After nearly 45 hours of research, three years of testing, and interviews with pro bakers, cookbook authors, a culinary instructor, and a registered dietitian, we’re confident that the Escali Primo Digital Scale is the best for most people. The Escali scale is impressively accurate and reads weights quickly in 1-gram increments. It’s also affordably priced and easy to use and store, and it has a long battery life. Of the models we tested, this scale had the longest auto-off function, so you can take your time measuring. We think this 11-pound-capacity kitchen scale is ideal for all your basic home baking and cooking needs.
The Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale provides consistent weighing results at a bargain price. This 11-pound-capacity model is similar in shape and size to our main pick and weighs in 1-gram increments. However, it’s slower at reading weights and has a shorter auto-off function of about two minutes. As on our top pick, the digital screen isn’t backlit, but our testers still found it easy to read—and since the weigh platform is elevated, you can still see the weight on the screen when using oversized bowls. The Ozeri’s interface is simple and straightforward, with two buttons: one that turns the scale on or off and tares, and another that lets you adjust the unit of measure. It’s thin, lightweight, and easy to store. Also, the Ozeri’s rubber feet prevent it from sliding on a counter better than other models we tested in this price range.
The My Weigh KD8000 is the best scale for advanced home bakers. Though it has a larger footprint next to the other scales we tested, it’s great for high-quantity baking (it has a whopping capacity of 17 pounds, 6 ounces, versus the 11-pound capacity of our top pick). In addition to weighing in 1-gram increments, it can weigh in baker’s percentages, a feature that allows you to easily scale recipes up or down if you want to bake by ratio.
Though it’s battery operated, the My Weigh KD8000 also works with an AC adapter (not included) and allows you to disable the auto-off function. Among all the scales we tested, this model’s bright, backlit screen was the easiest to read, and it conveniently stays lit as long as the scale is on. The interface is protected by a removable plastic cover, and the membrane-covered interface makes the machine easy to clean.
We recommend the American Weigh Scales SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale for accurately weighing small quantities of ingredients. This scale has a weighing capacity of 0.1 gram to 2 kilograms (about 4.4 pounds). Like the other scales we recommend, the American Weigh SC-2KG is easy to operate: It has a power button, a tare button, and a mode button to adjust the unit of measure. Though the digital screen is small, the bright blue backlit display makes reading weights easy. This scale was the smallest we tested, so it’s a great option if you’re tight on counter space or want to store it in a crowded utensil drawer. Also, aside from reading grams and ounces, this scale reads in troy ounces and pennyweight for weighing precious metals.
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.
To find out what makes a great kitchen scale, we talked to several experts, including Michael Ruhlman, author of Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking; Peter Reinhart, author of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and Bread Revolution: World-Class Baking with Sprouted and Whole Grains, Heirloom Flours, and Fresh Techniques; pastry chef Jürgen David, senior coordinator at the International Culinary Center (ICC) in New York City; and Alicia Romano, clinical registered dietitian at the Frances Stern Nutrition Center at Tufts Medical Center.
During our research, the only thorough review of kitchen scales we found was in Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required). We did, however, find plenty of editorials—ranging from an article in The New York Times (parent company of The Wirecutter and The Sweethome) to a video by Alton Brown—preaching the gospel of cooking by ratio. Owner reviews of these gadgets also abound. Because of the lack of editorial reviews, we leaned heavily on advice from our experts, as well as on which models got high ratings on Amazon.com.
It’s far more accurate to weigh ingredients than to cram them into a measuring cup. Take cheese as a classic example: A recipe may call for a cup of shredded cheddar, but you’ll get different volumes grating with a box grater, a microplane, or a food processor. The same holds true for nuts, vegetables, or any number of ingredients that you’ll cut up. Your chop or dice may differ from that of the recipe tester.
For precision coffee brewing, as with pour-overs, a scale can help you get an accurate combination of beans and water every time. Weighing ensures consistency.
Beyond accuracy, many chefs also like using a food scale because it makes cooking faster and simpler. Author Michael Ruhlman told us he likes cooking by ratio because it streamlines the mixing process. If you know the ratios in your recipe, you can whip up a batch of pasta dough (three parts flour, two parts egg) or biscuits (three parts flour, two parts liquid, one part fat) in a few minutes, or tailor the recipe to the number of guests you’re serving.
And since you can measure all your ingredients into one mixing bowl—subtracting cups and spoons from the equation—using a scale also cuts down on dirty dishes.
Anyone who wants more consistent results from their baking, cooking, or coffee brewing should consider getting a kitchen scale.
Cheap digital scales can be very accurate, so if you’re currently using a $15 or $20 model that easily switches from grams to ounces, you might not want to upgrade. Cookbook author Peter Reinhart told us that for years he has happily used a cheap food scale that offers only an on/off button and a tare feature.
If your scale is damaged or isn’t reading properly, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Scales ranging from $35 to $50 will give you more features, such as a backlit screen, a pull-out screen, or the ability to weigh in baker’s percentages.
Although you can still find old-school balance and mechanical/spring scales, digital models combine accuracy and a slim design at a better price. They’re also the standard in professional kitchens. (Michael Chu of Cooking For Engineers gives a great explanation of the pros and cons of each style.)
As Michael Ruhlman told us, a scale “must read in grams and ounces—and, of course, it needs to be accurate.” Preferably the scale reads out in decimals rather than fractions (some scales come with both functions, but pro chefs recommend just decimals).
Any decent digital food scale has a tare button, which allows the scale to subtract the weight of the mixing bowl and report only the net weight of the ingredients. You should be able to tare repeatedly so that you can zero out the weight of whatever’s in the bowl and measure additional ingredients.
We also looked for the speed at which a scale weighed ingredients. “It should read quickly,” pastry chef Jürgen David said. “If the reading fluctuates a lot, then that’s very annoying.” The best scales quickly show the gradual increase in weight when you’re measuring, which allows you to anticipate when to stop adding an ingredient to the bowl.
Also, the auto turn-off function shouldn’t kick in too quickly. It’s frustrating when the scale turns off before you’ve finished measuring, because you’ll have to reweigh ingredients. Some models allow you to disable the auto-off function.
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.
As for how much the scale can weigh, according to Michael Ruhlman, unless you’re curing whole muscle cuts or making enormous batches of dough, a scale with a capacity of 6 to 11 pounds should be fine for the average home cook. Peter Reinhart told us: “If you’re baking at home, you’re probably using something like a KitchenAid mixer, and you’ll rarely mix more than a couple pounds of flour at a time.” Pastry chef Jürgen David said, “As a professional, I would love a scale that goes up to 5 kilos (11 pounds).” For this guide, we looked for scales that had a maximum capacity of at least 11 pounds.
Beyond those basics, the buttons on the scale should preferably be covered in a plastic membrane, so gunk won’t collect in the cracks and you can clean the unit easily. It’s also nice if the scale has a good-size weigh platform that easily holds a large mixing bowl or sheet pan. Some models have removable platforms, which are convenient for cleaning. “I don’t like the scales that have a weird glass top,” Jürgen David said. “They’re difficult to clean and they’re more fragile.” For our latest update, we tested some glass-top scales, because they tend to be thinner than most other models and take up less space. However, none performed better than the cheaper plastic models we tested in our roundup. We also found that the screens on most of the flat glass models were difficult to read when we used a large bowl.
Other models have the ability to weigh in baker’s percentages. Pro bakers use a number of standard formulas for different breads, and mixing by percentage (or ratio) makes tweaking a recipe or scaling the quantity up or down easier. Peter Reinhart, who includes baker’s percentages for all of his recipes in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, told us he’d never heard of a scale that would do baker’s math and didn’t think it was a necessity. Pastry chef Jürgen David said, “Having a baker’s math function is a nice option. Personally, I don’t use baker’s percentage all that much, because of the way I have recipes written. If I were to use it on a larger production scale, I’m sure that would be a nice feature to have.” Unless you’re a bread-baking geek, we think most people don’t need this feature and will be satisfied with the basics.
When you’re making large batches of food or cooking all day, an AC adapter can be another nice feature. “Recipe testers I work with love to have plugs, because they use scales all day,” said Michael Ruhlman. “Changing batteries is a pain.” Jürgen David told us, “An adapter is a nice thing to have, but it’s not a dealbreaker if a scale doesn’t have one.”
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.
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.
We used a series of lab weights (0.5 g, 1 g, 20 g, 50 g, 100 g, and 500 g) to test the accuracy of each scale. We slowly added flour to a bowl placed on each scale to evaluate the device’s speed at reading weights. Then, to get a better feel for how we liked each model’s specific features, we used the scales daily for about two weeks. We also sprinkled flour on each scale to see how easy they would wipe clean, or if they had any crevices that trapped grit.
The affordably priced Escali Primo Digital Scale is the best scale for most home baking and cooking needs. In our tests it read weights quickly and was one of the most accurate scales we tried. The Escali scale has a simple design with an easy-to-use interface. The weigh platform is conveniently elevated, so you can still read the digital screen when using large, oversized bowls. And this lightweight and compact scale won’t take up too much space in a drawer or cupboard.
A simple design and an intuitive interface make the Escali a breeze to operate. It has two buttons: one to turn the unit off or on and to tare, and another to switch the unit of measure between grams, ounces, and pounds plus ounces. According to our experts, the Escali has the ideal capacity for home and pro use: It’s capable of weighing ingredients between 1 gram and 5,000 grams (about 11 pounds). This model doesn’t beep when operating, unlike our top pick in previous years, the Jennings CJ4000, which beeps each time you press a button. The Escali is available in a variety of colors, too (nine in all).
Because the Escali has one of the smallest footprints among all the scales we tested, it’s easy to store on a counter or to slip into a cupboard or drawer. Since this model is plastic, it’s also very lightweight, which is great for pro cooks and bakers who want to include a scale in their toolkits. Additionally, our testers found that the four rubber feet on the bottom kept the scale from sliding on the counter. And with fewer grooves than some of the other models we tested, the Escali scale was one of the easiest for us to wipe clean.
One member of our staff, who has owned the Escali scale for nearly three years, told us it has a long battery life (this wasn’t the case with our former top pick, the Jennings CJ4000, which required frequent battery replacements). According to pastry chef Jürgen David, the Escali scale has been the model issued in the toolkits for the pastry students at New York’s International Culinary Center for the past three years or so.
The Escali scale comes with a limited lifetime warranty. If you encounter problems with the scale under normal household use, contact Escali for a replacement.
Unlike our upgrade pick, the My Weigh KD8000, the Escali Primo Digital Scale isn’t backlit. Despite that limitation, our testers didn’t have any difficulty reading the digital screen. If you don’t have a lot of light in your kitchen or have poor eyesight, you may want to opt for the My Weigh KD8000, which has a larger digital screen that stays backlit as long as the unit is on.
Also, although you can’t disable the auto-off function on the Escali, our testers found that the preset four-minute auto-off feature provided enough time to weigh ingredients.
We think the Ozeri Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale is a great choice if you want something that’s very inexpensive but still accurate. Although it’s similar in appearance to our top pick, it has a shorter auto-off function, it’s slightly slower at reading weights, and it comes with a shorter warranty. However, it’s a bit smaller than the Escali scale, so it takes up slightly less space. It’s a great bargain scale that will help you accomplish all your basic weighing tasks in the kitchen.
The Ozeri’s accuracy surprised our testers, considering its cheap price tag. In our tests, the Ozeri correctly measured lab weights to the gram. We did notice a slight delay when measuring items as small as 1 or 2 grams, which wasn’t the case with our top pick. When we measured heavier weights over 2 grams, the Ozeri registered faster, but overall it was a hair slower than the Escali.
In its interface and overall look, the Ozeri scale is very similar to our top pick. It has two buttons: one to turn the unit off or on and to tare ingredients, and another to switch the unit of measure between grams, ounces, pounds, and pounds plus ounces. The Ozeri also has the same maximum weighing capacity as our top pick, about 11 pounds.
The Ozeri scale has a shorter auto shut-off function of about two minutes (versus the Escali’s four minutes). As on our top pick, the Ozeri’s digital screen isn’t backlit, but its elevated weighing platform still allows you to read the scale, even when you’re using a large bowl. The Ozeri scale takes two AAA batteries; four are included in the packaging.
The Ozeri scale is covered by a one-year warranty, in contrast to the Escali model’s limited lifetime warranty, but since it’s so cheap, we don’t think that limited coverage is a dealbreaker. Contact Ozeri if you encounter problems with the scale under warranty.
We recommend the My Weigh KD8000 for serious bakers who make a lot of bread or want to prepare large batches of food at once. It’s huge, but among our test group it has the highest weighing capacity, at 17 pounds, 6 ounces. Unlike our other picks, the My Weigh KD8000 gives you the flexibility to disable the automatic-off function as well as the backlight. In our tests, the My Weigh KD8000 produced very accurate readings and quickly responded when weighing ingredients. This scale was also the only model we tested that allowed us to remove the weigh platform for easy cleaning.
We’ve been putting the My Weigh KD8000 through long-term testing for over two years, and we still think it’s great. Aside from the flexibility it gives you to adjust the backlight and auto-off functions, the scale can also run on a DC 5 V 300 mA AC adapter (not included). Advanced home bakers and pros alike may appreciate this model’s ability to measure in baker’s percentages, which makes it easier to tweak a recipe or to scale the quantity up or down.
In our accuracy tests using lab weights, the My Weigh KD8000 was accurate to the gram, though it occasionally had trouble reading a weight of 1 g if we added an ingredient slowly. On all weights over 1 g, it quickly gave a correct reading. And this is one of the very few scales in our test group that support calibration (though you need to have a 5 kg lab weight or the equivalent).
The My Weigh KD8000 was one of the easiest models to clean in our tests; you can remove the stainless steel weigh platform for rinsing. This scale also comes with a removable plastic cover that protects the interface while it’s stored away. (Just be sure not to open the cover too far when weighing, or it will come in contact with the scale and give an inaccurate reading.)
Next to the other displays we tested, this model’s large, backlit digital screen was by far the easiest to read. Since the weigh platform is elevated above the interface, you’ll have no trouble seeing the screen. Some of the slimmer scales in our test group, such as the Greater Goods Nourish Digital Precision Kitchen Scale, do not have elevated weigh platforms, and we found them difficult to read when we used large, oversized bowls.
The My Weigh KD8000 comes with a 30-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you encounter issues with the scale under normal household use, contact My Weigh for a replacement.
The American Weigh SC-2KG was very accurate when we used lab weights in our tests. It had a slight delay when reading ingredients measuring as little as 0.5 gram, but for all other weights, this scale was very responsive. When we used the 500-gram weight (equivalent to about 1.10 pounds), the scale read about 1 gram off. Even so, we still think this scale is very accurate and precise, and a steal considering it’s so inexpensive.
As with the My Weigh KD8000, you can manually calibrate the SC-2KG (but you’ll need the proper lab weights to do so). A jeweler or a coin dealer would also like this scale, as in addition to grams and ounces it reads in troy ounces (ozt) for gold and pennyweight (dwt) for silver.
This scale comes with a plastic cover to prevent damage to the weigh platform when not in use, and another cover to protect the entire unit. It has the smallest footprint of all the scales we tested, so you can easily tuck it away in a drawer.
Several Sweethome staff members have used this scale on a regular basis for years, and they told us it’s still operating like a champ. However, since the push buttons on this model are not sealed, they are more prone to water damage; just be careful when measuring liquids and immediately wipe up any spills that may occur near the interface.
The American Weigh SC-2KG is covered by a 10-year warranty. If you encounter problems with your scale under normal household use, contact American Weigh Scales for a replacement.
Digital scales can break when you load them past their capacity. In other words, don’t try weighing a 5-pound bag of flour on the American Weigh Scales SC-2KG Digital Pocket Scale, which can tolerate only about 4.4 pounds, or you may permanently damage it. Overloading a scale also voids the warranty. And avoid placing items on top of a scale when it’s turned off; some models, such as the SC-2KG, come with a plastic cover to prevent damage when the scale is not in use.
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.
If your scale seems to be displaying inaccurate readings, check to see if the batteries need replacing. Better scales have a low-battery symbol that appears at the appropriate time. Also, always confirm that your scale is sitting on a flat surface; otherwise it might weigh inaccurately.
We still think our previous top pick, the Jennings CJ4000, is a good scale. Unlike our new top pick, it measures in half grams and has a backlit digital screen. In our tests, however, this model wouldn’t pick up our 0.5 g lab weight on its own, registering the 0.5 increment only when we added a 1 g weight. Also, after multiple years of long-term testing, we discovered that this model quickly eats up batteries, and we found its excessive beeping annoying.
The 11-pound-capacity, stainless steel OXO Good Grips Food Scale with Pull-Out Display was our former runner-up pick. It’s highly rated on Amazon.com and in the review by Cook’s Illustrated (subscription required), but after long-term testing we found this scale to be more expensive than it’s worth. While we appreciated its unique pull-out display, our testers did not like its measuring of ounces in fractions. This model was also one of the slowest we tested at reading measurements.
The OXO Good Grips Glass Food Scale with Pull-Out Display is a sleeker version of the above model. We weren’t impressed with any of the glass-top models we tested, however, because they are more prone to breaking. This scale was also slow at registering weights.
The 22-pound-capacity, stainless steel OXO Good Grips Food Scale with Pull-Out Display has a large footprint and a capacity that is overkill for most home cooks. Like its 11-pound-capacity counterpart, it also measures ounces in fractions.
In our experience, the tare button on the Ozeri Touch Professional Digital Kitchen Scale suffered from a delayed response, which our testers found annoying. Also, since this scale doesn’t have an elevated weigh platform, we had difficulty reading the screen when using an oversized bowl to measure ingredients.
We found the Etekcity Digital Multifunction Food Kitchen Scale fairly small for an all-purpose kitchen scale. In our tests this model had difficulty weighing ingredients under 5 grams and consistently weighed 1 gram off.
The Greater Goods Nourish Digital Precision Kitchen Scale has a very short auto-off time of one minute. In our tests this scale read accurately when weighing heavier lab weights, but it had difficulty with lighter weights such as 1 and 2 grams. The tare button also had a delayed response.
We tested the My Weigh iBalance i5000 Multi-Purpose Digital Scale for our original review and found it difficult to see the display when we placed a big bowl on the weigh platform.
Though the Ozeri Pro Digital Kitchen Scale is highly rated on Amazon currently, we dismissed it in previous tests because the buttons were not sealed, making them more prone to water damage.
We dismissed the American Weigh Scales LB-3000 Compact Digital Scale since it had a limit of only 3,000 grams (about 6.6 pounds), which is an insufficient capacity for bigger batches of bread dough.
Michael Ruhlman told us he likes the My Weigh UltraShip U2, a shipping scale. However, since it offers a capacity of 60 pounds and reads in increments of 2 to 5 grams, it’s not as precise as we wanted for this review.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)
Originally published: April 18, 2017
The key's under the mat.