How many cups are in a liter? Depends on a cup – Technology Org


Measuring volume using everyday kitchen utensils is very handy – it is enough just to know, for example, how many cups are in a liter, how much water is in a tablespoon, or what is the weight of a single teaspoon of sugar. In most cooking-related situations you don’t need extreme measurement precision. But when trying to follow the recipe, precise measurement is often important.

Measuring ingredients in cups - illustrative photo.

Measuring ingredients in cups – illustrative photo. Image credit: Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain

It is useful to remember that non-standard measurement units related to food preparation can be different – even when their name is the same in other countries. It is also challenging to measure various forms of ingredients, such as solids and liquids, or when recipes are given in different measurement units, such as grams, milliliters, ounces, etc.

For example, how many cups are in a liter? Let’s look into this simple question more closely. Here you will find useful information about this popular measurement unit, including helpful conversion tables that can be used to quickly find what is the amount if we convert cups to other units.

Definition of a measurement unit – a cup

Drinking cups, those that are used for serving sizes, should not be confused with this unit, because in the catering business their size may differ within a wide range. For example, a teacup and a coffee cup are not the same in size.

It is quite popular to measure cooking volumes in cups. This unit is usually abbreviated as “c” or “C”. There are two main standard sizes:

  • In the U.S., a so-called customary cup is equal to 236.6 ml (milliliters), or one-half U.S. pint, or 8 fl.oz (fluid ounces).
  • A metric cup is equal to 250 ml, or 0.25 liter.

As you can see, these sizes are similar but not the same.

Restaurants often use different measuring cups.

Restaurants often use different measuring cups. Image credit: Bru-nO via Pixabay, free license

Furthermore, there are even more classifications in the world related to different countries:

  • 1 U.S. legal cup = 240 ml (used in the U.S.).
  • 1 imperial cup = 284 ml (used in the UK, equal to 10 imperial fl.oz.).
  • 1 Canadian cup = 227 ml (used in Canada, together with the metric cup, and is equal to 8 imperial fl.oz).
  • 1 sake cup gō = 180.39 ml (used in Japan).
  • 1 traditional Japanese cup (used in Japan).

But probably the absolute majority of countries use the metric cup (250 ml or 0.25 L). It is important to note that it is a derived metric unit, which does not belong to the SI standard system of units.

How many cups are in a liter? The answer depends on what kind of a cup is used as a reference measurement unit.

How many cups are in a liter? The answer depends on what kind of a cup is used as a reference measurement unit. Image credit: Jill Wellington via Pixabay, free license

Coffee cup

This type of measurement unit deserves an individual mention. The tradition of consuming coffee is widespread globally, and there is actually a large variety of coffee cup sizes.

  • 1 U.S. coffee cup = 118 ml or 4 fl.oz. It is brewed using 5 fl.oz (148 ml) of water.
  • 1 Espresso cup = 30 ml. It is also known as a single coffee shot. Sometimes espresso cup size is quoted as 60 ml, but in this case, it corresponds to a double shot, in Italian language called “Doppio Espresso”.
  • 1 cup Caffè Americano – this size is the least strictly defined and may range from 177.44 ml (6 fl.oz) to 354.88 ml (12 fl.oz) and even more.

How many cups are in a liter? (Conversion tables)

Before answering the question of how many cups are in a liter, let’s see what is the definition of a liter.

A liter is also a metric unit of measurement, which is scientifically defined as the volume of a single kilogram of pure water. In British Inglish, a slightly different spelling is used: litre. The unit is abbreviated as “l” or “L”.

  • A single cubic meter contains one thousand liters (1 L = 0.001 m3).
  • One liter is equal to 1000 cubic centimeters (cm3).

Obviously, cups come in different standard sizes, as we discussed above. This means that the answer to the question of how many cups are in one liter depends on the reference cup size.

Food being prepared in a kitchen - illustrative photo.

Food is prepared in a kitchen – illustrative photo. Image credit: picturexphotobnb via Pixabay, free license

Here is the table with the most popular conversions of a single liter to cups:

1 liter = 4.2267 U.S. customary cups.
1 liter = 4.1667 US legal cups.
1 liter = 4.3994 Canadian cups.
1 liter = 5.5556 traditional Japanese cups.
1 liter = 3.5195 imperial cups.
1 liter = 4 metric cups.

Measuring 1 liter in cups is not complicated if you know how many cups are in a liter. 

If you are in a country where a metric system is used, you will need 4 cups to measure one liter. In the U.S., you will need to measure four 8 fl.oz cups and add 1/5 of a cup.

What if the recipe does not precisely tell what measurement system was used when writing the recipe book?

As a rule, the metric system is adopted by a larger number of countries. You can also check the measurement units used for other ingredients: if you see grams, milliliters, or deciliters, most likely cups are also in metric size.

Here is another conversion table that shows how many cups are in multiple liters, based on the U.S. customary cup:

1 cup = 0.236 liters

Liters Cups (U.S. customary)
½ L 2.11 c
1 L 4.23 c
2 L 8.45 c
3 L 12.68 c
4 L 16.91 c
5 L 21.13 c

And you can convert multiple U.S. customary cups in an opposite direction:

Cups (U.S. customary) Liters
½ cup 0.12 L
1 cup 0.24 L
2 cups 0.47 L
3 cups 0.71 L
4 cups 0.95 L
5 cups 1.18 L
6 cups 1.42 L
7 cups 1.66 L
8 cups 1.89 L
9 cups 2.13 L
10 cups 2.37 L

In the metric system, these two tables would look like this:

Liters Cups (metric)
½ L 2 c
1 L 4 c
2 L 8 c
3 L 12 c
4 L 16 c
5 L 20 c

And conversion of metric cups to liters is shown in this table:

Cups (metric) Liters
½ cup 0.125 L
1 cup 0.250 L
2 cups 0.500 L
3 cups 0.750 L
4 cups 1.000 L
5 cups 1.250 L
6 cups 1.500 L
7 cups 1.750 L
8 cups 2.000 L
9 cups 2.250 L
10 cups 2.500 L

Measuring dry weight in cups

The weight of other food ingredients differs from water. This means that measuring non-liquids in cups will result in the same volume but different weight for every ingredient.

Measuring dry ingredients in a kitchen - illustrative photo.

Measuring dry ingredients in a kitchen – illustrative photo. Image credit: Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain

Sometimes measuring cups have marking indicating the weight of common ingredients for a specific volume. If you do not such a tool at hand, here is a brief conversion table for granulated sugar, wheat flour, and table salt:


Density g/ml

Metric cup

Imperial cup

US customary cup







Water 1 249–250 8.8 283–284 10 236.5882 8.3
Granulated sugar 0.8 200 7.0 230 8.0 190 6.7
Wheat flour 0.5–0.6 120–150 4.4–5.3 140–170 5.0–6.0 120–140 4.2–5.0
Table salt 1.2 300 10.6 340 12.0 280 10.0


Cooking is a very interesting kind of human activity. Learning to cook by recipes is not a difficult thing, as long as you follow them precisely. This is why knowing different measurement units is very useful in the kitchen. Now you will know how many cups are in a liter, and how to convert this amount to other measures.


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