For sticky and/or semisolid ingredients like mayonnaise, peanut butter, sour cream, and honey, we prefer a third option: the adjustable measuring cup.
The volume measurements on liquid and dry measuring cups are identical. It’s the shape of each that makes it easier and more efficient to measure and extract either liquids or dry ingredients. For sticky and/or semisolid ingredients like mayonnaise, peanut butter, sour cream, and honey, we prefer a third option: the adjustable measuring cup.
An adjustable measuring cup has a clear cylinder with volume markings and a plunger insert. You withdraw the plunger to the desired measurement and then fill the cylinder, level it off, and plunge to empty it. This design makes it easy to level ingredients (thus getting an accurate measurement) and then push out every last bit of the ingredient. To be sure that our preference for adjustable measuring cups was on solid scientific footing, we had several cooks and noncooks measure 1 cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream in dry measuring cups, liquid measuring cups, and our favorite adjustable measuring cup, the KitchenArt 2-Cup Adjust-A-Cup ($9.95). We scraped the contents of each onto a scale. The fluctuation in measurements using the Adjust-A-Cup varied by only 2 grams, but the fluctuation using the dry and liquid measures was as much as 14 grams. (Of the two, liquid measures fared slightly worse.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Use an adjustable measuring cup for consistency when measuring semisolid ingredients. If you don’t own one, a dry measuring cup is the next most consistent tool.