Kitchn Love Letters

The $25 Gadget That’ll Massively Improve All Your Cooking and Baking Projects

published Oct 26, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

It’s hard to remember a time before my kitchen scale. My scale has been my trusted partner in the kitchen since pastry school (more than a decade ago). And almost all the recipes I use are written by weight. In fact, I only really keep liquid and dry measuring cups in my house so I can convert my recipes into volume for readers who don’t (yet) have scales.  

The level of precision you get when you use a scale is unparalleled. Even if you are a particularly fastidious measurer, a standard set of measuring cups only gives you a handful of options (namely, 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup). When you measure by weight you can know, down to the gram, that you have precisely the right amount of each ingredient — which is the first step to successful, consistent baking. 

A scale makes it much easier to increase a recipe yield or cut it down. Say you want to make half of a recipe that calls for 1/3 cup of flour. Sure, you can do that math (1/2 x 1/3 = 1/6), but then what? There’s no 1/6 cup measure (at least that I’m aware of!). It’s so much easier to do 45 grams (the weight of 1/3 cup flour) divided by 2 and then just weigh out 22.5 grams on your trusty scale. 

Credit: Katie Leaird

Okay, but what if you don’t find yourself doing a lot of recipe math? There are still some super-helpful reasons to invest in a scale! For one thing, it cuts down on dishes. Say goodbye to measuring cups, both liquid and dry, and the frustration that comes with trying to release sticky, messy ingredients (like honey or molasses) from your measuring spoons. When you bake with a scale, you can add everything straight into your mixing bowl (or vessel of choice), using a simple tare (zero-ing the scale) in between ingredients.

Once your prep is done, the scale’s work is not. When a recipe calls for portioning even pieces (like when making meatballs), dividing up a block of dough (like when making a three-strand braided challah), or pouring even amounts of cake batter into separate pans (when making layer cakes), a kitchen scale removes the guesswork. 

Convinced? The good news is that you can get an amazing scale for less than $25. Look for a scale that can measure in both grams and ounces and one that’s easy to clean. And think about the kind of projects you’ll be doing. If you do a lot of big-batch baking, you may want a scale with a high maximum capacity (many small home kitchen scales max out at 11 pounds); remember it’s not just the ingredients that contribute to the overall weight on your scale, but the vessel, too. And, if you’re like me and pack your scale when you travel (just in case you need to make your favorite recipe while on vacation), you might want a portable version.

I’ve been using an Escali scale since pastry school, and continue to love it dearly. For what it’s worth, my Kitchn editors are also partial to the same scale; it even made their list of Kitchn Essentials two years in a row.

Do you have a kitchen scale you love? Tell us about it in the comments!