Dry Measuring Cups

Published July 1, 2008. From Cook's Illustrated.

After testing 11 sets of measuring cups, it became apparent that there are substantial differences among brands.

Overview:

Update May 2014:

The OXO measuring cup set we tested is discontinued, but it's been redesigned and we will publish testing notes in the future on the updated design.

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After a shopping trip during which we picked up 11 sets of measuring cups, it became apparent that there are substantial differences among brands. Manufacturers disagree on design issues: Are stainless steel or plastic cups preferable? Short or long handles? Regardless of design differences, measuring cups should be accurate, comfortable, easy to use, and durable.

We first downgraded all sets in which the measurement could be read only on the bottoms of the cups. Testers unanimously disliked these sets, finding it nearly impossible to confirm the size of a cup once it was full of any ingredient.

As for design testers preferred stainless steel for heft, balance, and durability (plastic can get scratched, and markings fade in the dishwasher over time), though one seven-piece plastic set fared especially well… read more

Update May 2014:

The OXO measuring cup set we tested is discontinued, but it's been redesigned and we will publish testing notes in the future on the updated design.

___________________________________________________________

After a shopping trip during which we picked up 11 sets of measuring cups, it became apparent that there are substantial differences among brands. Manufacturers disagree on design issues: Are stainless steel or plastic cups preferable? Short or long handles? Regardless of design differences, measuring cups should be accurate, comfortable, easy to use, and durable.

We first downgraded all sets in which the measurement could be read only on the bottoms of the cups. Testers unanimously disliked these sets, finding it nearly impossible to confirm the size of a cup once it was full of any ingredient.

As for design testers preferred stainless steel for heft, balance, and durability (plastic can get scratched, and markings fade in the dishwasher over time), though one seven-piece plastic set fared especially well for accuracy and durability. They also preferred long handles that extend straight out and are level with the brim of the cup; angled or raised handles obstruct our preferred “dip and sweep” measuring method when drawing a straight edge across the rim, while dropped handles sometimes collect a little extra flour or sugar.

Methodology:

We tested 11 sets of measuring cups and rated them according to following criteria:


Accuracy

While a dry measuring cup will never rival a scale for perfect measuring, we wanted ours to be within 5 percent of its corresponding weight. We knew better than to use flour to test accuracy, but instead filled each cup to the brim with water. (We have found that eyeballing fluid in a cup yields a more precise measurement than filling it with a dry ingredient, where the amount can vary by as much as 10 percent, depending on who is doing the measuring.)


Design

We asked each tester to comment on the legibility of the measurement markings. Because many cooks use measuring cups for mise en place—measuring out flour or sugar and leaving the full cup on the counter until it’s required—we also expected the cups to be evenly weighted and stable (not easily knocked over).


Comfort

Our favored measuring method is the “dip and sweep”: dipping the cup into the bin or sack, scooping out a heaping cupful, then leveling the cup with the straight side of a knife. We asked testers to comment on the comfort of the cup, especially the handle, when measuring 1 cup of flour.


Durability

Ease of cleaning and resistance to scratching were evaluated. We scratched cups with both a knife and rasp grater, and we painted them with yellow curry paste and then attempted to wash out the stain.

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  • Product Tested

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended

    OXO Good Grips 7-Piece Soft Handled Measuring Cup Set

    Of the plastic sets, this was our favorite. Accuracy was good—off by less than 1 percent—and we liked the colorful measurement marks and comfortable handles. Best of all, the set includes 2/3 and 3/4 cups (and an egg separator).

    $7.95

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended

    Zyliss Perfect Pour Measuring Cup Set

    This set earned positive comments across the board for comfort, easy sweep, and clear markings. The cups are diamond shaped, which no one regarded as either an advantage or a disadvantage. The primary drawback was in cleaning: The plastic scratched easily, and the white cups showed stains even after washing.

    $7.95

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended

    OXO 4-Piece Stainless Steel Measuring Cups

    Great weight balance and exceptionally long, well-marked, Good Grips handles made these cups quite user-friendly, except that the slanted handles blocked a clean sweep motion for leveling off an ingredient.

    $21.95

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended with Reservations

    Norpro Stainless Steel 5-Piece Measuring Cup Set

    Despite being sturdy and accurate, these cups were disliked by all but a few testers for their “shovel-like” oval shape. Those who found the shape awkward complained that the handles were too short for the weighty cups. The measurement marks were also hard to read, being small and only lightly engraved where the handle met the cup.

    $19.99

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Cuisinart 5-Piece Measuring Cup Set

    These cups with clear measurement marks on the handles fared moderately for accuracy—off by almost 3 percent—and would have won more fans had their slightly offset handles not disrupted the “dip and sweep” motion when leveling off an ingredient. We’d also like them better if their featherweight design weren’t so easy to knock over.

    $6.99

  • Not Recommended

    Calphalon Set of 4 Stainless Steel Measuring Cups

    We liked the shape of these perfectly weighted, contoured cups—not to mention their long, comfortably graspable silicone handles. Unfortunately, their accuracy was off by more than 4 percent.

    $19.99

  • Not Recommended

    Cuisipro Stainless Steel Oval Measuring Cups

    The sibling to our favorite oval measuring spoons, this cup set was a disappointment, save for the long handles. Off by nearly 3 percent and weighing in at almost 1 1/2 pounds, the cups were heavy when empty and unreasonably so when full.

    $29.95

  • Not Recommended

    All-Clad Measuring Cups

    Have you ever wanted to measure out ingredients with miniature saucepans? Neither have we. These cups, albeit cute and virtually indestructible, weigh more than 1½ pounds when empty, and were off by more than 4 percent. Not to mention that they cost five times more than our winner.

    $49.95

  • Not Recommended

    Anolon Measuring Cup Set

    We weren’t sure why this manufacturer decided to forgo long handles on these cups: Everything we measured ended up on our hands. What’s more, these odd scoopers were inaccurate by more than 6 percent.

    $19.95

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