The Best Kitchen Scales and Why You Need One, Even If You Never Bake a Thing

I never believed I needed to own the best kitchen scale—or any kitchen scale for that matter. I’m a pro at getting by with what I already have, which is why I wrapped your birthday present in paper grocery bags. I rewash resealable plastic bags and hang them to dry! I tear paper towels in half! I’m cheap as hell. Why would I want to fill my house with unnecessary kitchen tools?

But all that changed when I decided to try my hand at bread baking, which calls for the utmost precision. Apparently, you need to measure with extreme accuracy to achieve perfect dough hydration yada yada yada. After intense deliberation with my bread guidance counselor Claire Saffitz, I ordered the test kitchen’s favorite digital food scale, made by Escali.

Escali Primo Digital Scale

$25 at Amazon$22 at Target

Why is the Escali our top pick for home cooks?

BA test kitchen director Chris Morocco loves the Escali scale for a few reasons: “It comes in a ton of fun colors; it’s virtually indestructible; and it’s under $25." That's music to my cheap-as-hell ears. Made of molded plastic, it features just two buttons for ease of use—a power/tare button that fires the thing up and resets the scale back to zero when needed, and another button to switch between units of measurement (pounds, grams, and ounces). The Escali is compact, lightweight, and has a maximum capacity of 11 pounds and a four-minute auto-shut off function to save battery (it runs on two AA’s).

The Best Kitchen Scales and Why You Need One, Even If You Never Bake a Thing

But do I really neeeeed a kitchen scale?

My Escali kitchen scale arrived the next day, but as it turns out, bread-baking mastery is not something I can buy on Amazon Prime. But while I work on becoming a Loaf Queen, I’ve discovered a ton of other uses for my trusty kitchen scale. If you think you don’t need one because you don’t cook that much, will definitely never bake bread, or only make pancakes once a month, stay with me. You want this little electronic wonder in your life (and it is, of course, a great gift for bakers), and here are all the glorious ways you can put it to use.

Coffee, but not in a snobby way

I am not a coffee snob. I don’t kiss each individual bean before I toss it in the grinder; I dump beans into a filter in a DRIP MACHINE DEAL WITH IT and press go. But it turns out, by not measuring my beans with a kitchen scale, I’ve been depriving myself of maximum caffeine because, depending on the grind of the coffee (coarse coffee pebbles vs. fine coffee dust), you might be off by, like, 80 grams. I don’t like the idea of not getting the amount of caffeine I deserve. Whether you're using whole beans or preground, measuring out the coffee in ounces or grams on your shiny new scale guarantees that you make a perfect cup. (Unless you’re using crappy beans. Even the best kitchen scale can’t help you there.)

Meat/meatballs/burgers

You like meat? You ever notice how recipes will ask for a pound, or 11 ounces, or these specific numbers that don’t match the numbers on the package you got at the grocery store? Usually I assume I’m a half pound off and then blame the recipe when dinner sucks. With my food kitchen scale, I have no excuse! Actually measuring my meat means that my burger patties are perfectly uniform, so no one at the cookout can grumble about getting the runt of the litter. I make meatballs so consistent I could balance my checkbook on them. I even, on occasion, eat a doctor-recommended serving size of meat instead of an amount that induces meat sweats!

Sweet potatoes and other lumpy things

Recipes always call for produce in pounds, but I absolutely never use the analog bucket scales in the grocery store produce department. Those things are not designed for short people. It’s humiliating. Instead, I buy too many sweet potatoes, go home, and hold my cat in one hand and the potatoes in the other until I’ve decided I’m not measuring anything tonight. When the kitchen scale came into my life, I did measure my cat on it—he’s 4084.74 grams–but now I can also easily measure potatoes and other lumpy produce items that come in annoyingly random sizes.

Weirdly sized cans

I have a stash of 15.5-oz. cans of chickpeas stacked in my pantry because when things go on sale—$5 for 5 cans!!!—I’ll buy 11 of them. But have you seen the 13.4-ounce boxes of beans? That’s a confusing number! Whenever a recipe calls for a Very Specific amount of chickpeas or beans, I want to make do with whatever bizzaro unit of legume I already have in the house, and my kitchen scale is here for this. It turns out measurements in recipes are specific for a reason, so follow them.

Pasta

Once someone told me a dirty-joke way of measuring spaghetti, but I’ll tell you that outside of school hours. Did you know a portion of pasta is 100 grams? Well it is. Measure that shit!

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