Since moving to the UK, and not currently working, I’ve had a lot more spare time on my hands – time that I’ve spent cooking and baking. What has slowed me down, and even stumped me on occasions, is converting weights, measurements and ingredient names from what I am used to into their UK counterparts. Before we bought our baking utensils, this was even more difficult.
When making the conversions, I ended up conducting a lot of research online to find UK equivalents. I thought that sharing my findings would make baking easier for any other American expats (or soon-to-be expats) living in the UK. I’ve broken down the lists into four sections: weights/ volumes, temperatures, baking equivalents and substitutes.
Weight & Volume
This first section is dedicated to the different ways in which weights and volumes are measured in the UK. This is the section I find myself referring to most, as it’s required for almost every recipe. It is worth noting that it is still possible to buy measuring cups and spoons in the UK, so you don’t have to go without.
Another difference to note is that because ingredients have different densities, when a recipe calls for a certain amount of cups, each ingredient must be measured independently. There’s a fantastic cheat sheet for this from Rosie Bakes that can be found here.
|USA Spoons/ Cups||UK Millilitres|
|1/4 tsp||1.25 ml|
|1/2 tsp||2.5 ml|
|1 tsp||5 ml|
|1 tbsp||15 ml|
|1/4 cup||60 ml|
|1/3 cup||80 ml|
|1/2 cup||125 ml|
|1 cup||250 ml|
As well as translating cups to millilitres, you’ll need to know how to convert ounces and pounds to grams. Lbs are rarely used in the UK, but when they are, the system works different to what we are used to.
In the UK system, 14lbs are equal to a stone. Therefore you may often see weights such as 1 or 2 stone. If you come across this, simply multiply the number of stone by 14 to arrive at the same weight in lbs.
|USA Ounces / Lbs||UK Grams|
British ovens usually work on one of two systems – some use celsius, while other use gas marks. The following table shows how to convert our fahrenheit into both UK equivalents. It’s also worth remembering that some ovens in the UK are fan assisted. These blow air through the chamber to take advantage of convection cooking.
If you are using a fan assisted oven, your food may cook quicker than you anticipate as recipes do not always take into account fan assisted cooking times.
|USA Fahrenheit||UK Celsius||UK Gas Mark|
Baking equivalents are, for the most part, ingredients which are named differently in the UK. The contents of each item on this list are identical, but you’ll just be looking for it under another name. It took me a while to get used to these new names (sugar in particular can be confusing), but now that I have adjusted it’s much easier to shop for them.
|US Ingredient||UK Equivelent|
|All Purpose Flour||Plain Flour|
|Baking Soda||Bicarbonate of Soda|
|Baking Chocolate / Bitter Chocolate||Baking Chocolate / 70%+ Chocolate|
|Cane Syrup||Golden Syrup|
|Powdered Sugar / Confectioners Sugar||Icing Sugar|
|Kosher Salt||Molden Salt Flakes|
|Non Fat Milk||Skimmed Milk|
|Reduced Fat Milk||Semi-Skimmed Milk|
|Whole Wheat Flour||Wholemeal Flour|
Unlike equivalents, substitutes are not perfect matches. There are (unfortunately) a number of ingredients that you are not able to find in the UK.
Though some may be available in the American section larger supermarkets, they will most likely be extremely overpriced. The items in the table below are the closest matches we have been able to find in the UK that taste similar to their US counterparts.
|US Ingredient||UK Substitute|
|Canola Oil||Rapeseed Oil|
|Cool Whip||Dream Topping|
|Graham Crackers||Rich Tea Biscuits|
|Granulated Sugar||Caster Sugar|
|Half and Half||Single Cream|
|Heavy Cream||Double Cream|
|Shortening / Crisco||Flora White / Trex|
|Wax Paper||Grease Proof Paper|
|White Sugar||Granulated Sugar|
That’s my list of US-UK conversions and substitutes. It doesn’t cover every difference – we know there are a lot more differences out there, not just limited to baking or cooking. However, I felt these are the basic conversions which are most important to keep close by.
What effective substitutes for American foods have you found? We’d love to hear from you – let us know in the comments below.