Mary's Transatlantic Cooking Tables


Anyone in the U.K., or North America, who tries to cook from a recipe from the other side of the pond quickly discovers that the truth of the saying that Americans and British are one people divided by a common language. Did you know that an American pint is smaller than a British pint? If you are British, do you have any idea what a scallion is, and if you are American do you know what to use when the British recipe lists treacle?

These tables are intended to help translation of transatlantic cook books. I hope that they will be useful for all English language speaking cooks. I also include information which will help anyone using an old cookbook that does not give modern oven temperature settings and so on. I am English, so I am bound to make mistakes with American English. I hope that North American readers will put me right when I go wrong.

Corrections and additions to the tables will be appreciated and acknowledged. Additions could be words or phrases for which you have a translation, or which you would like me to translate. Please send me an e-mail (see left) if you have a contribution.

My thanks to David Armour in Canada for his help with these tables.


If the Quantities table seems complicated, generally you just need to remember that the British measurement is slightly more than the American one. A word of warning - British cookery writers can be infuriatingly inexact. A 'cup' could be the British or American standard, or the Spode tea-cup inherited from auntie May. As for 'dessert spoons', and 'wine-glasses', your guess is as good as mine. However, it is not true that a 'spoonful' in a British cookery book means a rounded spoonful. Most modern British cookery books use the American standard for teaspoons and tablespoons (5 ml. and 15 ml.) For British readers - I recommend purchase of American measuring cups and spoons. They are very cheap and most cook shops stock them.

American StandardMetric
Fluid ounce0.0295 litre
Pint16 fl oz0.473.litre
Quart2 pints0.946 litre
Cup8 fl oz0.236 litre
Tablespoon3 teaspoons15 ml
Teaspoon5 ml
British StandardMetric
Fluid ounce0.0284 litre
Gill 5 fluid ounces0.142 litre
Pint20 fl oz0.568 litre
Cup8 fl oz0.227 litre
Tablespoon3 teaspoons18ml
Dessertspoon2 teaspoons (approx.)10/12ml (approx.)

Gas MarkºF ºC
Very slow1275140
Slow2 300 150
Warm3 325 170
Moderate4 350 180
Fairly hot5 375 190
Hot6 400 200
Hot7 425 220
Very hot8 450 230
Very hot9 475 240

½ oz 10 g7 oz200 g
¾ oz20 g8 oz225 g
1 oz25 g 9 oz250 g
1½ oz 40 g10 oz275 g
2 oz50 g12 oz350 g
2½ oz60 g1 lb.450 g
3 oz75 g1½ lb700 g
4 oz110 g2 lb900 g
5 oz150 g3 lb1.35 kg
6 oz175 g

8 American Tablespoons (1 Stick)4 oz110 g
1 American Cup5 oz150 g
1 American Cup8 oz225 g


Some of the fish eaten in Europe and North America are the same, but many are different. When the fish is the same we call it by the same name. If you are British using an American cookbook, what you need is a list of European fish that can be used as substitutes for the American fish in the recipes (and the same applies vice versa). This is supplied by Rick Stein in his book 'The Taste of the Sea' (see the booklist).

What North Americans call shrimp, the British call prawns. British shrimp are really tiny, and are usually served as 'potted shrimp', in solidified clarified butter. British crayfish are also much smaller than the North American variety.


The difficulty with the terminology for meat is not transatlantic so much as home grown. In the U.K. there are regional variations in both the way a carcass is cut and the names for the different cuts. Delia Smith (see the booklist) says that there are 27 different names for the cut of beef best known as thick flank. Additionally, French cuts are often used. In one respect British is plainer than American. What North Americans call 'Variety Meats' we call 'Offal'.

The table is in three parts. First, a diagram showing where the cuts of beef come from and their most common English language names. Second, a few terms I could not include in the diagram. Third, an explanation of the most commonly used French words.
You can select a number on the diagram for a quick link to the key below.
1.     Neck or Sticking Piece. 2.     Fore Ribs.
3.     Middle Ribs 4.     Chuck Ribs
5.     Sirloin. The finest part = Chump End of Sirloin. which contains Fillet Steak. Two sirloins cut together (i.e. both halves of the carcass) = Baron of Beef. T-Bone Steak = a steak on the bone cut from the sirloin or ribs.
6.     Rump. Upper part = Chump End. Lower part = Silverside, Buttock, or Round.
7.     Clod or Gullet.
8.     2 cuts: (a.) Brisket; (b.) Shoulder or Leg of Mutton Piece or Chuck or Blade Steak.
9.     Holes. 10.   Thin Flank.
11.   Topside.
12.  Thick Flank or Round or Flesh End, or Bedpiece.
13.   Aitchbone. 14.   Mouse Buttock.
15.   Veiny Piece. 16.   Leg or Shin.
17.   Hough or Shin. 18.   Head including Cheek.
Not on diagram:
Beef Skirt
An internal cut from below the diaphragm.
Braising steak or Stewing Steak
Beef suitable for braising or stewing such as shoulder or thick flank (some cuts are suitable for stewing but not braising)
Ground Round (American) = Minced Beef (British).
Pepper Steak (American)
Small strips of beef cut from the silverside or round.
Salt beef (British)
A joint of beef (usually brisket) soaked in a brine solution. Used for pot-roast recipes. N.b.: not the same thing as Jewish salt-beef.
Veal is not reared in Britain because of animal welfare legislation. The best substitute for veal is pork loin, although ground round (minced beef) can be successfully substituted for ground veal in some recipes.
French Cuts:
Rib steaks.
Strictly speaking a rib steak off the bone, but usually cut from the top of the sirloin. Frying steaks of medium thickness.
Filet mignon:
A steak cut from the smaller end of the fillet.
Thick frying steaks cut from the heart of the fillet.

1     Trotters6     Head
2     Shank (Haunch)7     Neck*
3     Shoulder8     Saddle (two Loins)
4     Breast9     Loin - Best End
5     Leg10   Loin - Chump End
* Divided into Best End and Scrag End. Best End divided into Cutlets (or 'Chops' or 'Single Loin Chops'). One whole Best End is a Rack.
Recipes for 'Mutton' in old cookbooks can be treated as recipes for lamb. Mutton is from an older, tougher animal, but there is no significant difference in cooking times.

The names of the joints of pork are:
Fore-Quarter :
- Spare-rib or Shoulder
- Hand and Spring
- Fore-Loin
- Spring or Belly.
- Loin
- Leg

A cock which has been castrated and fattened.
Cornish Hen
Not available in Britain. Substitute poussin.
Pigeon (British)

Low bush blueberryBilberry (whinberry)
Broccoli. Confusion reigns. The British have two vegetables: green sprouting broccoli or calabrese to gardeners, just broccoli to shoppers, and purple sprouting broccoli only known to gardeners. My American cookbooks refer to broccoli, broccoli rab and and broccoletti di rape.
CornSweetcorn (maize)
Eggplant (aubergine)Aubergine (eggplant)
EscaroleCurly endive
Pine NutsPine Kernels
Pole beans (green beans or snap beans)French beans
RadicchioRed chicory
Rucola Salad rocket
ScallionsSpring onions
Snow peasMange-tout
SunchokesJerusalem Artichokes
String beans (scarlet runners)Runner beans
Sweet potatoes Sweet potatoes (yams)
ZucchiniCourgettes (baby marrow)

The following are all varieties of Kidney Bean:
The largest is the Great Northern Bean.
Next is the Boston Bean, Pearl Haricot or Pea Bean.
Smallest is Cannellini.
Pale Green:
Red Kidney Bean
Pinto,Borlotti, or Cranberry.
Black Kidney Bean
Fava Beans (American)= Broad Beans (British)
Lima Beans (American) = Butter Beans (British).
The following are varieties of dried field peas (not garden peas):
Eaten in North-East England.
Also sold fresh and the basis for English 'mushy peas'.
Green Splits
Yellow Splits
The main ingredient in English 'pease pudding'.


America and Britain use different grades of sugar. In order of courseness they are:
Granulated (British)
Granulated (American)
Caster (British)
Superfine Granulated (American)
Confectioner's (American)
Icing or Ground
Cooks in Britain reading American cake recipes should substitute caster sugar for American granulated sugar, and also for confectioner's sugar, unless it is being used in an icing or frosting, when icing sugar will probably be the better choice.

From darkest to lightest:
Muscovado (Br.) or Sugar in the Raw (Am.)
Dark Brown
Light Brown
Brownulated (Am.)

TreacleBlackstrap Molasses
Golden SyrupA pale yellow cane sugar syrup.
Substitute glucose or honey.

American flour is harder than British flour, i.e. more suitable for bread making. Some American yeast recipes suggest you can use 'plain' or 'all purpose' flour. In Britain you should substitute a 'strong' or 'bread' flour.
Self-Raising FlourSelf Rising Flour
Wholemeal FlourWhole Wheat Flour

Jersey (British)60%
Double (British)48%
Heavy (American)40%
Whipping 30-60%
Single (British)or Light or Table (American)18%
Half and Half (American)10-18%
Half Cream (British)12%

British cakes rarely have a hole in the middle. American cakes often do, and require special tins. This is a list of tins with holes in the middle!
Angel Food Cake Tin
Has straight sides, a narrow centre tube, and feet on the bottom (to cool the cake).
Bundt Tin
Has broad fluting and a wide centre tube. It is used for Pound Cake.
Kugelhopf Mould
Has fluted sides and is traditionally made of earthenware.
Ring Mould
Shallower and wider centred than a Tube Tin (see below).
Savarin Tin
Has curved sides and a hollow centre. Used for Savarin cakes and as a mould for other dishes.
Tube Tin
Like an Angel Food Cake Tin without the feet.
In Britain it is difficult to obtain most of the above tins. If you are in Britain and you want to make pound cake use the deepest widest Savarin tin you can find.
Two Cake Tins used in Britain:
Sponge Tin
A round shallow tin with slightly slanted sides.
Sandwich Tin
As above, but with straight sides.

Baking SodaBicarbonate of Soda
Graham CrackersDigestive Biscuits (the nearest equivalent)
Semisweet Chocolate* Plain Chocolate
Strudel Leaves Filo Pastry
Yellow Raisins
*American Cooking Chocolate is unsweetened. This is difficult to obtain in Britain. I have had good results with American cake recipes using plain chocolate, reducing the sugar in the recipe by a little and adding some extra cocoa powder dissolved in a little hot water.
**If a British recipe lists raisins it means black raisins.
An American cooking method equivalent to grilling in a closed oven.
A savoury spread, a byproduct of beer making. Often used in vegetarian cooking. The Australian equivalent is Vegemite.
© 2000 Mary Contrary