Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Australian cooking conversions- shocking revelations

I thought I had my head around most conversions particularly in regard to US versus Australian names for ingredients but have come across some new facts recently.

My friend Erin just shared a fact with me in regards to Australian standards which I find shocking, our tablespoons are bigger than the rest of the world. Yes according to wikipedia, most tablespoons are 15ml but in Australia out tablespoons are 20ml. Isn't that just crazy, particularly if most of your  recipes are outside of Australia! I just ran around and checked and all of mine measure 20ml but I think they are all made overseas. You might want to check though particularly before following US baking recipes.

And then I discovered that our measuring cup size varies too, here it is is 250ml, in the US it is 236.59ml and the UK it is: 284.1. Why are they all different?

Recently Matt posted about the differences in chili powder between Australia and America, basically their chili powder contains other things which means ours is much hotter and we are not all wusses.

Any other things I should be aware of?


  1. Oh gosh, you didn't know that about the tablespoons? It always stressing me out when I'm writing recipes where the small difference can matter!!

  2. I am even worse than you - my tbsp are all 15 ml and so I use our cups which are 250ml (compared to the american 240ml) but their tbsp - and yet my recipes work so I don't stress about it - I also convert their half cup butter to 125g and I recently found this was not right either - maybe this could explain why the cookies I made tonight weren't quite like the recipe seemed to suggest - but they taste good still!

    I hadn't heard that UK cups were bigger. In fact so few UK recipes are in cups that I am surprised they have a different one - though it reminds me that many old recipes were written just using teacups and glasses so they were never that accurate - just about what felt right!

  3. The difference in cups are to do with US vs Imperial fluid ounces [1]. And then Australia just rounded it after metrication.

    Who knows why Australian tablespoons are 4 teaspoons instead of 3.

    [1] Although weirdly a US cup is 8 US fl oz and an Imperial cup is 10 Imperial fl oz. Couldn't agree on anything!

  4. Tricky, huh? I found this out while I was thinking of writing a version for the US - way too hard :)

    I just recently found out the difference between cocoa powder there and here, too - they mostly use ordinary cocoa, and we mostly only have dutch processed in supermarkets, but dutch doesn't react with bicarb to rise a cake.

  5. Interesting and frustrating about those spoons and cups!

    As for the chili powder thingy, it's true. "chilie" or "chili" powder is a blend of dried chile, cumin and other spices. it is not the same as pure "chile." super confusing. my husband hates anything with chilie powder in it, but he loves things with chile and cumin, so that makes things even more confusing in our home... most recipes in the use that call for staight up chile powder, will designate what sort of chile powder to use for instance: cayenne, chipotle, ancho, habanero, etc.


    1. Thank you. That explains why my homemade taco seasoning was so hot when I followed the recipe from a US based website

  6. I knew about the measuring cups/spoons. I also been shouting about the chilli powder to anyone who will listen. A few years back I copied a recipe exactly and it was SO hot it blew our heads off! No one could eat it and it all got wasted. 2T of chilli powder?? I don't think so!!!

  7. I took cooking classes in high school and had all the US measures drilled into my head through the use of mneumonics - TaBleSpoon = 3 syllables, and so 1 Tablespoon = 3 teaspoons. Then I come to Australia and that doesn't work anymore. But I got some measuring spoons from a cheapo shop and they are the American size. Since most of my cookbooks are North American, I figure it's probably for the best.

  8. I am aware of the chili powder difference through my own bad experience but didn't know about the measurements. Thanks so much for posting this, I'll have to keep this in mind from now on!

  9. It's a total headspin, right?!

    In most cases, the extra 5ml won't make a huge difference - but in baking, if there is a few tablespoons of something, it definitely can. Sigh. I guess we can mostly just hope for the best... but I only buy metal measuring spoons that I like the look of, and they tend to be 15ml.. But as I said, if you get stuck - just use three 5ml teaspoons to arrive at your tablespoon!

    Thanks for the link, too!!

  10. Yep. I assume the cup differences relate to metric vs imperial measurement. I just checked my tablespoon out of interest and it's labelled 20mL. I rarely measure when I'm cooking so my quantities probably have a 5mL error margin anyway!

    Sticklers will tend to go metric. Grams and millilitres are what they are.

  11. I realised the tablespoon fact when I watched my Canadian boyfriend use his piddly little tablespoon! It was like something out of crocodile dundee "that's not a tablespoon... THIS is a tablespoon!"

    Now I always make sure to check where a recipe originates before attempting to measure :D

  12. Seems like I am the last one to discover this fact then!

  13. I've always known about the measurements and the chilli - it makes it so confusing when talking recipes/ingredients with friends overseas, everything should be the same!