Traditionally, American recipes have used volume measurements (such as cups) rather than weight measurements. However, weight measurements are becoming increasingly popular because they give you far more accurate results, which is why all keen cooks should own a kitchen scale.
There's lots to consider when selecting the best kitchen scale, such as whether to choose a digital or mechanical scale, the maximum capacity, and the quality of the display. My Weigh Bakers Math Kitchen Scale is our favorite option on the market due to its accuracy, durability, and range of excellent features.
Considerations when choosing kitchen scales
Digital vs. mechanical
The vast majority of contemporary kitchen scales are digital, but you can also find mechanical models, which show the weight of the ingredients measured using a dial system that's a little like a clockface. Digital scales are popular because they're far easier to read than mechanical models and are accurate to smaller increments of weight. However, some people simply prefer the retro appearance of mechanical scales, plus the fact that they don't require batteries or an adaptor to power them.
If you choose a digital kitchen scale, the weight measurements will show up on an LCD display screen generally integrated into the body of the scale. Look for large, clear displays that are easy to read. Also consider whether you need a backlit display -- for instance, if your kitchen doesn't get much light.
Digital kitchen scales generally allow you to switch between different weighing modes or units of measurement at the press of a button. They tend to give you the choice between metric and imperial measurements. On mechanical kitchen scales, pounds/ounces and kilograms/grams are displayed simultaneously.
Also known as "baker's math" or "baker's percentage," the percentage weighing option measures ingredients as a percentage of the weight of the flour. This formula is generally used by professional bakers to easily scale recipes up or down. Kitchen scales with this function do all the math for you, saving time and effort.
The tare button on digital kitchen scales sets the display back to zero, even when there are still ingredients on the scale. This saves you from doing mental arithmetic on the fly or weighing each ingredient individually.
Kitchen scale prices
You can find basic kitchen scales for as little as $10, but you'll need to pay closer to $20 or $30 if you want a greater range of features. High-end, feature-rich kitchen scales can cost up to $70.
Q. Do kitchen scales have a maximum weight limit?
A. Yes, all kitchen scales have a weight limit or maximum capacity. If you put anything over this weight on your scale, it won't be able to take a weight measurement, plus you run the risk of damaging your scale. Also bear in mind that kitchen scales have minimum weights, too, so you'll need to choose an option with a low minimum weight if you need to measure small quantities of ingredients, such as salt or herbs.
Q. Are all kitchen scales battery operated?
A. While the vast majority of digital kitchen scales are battery operated, not all are. Some models include an AC adaptor so that you can plug them into a power outlet. You can also find models that can run either on batteries or with a power outlet, but don't have an AC adaptor included -- so you need to buy one separately if you wish to use it in this way. If your chosen kitchen scales are battery powered, check what type of batteries they use, because some are easier to source than others.
Kitchen scales we recommend
Best of the best: My Weigh Bakers Math Kitchen Scale
Our take: With its baker's math function, this kitchen scale is ideal for keen bakers who like to scale recipes up or down according to ingredient percentages.
What we like: Accurate and reliable with an impressive eight-kilogram/17.6-pound maximum weight limit. Large, clear display unit. Switches easily between four weighing modes. Hold function.
What we dislike: Costs significantly more than your average kitchen scale.
Best bang for your buck: Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale
Our take: This compact option might be basic, but it's highly affordable and generally reliable.
What we like: Compact and lightweight for easy use. Simple to switch between units of measurement. Great battery life.
What we dislike: Not as accurate as high-end models.
Choice 3: Smart Weigh Professional
Our take: Although sold as a postal scale, this model is sensitive and accurate enough to use in the kitchen, too.
What we like: Durable tempered-glass platform is easy to wipe down. Compact size. Simple controls and clear display.
What we dislike: Spilled ingredients can get stuck around the buttons.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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