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Tbsp vs. Tbs: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on March 4, 2024
"Tbsp" and "Tbs" both refer to a tablespoon, a unit of volume used in cooking to measure liquids and solids, but "Tbsp" is the more commonly accepted abbreviation.

Key Differences

In the culinary world, both "Tbsp" and "Tbs" are used to denote a tablespoon, which is equivalent to three teaspoons or about 15 milliliters in most contexts. While "Tbsp" is preferred in many cookbooks, recipes, and cooking websites for its clarity, "Tbs" is still used in some cases. However, the potential for confusion with "tsp" makes "Tbsp" the safer choice in written recipes to ensure accurate measurements.
The difference between the two abbreviations is largely a matter of style and preference, although "Tbsp" is more widely recognized and used to avoid confusion with the teaspoon abbreviation "tsp." The use of "Tbsp" helps clearly distinguish between tablespoons and teaspoons, especially in recipes where precision is crucial for the outcome of the dish. Consistency in abbreviation usage within a document or recipe is key to avoiding mistakes in measurement, which can significantly affect the dish's taste, texture, and appearance.
The importance of understanding these abbreviations becomes evident in the precise nature of baking and cooking, where even small deviations in ingredient quantities can lead to less than desirable results. Both "Tbsp" and "Tbs" serve the same function in indicating a tablespoon measurement, but the preference for "Tbsp" underscores the broader culinary community's effort to standardize recipe language and prevent errors during cooking and baking.

Comparison Chart

Full Meaning



3 teaspoons or ~15 milliliters
3 teaspoons or ~15 milliliters

Common Usage

More widely accepted and used
Less commonly used


Measure liquids and solids
Measure liquids and solids


Higher (distinct from tsp)
Lower (can be confused with tsp)


Preferred in recipes for clarity
Used, but less preferred due to potential confusion

Tbsp and Tbs Definitions


Commonly used in cooking to measure ingredients.
Measure 1 Tbsp of olive oil for the dressing.


Appears in some recipes and cookbooks.
The sauce requires 2 Tbs of soy sauce.


Preferred abbreviation for clarity.
The recipe calls for 4 Tbsp of milk.


Another abbreviation for tablespoon.
Add 1 Tbs of honey to the tea.


A unit of volume equal to three teaspoons.
Add 2 Tbsp of sugar to the mixture.


Used to measure both liquids and solids.
Mix in 2 Tbs of flour slowly.


Ensures precision in recipes.
Use 3 Tbsp of cocoa powder for the chocolate cake.


Can potentially be confused with tsp.
Ensure not to confuse Tbs with tsp in measurements.


Helps avoid confusion with teaspoon (tsp).
Distinguish between 1 tsp and 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract.


Less commonly used due to clarity issues.
Some chefs prefer Tbsp over Tbs to prevent measurement errors.


Abbreviation of tablespoon}} {{gloss


(abbreviation) Tablespoon.


What does Tbsp stand for?

Tbsp stands for tablespoon, a unit of measurement used in cooking.

Can using Tbs instead of Tbsp in a recipe affect the outcome?

Using Tbs instead of Tbsp should not affect the outcome as long as the measurement is understood to be a tablespoon. However, clarity is crucial to prevent measurement errors.

How many teaspoons are in a Tbsp or Tbs?

There are three teaspoons in both a Tbsp and a Tbs.

How can I ensure I'm using the right measurement with Tbsp and Tbs?

Always refer to the context of the recipe and, if possible, use measuring spoons that are clearly marked with Tbsp to ensure accuracy.

Why is Tbsp more commonly used than Tbs?

Tbsp is more commonly used because it clearly distinguishes tablespoons from teaspoons (tsp), reducing the chance of confusion.

What's the best way to measure a Tbsp accurately?

The best way to measure a tablespoon accurately is to use a measuring spoon designed for that exact volume, ensuring it is level for dry ingredients and filled to the brim for liquids.

Are Tbsp and Tbs used internationally?

Yes, Tbsp and Tbs are used internationally, though the exact volume may vary slightly in different countries. In most contexts, it is about 15 milliliters.

Is it better to use Tbsp or Tbs in recipes I write?

It's better to use Tbsp in recipes you write for greater clarity and to minimize the risk of confusion with tsp (teaspoon).

Is there a difference between Tbsp and Tbs?

No significant difference in meaning; both abbreviate tablespoon, but Tbsp is preferred for clarity.

Can Tbsp and Tbs measurements be used interchangeably in all recipes?

Yes, since both abbreviations represent the same measurement, they can be used interchangeably. However, consistency within a recipe is key to avoid confusion.

How does the use of Tbsp or Tbs affect international recipes?

When using international recipes, pay close attention to the measurement units provided. If a recipe uses Tbsp or Tbs, verify the standard measurement used in that country to ensure accuracy.

Why is precision important in cooking and baking measurements?

Precision is crucial because even slight variations in ingredient quantities can significantly affect the taste, texture, and appearance of a dish, especially in baking.

How do I convert Tbsp to cups?

As a general rule, there are 16 tablespoons (Tbsp) in 1 cup. To convert tablespoons to cups, divide the number of tablespoons by 16.

Can digital cooking tools help differentiate between Tbsp and Tbs?

Digital cooking tools and apps often provide clear definitions and conversions for various measurements, including Tbsp and Tbs, helping to minimize confusion and ensure accurate ingredient amounts.

Are there any tools to help distinguish between Tbsp and Tbs in recipes?

There are no specific tools designed to distinguish between Tbsp and Tbs; clarity depends on the recipe's context and the author's preference for abbreviation.

Is the volume of a Tbsp the same around the world?

The volume of a tablespoon (Tbsp or Tbs) can vary slightly by country. In the US, it is approximately 14.8 ml, while in Australia, it is 20 ml. Always consider the recipe's origin for accurate measurements.

Do professional chefs prefer Tbsp or Tbs?

Professional chefs may have personal preferences, but many opt for "Tbsp" for its clarity and to align with common culinary standards that minimize confusion.

What should I do if a recipe uses Tbs and I'm unsure of the measurement?

If uncertain, confirm that Tbs refers to tablespoon in the context of the recipe, or consult a reliable cooking source for clarification.

How can measurement errors be minimized when using Tbsp or Tbs?

Measurement errors can be minimized by using standardized measuring spoons, carefully reading recipe instructions, and if in doubt, consulting a conversion chart or culinary guide.

What should I do if I accidentally use Tbsp instead of tsp in a recipe?

If you accidentally use a tablespoon (Tbsp) instead of a teaspoon (tsp), the dish may become too salty, sweet, or otherwise imbalanced. Adjust the other ingredients accordingly, if possible, or start over to ensure the best outcome.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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