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Kitchen Scale Buying Guide

By: Angela Stringfellow on September 26, 2016

What the best kitchen scale has

  • Conversion button. Many scales have a grams-to-ounces switch on the front. This is a convenient feature for cooks who frequently alternate between measurements.
  • Compact size. Many home cooks appreciate a scale that can be stored in a cabinet. Larger, bulky items take up valuable counter real estate, and their bigger footprint can make them a pain to use.
  • Tare function. Tare features reset the scale to zero, allowing users to easily weigh ingredients without having to account for the weight of the container.
  • Removable platform. Food scales with this feature are much easier to clean.
  • Seamless buttons. Steer clear of kitchen scales with seamed buttons, where flour and other fine ingredients can easily clog crevices. Over time, this can cause a scale to stop working.
  • Ample capacity and precise calibration. Experts recommend kitchen scales with at least 5 pounds of capacity, and a calibration of 0.1 ounces and 1 gram.
  • Visible display. Larger bowls and platters can obscure tiny display panels, making it hard to read measurements. Look for a scale with a very large display.
  • Accuracy. Some stores allow consumers to test a scale before purchase. If this is an option, weigh five nickels to determine if a kitchen scale is accurate. The total weight should be 25 grams.

Know before you go

How often will you use a food scale? If you'll be using a kitchen scale every day for portion control or baking, you'll want a scale that's attractive enough to be visible on the countertop but also compact enough that it takes up minimal countertop space. If you'll use a food scale only for occasional baking, look for a model that's compact for easy storage.

Are you a messy cook? If you tend to make a mess while baking or cooking, choose a kitchen scale with a removable platform for easy cleanup. Additionally, food scales with seamless buttons don't allow crumbs and other debris to build up in the cracks between buttons. You'll also want a food scale with a removable platform or bowl for easy cleanup.

Do you need a food scale on the go? Some people, such as those who stick to strict portion control or those on special diets, may need a food scale that's small enough for travel. Look for a food scale that's small enough to fit in a tote bag or purse if you'll be taking it with you or keeping one at the office.

How precise are your measurement needs? Mechanical scales don't require batteries, but they do measure in larger increments (typically 1/8 ounce) compared to the more-precise digital scales, some of which weigh in increments as small as 0.05 ounces.

Do you have ample storage space? If you have limited cabinet space or countertop space, look for a food scale with a slim design that allows it to be easily tucked in a drawer or cabinet without sacrificing valuable space.

Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it

As with many digital products, kitchen scales can malfunction. Most manufacturers offer a warranty of at least one year, and any major defects should be obvious within that time. Finally, most food scales now operate with standard batteries – some even come with a set of batteries to get you started -- although a few require specialty batteries that can be hard to find. Depending on how often you use a food scale, replacement batteries will contribute to the cost of ownership over time.

What's to come

As gadgets are increasingly connected, some kitchen scales -- for example, the Drop Connected Kitchen Scale (Est. $80) [B00TTY34KG] profiled in this report -- are offering accompanying apps that extend the functionality of the scale or offer enhancements such as recipes with step-by-step tutorials, easy recipe re-calculations to adjust portion sizes, ingredient substitutions, and more. Some advanced digital scales even offer built-in databases offering nutritional information on a variety of foods. While these scales cost a bit more than a standard digital scale, diabetics and other people on special diets may find it worth spending the extra money for a scale that can help them stick to their dietary recommendations and even sync data with other nutritional apps or devices.

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