Cooking with the Metric System

The metric system, that wonderful system of grams, liters, centimeters and meters, used in every single country apart from 3 – the USA, Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Liberia. All three still use Imperial and customary units.

First introduced by the French First Republic in 1799, discussed in English parliament in 1818, officially sanctioned in the United States since 1866, and formally introduced in the United Kingdom in 1965, America remains the only industrialized country that has not adopted the metric system as its official system of measurement.

Of course we wouldn’t have to worry about this if we weren’t trying to make English recipes in the USA, but trust me, it is pretty easy to overcome.

The metric system is easy to learn and simple to use. The system uses –

  • Grams for weight
  • Celsius (°C) for heat
  • Liters for volume
  • Centimeters and meters for length

Basically when following an English recipe you will not find the word ‘cup’ or ‘pounds’. But fear not, a good set of kitchen scales will solve the problem, most measuring cups have a metric scale on at least one side, and it is very easy to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, and centimeters to inches. The chart below will help.




Some English recipes show the weight in grams and/or ounces, both of which will be available on a kitchen scale. There is however one golden rule when using weight, which is very important to remember – when making a recipe stick to using either g’s or oz’s but never a combination of both. Measuring one ingredient in grams and another ingredient in ounce’s, trust me, can get you in all sorts of trouble.

Baking is a lot more precise than cooking and exact measurements can be vital to a recipes success.

In part this highlights how easy it is to switch to using weight as opposed to relying on some of the instructions you receive when measuring ingredients using a cup –“Firmly packed, lightly packed, even/level, rounded, heaped”.

Don’t get me wrong, I bake using many American recipes, with great results, and once you get used to something it is what you come to trust.

My point is this, don’t be scared of switching to grams, and weighing your ingredients. With a good kitchen scale it is very easy to do and you will be rather satisfied with the results.

Volume – Pints and fluid ounces:
One thing I should bring to your attention is that when making English recipes there is a slight difference when measuring larger amounts of liquids such as pints, quarts and gallons.

A US pint is 473 mL, while a UK pint is 568 mL, about 18% larger.

A US quart is 946 mL, while a UK quart is 1136 mL, about 18% larger

A US quart is 3785 mL, while a UK quart is 4546 mL, about 18% larger

For a full breakdown – click here.

There is also a slight difference in smaller quantities of liquid, but nothing worth worrying about. It is only when you get to these larger quantities should you adapt the measurements accordingly as the measuring jugs in the USA will be different to those in the UK.

So there you have it, cooking with the Metric system – grams, Celsius, liters and centimeter’s – you are now all set to bake the English way.