teaspoon, a type of cutlery (American
English also: flatware), is a small spoon,
commonly silver and part of a place setting,
suitable for stirring and sipping the
contents of a cup of tea or coffee.
Utilitarian versions are used for measuring.
Teaspoons with longer handles, such as iced
tea spoons, are commonly used also for ice
cream. Similar spoons include the tablespoon
and the dessert spoon, the latter
intermediate in size between a teaspoon and
a tablespoon, used in eating dessert and
sometimes soup or cereals. Much less common
is the coffee spoon, which is a smaller
version of the teaspoon. Another teaspoon,
called an orange spoon, tapers to a sharp
point or teeth, and is used for citrus
fruits and melons. A bar spoon, equivalent
to a teaspoon, is used in measuring
ingredients for mixed drinks. The tablespoon
is a larger version of the teaspoon,
generally with three times its capacity.
A container designed to hold extra
teaspoons, called a spooner, formed part of
a 19th century table service.
Measure of volume
In some countries, a teaspoonful — as much
as one teaspoon can hold — is used as a unit
of volume, especially in cooking recipes and
pharmaceutic prescriptions. It is
abbreviated in English as t., ts., tsp. or
tspn. (German and Dutch: TL, from Teelöffel
For classic purposes in the United States,
one teaspoon is precisely 1⁄768 of a U.S.
liquid gallon (see United States customary
units). This is precisely 4.92892159375 mL
and 231⁄768 (0.30078125) cubic inch. It is
also equal to 1⁄3 tablespoon, 1⁄6 U.S. fl.
oz, and 1⁄48 of U.S. customary cup. For
nutritional labeling purposes on food
packages in the U.S., the teaspoon is, by
Federal regulations, rounded to precisely 5
mL, per 21CFR101.9(b)(5)(viii).
Common teaspoons such as bar spoons for
measuring ingredients and stirring mixed
drinks are often not designed to contain a
standard volume. In practice, they may hold
anything between 2.5 mL and 6 mL of liquid,
so caution must be employed when using a
teaspoon to measure a prescribed dose of
medicine. For this reason and in order to
avoid dispensing errors, special measuring
spoons are available that hold exactly 5 mL.
The common teaspoon is always smaller than
If a recipe calls for a teaspoonful of a
powder ingredient (salt, flour, etc.), this
normally refers to an approximately levelled
filling of the spoon, just as with liquids.
For example, a teaspoon of salt for cooking
purposes, is 5 mL or about 4.75 grams.
Some recipes also call for heaping (American
English) or heaped (British English) spoon
measures. Such a heaping/heaped teaspoon,
refers to an inexact volume of the required
ingredient, obtained by scooping it up with
a teaspoon and not levelling it off. The
amount obtained by heaping a spoon can
easily vary by more than a factor of two. An
even less precise term, dash, signifies a
very small quantity of liquid or dry
ingredients, ranging up to 1/4 teaspoonful,
added to food or drink.