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. Here are the actual measurements.
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 approximately 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.
This story has been updated since its original publication.