Why you need a food scale
The food scale gets my vote of one of the most ignored, and yet one of the most useful kitchen tools of all. More Americans need to use this kitchen gadget, as much as Europeans do. After all; weighing food is faster, easier, and more accurate than measuring food.
Here are some reasons why you need a food scale:
Saves you time while cooking
Many baking recipes can be made much more quickly using a kitchen scale. For example, you don’t need to level up and fill flour each time using a cup. Instead, just put your mixing bowl on the scale, set the scale to zero and add all your ingredients. Reset the scale to zero, and measure out the remaining ingredients.
Ensures that you use the right amount of ingredients
With a precision food scale, your recipes will turn out to be delicious. Since you are measuring the ingredients exactly to the correct ounces, you will not end up with soggy, hard, or dry and dense baked goods.
In fermented recipes, the exact quantity of brine will ensure the right amount of tartness, tanginess, and even the shelf-life of the ferment.
According to Linda Watson, the author of Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food And Get Healthy, when cooks use the ‘dip and sweep’ method of measuring out ingredients for the same recipe, they can be ‘off’ by as much as 10 percent. And this small difference can make a huge impact on how the final product tastes, its texture, and even its appearance.
Saves you clean up and washing time!
A food scale can save you a ton of time, water, and energy in washing many spoons or measuring cups.
Using a food scale, you can directly measure the ingredients straight out of a bag or bottle right into your mixing bowl placed on the scale.
For example, if you are using honey or other liquids in your cooking, you do not have to use a spoon. For your fermented recipes, you need not use cups for pouring the brine. This way, you save water, electricity, and your own energy in washing teaspoons, cups, bowls, etc.
It is convenient when you buy in bulk
Most people buy vegetables, butter, etc in bulk. If a recipe uses certain ingredients in cups or grams, you can use your food scale to easily measure out a pound of this and an ounce of that.
For example, if you buy beans in bags and butter in tubs, a food scale can easily help you weight out the equivalent in grams, ounces, ml, pounds and even lbs quickly.
Types of kitchen scales
There are two main types of food scales:
Digital or electronic
Digital or electronic food scales have made life extremely convenient for cooks. They have a digital display or LCD that measures food accurately and displays the precise weight of the ingredients.
You can buy versatile food scales that have a wide weight range going from a few ounces up to 10 lbs.
You can also look for food scales that can be zeroed (that is they have the tare function). This helps you automatically subtract the weight of the bowl so you can directly pour out your food ingredients into it and start weighing. Then you can subsequently keep making incremental additions to the mixing bowl.
Look for digital scales that display weight in decimals rather than fractions. This will make the process far more accurate when scaling a recipe up or down.
Mechanical or portable
Mechanical kitchen scales, also known as spring scales, have been around for centuries.
Most come with a basic assembly of a measuring platform attached internally to a spring, the movement of which is indicated on a measuring scale.
Naturally, mechanical scales cannot nail down the precise weight since the lines on the ruler or scale are so closely placed. Measuring small weights can also be tough on mechanical scales. However, they are inexpensive and functional.
Many also come with their own measuring bowls that can easily hold up to 5 lb or more. The downside to mechanical scales is that once the spring is damaged, your scale will not give an accurate measurement.
Key features to look for in kitchen scales
The capacity of a kitchen food scale is the largest weight it can measure. For example: in bathroom scales, this weight can go up to several hundred pounds while for kitchen scales it may be up to a few pounds.
The larger the capacity the more versatile your kitchen scale will be; depending on what you plan to use it for. Digital scales for the kitchen should ideally measure up to 7 to10 lb at least.
Larger capacity means larger and bulkier the kitchen scale. This can impact storage and portability features. The price also goes up.
Smaller kitchen scales can easily measure up to 16 ounces and are ideal for weight watchers who wish to measure their portion sizes. If portability is essential for you, go for smaller scales.
However, you also need to see the functionality. What is the primary use of your kitchen scale? Will you be using it for measuring portion sizes? Or is it going to be used for measuring flour and other ingredients for your baking recipes?
Small kitchen scales could have poor display. Additionally, the scale may be delicate and could easily get damaged under the larger weight.
Most kitchen scales run on AA or AAA batteries. Manufacturers often include the batteries with the scales and most are long-lasting. Make sure that the batteries of your particular model are readily available.
There are many great, inexpensive digital kitchen scales available today. However, some of them do not have a great display and that can be frustrating when you are trying to have a quick look while cooking.
If you plan to weigh heavy, bulky items, you could look for a scale that has a display bar that can be pulled out. This makes it easier to read the display underneath bulky items.
Scales with removable platforms and display screens are easier to clean. Some scales do not have backlit displays which can impact the visibility of the reading.
Best food scale to buy
Ease of use
More than 1000+ positive reviews (at the time of writing this review) indicate that the My Weigh Bakers Math Kitchen Scale is easy to use, popular, attractive, and accurate. The scale comes with the tare function that helps you calibrate it to 0. Its instruction manual is comprehensive and easy to understand and it is also available online.
- 4 different weighing modes. It can measure in oz, kg, lb. The scale’s Large mode can measure up to 8000g.
- Large, easy to read display
- Batteries – Needs 3 AA batteries which are included
- Portability – weighs less than 4 lb and is easy to store
- Consistent accuracy.
- Clear display and labelling.
- Sturdy and slim body that makes storage convenient.
- None that we could identify.
Best digital kitchen scale
Ease of use
Very easy to use for large and small kitchen projects. A simple button instantly converts between different units (g, lbs, lbs: oz, oz, ml). Tare button functionality subtracts the weight of the bowl.
- Convenient to store and clean
- Batteries – uses 2 AA batteries that are included.
- More than 15,000 users have given the Ozeri food scale a positive rating.
- Great design.
- Bright screen display.
- No removable platform.
- Frame could be stronger.
Best portable food scale
Ease of use
This analog scale is easy to use, calibrate, and clean. It easily measures 1 oz and 50-gram increments. The elegant looking, retro scale can be easily washed in the dishwasher.
- The large display dial is 5-inches in diameter, making it easy to read.
- Capacity is 11 lb or 5 kg
- Looks great on the counter.
- Easy to use, read, quite accurate, and durable.
- Not as accurate as a digital scale.
Budget food scale
Ease of use
This digital scale measures grams, lb, and ounces. It also has water and milk measurement modes. Etekcity scale comes with a clear backlit display and tare function. The low battery indicator is very convenient as it ensures you stock up on batteries at the right time.
- Affordable kitchen scale
- Needs 2 AAA batteries
- Slim, sleek, stainless steel body with a clear backlit display
- More than 9000 satisfied users have given this scale a positive review and rating.
- Accuracy may not be that great; the reading keeps fluctuating especially for small weights.
- The scale broke down within a few months for some users.
Other kitchen scale options
Ease of use
Measures grams, lb: oz, fluid oz, and ml. It is accurate and has a slim design that makes for easy storage.
- Beautifully crafted, attractive colour, looks elegant and sleek
- Measures 5 different units
- Has the tare function that is useful for bakers
- Batteries – 2 AAA batteries included
- Comes with 1 year Buyer’s Assurance
- Nearly 500 reviewers have given this scale a positive 4.5-star rating.
- The battery life is great.
- Easy to clean.
- Super easy to use and is ideal for portion control for weight watchers.
- The display is small and it is not backlit.
Ease of use
Slim and compact shape of the OXO makes it easy to use, store, and clean. The OXO scale comes with an angled bowl that makes it easier to read measurements from above. Bowl is dishwasher safe and snaps firmly to the scale for compact storage and accurate reading.
- Portable, compact design
- Very easy to use
- Great kitchen scale, ideal for measuring healthy portions
- Durable and easy to clean
- Measures ounces and grams
- Easy to carry if you need it while travelling.
- Not a very accurate scale compared to other products in the market.
How to use a food scale
Inexpensive digital food scales make life easier, cooking faster, more accurate, and your recipes more successful. Here are the steps to using food scales
- Place an empty bowl on the measuring platform.
- If your scale has the tare function, punch it to reset the weight of the scale to zero.
- Add your ingredient (flour, produce, etc) into the bowl. Make sure that you do not pack the flour tightly in the cup before adding it to the bowl. Doing so can have a huge impact on your recipe. For example: If you pack your flour in too tightly in one cup serving, you might get about 6 ounces of flour per cup whereas, in reality, it should ideally be about 4.2 ounces. This can make a huge difference in your baking recipes.
- Check the display. You can change the display into the unit you want.
- Adjust your ingredient weight as per the recipe requirement.
- Add and measure all other ingredients.
Kitchen scale maintenance and care
- Avoid placing large weights (greater than the scale’s capacity) on the measuring platform.
- Keep the scale dry, clean, and free from dust, moisture, and direct heat.
- Clean the scale using a soft, moist cloth from time to time.
- Check the product instruction manual for important tips about the cleaning and maintenance of your kitchen scale.
Where to buy a food scale?
Good quality kitchen scales are readily available in department stores. You can also buy them online from top retail stores like Amazon. Always check out the reviews before buying.
Some online products come with a 30-day return policy. So, in case you are dissatisfied, you can have it exchanged or replaced. Look for products that come with buyer’s assurance or warranties.
How to read a food scale?
If you are using a spring scale or a mechanical scale, place the bowl on the scale and manually tare it down to zero. Now you are ready to weigh your food. Read the dial to measure it accurately.
As far as possible, go for digital scales with a bright and clear display. Digital scales also have a tare button. Once you place the bowl on the scale, tare the weight. Now add your ingredient and read the display. You may also have the option to choose the unit between ml, ounces, lb, fl.oz, or grams.
How accurate are food scales? How to know if your scale is accurate?
Always read the reviews of food scales before you buy one; this is the best way to tell if a scale gives an accurate reading. Once you have purchased a food scale, weigh a known ingredient multiple times (10 or so). If you get a difference in the readings then your scale may not be accurate.
If you do not own a food scale, then you do not know what a game-changer it can be, particularly for your baking and fermentation recipes.
A scale is critical for weight watchers who follow strict portions. It is also the baker’s friend as it lets them measure the dry ingredients accurately. Studies have shown that when bakers used the ‘dip and sweep’ method of measuring flour, the readings were off by nearly 10% and that can make all the difference between a soft, fluffy cake and a hard, dense, and dry one.
Scales have other applications apart from baking. For example, if you want to cook a burger patty, your scale will tell you for sure if two similar-sized patties will have the exact same cooking times.
When buying food scales, look for several different criteria or parameters. The main ones are: accuracy, ease of use, ease of clean up, and legibility of the display.
The scale should also be durable and must include batteries that are long-lasting and readily available. Ozeri and OXO scales are top-rated but there are several other brands to suit a wide range of needs and budgets. I hope the above reviews help you select a good food scale for your needs.