To the casual cook, a kitchen scale might seem unessential—just another fussy gadget designed to separate you from your cash and clutter your cabinets. In fact, the opposite is true! The best kitchen scales will streamline your meal prep, allow you to step up your baking skills, and cut down on your kitchen chores in one fell swoop.
A food scale takes the guesswork out of portion sizes and recipe measurements, not to mention drastically reducing the number of measuring cups and bowls you’re likely to dirty during a project. The best can convert seamlessly between measurements and zero-out to help account for the weight of your bowl or other ingredients. Plus, their slim profile makes them easy to store.
There’s also no need to drop a fortune to get a quality scale. After reading hundreds of reviews and asking some trusted cooks their opinions, we gathered eight highly rated models and put them to work. The conclusion: The Escali Primo Digital Kitchen Scale is an unbeatable value and the best all-around kitchen food scale for newbies and pros alike. Read on for more about why we love it and how we tested these kitchen tools.
Best overall: Escali Primo Digital Kitchen Scale
Escali Primo Digital Kitchen Scale
This bargain-price scale is a staple in our test kitchen. It doesn’t look like anything fancy: The body is made of molded plastic and the interface has just two buttons—an on/off switch that doubles as a tare button (which resets the scale to zero so you can weigh multiple ingredients in the same bowl without having to add and subtract in your head) and another button that toggles the digital display between grams, ounces, and pounds. As a result, this digital scale is intuitive to operate right out of the box.
Don’t let the compact size fool you, either. The Escali has a capacity of 11 pounds—which should be plenty for most amateur cooking and baking needs, whether you’re weighing a sack of apples for pie, portioning out burger patties, or measuring flour for sourdough loaves. Since the elevated weighing platform is offset from the control panel, you can measure into oversize bins or bowls without having to bend down to see the screen. Four small rubberized feet keep the oval base stable on your work surface, and there’s really no need to worry about clutter: With a height of 1¾” and a footprint of 8½” x 6″, this minimalist scale is slim enough to stash away in just about any cabinet or drawer.
We were impressed by the Escali’s responsiveness and dependable precision, taring out reliably between additions and quickly registering all newly added weight. Admittedly, the tare button itself wasn’t especially pressure-sensitive; sometimes we needed to use a little extra oomph to get it to respond. Also, the Escali won’t measure increments any smaller than 1 gram—but that was typical of most of the scales we tested, and unless you take your pour-over coffee very seriously (or you plan to get way into molecular gastronomy), we don’t think it should be a deal-breaker for most home cooks.
Although the screen is not back-lit like some of its pricier competitors, we still found it reasonably clear to read. The Escali also won points for its generous auto-shutoff function—the delay of about 4½ minutes is considerably longer than many of the other models we considered and means you’re able to take your time working through a recipe without worrying about your measurements suddenly disappearing. While we would have liked it if the weighing platform could be removed for easy washing up, in practice the cleanup was still quite painless, and the Escali’s plastic body and sealed, laminated buttons were easy to wipe down without worrying about moisture damage.
Many reviewers praise the Escali’s durability and long battery life. Should something go awry, however, the Escali is protected by a limited lifetime warranty. All in all, we thought the Escali was a treat to use and a truly affordable workhorse—one that any home cook should feel great about investing in.
A sleek alternative for coffee geeks: OXO Good Grips Precision Scale
OXO Good Grips Precision Scale
Although its 6-pound capacity disqualifies it from being a truly all-purpose kitchen scale, we still found a lot to like about this tool from OXO. In particular, the scale’s slim body, built-in timer, and ability to measure precisely in 0.1 gram intervals starting at 0.5 grams were major selling points.
The bright backlit display (both on the screen and the scale platform itself) is stylish and easy to read, and we especially appreciated the removable silicone mat that protects the weighing pad from heat and scratches and makes cleanup a cinch. The scale’s sleek silhouette is eye-catching enough that even design obsessives shouldn’t mind leaving it out on the counter full time—but that style does come at a price: the OXO costs a bit more than our top pick.
While it’s not meant for weighing hefty cuts of meat or making double or triple batches of cookies or cake batter, if you’re just a casual baker or the kind of coffee drinker who cares about getting a perfectly calibrated pourover every time, this scale is well-designed and a pleasure to use.
How we tested
We unboxed each scale and noted its design, build quality, and any special features. Using stacks of nickels (each of which weighs exactly 5 grams), we tested each scale for accuracy, consistency, and user-friendliness. We also noted how long each scale took to register changes when we added or subtracted weight.
After those tests we picked our favorites and used them to prepare pound cake and pizza dough. After baking, we got each of the finalists good and dirty by smearing them with a mixture of flour, oil, and water. We let the residue sit overnight before washing and noted which scales were easiest to clean and whether any showed signs of staining or scratching.
What we were looking for
Accuracy: We tested whether each kitchen scale could weigh items of varying sizes and materials with high precision, accuracy, and consistency. Happily, all of the models we tested performed well, so accuracy was not an eliminating factor.
Capacity: Of the eight models we considered, four had a capacity of 11 pounds, which we ultimately decided was the sweet spot for most kitchen tasks. Other scales—like the OXO Precision Scale, which tops out at only 6 pounds, and the MyWeigh Bakers Math Scale, which is larger and can handle upward of 16 pounds—are better suited to more specialized needs.
Ease of Use: The best food scales were intuitive and easy for us to use right out of the box, without having to fiddle with too many buttons or consult the manual. We also noted whether each food scale came with a tare function.
Durability: We gave points to those that felt stable on the counter and sturdy enough to stand up to daily use. We also looked out for design flaws, such as unsealed buttons, that might make cleaning difficult or lead to moisture damage.
Size and storage: Assuming that most cooks aren’t looking for a scale to keep permanently installed on their countertop, we gave preference to models with a small footprint and a slim body that could be tucked easily into a cabinet or drawer.
Other scales we tested
The OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale has a lot to recommend it. The top pick of many professionals, it has a responsive stainless steel weighing platform that’s removable for easy cleanup and a well-designed backlit display panel. During testing its measurements were consistent and accurate, and because the display panel is designed to be pulled out, the results were easy to read even when working with an oversize bowl. Bottom line: We liked it a lot—but not twice as much as the Escali, which is less than half the cost.
Likewise, the Ozeri Pronto Digital Kitchen and Food Scale was a strong contender. Though it is a near twin to the Escali in looks, at $14 it is even more of a bargain—so if budget is a big issue for you, this is definitely a solid scale for the price. Ultimately, a couple of factors—namely its less responsive buttons and quicker auto-off function—kept it out of our top spot.
We tested another Escali model as well: the Escali Arti Glass Kitchen Scale. With a maximum weight capacity of 15 pounds, it was on the stronger end of the scales we tested. With a four-button display, the Arti was intuitive to use; the only feature it had that the Primo didn’t was “HOLD,” which keeps your measurement on the screen instead of timing out and automatically turning off—something we liked but didn’t find vital. The glass platform was easy to clean, but at $26 it ultimately it didn’t outperform the less-expensive Primo.
The GDealer Tempered Glass Kitchen Scale was another glass-topped model: It was very easy to clean and inherently heat-resistant, which we liked. With a weight limit of 22 pounds, it’s a serious scale, and a good option if you’re planning to tackle larger projects. However, the auto-off feature kicks in after only 90 seconds, which meant that occasionally it turned off (and we lost our measurements) right in the middle of a baking project.
We disqualified the Etekcity Multifunction Digital Kitchen Scale after our initial round of testing because of some basic design flaws. Namely a small weighing platform without an offset digital display that made reading measurements tricky and unsealed buttons whose crevices seemed like they would be a magnet for flour, dough, and potential water damage.
With a capacity of upward of 16 pounds, a big backlit display with a hinged molded plastic cover, and the option to power with a plug-in A/C adapter, the My Weight Bakers Math Kitchen Scale is an impressive piece of gadgetry, but probably more of a machine than most home bakers need. It’s also huge. (At about the size of a large waffle iron, you’re not tucking this one into a drawer.)
Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the world of cooking by weight or are an established kitchen scale devotee, you can be confident that the Escali Primo food scale will ably stand up to every job you can throw at it and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The OXO Precision Scale isn’t an all-purpose scale, but if you’re planning to use it mainly for coffee or modest cooking and baking tasks, it performs well and at a level of detail that none of the other scales we tested could match.
Whichever you choose, we’re pretty sure you’ll love having a good quality food scale around. Having extremely accurate measurements comes in quite handy, whether you’re an avid baker, a meal prep enthusiast, or a coffee connoisseur. At the very least, they reduce the need for measuring spoons and cups, which means less mess and less dishes—and who doesn’t want that?
Originally Appeared on Epicurious