Measure these?

Joined Oct 17, 2007
I get recipes that call for 3/4 cup of Red Onions, quartered. I think an onion, slightly smaller than a baseball, is about one cup chopped. How do you measure something like this? It's not that big a deal when quartering, except quarters of a large onion vs quarters of a small onion can make a difference in overall taste and presentation. The particular recipe that made me think of this is for a shrimp stir fry.

I also saw a meal plan that calls for 1 cup of asparagus. I'm dealing with whole spears, not little chunks. How many spears are a cup?

Thanks for your reply,

Joined Aug 21, 2010
Here is a quick run down that may help you in the future.
Fruit, Nut, and Vegetable Equivalents
Apples 3 medium = 1 pound = 3 cups sliced
Beans, black & kidney 1 cup dry = 1/2 pound = 2-1/2 cups cooked
Beans, lima 1-1/4 cup dry = 1/2 pound = 3 cups cooked
Beans, navy 1 cup dry = 1/2 pound = 2-1/2 cups cooked
Beets 1 pound = 2 cups sliced
Broccoli 1 pound head = 2 cups flowerets
Cauliflower 1-1/2 pound head = 2 cups cooked
Carrots 1 pound = 3 cups shredded = 2-1/2 cups diced
Celery 1 large stalk = 3/4 cup diced
Cheese, soft 4 ounces = 1 cup shredded
Cheese, hard 3 ounces = 1 cup shredded
Chocolate, baking 1 square = 1 ounce
Cheese, soft 4 ounces = 1 cup shredded
Chocolate chips 1 cup = 6 ounces
Corn 10 ounces = 2 cups
Frozen vegetables 1 pound = 3 cups
Garlic 3 large cloves = 1 tablespoon minced
Green beans, fresh 1 pound = 3 cups fresh = 2-1/2 cups cooked
Herbs 1 teaspoon dry = 3 teaspoons fresh
Lemon 1 whole = 3 tablespoons juice = 2 teaspoons zest
Lime 1 whole = 2 tablespoons juice = 1-1/2 teaspoons zest
Mushrooms, fresh 1 pound = 6 cups sliced = 4 cups chopped = 3 ounces dried
Onions 1 pound = 3 large
Onions 1 large = 1 cup chopped
Peanuts 1 pound shelled = 4 cups
Pears 1 medium = 4 ounces = 1/2 cup sliced
Pecans 1 cup = 3-1/2 ounces halves = 4 ounces chopped
Peppers, bell 1 large = 6 ounces = 1 cup diced
Potatoes 3 medium = 1 pound
Rice, white 1 cup raw = 3 cups cooked
Rice, brown 1 cup raw = 3-1/8 cups cooked
Rice, wild 1 cup raw = 4 cups cooked
Spinach 1 pound fresh = 6 cups leaves = 1-3/4 cups cooked
Squash, winter 1 pound = 1 cup mashed
Tomato paste/sauce 8 ounces = 1 cup
Walnuts, halves 3-1/2 ounces = 1 cup
Yeast 1 envelope = 1 tablespoon = 1/4 ounce
Zucchini 1 pound = 3 cups sliced = 2-1/2 cups chopped
Joined Sep 18, 2008
If you have access to "Food for Fifty" or to Mastercook v8+ (which has a PDF copy of "Food for Fifty"), there's some pretty good food preparation guidelines including EP/AP ratios as well as weight to volume estimates
Joined Apr 3, 2008
When it comes to a good stir fry there's no such thing as too much onion IMO.

For savoury dishes I never worry so much about the quantity of ingredients and often change the amounts from the recipe to suit my taste.  Otherwise I just eye ball it.  For example, for one cup of asparagus I would put asparagus in a cup so that half of the cup (vertically) is full.  Since asparagus are roughly twice as tall as a cup then I figure that's about as much as a whole cup.  Make sense?

In fact I often tune out when tv chefs dole out ingredients in little glass dishes (1tbsp garlic paste, 1 cup onion, 1/2 cup carrots, etc) and gravitate towards shows that speak my language (2 cloves garlic, 1 medium onion, 1 carrot, etc.)
Joined Feb 1, 2007
It often boils down to your viewpoint about recipes. They can be guides, or they can be straightjackets.

In the OPs example, for instance, does anyone think a little more or a little less onion would significantly change the dish? The answer to that question pretty much defines your outlook.

That said, I've long been bugged by non-measurement measurements in recipes. For instance, what is the recipe-writer's intent when the ingredient list calls for "half a small bunch of tarragon?" What is a bunch (small or otherwise) of anything? 

On the other hand are the overly precise recipes. One famous chef actually specifies the addition of pepper by the number of turns of the pepper mill. No kidding. Such and such recipes should have three turns. Thus and so requires ten turns. Etc.

More and more, as I get older, I appreciate why European (and a growing number of American) cookbooks specify ingredients by weight. There is no confusion that way. As a cook, you are still free to adapt and amend if that's your desire. But at least you know what the recipe actually called for.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
1. What size asparagus??  2. Everything should be done by weight, at least commercially. Why? Because we buy by weight, Portion by weight and Sell by weight. Why not keep everything uniform???
Joined Feb 1, 2007
And therein lies the rub, Ed. Everything you say is true----until we get to the at-home cook, to whom recipes are presented in terms of volume measurement, or nebulous measurements such as "small bunch" or "juice of one....."

The experienced home cook works around that. But for the novice it can be very confusing, especially if that person has come into cooking with the idea that recipes are cast in stone.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Ingredients by weight works for me, but how about using the metric system? hehe

But as has been said, a novice cook can get thrown by trying to stick meticulously to a recipe.  In the real world it doesn't always work.  Ok, baking is an exception.  There is the need to stick to the recipe.

But how much does a pinch of salt/pepper/sugar weigh?  Depends how big your fingers are. And season to taste - that can vary very much.  But you should season to taste.  Taste everything you cook at each stage of cooking where possible, and certainly at the end.

And with many savoury dishes, adding extra stock and/or water to thin out a dish that has gone a bit too thick, that can never be measured.  You have to eyeball it.

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