seconds to have a saucy rice mug.

All recipes across the globe use the cup measurements along with the grams mentioned in the bracket or they provide their scale of conversion at the end of the recipe to facilitate which cup is being used. That’s why I am not scared as before when cooking – because let’s face it, nobody wants to convert all the time or Google it up.

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by soubhik


Anushree Khandelwal
  1. This is an overall enjoyable piece. And the recipes you have given at the end is satisfying. Increased my knowledge. I will imply this measurements in my daily routine.

  2. I found this article on ‘How Many Cups in a Liter?’ quite informative. The clarification on the cup as a universal measurement, its equivalence to 16 tablespoons or ounces, and the details about a liter being 1000 milliliters were particularly helpful. As someone who enjoys cooking, this explanation simplifies the conversion process for recipes.

  3. Great breakdown! A liter equals approximately 4.26 cups, crucial for precise cooking. Staying hydrated, adults should aim for 3 liters daily. The conversion flexibility between cups and liters streamlines recipes, ensuring accuracy and reducing wastage. For a quick conversion, 1 liter equals 4.22 cups, simplifying measurements for various dishes. Cheers to cooking efficiency!

  4. I found this article really helpful, there is 4.26 cups in a liter. Being a lady of the house these types of measurement is really helpful for making any dishes. It may seen like a small information but these types of things keeps a lot value in daily life.

  5. Anushree Khandelwal delves into the mysteries of our brain’s memory capacity in a tech-savvy era. Exploring the intricacies of memory, the article navigates through sensory, short-term, and long-term memory types, offering a profound understanding.

    The comparison of our brain’s memory with computer measurements, framed in petabytes, adds a fascinating perspective. Backed by research from Professor Paul Reber, the article unveils the brain’s colossal capacity—2.5 petabytes, equivalent to 2.5 million gigabytes.

    Beyond the quantitative exploration, Khandelwal shares intriguing facts about human memory. From the ephemeral nature of newly acquired knowledge to the surprising capability of short-term memory, the article paints a vivid picture of the complexities within our minds. A captivating read for those curious about the inner workings of our memory.

  6. Good article in which amuses the readers by giving the common sense in which they Familiar with but didn’t aware of that sense or aspects and the 1 liter is equals to 4.22 cups of water is a precise measure which gives a good enhancement of the common sense .

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