Can Size Conversion Chart for Ingredients in Recipes

Decoding Older Recipes Listing Only a Can or Jar Size

Assorted tinned fruit & vegetables
Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Getty Images

Recipes may call for a canned amount of a certain ingredient. Most modern recipes will include the measurement as well (example: 1 can tomato paste/15 ounces), but older recipes may just list a can size and little else. This is particularly tricky if you're making grandma's traditional recipe for the first time and you aren't sure how much of an ingredient should be included. You may also be downsizing a recipe meant to feed a crowd that lists No.

10 cans.

Can Size Chart

In the event you run across a recipe that doesn't have the measurements spelled out, this handy chart can help guide you, both for how much to use and how much to buy of that pesky canned ingredient.

Can Sizes

Can SizeWeightVolume
8 ounces8 ounces1 cup
Picnic10 1/2 to 12 ounces1 1/4 cups
12 ounces vacuum12 ounces1 1/2 cups
No. 111 ounces1 1/3 cup
No. 1 tall16 ounces2 cups
No. 1 square16 ounces2 cups
No. 21 pound 4 ounces or 
1 pint 2 fluid ounces
2 1/2 cups
No. 2 1/21 pound 13 ounces3 1/2 cups
No. 2-1/2 square31 ouncesscant 4 cups
No. 351 ounces5 3/4 cups
No. 3 squat23 ounces2 3/4 cups
No. 556 ounces7 1/3 cups
No. 106 pounds 6 ounces
to 7 pounds 5 ounces
12 cups
No. 30014 to 16 ounces1 3/4 cups
No. 30316 to 17 ounces2 cups
Baby food jar3 1/2 to 8 ouncesdepends on size
Condensed milk15 ounces1 1/3 cups
Evaporated milk6 ounces2/3 cup
Evaporated milk14 1/2 ounces1 2/3 cups
Frozen juice
6 ounces3/4 cup

Jar Sizes

Jars used in preserving your own fruits and vegetables are said to be "canned." If you are looking at an old recipe, it may come from a home canner and list a jar size. These are a little less confusing as jars come in sizes that already reference volume and weight. While there may be some fancy jars available, older recipes relied on good-old Mason jars.

Jars used in canning come in these sizes:

Jar SizeWeightVolume
Jelly Jar4 ounces1/2 cup
Jelly Jar8 ounces1 cup
Jelly Jar12 ounces1 1/2 cups
Half Pint8 ounces1 cup
Pint16 ounces2 cups
Pint-and-a-Half24 ounces3 cups
Pint-and-Three-Quarters28 ounces3 1/2 cups
Quart32 ounces4 cups
Half Gallon64 ounces8 cups
Gallon128 ounces16 cups
Storage Jar14 ounces1 3/4 cups
Storage Jar38 ounces4 3/4 cups

History of Can Sizes

To find out how many cups in a can are required, it's useful to have a little history of the canning industry. According to the guidebook "Canning and How to Use Canned Foods," by the National Canners Association (it's now called the Food Products Association), while there are (or were) some can sizes considered standard, these measurements aren't based on any unit of volume or other requirements, and may lead to confusion for home cooks.

The Canners Association explained that in assigning the mysterious numbers to cans, the American can industry describes the dimensions of cylindrical cans by two numbers: diameter and height. The guide book's authors lamented the lack of foresight by the canning industry:

The regular No. 2 can is too large for peas, corn, and beans in amount for the average family to use at one time, and the unused part is not as attractive when reheated. The No. 3 can of tomatoes is likewise an anomaly though the objection is not so strong as for the No. 2. The No. 2½ can was introduced as a compromise on the No. 3, especially for fruits, but recently a better size is being used having the diameter of the No. 2½ but only half the height. After machines have once been built to make and close cans of a certain size, it is difficult to make changes no matter how desirable it may be.