Essential Tools

Why You Need a Kitchen Scale (& Which Ones to Buy)

According to bakers, baristas, and even granola masters.

March  3, 2022
Photo by James Ransom

My formative years in the kitchen make up the era I like to call “cooking B.S.,” or cooking before scale. And that’s the almighty kitchen scale because those years—excuse my language—were a load of B.S. They involved me slowly dripping honey into a 1 cup measure only to have a quarter of it get stuck inside, and tightly packing as much flour into that same cup because at the time, I was unaware of the spooning and leveling trick. Every time, I settled for bone-dry cake doorstops and a giant trove of dirty cups and spoons.

The years before I started using a kitchen scale were filled with questionable bakes, too many dishes, and great source material for a cooking show rife with disasters (Netflix, call me). Once I saw the light though, everything improved tenfold. Now, my scale is a countertop fixture I use at least once a day from measuring dry ingredients for a cake to prepping a cold brew latte, or even portioning out peanut butter powder for a smoothie. If I’m having people over, I can throw together a big bowl of party mix that follows a golden ratio of ruffled chips, pretzels, and kettle corn. And nothing compares to a friend’s compliment about the delicious cocktail I oh-so-effortlessly whipped up. My answer every time they ask why it’s so good? Simple: I measured everything out on my kitchen scale.

My kitchen scale is an absolute workhorse, but don’t just take my word for it. Depending on your needs like scaling flour, weighing coffee beans and matcha powder, or even big-batch baking, there are different scales to choose from. To determine which ones are worth scoping out, I reached out to bakers, baristas, and even a granola maker to learn about the kitchen scales they swear by.

Best overall kitchen scales

Photo by Bed Bath & Beyond

1. OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Scale with Pull-Out Digital Display, $55.99

This OXO scale with a pull-out display comes recommended by Gaby Dalkin, the blogger and cook behind What’s Gaby Cookin. She uses the “not-so-fancy” tool with a simple interface in all the usual ways like weighing flour for cookies or scaling chocolate for desserts, and says the 5-pound capacity will “basically cover every [task] you would need in the kitchen.”

Photo by Ty Mecham

2. ZWILLING Digital Scale, $49.99

As for my favorite kitchen scale? I've got two, the first being this one from Zwilling. It's compact, sleek, and most importantly, accurate. Even though there aren't any buttons, I can still easily locate the almighty tare function for those early mornings when I make a pour-over without weighing my cup first. All I need to do is take another cup, weigh, calibrate, and continue on the path to caffeine. While I mostly use this for coffee and cocktail purposes, the scale holds up to 22 pounds, which you should take as a hint to use it for just about anything.

Photo by Amazon

3. Escali Primo Lightweight Scale, $39.95 $24.95+

My second fave is the Escali. True to its name, this scale is feather-light and a perfect size with enough surface area to hold a large prep bowl. The lb:oz measurement comes in clutch when I prep big quantities of ground-up protein for burger patties—up to 11 pounds if I wanted! It’s precise, durable, and easy to use. I had one expire on me after years of daily use, but the affordable price tag made it a no-brainer to snag another one. Well, that, and the rainbow of fun colors.

Photo by Amazon

4. CAS SW-1 (50) SW Series Bench Scale, $225 $189

If you have the space and budget, this industrial-grade CAS SW-2 bench scale can measure up to 50 pounds of food so rest assured it also means serious business. Michelle Pusateri, a granola master (a title, I checked!) and the founder of Nana Joes Granola says the scale is a great investment for anyone who needs to measure big batches of food. “It has a calibration system and legs that move to make sure the surface is even when scaling, and it's super easy to calibrate for sellable items like our pouches of handmade granola. When scaling, it keeps the same tare you begin with, and is incredibly reliable and consistent from scale to scale.”

Best Scales for baking

Photo by Amazon

1. My Weigh KD-8000 Kitchen and Craft Digital Scale & AC Adapter, $47.99

Behind Joy Huang's Instagram feed of perfectly-braided challah bread, squishy mochi cakes, and more is her humble kitchen scale. Huang says she loves using the scale when prepping her gram-worthy bakes “because it’s a lot more accurate, and if you have a steady hand, you can measure ingredients straight into the bowl instead of into a measuring cup or spoon first,” which also means less dishes to wash. A scale also means Huang can divide dough evenly for her internet-famous challah so that each strand is the same size. Her preferred scale is the My Weigh KD-8000 because it can withstand a large weight capacity and it gets plugged into an outlet, so she never has to worry about batteries running low while weighing out a ton of bread flour. The only downside is the considerable space it occupies, but if you happen to be an avid baker like Huang, then it might be worth the permanent residence.

Photo by Amazon

2. Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale, $14.95 $9.84

For smaller counters and budgets, Huang recommends the Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto. “It does everything you need it to do—weigh, change units, and tare—all without taking up much space."

Photo by Amazon

3. Levin Food Scale, $19.99 $16.99

Tanya Bush, my friend and pastry chef behind, always shares her recipes written out in grams, so I had to pick her brain about the instrument responsible for her magic. She pointed me to the tough-as-nails Levin food scale that she likens to be a friend and a confidante. “It’s been with me through my pastry cook stint, a slew of pop-up events, and a fistful of kitchen debacles and meltdowns,” she details. Bush is particular about the tools she lets into her teeny galley kitchen in Brooklyn, New York, but the Levin was an obvious choice to “handle a mighty amount of weight.”

Photo by Amazon

4. My Weigh KD-7000 Kitchen And Craft Digital Scale, $69.99 $49.90

For those who still aren’t convinced that their baking can be improved by a kitchen scale, let author and baker at the King Arthur Baking Company Martin Philip dispel your doubts. “To me, the scale is really a communication device,” he weighs in (no pun intended). “If I say [in a recipe] 120 grams, I know that’s what you’ll put in the bowl. Especially in the case of dominant ingredients such as flour, water, or butter, a large scale helps us align.” The slightest discrepancy between how two bakers weigh their high-impact ingredients such as salt, yeast, and chemical leaveners like baking powder and soda can greatly affect the final products they each end up with. “The impact can be the difference between a dough which rises well and a dough which is sluggish,” Philip explains. That's why he uses the KD-7000, which is a real powerhouse in how it ranges from 0.1 grams all the way up to 7 kilograms. Go measure your heart out but whatever you do, don’t physically divide any dough on the scale itself. According to Philip, “The load scales within units are fragile and will not last if treated roughly.”

Best scales for drinks

Photo by Amazon

1. Brewista Smart Scale II, $89

If you always wonder why your homemade coffee tastes off, chances are you didn’t use a scale—and any of our drink experts will tell you that it’s absolute necessary. And the tool need not be high-tech either; a simple gadget such as the Brewista can get you tasty results akin to what you’d get at a coffee shop, if not the same. It’s actually the tool of choice at the café Chalait on New York City’s Upper West Side. “It has accuracy down to 0.1 grams (the difference between a great drink and an okay drink), a rapid response rate, and a great value for the money," says co-founder Ramon Puyane. What's more, the scale is water-resistant, which is "particularly key when you're working in a busy environment like a barista station.” .

Photo by Acacia

2. Acaia Pearl Scale, $155

Crystal-clear functionality is also key at Kettl, a tea shop in NYC. Co-founder and matcha fan Zach Mangan says he and the team rely on the Acaia Pearl “at both of our cafés and at home because of its sensitivity and speed.” Mangan appreciates how the sleek scale is “simple and intuitive to use.”

Photo by Amazon

3. OXO Good Grips 5 lb Food Scale with Pull-Out Display, $32.99

Cocktail educator and consultant behind Dear Irving and Raines Law Room Jena Ellenwood firmly believes that the key to a perfectly-balanced cocktail is accurate proportions based on math and science. “For liquids, a measuring cup will do because you’re looking for fluid ounces, not weight," says Ellenwood. "But when you're measuring dry ingredients for making syrup, infusions, and the like, that’s when a scale comes into play.” Ellenwood digs this OXO scale with a pull-out digital display, noting how the scale hits all the right points she needs: a tare function, the ability to measure in grams, and a great battery life. Best of all, it’s easy to read, clean, and store.

Do you use a kitchen scale? What's your fave? Let us know below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Escali
  • Smaug
  • Liz Summers
    Liz Summers
  • Queen of Fifty Cents
    Queen of Fifty Cents
  • M
Food writer, late-night baker, year-round iced coffee drinker.


Escali March 8, 2022
Hi Justine,

Thank you for the kind words about our Escali Primo scale. We were very happy to hear that it is one of your favorite scales to use!
Smaug March 4, 2022
I've always had scales in the kitchen, some things only they can do. Until the recently invented digital scales came along they were not so very convenient to use, so were generally only used where really necessary. I currently have 3, and use them every day, but I think the case for them is way overstated. Yes, professional bakers rely on them a lot, but I'm not a professional baker and the situation is completely different and I see no reason to adopt their problems. For instance, there's no real trick to measuring a cup of flour accurately; 50 cups is a bit more of a problem. The problem nowadays is that people have become so enamored of machines that they want to cook like machines. They want to be told exact amounts of ingredients, exact times, oven temperatures etc. so that they can get through it without having to rely on their own judgement. This causes some problems; in the first place, those "exact" figures are generally illusory, in the second you are not working with the same materials or equipment as the author so your "ideal" numbers are unlikely to be the same. Worse, if you don't rely on judgement- and make all the mistakes that come with the learning process- you'll never learn it. Without it, you have no way to adjust recipes to your situation, no capacity to develop recipes, and generally no platform for creativity in the kitchen. Additionally, the vast majority of available recipes were written before digital scales came along, or by people who don't cook that way- to insist that they rewrite their recipes with weights when that's not how they make the dish is both impractical and dishonest.
My main scale is an Oxo digital scale- it's generally very reliable, but on occasion throws out a completely arbitrary weight, no idea why- fortunately I can usually spot such errors due to long experience.
M March 7, 2022
Yes, good judgement is one of the most important things for a cook to foster, and yes, people often rely too much on precision. However, your argument doesn't account for how the very nature of recipe and food communities has changed.

People are no longer taught basics that they can apply elsewhere, and they're pulling from a global pull of recipes rather than a tried and tested box from their own communities (not to mention global ingredients). They are often starting from scratch with no mentor to guide them. A scale combats many of the inherent issues like non-universal cup sizes, environmental factors, the cost of ingredients, etc, and gives a complete novice a fighting chance to foster feelings of interest and inspiration rather than failure and waste.

And their cooking judgement will increase as they see the amounts and ratios, try new recipes, make substitutions, suss out the difference between their errors and bad recipes, and feed their creativity by having success to work from. And like you, when the scale gives a wrong weight, they'll recognize it just like you because they've had experience seeing what their measurements look like.
Liz S. March 7, 2022
Excellent points @M. Also much valid in @Smaug. I was fortunate to have good examples in "intuitive" cooking/baking from 3 perspectives: mother and 2 grandmothers. Plus, I grew up in a time where girls took Home Economics. (FWIW, my brother was also taught to cook by mother plus and is an excellent cook/baker). With the basics of how to read a recipe and technique and then experience and finally the internet!!! ... I count myself able to use my own judgment particularly with baking, but also with cooking ... substitutions, etc. And I still have the occasional failure which I hopefully learn from.

I 100% agree with @M that a scale "combats many of the inherent issues like non-universal cup sizes, environmental factors, the cost of ingredients, etc, and gives a complete novice a fighting chance to foster feelings of interest and inspiration rather than failure and waste."

During the COVID sourdough rush ... and even before, I have contributed to sourdough forums and helping new bakers. It is frustrating when "they" want EXACT this and that as @Smaug writes. And it is sometimes an uphill battle to encourage them to let that go and learn by observing. But, I do believe that a scale goes a long way to getting close to successful results as they learn to observe.

I am a computer programmer. In that role, I battle CONSTANTLY with encouraging people to slow down, to observe the "screen", read the directions, etc., etc. I find that it is a similar issue with encouraging new cooks and bakers to observe. I am off piste a bit, i.e. it is more than the scale :) !!

Smaug March 8, 2022
Awright, I promise I'm not going to write another essay, but a couple of points. If people are going to learn to use judgement for recipe amounts, they're going to be judging visually, which means that they'll be judging by volume. You can't see weight, and you can't judge it by feel dependably. And they should be aware that the "exact" amounts given in recipes are not actually exact; if 100g. is right, it doesn't necessarily mean that 97g. is wrong, it could even be better for some, but probably not perceptibly different.
Liz S. March 3, 2022
Yes to the scale !!! I bought my first in 2011 when I started with the no knead bread baking and have never looked back: all the things in the article, less dishes, more accuracy, ability to sub different flours and my personal favorite ... so easy to scale (pun intended :) ) recipes!!

Additionally, it makes recipes doable/readable around the world. We (U.S.) are the primary holdouts to measuring by weight vs volume.

FWIW, I currently have (my 2nd scale), the OXO with pull out and light. Mine is older and less expensive than article listings, but no issues ... I think 5 years old. I am often putting together a sourdough dough early in the morning, in a darkish kitchen and the light, plus ability to pull out the section with weight works very well for me.
Queen O. March 3, 2022
My first scale was the Escali Primo, found at a yard sale for fifty cents. Including working batteries. If you see one for sale on a driveway...scoop it up!
M March 3, 2022
If only all recipes showed weight before cups! And on the subject of accuracy, protein percentages of flour!