Pop-Quiz: How Do You Convert a Stick of Butter to Tablespoons?

 Pop quiz of the day: 

Background to the problem

You’re living in Jordan. You like to bake and are used to using unsalted sticks of butter like the one below. Notice anything different about the stick of butter? The size? The width? The package?

Say you want to make chocolate chip cookies for your STARVING and sweet-deprived husband. You need 10 tablespoons (or 1/2 cup of butter, plus 2 tablespoons). Normally, you’d use one stick of butter (equalling 8 tablespoons) and cut two additional tablespoons from another stick, right?  You buy what look like ordinary sticks of unsalted butter at the grocery store, but…there’s always a but here….you open up the packaging and are puzzled. There ARE NO TICK MARKS on the packaging to indicate the measurement of butter. What do you do?

a. You get out a tablespoon and manually measure the butter (all 10 of them, what a waste of time and end up making a BIG mess–remember, you don’t have a dishwasher, either).

b. You make an estimate, knowing full well that you may have wasted PRECIOUS ingredients that are hard to come by here (chocolate chips) and are insanely expensive (pure vanilla extract–kept in the safe next to the salami).

c. You attempt to get resourceful and create your own measuring device.

d. You cry and get upset that your husband made you come here to the land of butter without measurement.

e. You _______________ (fill in the blank with your own response).

I’m sure there’s some logical explanation for how people here measure butter here, but I’m fresh out of ideas…

My answer?


Here’s my first attempt at creating my own measuring guide.  It worked for the single-wide sticks, but threw me off on the BIG-DADDY, double-wide sticks.

Option C.

The next conundrum: how to measure a double-wide stick of butter.

Luckily for me, my sister had forwarned me prior to moving (and based on her experiences cooking in Italy) that I’d need a scale for measuring ingredients. I bought the scale a while ago, threw it under a cabinet, never to be seen, until the butter threw me for a loop!  As I was unpacking the scale I discovered, to my utter delight, a conversion booklet for all sorts of things. I flipped to the page titled  “fats” and hit pay dirt. OMG! Hallelujah! Now I’m able to accurately measure my butter (along with other “fats” using the scale).

Problem solved, for me at least, so I suppose the real pop-quiz here is: How do Jordanian’s convert their sticks of butter into tablespoons?

Love! Love! Love my scale!!!

16 thoughts on “Pop-Quiz: How Do You Convert a Stick of Butter to Tablespoons?

  1. I told you that the scale is awesome and duh- has metric conversions. I love my scale so much that I leave mine on the counter. It’s great for so many things, especially when I half a recipe and I love how you can zero out the weight of the bowl or cup you are using. I kept thinking, why did you waste your time with your handmade device, use your scale. I knew that you had one.

  2. I had to laugh when I saw your paper with the tick marks on it. You are so analyticle. I made scones on Sat. and just a add the amount I thought I needed. You two girls couldn’t do that I’m sure. I’m sure the cookies were delicious.

  3. Hey, the cookies had sugar, butter, and chocolate chips in them, so who cares how much? Some of us could just eat the ingredients sort of haphazardly measured and mixed and be really happy — and a little fat too! 🙂

  4. Most 100gram sticks (the small ones) have tick marks every 10grams, while the bigger ones (200grams) have them every 25grams.
    Now, one stick of butter is 113 grams which means you need one full stick of 100grams and one tick.
    Other than that: e) You use a scale.
    allrecipes.com is a great resource to convert volume into the more accurate (and more widely used) weight measurements. Do Americans realize they’re the only ones who don’t weigh their food?

    Oh, and hi from a fellow expat in Amman.

    1. Hi, Annika,
      Thanks for posting! The sticks I’ve been buying don’t have ANY tick marks, which made me realize that I rely on them rather that getting an accurate measurement. I’ve always read that real chefs never measure, but weigh ingredients.

  5. AAAAHHHH!!! Jen! This brought back memories of trying to bake when I lived in Denmark. My friend was having a birthday, and I wanted to make him a signature red velvet cake that I love so much. Three tiers and gorgeously whipped looking cream cheese icing. I went and spent upward of twenty American dollars to buy the ingredients (which was alot for a student and the expensive Danish Crown working against me).
    Once I started baking, I couldn’t figure out why the batter didn’t taste right. When one of my Danish roommates walked in, I asked him to sample the batter and told him I couldn’t understand what was wrong. He started hysterically laughing and then stoicly told me I had used garlic butter. Damn not understanding the language! I was so mad at myself that I went ahead and made the cake, presented it to Ardi and then advised him he couldn’t eat it. I guess it’s the thought that counts?

    1. I didn’t know you lived in Denmark! That must have been an amazing place to live. I’ve never been, but it’s on my short list of places to visit.
      It is SO frustrating. Heavy cream and whipping cream seem to be my new enemies. What I think are the equivalent of both are sold on the shelf (gross) and they are like solidified gravy–not the same thing. So I’m trying to expand my repertoire from my usual recipes, but I’m not really digging the Middle Eastern recipes.

  6. This post made me laugh, as I live in the UK (where we weigh things!) but I use a lot of American cake recipes so am always having to “convert” them before I can get on with the actual baking. Imagine what it is like for someone who doesn’t even know how much one stick of butter weighs haha! It’s soooo frustrating, I feel your pain!

  7. SInce I got my scale, it has made baking so much easier and accurate and the results as expected. I love it. (And I feel so professional! ; ) ) I too use the Lurpak butter, but my wrapper does have measurement markings. But I read somewhere that they are not accurate, so I do weight it. And for another good tip, preheating your oven for at least 20 minutes before using it allows the temperature to regulate properly to the set temperature. (I know you did not ask, but I thought I would share because it is one of my most important lessons learned recently).
    p.s. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  8. My husband bought me a scale so that I could weigh food portions when I started watching what I ate. Now I find it indispensable for baking. I can’t believe I ever wasted all the time and extra dirty dishes on imperial measurements. It is sooo much easier to just re-zero the scale and start pouring in the next ingredient. I am working on converting my old recipes so I never have to use my measuring cups again!

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