Is 1 Tablespoon Bigger Than 4 Teaspoons?

Published Categorized as Kitchen
Is 1 Tablespoon Bigger Than 4 Teaspoons?serezniy /123RF

1 tbsp = 3 tsp. That means 4 teaspoons are bigger than 1 tablespoon. It gets tricky when you use fractions or other units of volume.

What is recognized as a US tablespoon is generally accepted to be three times as much as what is recognized as a US teaspoon. 1 tbsp = 3 tsp.

So, the short answer is no, 1 tablespoon is not bigger than 4 teaspoons. 4 teaspoons are the equivalent of 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon.

Keep this in mind: 1 US tablespoon = 0.5oz/14.78ml while 1 US teaspoon = 0.16oz/4.92ml.

Mixing these two measurements up can cause problems when cooking or baking, especially with some sensitive ingredients that can overpower other ingredients, like spices.

Where and how you read a recipe might have you confused. For instance, in the UK and Ireland, a tablespoon is 1/2 a cup or 4 tablespoons. 

It’s also important to clarify early on that a tablespoon is abbreviated as tbsp or TBSP, and a teaspoon is abbreviated as tsp or TSP. It’s easy to mix those two up.

And while a tablespoon is fairly larger than a teaspoon neither is completely universal in size (there’ll always be some difference between spoons from different manufacturers).

If tbsp and tsp measurements really bug you, it might be worth getting a measure specifically for it that clearly shows the limits.

Tablespoon, teaspoon, and a measuring spoon.
This handy doodad measures teaspoons on the left and tablespoons on the right.

Or stop using tablespoons and teaspoons and start measuring with millimeters which is a lot more accurate.

Liquid and Solid Teaspoons and Tablespoons

Teaspoons and tablespoons can both be required to measure liquids and solids despite that you can fit more of a liquid into a container than a solid powder (because of air gaps).

There is no one-fits-all conversion for liquid and solid tablespoons and teaspoons.

Another problem is that you can always add a ton more solids on top than liquids. The liquids cannot exceed the rim of a spoon while you can add a mountain of powder.

For example, my daughter loves chocolate milk which I make by adding chocolate powder to milk.

As a solid powder, I can create a mountain of powder with a tablespoon. If I compare this to teaspoons that are scrapped at the top, it will be much, much bigger.

In such a scenario, one tablespoon would be vastly more than four teaspoons!

An overly full tablespoon of chocolate powder.
That’s a lot more than one tablespoon!

This is why the general rule is to scrape off the excess when using a tablespoon or teaspoon to measure solids.

Clancy Whiteside, editor of Jugofeed advises that “You should always overfill them, then level them with a knife for the most accuracy.”

And to reduce air gaps between solids, you can lightly tap spoons to fit more. But this is not always a clever idea because you can overpower what you’re adding.

When it comes to larger and rougher solids, you should be careful not to add too much

Whiteside adds, “You don’t need to pack down ingredients like coconut flakes, but you should use your finger to level them when measuring.”

This is because “Packing them down will cause you to add too much to your recipe.”

But some solids are a bit trickier and do need some help to better fit within a spoon. 

Whiteside explains that the moisture in brown sugar can lead to clumps and air pockets. To avoid this, “it should always be lightly packed down and leveled off with a knife.”

Long story short, you often don’t need to worry about air gaps. If a recipe calls for a spoon of powder, flakes, or chunks, you don’t need to press it down, just scrape off the top.

Teaspoon (tsp) Measurements

We don’t always have a tablespoon or a teaspoon around when cooking for whatever reason.

In such cases, we have to substitute one for the other and have to figure out how much exactly we need to substitute or risk putting too much or too little.

So, let’s tackle some of the most common tablespoon/teaspoon substitutions to make sure you never forget that four teaspoons are larger than one tablespoon.

And for the record, we’ll stick to the US tablespoon and teaspoon measurements (otherwise this article might go on forever).

How Many Teaspoons in an Ounce?

Things can get a little bit confusing when converting teaspoons to ounces if you’re not too familiar with weight and volume measurements and when to use them.

This is because, as Jed Silverlake Founder & Editor, MarriedHome.com says “A teaspoon is a volume unit, not a weight unit.”

Silverlake continues, “A teaspoon of salt would have a different weight than a teaspoon of olive oil, for example.”

An ounce is a weight unit, and spoon measurements are for volume. To get a correct conversion, you should only convert tsp and tbsp to other volume measurements.

So, what you actually need is a ‘fluid ounce,’ not a regular ounce when trying to measure tablespoons and teaspoons.

Is ½ tsp Bigger Than ¼ tsp?

Yes, ½ (half) of a US teaspoon (tsp) is bigger than ¼ (quarter) of a US teaspoon. ½ a teaspoon is double a ¼ of a teaspoon.

  • ½ or half a teaspoon = 2.46ml or 0.083 fluid ounces.
  • ¼ or quarter of a teaspoon = 1.23ml or 0.041 fluid ounces.

It should be mentioned, though, it is hard to accurately measure ½ or ¼ of a teaspoon. You’ll often have to use your best judgment or use a measuring jug for precision.

Is ½ tsp Bigger Than 1 tsp?

No, one teaspoon is bigger than ½ (half) a teaspoon—1 teaspoon is exactly double the amount of ½ a teaspoon.

Remember to be careful when relying on half measurements of spoons, that is unless you have a teaspoon measurement that clearly shows half a teaspoon.

Teaspoon (tsp) To Tablespoon (tbsp)

The reason we’re all here: the mighty teaspoon vs the humongous tablespoon.

How Many ½ tsp to Make 1 tbsp?

Approximately six ½ tsp will match 1 tbsp. This is easy to figure out when you remember the golden rule—1 tbsp = 3 tsp.

All you need to do is multiply the number of tablespoons by three to find out how many teaspoons you need.

How Many ½ tsp in ¼ tbsp?

Now this one can be trickier to figure out and is easy to get wrong. Generally speaking, approximately 1 tsp is ⅓ of a tbsp, so you would need less than two ½ of a teaspoon.

  • ¼ of a US tablespoon = 0.75 US teaspoons/3.69ml/0.125 fluid ounces.
  • ½ of a US teaspoon = 0.16 US tablespoons/2.46ml/0.08 fluid ounces.

It would be much easier to reach a ¼ of a tbsp with ¾ (three-quarter) teaspoons, or ½ a teaspoon followed by a ¼ teaspoon.

How Many ¼ tsp Are in 1 tbsp?

There are approximately 12 ¼ US teaspoons in 1 US tablespoon.

  • ¼ of a US teaspoon = 0.08 US tablespoons/1.23ml/0.04 fluid ounces.

Measuring a quarter of a teaspoon is even trickier than measuring half. It really makes a lot more sense to use another measurement here.

How Many tsp Are Equivalent to 4 tbsp?

You would need approximately 12 US teaspoon measurements to reach the equivalent of four tablespoons.

  • 12 teaspoons = 2 fluid ounces/59.14ml.
  • Four tablespoons = 2 fluid ounces/59.14ml.

Spoons and Cups

Who could forget the cup?! Another widely used but often hard-to-define measurement. Everyone has a ‘cup’ that they use.

A measuring jug, measuring cup and tablespoon.
Jugs and measuring cups can be more precise, but a spoon can be more convenient.

Note that there are cups that are intended for measuring dry and liquid ingredients.

When it comes to measuring cups for liquids, Whiteside says “their measuring line is always below the brim. This allows you to get an accurate measurement of liquid without spillage.”

For the sake of my sanity, we’ll stick to the US legal cup, which is approximately 8.11oz (fluid ounce) or 240ml.

How Many Tablespoons Are in a Cup?

If you don’t have a cup at hand to measure a cup of something, you can substitute it with about 16 tablespoons—much easier than 48 teaspoons!

Is ¼ Cup Bigger Than 2 tbsp?

¼ of a US legal cup is approximately four US tablespoons—double the size of two US tablespoons.

  • ¼ US legal cup = 4.05 US tbsp/12.17 US tsp/60ml/2.02 fluid ounces.

What Is Smaller ⅓ Cup or 4 tbsp?

Four US tablespoons are smaller than a ⅓ (third) of a US legal cup. ⅓ or a third of a US legal cup is approximately 5.4 US tablespoons.

A ⅓ of a cup is almost a tablespoon and a half more than four US tablespoons.



By Craig Britton

As children, we’re told not to play with our food. But I find that food tastes best when you experiment with it. I love trying out new recipes and cooking techniques almost as much as I love eating the end result.

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