Whether you’re adding large amounts of broth to soup or measuring out oil for deep frying, it’s good to have a large liquid measuring cup on hand. Sure, we could fill and empty a 1-cup liquid measuring cup four or eight or 16 times, but it’s a lot faster and more efficient to use a larger model. Which ones are best? To find out, we purchased larger versions of our two favorite 1-cup liquid measuring cups from Pyrex and OXO. Both brands offer 2- and 4-cup versions, and Pyrex offers an 8-cup version. We also purchased intriguing 2-cup and 4-cup multi-unit models with markings for both liquids and an array of common dry ingredients. With a total of seven models, priced from about $8 to about $20, we headed into the test kitchen.
As with all measurement tools, our main concern was accuracy. We assessed the accuracy of the models at every cup, ounce, and milliliter marking using water measured in grams on a lab-grade scale. For each marking, we checked the level of the water against the corresponding lines on the cup. We found every model’s markings to be accurate, but we didn’t find every model easy to use.
The two multi-unit models we tested created more problems than they solved. Both models consist of two pieces. The first piece is a clear plastic cup with several columns of markings arranged by category on its plastic walls. It sits inside the second piece, a gray plastic sleeve with a vertical cutout; the sleeve spins around the cup’s exterior and the cutout reveals one measurement category at a time.
With 13 categories to choose from, it took us a long time to find the ones we wanted. The options were oddly specific; they included lentils, rolled oats, and many dry foods that we typically measure in a dry measuring cup (so we can easily level off the top for accuracy). All of the measurements on both models were a little hard to read because they were printed in small font. The multi-unit models were simply too fussy and inefficient to earn a place in our kitchen.
Fortunately, the large versions of our favorite 1-cup models had simple designs and were easy to use. Each model had just three measurement categories: cups, ounces, and milliliters. The markings on the glass Pyrex models were printed on the exterior walls of the cup; to get an accurate measurement when using traditional liquid measuring cups such as these, we recommend setting the cup on the counter, pouring in the liquid to be measured, and then crouching down to check the markings at eye level. The OXO models also had markings on their walls and could be used similarly, but they had an additional set of markings set on an angled strip inside each cup that could be read from above, eliminating the need for crouching. We loved that convenience in the 1-cup model and we valued it in the larger models, too. That innovative design trait came with more surfaces to scrape down with a spatula and clean, but we were willing to accept that trade-off.
In our kitchen tests, the larger versions of our favorite 1-cup models performed well. They were broad enough to pour liquids into easily, even from wide 12-inch skillets. Whether filled with simmering water or a hot mixture of marinara sauce and turmeric, their handles remained comfortably cool. To test if the cups were easy to clean, we filled them with the marinara sauce mixture and let them sit for 3 hours before emptying and washing them. While the plastic OXO cups stained slightly, the glass Pyrex cups cleaned up easily.
The biggest difference between the models was how easy it was (or wasn’t) to pour from them. The two plastic OXO cups were lightweight and had wide, easy-to-grip handles. They also had long, sharp spouts that ensured clean, tidy pours. By contrast, the 2-cup and 4-cup glass Pyrex models were also light enough to lift comfortably but only the 2-cup model was tidy to pour from. Both the 4-cup and 8-cup models had very small spouts from which liquid often spilled unless we poured very slowly. Weighing more than 3 pounds when empty and more than 7 pounds when full of water, the 8-cup Pyrex model was noticeably heavy. Its dinky handle made it even harder to hold the big, heavy cup aloft for long. We recommend lifting this cup with two hands and, whenever possible, holding it over the vessel you’re pouring into so no liquid is wasted.
Our criticisms of the 8-cup model got us thinking about the design of all liquid measuring cups. As the cups in the OXO and Pyrex sets grew in volume, they increased more in diameter than in height. As such, the measurement markings were squeezed into a fairly small amount of vertical space. The 2-cup Pyrex cup was the only model we tested that had markings for every single measurement from ¼ cup to 2 cups. Every other cup lacked markings in at least one location. The other larger models all sacrificed something. Both of the OXO cups had legibility issues. The 1/3-cup increments were denoted with teeny, tiny arrows instead of the clearly labeled 1/4-inch dashes used for other measurements. Most first-time users didn’t even notice the arrows. If they did see them, they weren’t sure what they signified. The markings for measurements less than 1 cup on the 4-cup OXO model were too close together and hard to read.
The two larger Pyrex models, on the other hand, were missing some measurements altogether. The 4-cup Pyrex cup didn’t have ¼-cup markings, so the best we could do was aim for a spot midway between a half cup and a full cup, which is imprecise. The 8-cup model was even more sparsely labeled; it had markings for whole cups only.
All of the large models were so wide that small amounts of liquid, such as ¼ or ⅓ cup, barely covered the bottom of the measuring cup. Our conclusion: A medium or large liquid measuring cup is handy for certain tasks, but it simply can’t replace a smaller model’s precision when measuring small amounts.
Given the range of volumes of liquids called for when cooking, we recommend purchasing liquid measuring cups in various sizes. A 1-cup model is essential for precisely measuring small volumes, while larger models enable cooks to quickly and efficiently measure multiple cups or quarts. We liked the larger versions of both of our favorite 1-cup models. As before, we loved that the angled plastic cups from OXO were lightweight, had a secondary set of measurement markings inside that could be read from above, and were easy to pour from. We also appreciated their wide, grippy handles. The larger versions of the iconic glass liquid measuring cups from Pyrex were as sturdy, durable, and easy to clean as the 1-cup model. We think that the 2-cup and 4-cup sizes are a little more useful than the 8-cup because they have more measurement markings and were easier to handle and pour from. That said, the 8-cup model has won over many of our staffers. It’s the quickest way to measure large volumes of liquid and, because it’s so wide, it’s handy for odd jobs like proofing dough, brining dried beans, and mixing pancake batter. One staffer also likes to use it as a receptacle when straining solids from liquids in place of a bowl. We also found that the sets of OXO and Pyrex cups each stack relatively neatly and take up surprisingly little space in a cabinet or drawer.