How Much Is A Dash: A Guide for Cooking and Mixology
Whether you’re using a cookbook or one of your Nona’s recipe cards, you might be asked to throw in a dash or two of something. But what exactly is “a dash?” It can feel like a guessing game—a game most bakers and home cooks don’t like to play.
While the exact amount of a dash can vary depending on who you ask and what you’re making, there is a method to the madness.
In this post, we’ll explore the different interpretations of a dash and how this measurement is used today.
WHAT IS A DASH?
A dash is a small, imprecise measurement used to indicate a small amount of an ingredient—often just a few drops or a quick shake from a bottle or shaker. However, the exact amount of a dash can vary depending on the context, so it’s important to use your judgment and taste as you go.
For example, in cooking, a dash of salt might be a quick shake from a salt shaker, while a dash of hot sauce might be just a few drops. In mixology, a dash of bitters might be a couple of drops from a dropper bottle, while a dash of grenadine might be a small splash.
The origins of “a dash” come from before standard measurements (volume and weighted measurements) were determined. Generally, recipes today call for a dash when so little is needed, the exact amount is irrelevant. But for the precisionists, most sources today suggest that it’s just shy of 1/8 of a teaspoon.
The best way to get a feel for how much “a dash” means is to use a set of measuring spoons. If you have 1/8 teaspoon, fill it up about ¾ of the way to get a good visual of what a dash looks like. If you have ¼ teaspoon, fill it up to just under halfway.
HOW TO USE A DASH IN COOKING
When it comes to cooking, a dash is typically used to add a small amount of flavor to a dish or to enhance the taste of other ingredients. Some common ingredients you might need a dash of include:
- Salt and pepper
- Hot sauce or hot pepper flakes
- Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
- Lemon or lime juice
Since a dash is so ambiguous, it’s easy to overdo it and end up with a dish that’s too salty or spicy. So, it’s important to taste as you go.
HOW TO USE A DASH IN MIXOLOGY
Dash measuring is also used in mixology, most commonly with ingredients like bitters. A dash is still about 1/8 teaspoon, but since we’re talking about liquids, it’s also measured out to about 10 drops.
A dash is often used to add flavor and complexity to a cocktail. You’ll often be asked to add a dash of bitters or vermouth using a dropper bottle or a dasher cap. These tools allow you to add a very small amount of liquid to a cocktail, which is important when you’re trying to balance flavors.
WHAT IF YOUR DASH ISN’T QUITE RIGHT?
So long as you don’t add 10 dashes when the recipe calls for 2, you probably won’t ruin your cocktail. Dashes are typically small enough that a little inconsistency won’t make much difference.
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