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The Best Digital Kitchen Scales
No matter what you’re cooking or baking, weighing the ingredients helps guarantee perfect results. But only if your scale is accurate and easy to use.
What We Learned
A digital scale is a game changer in the kitchen. A scale is critical for baking recipes, where measuring dry ingredients by weight is the only way to guarantee accuracy. We’ve proven this in tests where we’ve repeatedly measured a cup of flour by volume, using a “dip and sweep” method, and found that there can be up to a 20 percent difference in the weight—a variance that can mean the difference between a cake that’s squat and dense and one that’s fluffy and tender.
Scales have many applications in cooking, too. Using one to portion burgers, for example, means no more guessing if the patties are the same size and will thus cook at the same rate. They can even make cooking and cleanup more efficient, thanks to the help of the “tare” function; with the push of this button, you can reset the displayed weight on the scale to zero, allowing you to skip the fussy “dip and sweep” method.
For years, we’ve relied on the OXO Good Grips 11 lb Food Scale with Pull Out Display ($49.95), but many new (and some cheaper) models have since hit the market, so we decided to take another look. We bought 10 scales, priced from $11.79 to $67.27, with maximum capacities between 9 and 15 pounds. We tested them for accuracy and also assessed their design, countertop stability, and how easy they were to clean and store.
Measuring Pros and Cons
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.)
The bad news was that half the scales were either so unintuitive to operate or so hard to read that we can’t recommend them. The first flaw became obvious when we timed testers as they weighed 5 ounces of flour on each model and watched them fumble around for a switch or button to change the unit of measurement from grams to ounces. On one of the losing models, this was a tiny toggle on the underside of the scale underneath the battery cover, which we only found once we referred to the owner’s manual. On another, you must gently press the “on/off” button as the scale powers up—and if you miss that brief window, you have to turn it off and start all over. Start to finish, it took roughly twice as long to complete the task on these models as it did on our top-rated scales.
Legibility was problematic on models with tiny, hard-to-rea...