Peanut Butter

The Easiest, Mess-Free Way to Measure Sticky Ingredients

January 16, 2018

I don’t know about you, but one of my biggest pet peeves in the kitchen is measuring a 1/4 cup of tahini (or peanut butter or honey or molasses), and then trying to get it back out again. I’m never sure if I’ve actually added the correct amount of these sticky ingredients because a good portion refuses to leave the sides of my measuring cup. Sure, I could use my finger or a spoon to scrape everything out, but that just seems to spread the mess.

To avoid these sticky situations, I’ve developed a simple hack: I pre-grease my measuring utensil with just a little bit of oil, and ingredients will slide out.

Some recipes embrace the hack organically; vinaigrettes, quick breads, sauces, and marinades usually require oil, so I just make sure to measure it first, then follow with the sticky ingredients. But when a recipe with tacky or syrupy ingredients only calls for a little bit of oil (or even none at all) I splash and swirl a teeny-tiny bit of olive oil to grease the vessel. (You really don't need more than a drop or two.) Another way to achieve the same fuss-free extraction is to coat your measuring device with non-stick spray, although I find it a challenge to keep the spray from getting all over my counter.

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If you’re greasing a measuring cup in a recipe that doesn’t call for oil, make sure to use a neutral-tasting variety, like canola oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil.

If you're curious to try out my trick, here are eight sticky recipes to experiment with:

How do you measure sticky peanut butter, honey, or syrup? Share your tips in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Elizabeth
  • BerryBaby
  • AntoniaJames
  • HalfPint
  • Kentley
Katie is a food writer and editor who loves cheesy puns and cheesy cheese.


Elizabeth January 17, 2018
Similarly, when measuring oils, I always rinse the clean measuring cup in water first, so the oil doesn't stick to the sides. Much easier cleanup. Although, whenever possible, I just use my scale.
BerryBaby January 16, 2018
Before measuring sticky ingredients I lightly spray the inside of the measuring cup with a cooking spray. Works beautifully.
AntoniaJames January 16, 2018
Like Kentley, I convert to grams and measure directly into the mixing bowl. Many conversion ratios can be found on the nutrition data table on the ingredient's packaging in the US. That said, if a recipe calls for, e.g., 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of honey, I'll sometimes just measure the oil first and then measure the honey, or molasses, or whatever. But generally, I've been updating all of the recipes I regularly use to metric masses, and choosing recipes that provide metric mass measures over those that don't. It saves so much time and effort! ;o)
Catherine January 21, 2018
A jar of honey will tell you that a Tbsp is 20 grams on the Nutrition Facts label. Same with oil (14g to the Tbsp). It's much simpler to convert using the data on the package.
HalfPint January 16, 2018
I don't pre-grease my utensils, unless the sticky ingredient is the only 'liquid' in the recipe. For the most part, I measure out the other liquid whether it's an oil or plain water, first. Then I measure the sticky stuff last. Most of the time, there's enough lubrication there to make the sticky liquid slide right off.
Kentley January 16, 2018
Much easier is to use weight rather than volume. Can look up weight per cup online, or weigh a cup of ingredient yourself (and record). Then you can just weigh into the mixing bowl. More accurate and easier. Using grams is also more accurate since there are about 28 grams per ounce so being a few grams off is usually insignificant. Scales can be had pretty inexpensively. You don't even have to understand the metric system...just add until the number on the scale in where you want it.