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Digital Kitchen Scales; Why You Need One and Buyers Guide

Updated on September 27, 2009

How to Buy a Kitchen Scale

I’m not a real kitchen gadget loving guy. Most of them, I feel, just end up stashed in a kitchen drawer gathering dust and cluttering up a kitchen, but I make an exception for a tool that most cooks will love and every baker needs – the inexpensive digital scale.

What Is a Digital Kitchen Scale?

These are simply small and light weight kitchen scales that cost well under $100 and measure down to the gram (or tenth of a gram) with accuracy. Most have multiple display formats, allowing you to switch between metric and imperial units.

Why Do I Want a Digital Kitchen Scale?

You’ve been getting along fine for years now without one, right?

Well, if you’re a person that never bakes and never follows a recipe, then you may never have cause to use a kitchen scale, but if you’re like most of us that do use a recipe now and again, then a kitchen scale is going to greatly improve your consistency and results.

  • How much sugar is in a cup of sugar? Depending on the grain and how tightly packed in it is, 1 cup of sugar could vary in actual quantity by as much as 30% or 40% from another.
  • Weight, by contrast, doesn’t vary. 100 grams of sugar will always be 100 grams of sugar.

When cooking and especially when baking, altering an ingredient quantity by a third or more can have real taste consequences!

Every followed a recipe asking you to use 3 medium sized chopped onions, or apples or whatever? How big is medium, exactly? Well, when following recipes that call for weight amounts, there is no ambiguity and there is better reproduction of results.

But My Recipes Don’t Call for Weight Measurements?

American cooks have traditionally followed recipes that call for volume quantities – European cooks have traditionally followed recipes by weight, and so Europeans will generally have a home kitchen scale as a necessary cooking implement.

Many better cookbooks are now starting to shift towards weight as a measurement, even in America, often by calling for ingredients by weight and volume both. You won’t always see weight measurements in recipes you’ll follow, but you’re starting to see it more and this trend should continue.

When baking, it is worth searching out recipes that call for weighted measurements, as the increase in accuracy can lead to substantially better results.

What to Look For

Look for a unit that has:

  • The features you need and no more. Many units come with extra features that only serve to complicate the device. Look for one that has a tare, an on and off, and measures in metric and imperial. The price difference often comes down to accuracy and range, with scales that differentiate between lesser weights being more costly. For home bakers a gram or two here and there won’t make any difference and paying extra for a scale that measures down to a tenth of a gram may be overkill.
  • Has a sturdy construction and wipe clean finish. You want a model that has buttons that leaves no cracks for food to get into and can be wiped clean
  • Looks nice on your counter


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    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      9 years ago

      Ha Ha - Very well said Katherine!

    • Katherine Baldwin profile image

      Katherine Baldwin 

      9 years ago from South Carolina

      You're right, John. If you are going to do any baking, you'd be crazy not to use a scale. They're so cheap these days and it really does make a difference in baking. Just for example, there is a huge difference between 8 oz. of cocoa and 1 dry cup measure of cocoa. One is a heart palpitation, the other is not, lol.

    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      9 years ago

      Thanks Hmrjmr1, I think that once anyone gets used to using a kitchen scale for recipes, there's no going back.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image


      9 years ago from Georgia, USA

      My late English wife introduced me to using ingredients by weight and what a difference. Thanks for a great Hub.


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