A good kitchen scale is a great helper, but surprisingly it is quite challenging to pick a good one. In this post, you will learn what to look for in a kitchen scale.
When we bought our first kitchen scale, we picked it based on design, but we were almost daily annoyed by some of its features. The second time around, we did our research, and we are thrilled with our pick. Keep reading to learn from our mistakes and find out how to pick a great kitchen scale.
What to look for in a kitchen scale:
2. Measuring Range
3. The Display & Batteries
5. Handy Functions
6. The Design
First and foremost, look for high accuracy. High accuracy means that the scale has high precision and resolution (source).
- Perfect PRECISION means every time you weigh the same item, you will get the same reading.
- RESOLUTION defines how close the reading is to the actual weight of the item. A resolution of 1 g means that the reading can be up to +- 1 g from the real weight.
If you can’t try the scale before purchase, you can focus on what people say about the accuracy in the reviews.
When your new scale arrives, do not hesitate to test out its accuracy. It’s not uncommon to get one that has been damaged during shipping.
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How Do You Know if Scale is Accurate?
To check the precision, weight the same item multiple times. You should get a consistent reading.
To check the resolution, based on the type of your scale:
- Graduation/rounding to 1.0 g – use a nickel which weights 5.0 g
- Graduation/rounding of 0.1 g – use a cent which weights 2.5 g (based on the minimum measuring range, you might need to add more cents)
- Graduation/rounding of 0.01 g – use a quarter which weights 5.67 g
Just make sure that you are not using old or damaged coins.
Coin weight source: United States Mint
If you find out that your new kitchen scale is inaccurate, don’t assume right away that you have to choose a different model. A scale is quite fragile, so it could have been damaged, e.g., during shipping. If the overall reviews are great, consider exchanging the scale for a new one. We have been in this exact situation, and the second scale (the same model) turned out to be great.
2. Measuring Range
Before you choose a kitchen scale, think of what measuring range do you need. If you need to measure, e.g., 0.05 oz or 1 g of baking powder, you will find that many scales start measuring around 2 g (0.07 oz). Also, think about the heaviest items you might need to weigh – not only various food items but even different bowls and pots you will use. You can find a lot of scales with maximum capacity from 70.5 oz. to 33 lb (2-15 kg).
It is good to leave yourself some margin (e.g., 20 %) for unexpected heavy items. According to Arlyn scales, if you suddenly drop an item that exceeds the maximum range on the scale, you might damage it.
🤓 Be aware that graduation does not equal minimum weight capacity. If a scale has 0.1 oz / 1 g graduation, it does not mean that it will start measuring from 1 g.
3. The Display & Batteries
I can not stress this point enough. Choose a scale with a well readable display, but stay away from the backlit display! Especially if it’s powered by 3V Lithium Coin CR2032 batteries. We had such a scale, and it chewed through batteries quickly. After a couple of years, we ended up paying much more for the batteries than for the scale itself.
Also, do yourself a favor, and choose a scale with AA+ or AAA+ batteries. Many scales use 3V Lithium Coin CR2032 batteries, which are more difficult to get and also more expensive.
Some scales display time, which might sound convenient, but a review on Amazon suggests that it might be impossible to turn the scale off, which again results in high battery consumption.
🤓 If you end up with a combo of a backlit display and CR2032 batteries, the kitchen scale’s costs might get very high due to heavy battery consumption.
Auto-off is a common feature that can be very annoying. Many kitchen scales save energy by turning itself automatically off after some period of time, which is great. But many scales turn-off so fast that they might turn-off while you are weighing your ingredients! Make sure to check the stand-by period. It is often just 2 minutes, which for me is unacceptable. I would suggest a minimum time of 5 minutes.
5. Handy Functions
Nowadays, kitchen scales have many helpful functions that make our lives easier. Here are the top five functions that I consider useful.
The tare button on a scale resets the display to zero. This very useful function lets you measure ingredients without the weight of the container. It also allows you to measure multiple items in the same container – simply weight one ingredient, press the Tare function, and add another.
SHORT CUT: Many scales have a short cut to the Tare function. Just put a bowl on the scale before you turn it on, then turn the scale on, and it will automatically show zero letting you weight ingredients right away.
Beware! When you press the tare function, the maximum load capacity does not change. Hence to not overload your scale (which might damage it), you have to account for the zeroed weight. Some scales try to prevent the overloading by limiting the tare function to approx. 10% of the scale’s maximum capacity.
5.2 Multiple Units (oz, g, ml, etc.)
Food scales can measure in grams, milliliters, ounces, etc. If you are used to weighing in various units, check if a scale has all the units you need. Also, make sure to check how easy it is to change the units. Scales can have a dedicated button on the top of the scale, on the bottom, or even under the lid that covers the batteries, which for some, might be very inconvenient!
5.3 Hold Function
When you want to weigh a large item that covers the display, the hold function lets you keep the reading on the display even after you lift the item from the scale. This function can be accompanied by beep sounds that let you know that the item was measured (one beep) and when you can lift the item (two beeps), which is helpful.
5.4 Separate Buttons
It is better when the tare function and on/off are not operated by the same button. Scales with a single button for those functions require you to long-press the button to get either function, which can get annoying.
6. The Design
It is easy to tell if you like the look of a scale or not. But there are some design features that can make your life easier.
Even though it may seem obvious, it’s good to consider the size of the weighing surface. A kitchen scale with a surface that is too small or too big for your needs can be impractical.
Large item covering the display? 📦
There are situations where even a large scale will be too small for some items, e.g., a package, and you will end up with a covered display. But there are three ways you can eliminate this issue:
- Choose a scale with a recessed display under the platform (bear in mind that you might still have problems reading the values).
- Choose a scale with a display that pulls out (the cord might still be too short).
- Choose a scale with the Hold function. The hold function on a kitchen scale means that the reading will stay on the display even after lifting the weighted item. Click here to jump to the section where I explain this function in detail.
Make sure that the scale does not tilt when you push on the edges of the scale. Round-shaped light scales might be a sign of poor stability. If you are buying online, a smooth bottom surface is a safer bet.
6.3 Easy to Clean Surface
Choose an easy to clean finish, like stainless steel or glass. If possible, pick a scale that doesn’t have many crevices where food scraps might get stuck, or water might leak and do some damage. Some scales offer a removable top, which can be cleaned in the sink.
Max capacity 15 kg (33 lb)
Graduation 1 g (0.1 oz)
Readable display (not backlit)
Auto-Off after 5 minutes
Tare (with the short cut)
Multiple units (switch on the bottom)
Hold with sounds
On/Off and Tare on separate buttons
Large weighing surface
(10.35 x 7.87 x 0.71 inches)
Easy to clean glass surface