Here is a comprehensive guide to helping you work out how many tablespoons are in a cup of butter.
The short answer is that a cup has 16 tablespoons of butter.
Of course, no one will measure 15.77 tablespoons; we’ve added it there for your information.
Here are the conversions by cup metric, using a 15ml tablespoon:
|One imperial cup
|One international metric cup
|1 US standard cup
|1 US legal up
How Many Cups are 12 Tablespoons of Butter?
There are 16 tablespoons in a cup, so 12 tablespoons of butter would be 0.75 cups.
How much are 8 Tablespoons of Butter in Cups?
8 tablespoons of butter are 0.5 cups.
Butter Conversion Chart
Here is a helpful chart that can be printed and stuck in your kitchen to assist with butter conversions. Please note that this is based on the US cup and measurement system.
|1 / 1/16
|2 / 1/8
|4 / ¼
|6 / 3/8
|8 / ½
Why it matters
Most home cooks have had the experience of setting up to try out a new recipe, only to realize they don’t have the right equipment for the stated metric. None of us are immune to this frustration.
When reading this heading, the image of trying to squash cold butter into a cup probably springs to mind, along with a feeling of mild panic.
Below is a solid set of butter-related information to help you with your baking and cooking adventures. Some tricks and tips are included on how to measure your butter with what you have in your kitchen, and with these guidelines, you’ll be able to get the butter measured no matter what metric has been used in the recipe.
All about cups
There are several different cup measurements from all around the world. To get your answer to “how many tablespoons in a cup of butter,” it’s essential to understand which cup the recipe refers to.
There are four different kinds of cups that you are likely to come across, and here they are:
- 1 Imperial cup = 284 ml
- 1 international metric cup = 250 ml
- 1 US standard cup (used in recipes) = 236 ml
- 1 US legal cup (used for packaging labelling) = 240ml
What’s important to know is where the recipe you are about to cook is from (which country) and then what the country’s metric is for cups.
A little further down, we will take you through the countries you are most likely (not all) to see recipes from and their preferred cup unit of measurement.
All about tablespoons
Tablespoons are used in many parts of the world as a piece of cutlery in the home as well as a unit of measurement. While tablespoons are considered a slightly less accurate way of measuring, they appear regularly in baking and cooking recipes.
The difference between the UK and US tablespoon is negligible, so if you come across a recipe with a tablespoon measurement, 15ml or 0.51 oz will be an acceptable conversion method, no matter where the recipe comes from.
Just for your information, the UK or Canadian tablespoon is 15ml / 0.51 oz, and a US tablespoon is slightly less at 14.9ml / 0.51 oz.4
A tablespoon is likely to be seen abbreviated as TBS, Tbs, or tbs.
Butter measurements by country
For you to get into it, we’ve included information by country to cover your question, “how many tablespoons are in a cup of butter?”.
Measuring butter by cup in the US
There are two main cup measurements in the US: US standard and US legal.
The US standard cup, also known as the customary cup, dates back to pre-independence times. There are just over 236ml within this cup, which is the most likely cup measurement size you will come across in US recipes.
Their other cup measurement is the US legal cup used for nutritional labeling information on the back of the packaging, as per the requirements of the FDA. There are 240ml within this cup.
Measuring butter by the cup in the UK, South Africa, and New Zealand
These countries produce many recipes within the global food community, and they all use the exact cup measurement; the international metric cup. Also referred to as the metric cup. There are 250ml within the metric cup.
Measuring butter by the cup in Australia
While our brothers and sisters “down-under” also use the international metric cup, the conversion of 1 cup = 16 TBS does not apply to them. This is because Australia has its own set of tablespoons. An Australian tablespoon is 20ml; therefore, there are 12.5 Australian tablespoons in a cup.
Measuring butter by the cup in Canada
Although Canadians use the international metric cup (150 ml), if the recipe happens to be very old, it’s likely to be an Imperial cup.
What is butter, and how do you measure it?
So what is butter? Butter is the product of churned cream or milk and comprises fat and protein. Cow’s milk is what most of our butter comes from, but it can also be made with other kinds of milk. The top suppliers and producers of butter are New Zealand, the US, Europe, and India.
Butter is one of the most common ingredients in baking and cooking and can be store-bought or made by hand at home. All you need to do to make your butter at home is:
- Whisk the cream with an electric beater until the fat and water separate.
- Drain the fat from the water.
- Squeeze out your butter fat in a cheesecloth or clean dish towel to remove as much water as possible.
- Keep the butter in a container in your fridge.
- You can add seasoning or herbs to the butter before storing it if you like.
Butter with milk solids and water removed is called ghee or clarified butter and is pure butterfat. This clarification process raises the butter’s smoking point and allows it to cook longer in the pan before it burns.
If you want to understand butter and how to “win” no matter what recipe you come across, it’s a good idea to know all the ways to measure butter. Having this knowledge will give you a lot more confidence in the kitchen and broaden the scope of what you can do.
Here’s a list of the six main ways you can measure butter:
- By the stick
- With a measuring cup
- By tablespoon
- By teaspoon
- Using water displacement
- By scale
Luckily, stick packaging usually comes with measurements printed for ease of use. Each line shows where you should cut to get a tablespoon of butter from the pack.
If you have thrown away your wrapper, use your tablespoon or cup to measure it once soft.
The lovely thing about butter wrapped in parchment paper is that the paper can be used to grease a cake tin.
With a measuring cup
The main tip when using a cup to measure butter is to allow the butter to get soft first. Once the butter is soft and pliable, scoop it into the cup and press it down to fill it without air pockets.
By tablespoon and teaspoon
As with the tip mentioned above, use soft butter when measuring with a tablespoon or teaspoon.
Using water displacement
This method will take you back to science class, but it’s pretty simple.
Using a sharp knife, slice your butter into cubes and fill a measuring cup (use a cup that can take at least 2 cups of water) to the 1-cup mark with cold water. Drop your pieces of butter into the water and watch the water rise. Fill the cup with butter until the watermark reaches the amount of butter stipulated in the recipe.
A tip when using this method is to lean down so that you are at eye level with the water. This will allow you an accurate viewpoint.
A scale can be used by zeroing it out and then weighing the butter. Cold butter is preferable to avoid a mushy mess.
How is butter packaged and stored?
In America, butter blocks are made into 4-ounce (14 lb/110g) sticks bundled into 1-pound (450g) packs. The sticks are wrapped in wax paper or a foil wrapper containing all the product information. The packaging will often show you how or where to cut to get a certain amount of grams etc.
Outside the United States, butter is wrapped and sold in 250g or 500g bricks.
Butter will become spreadable at around 60°F / 15°C. Butter should be kept and stored in the refrigerator to control and prevent bacterial growth. Butter is recommended to be wrapped up or stored in an air-tight container to stop it from going rancid. Butter can also be frozen to extend its shelf-life further.
Where did butter originate?
The story behind butter is quite endearing. It is believed that around 8000 B.C., a herder accidentally discovered butter in a sack on the back of his donkey. After walking a long, bumpy road, chilled full cream milk had churned in the sack to make butter! Butter soon became a popular ingredient with those living with farm animals like reindeer, camels, water buffalo, and cows.
It is also documented that other animals, such as dogs and cows, were made to walk on a treadmill to churn butter.
Butter as an ingredient in cooking and baking
Butter has been an essential part of the kitchen since the 17th century. There are so many culinary techniques and applications that require butter that it’s difficult to name them all. Here are a few:
Butter is responsible for adding and affecting the color, texture, and, least of all, flavor of the dishes it features.
Butter versus margarine is a considerable debate
You’re either a butter or a margarine person; there’s no in-between. Over the last few decades, trends and people have gone back and forth about which is healthier and more delicious. Some people have strong opinions on the topic, while others refuse to eat one or the other, depending on which side of the fence they sit on.
This feud goes back to Napoleon’s days of battle. During the war against Prussia, there was a significant shortage of butter. Napoleon put a cash prize on the table in 1869 for anyone who could create a cost-effective alternative to butter. This substitute was to feed soldiers and working-class people. A brilliant chemist, Hippolyte Mege-Mouries, formulated margarine in response to Napoleon’s challenge and created the first margarine, a beef fat, milk, and salt emulsion.
Over time the recipe evolved into the vegetable oil-based emulsion that it is today.
In response to the popularity of margarine, the dairy industry launched a hard-hitting campaign against margarine producers. The remnants of this campaign have people believing (to this day) that margarine is “one molecule” away from plastic amongst other things. Margarine is a simple emulsion of vegetable oil, water, acids, and emulsifiers.
In terms of measuring margarine, the same techniques can be used for this vegetarian substitute as those used for butter.
Wrapping it up
Butter is a wonderfully rich ingredient that brings flavor to dishes and acts as a shortening in baking. Nothing is more delicious than the buttery smells and tastes you find in cookies, cakes, and pastries.
Understanding how to measure butter is an essential part of having success with it. As butter is part of baking and baking is a very technical art, measuring accurately is crucial.
We hope you know now the answer to “how many tablespoons are in a cup of butter?” Beyond this, we have equipped you to tackle recipes from worldwide.