Best Kitchen Scales
Whether you’re cooking or baking, you’ll want a kitchen scale that is highly accurate. Depending on the recipe, measurements that are off by just a gram can lead to disastrous results. This list includes analog and digital scales. Analog scales rely on an inner spring to show the weight, while digital scales offer precise readouts and typically feature a smaller graduation. During your search for a kitchen scale, you’ll probably notice that digital kitchen scales are the most popular type on the market today.
Best Kitchen Scales
Other models to consider include nutrition scales. These come with preprogrammed databases of commonly used ingredients and can calculate calories, carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, fiber, protein, and sodium by portion. We asked clinical registered dietitian Alicia Romano for her thoughts on nutrition scales, and she told us, “If a kitchen scale is measuring the nutrition markers above, it is likely based on data programmed into the scale for specific foods; these are based on average amounts for standardized food products. It is likely that there is a large margin of error and variability among these calculations. I would rely on kitchen scales for measurements of weight that convert to protein, carbohydrates, and total fat—however, fiber, sodium, cholesterol, and breakdowns of fat such as saturated versus unsaturated are unlikely to be reliable.” Since these scales are designed to do more than measure the weight of ingredients, they fell outside the parameters we set for this guide, and we excluded them from this update.
Best Kitchen Scales
Kitchen scales, while simple in purpose, actually come in a number of different forms with measuring components that are either mechanical or digital. Mechanical scales rely on an intricate set of internal springs and gears that indicate weight through a needle over a display reading. Digital scales offer precise readings and are often viewed as more accurate and long lasting than mechanical scales, which makes their presence more widespread among modern kitchens.
Best Kitchen Scales
The latest developments in the world of digital kitchen scales include “smart” scales. Most of these models work via Bluetooth, corresponding with apps on smartphones and tablets. Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required) didn’t recommend any smart scales in its recent review, concluding that “none of the models we tested was significantly more useful than a conventional digital scale.” Since these types of scales tend to be expensive, have inferior apps, and fall outside the realm of what most people need, we opted not to test them for this guide.
Best Kitchen Scales
You’d be hard pushed to get by as a keen cook these days without a set of kitchen scales, of which there are three main types: balance scales, mechanical scales and digital scales. The first – rare nowadays – look a bit like a seesaw. You position the weights on one arm and the ingredients in the bowl at the other and wait for them to balance. There’s no need for a battery and they’re easy to use, but on the downside, they’re not precise and it can be difficult to accurately measure smaller amounts.
Christine Cyr Clisset, who wrote our original guide, spent dozens of hours researching and testing kitchen scales. Michael Sullivan has used a variety of kitchen scales over the years in a catering kitchen as well as for cookbook recipe testing. For our 2017 update, Michael tested scales for several hours in the Sweethome test kitchen.
Measurement Units The best digital kitchen scales have the ability to weigh ingredients in multiple measurement units. Grams, kilograms, ounces, pounds, fluid ounces and milliliters are the units we looked for when we rated and ranked the kitchen scales on our side-by-side comparison chart. And while no single scale weighs in all these units, the best scales cover at least four of them and have the ability to switch between units with a single button push.
The good news: All of the scales were acceptably accurate. When we weighed calibrated lab weights on multiple copies of each model, most gave the exact same reading every time. Only two of them consistently displayed fluctuating readings, and even those were just a few grams off the mark. (Note that we tested only consumer-grade scales, which are not certified by the National Conference on Weights and Measures, as more-expensive commercial-grade scales are too pricey for the home cook.)
How We DecidedWe spent nearly 30 hours researching, interviewing experts, and testing digital kitchen scales over the last two years. Of the 45 models we’ve considered, the Jennings CJ4000 has proved the most versatile for a range of kitchen tasks and the best for most people. Overall, we think the Jennings CJ4000 offers a lot of value for a very reasonable price. It also comes with a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty. Who Should Buy This?Anyone who wants more consistent results from their baking, cooking, or coffee brewing should consider getting a kitchen scale. It’s far more accurate to weigh flour, diced vegetables, shredded cheese, or any number of ingredients than to cram them into a measuring cup or spoon. And since you can pour everything into one mixing bowl–subtracting cups and spoons from the equation–this type of cooking and baking cuts down significantly on dishes. This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to The Sweethome.com For precision coffee brewing, as with pour overs, a scale can help you get an accurate combination of beans and water every time. (If you’re into home espresso, see our other recommendations below for even more accurate pocket scales.)Why We Like The Jennings CJ4000 Above All ElseWith a capacity of .5 grams to 4000 grams (about 8.8 pounds), the Jennings scale is precise enough for pour overs, but can also handle big batches of dough. Many cooks and bakers may not need the .5 gram level of accuracy, but we like that the precision gives you options down the road.We also like that the Jennings comes with an AC adapter. (Most of the other models we tested only use batteries.) This conserves battery, and could save you an emergency trip to the store when the batteries have finally died.The Jennings scale was one of a few we found where you can disable the auto-off function, so you can take as much time as you need to measure ingredients without the scale turning off. If this isn’t disabled, the scale turns off after only a minute and a half of inactivity. When turned on, the scale defaults to the last unit measurement used. Simply press the “mode” button to switch between grams, ounces, pounds, and pieces (the counting function).We found the Jennings scale’s bright orange backlit screen, which stays on as long as the scale does, easy to read. We also like that the scale has a small footprint, making it convenient to store in a cupboard or drawer. Overall, we think the Jennings CJ4000 offers a lot of value for a very reasonable price. It also comes with a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Usability The most important aspects of any scale are accuracy, capacity and functionality. The best kitchen scales yield accurate and consistent results. They also have a spacious weighing platform and a weight capacity that s capable of weighing all the ingredients that typically go into a home cooked meal. The best digital kitchen scales offer conversion buttons to convert grams to ounces. A rather important feature is the tare function, which allows you to weigh ingredients without the weight of the container the food is in.
Most digital food scales weigh in whole grams (or eighths of an ounce). That level of accuracy is fine for most recipes. Pastry chef Jürgen David told us, “There’s no reason for you to measure in half grams. If you’re measuring something in small quantities, like hydrocolloids, then you need to get a micro scale. But I think measuring in half grams for regular kitchen scales is useless.” For tasks that need better accuracy, such as preparing pour-over coffee—where you might want the ability to go down to 0.5 gram or even 0.1 gram—we recommend buying a micro scale.
You can calibrate some scales, such as the My Weigh KD8000, using lab weights, but since heavy calibration weights tend to be far more expensive than a kitchen scale, that isn’t a practical option. Though some scales we tested did not support recalibration, we found that none were off by more than 2 grams, even with heavier weights.
We have tested, rated and ranked the best home food scales on the market today. At the end of our analysis, Ozeri Touch II, EatSmart Precision Pro and Ozeri Pro II Digital earned the top spots on our side-by-side comparison chart. We also have informative articles about food scales to help you make an informed decision.
The total weight limit the scale handles will ultimately influence the range of recipes you can use this device for. Most scales have a minimum capacity of 5 pounds, with some extending to 11 pounds and beyond. In addition, the best scales should be able to read the weight down to the gram or 0.1 ounces.
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