Articles / Should American Cooks Switch to Metric Measurement?


Should American Cooks Switch to Metric Measurement?

Published April 20, 2022


Mark suggests dumping Imperial measurement while Kerri points out potential challenges

Over the course of the pandemic, lots of Americans have embraced metric measurement when it comes to bread baking — or really any kind of baking — because it’s more accurate and yields better results.

While it may seem intimidating to those who don’t normally use a scale to have to gram everything out, once you get the hang of it, it’s second nature — and, some would argue, easier.

So why haven’t we switched to metric for all of our recipes? Since the release of their book, Bittman Bread, Mark and Kerri have been thinking about it.

“I was looking at some old recipes,” Mark says in this audio, “and I came across a recipe that used quantity, two kinds of weight, and volume. And really, it doesn’t make any sense: There’s nowhere else in life where you would measure something and use three different kinds of measurements for the same thing. Obviously, if we were going to argue for some kind of change in the way recipes are put together, you’d argue for the metric system because the metric system is so much more sensible than Imperial measure. And eventually — even though it may never be officially instituted in the United States — most cooks are going to use metrics because it makes so much more sense.”

Kerri’s question comes with the changeover. “How do recipe writers and developers ‘train’ our audience to make the switch? It seems like that transitional period is going to include volume and or ounces and or grams which doesn’t solve the problem and makes things even more inaccurate.” She also asked whether standing over a scale fretting over when the grams click over on the screen takes the fun out of cooking. 

Should American cooks switch to metric measurement? “This is something we’re interested in talking about and hearing what our readers and listeners think,” Mark says.

Mark and Kerri’s longtime collaboration — they’ve been working on cookbooks together for nearly 20 years — has also given them room to experiment and push the boundaries of the consumer market. “We are willing to consider doing things in ways that haven’t been done before. And How to Cook Everything Fast was probably the most powerful example of that, where we truly believed that we could come up with a better way to write recipes. Now we may or may not do that, but it definitely is something that can be done: if not by us then by somebody else,” Mark says.

The push to encourage American cooks to convert to metric “is part of that same conversation: Is there a better way to teach and learn cooking?”

Click the play button above to listen in for more. And drop us a note in the comments with your take.