Not Martha

scoop (or disher or portioner) sizes

I’ve decided to make the famous NYTimes chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I really want to follow the instructions as closely as possible. The recipe calls for 3.5 ounce mounds of dough, so I’ve been on the lookout for a scoop, or disher, that would be exactly that and, though I think I might have the size I need, I looked all this up recently so I’m putting this here as a big Dishers 101 for myself when I forget it all again.

Dishers, or scoops or portioners, have number sizes on them, mine can be found on the little metal sweep. This size represents the number of scoops in one quart. The larger the number, the smaller the capacity of the scoop. You can find a whole range of disher sizes, I know Sur La Table seems to have them all hanging in a big, happy, jumbled group. The book of yields lists a table of disher sizes in ounces, cups and mililiters. According to the Kitchen Conservatory list the closest sized scoops in liquid ounces would be a size 10 at 3.75 ounces or a size 12 at 3.25 ounces. They have the size 12 as being for standard muffins. I own a Norpro size 16 disher (56mm, 2 tbsp) which I’ve used for standard sized muffins. The OXO cookie scoops I was looking at were sizes:

large: size 20, 3 tbsp., 3.25″ diameter cookie
medium: size 40, 1.5 tbsp., 2.75″ diameter cookie
small: size 60, 2 tsp., 2″ diameter cookie

So, the dishers all have fairly precise measurements, but which size will give me 3.5 ounces of that cookie dough? The finished cookies are supposed to be 5 inches in diameter, far larger than the size 20 OXO disher is supposed to give. The 3.5 ounces is described as being “generous golf balls”. Will my size 16 scoop be too small? When is the last time I held a golf ball in my hand? Do I have the patience to wait until I can locate a size 10 or 12 scoop? Why don’t I own a kitchen scale yet?

· comments [46] · 07-30-2008 · categories:food ·

46 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jessica // Jul 30, 2008 at 5:34 am

    I made this recipe the other day. I’m a big baker and was determined to do them dead on to really see how good they are (they’re great, but I’m on the fence if they’re the BEST) but if you follow that recipe, you wont need a scoop. The dough is hard as a rock when you take it out the fridge the next day and I had to use a knife in combination with a spoon and ice cream scoop to chisel out dough. The recipe says makes 1.5 dozen cookies (18) so I dived the dough into 18 even balls by hand. Worked perfect.

  • 2 Sara L. // Jul 30, 2008 at 5:38 am

    If you read the Orangette entry, she let the dough warm up before she portioned, for easier scooping, and used a regular ice cream scoop, which she said held 3 fluid ounces, or 1/3 of a cup. so, couldn’t you just use a 1/3 cup measure? Seems the most straightforward, no buying extra gadgets required. Unless the gadget-buying is the point, I guess :)

  • 3 Jody // Jul 30, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Not on the scoop topic-BUT–on the topic of the scale. GET ONE! (I made “the recipe” last night. Good thing I had to cover it with plastic and hide it in the refrigerator. Oooh! The batter was tasty!) The difference between what the flours weighed and the cup measurement recommended was startlingly different. I was afraid it wouldn’t come together well with so much flour. Dead wrong. The batter was perfect–but wouldn’t have been if I had just used the cup measurement.
    Love my little Escali:
    cheap, attractive, accurate

  • 4 j // Jul 30, 2008 at 5:51 am

    Is this right? “This size represents the number of scoops in one quart. The higher the number, the larger the scoop size.” Wouldn’t the higher number be a smaller scoop size?

  • 5 Grace // Jul 30, 2008 at 5:58 am

    I agree with the PP–if you want to get really into specific baking recipes, you are going to need a scale to weigh ingredients. That is a much bigger concern that the size of the scoop.

    In this case, though, I think a regular sized ice cream scoop would work just fine.

  • 6 Bezzie // Jul 30, 2008 at 6:18 am

    I’m confused by this sentence: “This size represents the number of scoops in one quart. The higher the number, the larger the scoop size.”

    Shouldn’t that be “the higher the number, the SMALLER the scoop size”?

  • 7 Nancy // Jul 30, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Oh, do make them (I think this will be my standard chocolate chip recipe from now on), but don’t be bound by the recipe’s suggested portion size. I made mine about golf ball sized and baked about a dozen cookies a day over 4 days. I do think the ones on the last day were the best–don’t forget to put the salt on top!

  • 8 Jan // Jul 30, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Hi… chronic lurker here. Definitely get a scale. We bought one on a whim a few years ago, and it gets constant use. Even my husband who rarely cooks uses it often. It caters to his somewhat obsessive desire to split the box of spaghetti exactly in half. :)

  • 9 ann // Jul 30, 2008 at 6:40 am

    I just baked these last night — for me, a golf ball fits nicely in the crook of my hand, but I did go ahead and divide it into 18 parts before I made them.

    (I will note that my cookies were more like 4″ round, not 5, but they were rich enough it doesn’t matter.)

  • 10 Jennifer // Jul 30, 2008 at 6:45 am

    I just cooked these up yesterday. And yeah, even after leaving the dough out I still did a little chiseling. I liked the suggestion to scoop out the portions and then refrigerating the dough- maybe I will try that next time. Oh, and my portions were between a golf ball and a racquetball ;)

  • 11 Jessica // Jul 30, 2008 at 6:50 am

    I just made the dough last night and will bake them tonight when I get home. I plan on using a 1/3 cup measure and sort of eye ball it from there. I’ll definitely let the dough warm up a little.
    I had to go to 5 different stores till I found the brand of chocolate too! Usually I would pick a random brand I come across at my local grocery store but I really wanted to see what the difference is. The chocolate sure does taste good all by itself, can’t wait to eat my first cookie tonight!

  • 12 Renee // Jul 30, 2008 at 7:10 am

    I made these cookies last weekend and got them the perfect size by using the “large golf ball” measurement as a guide. Of course, it helped that we actually had golf balls in our house. I used a big metal spoon to get the dough out of the bowl (agreeing with other posters about giving it 20-30 minutes to warm up) and then shaped it and pared it down by hand. It worked great.

  • 13 Sarah // Jul 30, 2008 at 7:24 am

    I made these the other day, and I used my kitchen scale which I love. (I have a Salter glass top model, but it is a square one) I made my cookies 2.25 oz each, and baked for 12-13 minutes. They were still gooey on the inside and a little crispy on the inside, and a more manageable size in my opinion. Maybe some day I will make the huge ones, but they turned out great for me!

  • 14 Karin Ross // Jul 30, 2008 at 7:55 am

    I use plastic measuing cups, try a 1/3 cup measure it should be about right.

  • 15 steffy // Jul 30, 2008 at 8:10 am

    i would agree with the above posters on the 1/3 cup measure. 3.5 oz is a little under a half of a cup, and having made “giant” cookie recipes, most of the call for the usage of a 1/3 measuring cup to scoop the dough. the cookies turn out to be a large, generous size.

  • 16 Kristin A // Jul 30, 2008 at 8:18 am

    I bought my dishers at Smart & Final. Do you have one near you? They carry a lot of sizes including the sizes you are looking for. I bought my size 10 there for my jumbo cupcakes.

  • 17 megan // Jul 30, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Bezzie and J – I do apologize, I’d used confusing wording in the original sentence. Scott and I recently had a discussion over whether a higher number was a larger number or not. He maintained that a higher number was a smaller one – he pictured a pole with 0, 1 , 2 ,3 coming down from the top. Anyhow, the new sentence reads “The larger the number, the smaller the capacity of the scoop.” I do hope that is clearer.

    And thanks to everybody for suggesting a cup size for the cookies! Still, I have a kitchen scale on my list of things to buy just as soon as I can.

  • 18 megan // Jul 30, 2008 at 9:01 am

    Kristin – We don’t have Smart&Final near us, but just now I did a store location search on their site and it turns out, the Cash&Carry stores we have are secretly Smart&Final stores, yay.

  • 19 Anotheryarn // Jul 30, 2008 at 9:16 am

    A golf ball is 1.68 inches in diameter. My #20 scooper is about 1 7/8 inches in diameter and holds 3 tablespoons of liquid. I use it for regular muffins and large cookies.

    While the Kitchen Conservatory’s chart doesn’t explicitly state that their ounces measurement is volume I think it must be -as not all things being scooped weigh the same amount. Of course the math (32 oz /16 = 2 oz not 2 3/4 oz for example ) doesn’t add up which then confuses me. And should we assume the 3.5 oz mounds of dough are weight measurements (as the Book of Yields suggests, and the recipe implies). And most the commenters stating 3.5 oz is near 1/2 cup are thinking of volume not weight.

    FWIW the Cook’s Illustrated peoples generally call for a 1/4 cup measuring cup when making large cookies.

  • 20 rosebengal // Jul 30, 2008 at 9:35 am

    My local restaurant supply store carries scoops/portioners and lists them by the oz. Whereas I was looking to buy one that represented 1/4 cup… I had to eyeball them but it worked (I checked at home with water cause I’m a geek). For what it is worth they were vastly cheaper at the restaurant supply store than anywhere else.

  • 21 Jody // Jul 30, 2008 at 10:16 am

    What is it about all of these responses that just really resonates with me? We are truly geeks!! My friends would be yelling at me right now, “Enough already! Just slap ‘em on the cookie sheet and be done with it!”

    They just don’t understand. :)

  • 22 Tracy // Jul 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I’ve made these twice, using chocolate chips instead of pieces that the recipe calls for. The first time they were fabulous: sophisticated, good texture, and pretty to boot! The second time blew goats. Really. Maybe it was humidity, but I tried on various days/times of day/etc. and the cookies were thin, messy, and I couldn’t transfer them to a rack to cool: an all around mess. I used a scale both times and balled the dough by hand both times. My recipe is in the recycling bin now.

  • 23 carol // Jul 30, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    hi megan, it’s time to get a kitchen scale! so worth it! also i found the cooky dough too hard to scoop. i just shaped with my hands, not too messy. i thought they were generous golf balls, but the cookies were definitely less than 5 inch diameter. bigger mounds when i made again this weekend!

  • 24 Donnell // Jul 31, 2008 at 6:11 am

    If a 10 is 3.75 and a 12 is 3.25, then wouldn’t an 11 by 3.5? Did they skip 11?

  • 25 barrie // Jul 31, 2008 at 10:00 am


    you have ocd, right? this post is just too funny.

    when my grandma would send me recipes of all my favorite meals they usually read like this:

    chop some onions, carrots and celery
    throw some salt into a boiling pot of chicken broth
    add a few dashes of parlsey
    and simmer until done

    there was no rhyme or reason to her cooking and it always tasted amazing. to each her own i guess.

  • 26 megan // Jul 31, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Donnell – I’m not sure, I’ve only come across even sized scoop numbers.

  • 27 danielle // Jul 31, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I love my cookie dough disher. My mom had one for years and her cookies always came out so perfect looking and cooked easily. After hearing my complains about less then perfect baked goods she gave me hers. i have not made an ugly cookie since. :)

  • 28 mary // Jul 31, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    My dough spooned out fine. However, be warned that 3.5 oz of dough measured out on a scale was MUCH larger than any golf ball I’ve ever seen. More around the size of a pool ball. Hope that helps.

  • 29 Laura // Jul 31, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    King Arthur Flour cookie scoop is this size.

  • 30 Kitt // Aug 1, 2008 at 9:24 am

    My initial thought was, “Oy, just eyeball it.” But having gotten obsessed with finding just the right tool for some recipe, I know where you’re coming from.

    (I still haven’t found the Chinese rolling pin I was so determined to find one day that I went to eight different Asian markets. The hunt was fun, though.)

  • 31 sally // Aug 1, 2008 at 10:37 am

    I made these cookies and followed the recipe to the T. My advice, don’t overbeat the sugar and eggs- it makes the cookies very cakey- good, but cakey. As for the size, I just eyeballed it and they turned out good.

  • 32 sarah // Aug 1, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    barrie–cooking and baking are different. you can totally cook like that, but you can’t bake. cooking is simply heating ingredients to make them taste better (in different ways, of course) and there are few foods that couldn’t eat raw if you had to.

    but the chemical reactions to turn raw batter into edible food are more than just heat. it takes certain proportions of x to y to make things rise, absorb the eggs, butter, etc. so the whole deal about scale vs measuring cup is a huge one. the size of the scoop is, of course, personal preference.

    megan–no offense, but hubby is very wrong about higher numbers being smaller. When you ask a kid “how high can you count?” you are asking “what is the largest number you can count to?” 100 is higher than 99.

  • 33 TiffanyS // Aug 2, 2008 at 9:17 am

    Forget the measurement – what about that scoop cozy in the pic????

  • 34 megan // Aug 2, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Tiffany – I meant to link to that, I talked about it previously — here you go. It’s simply some oilcloth.

  • 35 Jess // Aug 3, 2008 at 6:01 am

    I made the cookies last week–and I’m hooked. They taste amazingly complex, almost smoky? Really, really, really good cookies.

  • 36 Marians // Aug 3, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Yay! Interesting…

  • 37 marcia // Aug 15, 2008 at 2:27 am

    is it just me or is it way expensive a 1lb of good chocolate in the Uk will cost £20 … bit much for some cookies a bar which has 100g is like £1.80 how much did it cost for your chocolate in this recipe out of curiousity? They do look great though!

  • 38 megan // Aug 15, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Marcia – The Vahlrona feves cost $16 a pound here. I thought they were too large for the cookies, but it was very good chocolate. What makes the feves special is that they are formulated to melt more easily, and they sort of create a layer of chocolate in the middle of the cookie. I did use these (I’ll talk about them soon) but I think I like the chocolate distribution of chips or smaller pieces of chopped chocolate better.

  • 39 Kit Chen // Aug 7, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Did you notice that the disher sizes from Kitchen Conservatory don’t match those in the Book of Yields? Not that one or the other is necessarily wrong, but going on size alone (instead of actual specified capacity) can lead to unexpected results. Just in the sizes you mentioned, 3.2(5) oz is a Size 10 in the BoY and a Size 12 at the KC.

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  • 43 Jana // Jan 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I just came across your post while searching for a larger cookie scoop. I increased the size of my cupcake liners slightly and need more dough. I do not want to have to scoop more than once into the same liner. This site had a good selection of “dishers” as they call them. I’ve also found that these types of scoops are worthless in anything other than pliable dough. mine always breaks when I try to use in cookie dough. I just cut and weight… I’m sure your cookies were wonderful without the scoop.

  • 44 Zoe // Apr 4, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Hi, would like to get a small portion scoop. Which will you recommend? Norpro or Oxo? Thanks.

  • 45 megan // Apr 7, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Zoe – I don’t have an Oxo portioner but I can say that my Norpro one is very heavyweight and had stood up to the stiffest cold chocolate chip cookie dough. The Oxo one might be more comfortable to hold but also might be more difficult to clean because there will be a seam where the rubber on the handle meets the metal.

  • 46 Alison // Mar 22, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    This website has a great description of the scoops by #, by oz, and by tablespoon or cup.

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