Learn how to properly measure sticks, cups, tablespoons, and ounces of butter.
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butter in a plate isolated on a white background
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If you're holding a recipe that's speaking about butter in terms of pounds and cups, you may be left scratching your head. Butter comes in sticks—or blocks, depending on where you live—but definitely not cups. Plus, it's a solid, not a liquid, so measuring cups aren't much help.

So how do you measure butter in terms of cups, tablespoons, and sticks? And how can you convert butter measurements into something you easily understand? It's easy; we'll show you.

Why Is Butter Sold in Sticks?

Butter is most commonly sold in square or rectangular sticks or blocks. You might see some rolled butter in dairy cases from time to time, but the squared off edges of butter sticks or blocks make them easier to package, easier to ship, and a whole lot easier to stack in cooler shelves at the grocery store.

Stick butter is also easier to manage and measure than scoopable spreads like margarine. These butter alternatives are meant more for smearing on corn on the cob or spreading on toast, not creaming with sugar for pound cake or blending into flour for homemade biscuits.

How Many Sticks Are in One Cup of Butter?

In most parts of the country, butter is sold as square quarter-pound sticks. One of these sticks is eight tablespoons, or half (1/2) a cup.

That means two sticks are in one cup of butter.

One stick of butter is 1/2 (half) cup. Two sticks of butter is 1 cup. Four sticks is one pound, and you'll see a lot of pound cake recipes call for four sticks, or a whole box of butter.

Elsewhere in the country, butter is sold in 1/2 pound rectangular blocks. These blocks of butter have 16 tablespoons, or one cup. Imported butter, such as Irish or French butter, is typically sold in these half-pound blocks.

It is possible to buy one-pound blocks of butter, too. While these are mostly sold at restaurant supply stores, you might find a few at a specialty grocery store. These one-pound blocks are the equivalent of four square sticks, or 32 tablespoons.

How Do I Measure One Cup of Butter?

Butter sticks and blocks most always come wrapped in a wax paper or aluminum that is marked with measurements to show you tablespoons and cups in each stick.

On a quarter-pound stick of butter, you'll see eight tablespoons ticked off. You'll also note measurements for 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons), 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons), and 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons). Some brands may have other measurements.

The wrapper likely will also show that the stick is 4 ounces, or 1/4 pound.

Most American recipes will call for butter in tablespoons, sticks, or cups. Some bakers or European recipes may reference butter in grams. This is the most precise way to measure butter, but it will require you to have a food scale.

The good news is many recipe creators work to make butter measurement easy. For example, 1/3 cup of butter is 5 1/3 tablespoons, and while 1/3 of a dry ingredient like flour isn't difficult to measure, splicing the thin tablespoon of butter into thirds to get 1/3 cup might be, so they may round their measurements to just 5 tablespoons. That slight change is unlikely to make a significant difference in your final dish.

Butter Measurements Conversion Chart

If you're holding a box of butter sticks and a recipe and need to convert one to the other, use this butter measurements conversion chart to find out precisely how much butter your recipe needs.

Cups

Sticks

Tablespoons

Pounds

Ounces

Grams

Teaspoons

1/4 cup

1/2 stick

4 tablespoons

1/8 pound

2 ounces

57 grams

12 teaspoons

1/2 cup

1 stick

8 tablespoons

1/4 pound

4 ounces

113 grams

24 teaspoons

3/4 cup

1 1/2 sticks

12 tablespoons

3/8 pound

6 ounces

170 grams

36 teaspoons

1 cup

2 sticks

16 tablespoons

1/2 pound

8 ounces

227 grams

48 teaspoons

1 1/4 cup

2 1/2 sticks

20 tablespoons

5/8 pound

10 ounces

284 grams

60 teaspoons

1 1/2 cup

3 sticks

24 tablespoons

3/4 pound

12 ounces

341 grams

72 teaspoons

1 3/4 cup

3 1/2 sticks

28 tablespoons

7/8 pound

14 ounces

398 grams

84 teaspoons

2 cups

4 sticks

32 tablespoons

1 pound

16 ounces

454 grams

96 teaspoons

Common Questions About Measuring Butter

How many sticks of butter is a 1/2 cup?

One quarter-pound stick of butter is a half (1/2) cup.

If you're using the larger eight-ounce rectangle butter blocks, the whole block is a 1/2 cup.

Check the butter's wrapper for the weight in ounces. A four-ounce stick is 1/2 cup; an eight-ounce block is 1 cup.

Can I use melted butter instead of softened?

No, if your recipe calls for hard or softened butter, you can't use melted butter. In short, the changes that happen to butter when it goes from a solid to a liquid will negatively impact the final dish.

For example, using melted butter in a biscuit dough that calls for cold, hard butter will likely mean the dough is too sticky to roll and the biscuits too flat to eat.

In a pound cake, using melted butter instead of soft butter will likely result in a cake that won't rise or is oily.

Can I freeze butter?

Absolutely you can freeze butter. If you bought too much or a neighbor offloaded some of their Costco haul, stick it in the freezer.

The sticks can go straight into the deep freeze, but we recommend putting them in an air-tight container to stop them from absorbing any fridge smells.

When you're ready to use them, move the sticks you need to the fridge and let them thaw 24 hours. Use them as you would in any other recipe.