How To Measure A Pinch, A Dash And A Smidgen

Measurements are all about precision, but the terms "dash", "pinch" and "smidgen" have always been a little vague. They do, however, have somewhat precise definitions, which can be helpful to know if you're scaling up a recipe.

Photo by Mira Bozhko on Unsplash

Traditionally, a "pinch" simply meant the amount you could literally pinch between your forefinger and thumb, which usually falls somewhere between 1/16 and 1/8 of a teaspoon. A smidgen is half a pinch (1/32 of a teaspoon) and a dash is a liquid measurement that translates to to 1/8 of a teaspoon.

These terms are handy to know, but don't fret if you have tiny measuring spoons; these units are most commonly used for seasoning, so it's very unlikely you'll ruin anything by playing a little fast and loose with these amounts.


    Nothing more annoying than getting a recipe from an American.

    “1 cup, half a cup, four cups”
    Seems fine right? Just convert a measured cup to ml, but then you read what comes next:

    ‘1 cup chopped butter’
    ‘Half a cup peel, large slices”
    “Four cups chopped apple”

    ? Weights guys, use weights. Get the scales out of the cupboard and stop trying to measure irregularly size solids by the volume of the container you chose to stack them in. Use ounces, we can convert. Seriously though wtf is a cup of chopped butter? Isn’t “150g butter, cut into 2cm cubes” significantly more reliable when making pastry?

    In an antique shop I found a gavel mounted on a plaque,
    The engraving read
    Awarded to Cheif Petty Officer (I forget)
    Senior Smidgin Adjuster.

    Last edited 23/12/17 9:28 pm

    1/32? 1/16? 1/8...? How much are these primitive and outdated 17th century measurements in modern quantities that everyone understands?

    Next you’ll be quoting temperatures for Christmas Day at Uluru in Fahrenheit, or telling us there are 17 pecks in a bushel per furlong....

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