What Does a Gram of Sugar, Salt, or Butter Really Look Like?

updated Jun 17, 2024
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I always check nutrition labels when I’m at the grocery store and use them to help pick the best option among the variety of pre-packaged foods I purchase. I check sugar, salt, and fat contents, but to me all those numbers (measured in grams) are an abstract relative. What does a gram of sugar—or salt, or fat—really look like? I went on a mission to find out:

We’re used to measuring things by volume here in the US, and adding butter, sugar, and salt to our recipes by cups and tablespoons. Since grams are a unit of weight, I pulled out my trusty kitchen scale for answers. Here’s what I discovered.

Quick Overview

How Much is a Gram of Sugar, Salt, and Butter ?

A gram of sugar is about 1/4 teaspoon by volume, 1 gram of sodium is about 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 gram of butter is 1/4 teaspoon.

What Is a Gram of Sugar?

I used granulated white sugar for this experiment and expected it to take a whole teaspoon of the stuff to equate to a gram. Surprisingly though, a gram of sugar weighed in just a tad shy of 1/4 tsp by volume.

What Is a Gram of Salt?

A gram of salt clocked in at about 1/6 tsp, making it the heaviest ingredient. But salt is composed of chloride as well, with only 40% of its weight accounting for pure sodium. Doing some math there gives us about a 1/2 tsp of salt to amount to 1 gram of sodium.

What Is a Gram of Butter?

I used a stick of plain old unsalted butter for this test. It took 1/4 tsp of butter by volume to weigh 1 gram.

The next thing I wondered is what this all looks like in the amounts of some of the pre-packaged foods I purchase. So I got out a box of the Amy’s Apple Toaster Pops that I enjoy every now and then. 10 grams of sugar, 3.5 grams of fat in a single serving. Seeing things like that was a bit surprising. That’s a whole lot of sugar in that little toaster pastry!

Next, I decided to check the label on a bottle of soy sauce. I was always curious how much salt was really in a single serving. Per the label on a bottle of Kikkoman brand soy sauce 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has about 1/2 tsp of salt (960mg).