How Many Sticks of Butter Are in One Cup?

Learn how to properly measure sticks, cups, tablespoons, and ounces of butter.

butter in a plate isolated on a white background
Photo: Getty Images

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.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles