Best kitchen scale of 2021

(CNN) —  

Cooking and baking have become something of a comfort over the past year. As you look for solace in the kitchen, one thing that can cut down on frustration: a good, quality kitchen scale.

Whether helping you better portion out meals during your weekly food prep (you may be as surprised as we were by how much a chicken breast weighs) or attempting to perfect your dough bake after bake, a kitchen scale is essential. Sure, you can measure out cups of flour and sugar, but measuring to the exact gram with a scale ensures you’re not accidentally mismeasuring.

Over the course of a month, we tested eight food scales, which we settled on after researching the top-rated scales on the market. We used them during weekly food preps — measuring everything from fish and chicken to vegetables and liquids — and while preparing bread dough during several bakes.

All the scales we tested performed admirably. One thing we noticed: While you don’t have to spend much for a quality kitchen scale, investing a bit more will get you additional features that come in handy, like illuminated screens and baker’s percentage (which you can read about below).

After all was said and done, two scales stood out:

For a simple, reliable kitchen scale, we recommend the Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale (starting at $10.22, originally $14.95; amazon.com). During our tests, it was accurate — dependable up to 11.24 pounds — handled large bowls aptly (thanks to its wider surface) and, quite frankly, got the job done time and again.

The My Weigh Bakers Math Kitchen Scale ($47.99, originally $76.99; amazon.com) was second to none. For the additional money, you get additional features — like a baker’s percentage function that’ll help you perfect your dough — and the ability to weigh out food up to 17.5 pounds.

Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale

PHOTO: Amazon

Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale

Simplicity and reliability. That’s what you’ll get with the Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale.

The scale can measure grams, pounds, ounces and milliliters, all the way up to 11.24 pounds. Of all the options under $20, this one can handle the most weight. When measuring the same item several times and/or comparing it to other scales, its accuracy was dependable.

It has a wider surface, which is excellent for bigger bowls if you’re using them in your meal prep. A drawback of this scale, though, is the positioning of the display screen. You can really only use a bowl to measure since a plate covers up the numbers. We learned this — and forgot this! — several times during our month of testing, and we were frustrated each time we had to dirty another dish to measure.

Though it isn’t waterproof, it held up against our quick water rinse without trouble (another scale in a similar price range fritzed out after doing the same rinse).

It also has a built-in timer you can set in two-minute increments. It seems like a perk, but it felt a little unnecessary on a scale, especially since it had to be an even number.

All in all, the simplicity and accuracy of the Ozeri ZK14-S Pronto Digital Multifunction Kitchen and Food Scale makes it a no-brainer at just $12.

My Weigh Bakers Math Kitchen Scale

PHOTO: Amazon

My Weigh Bakers Math Kitchen Scale

Whether measuring out 6 ounces of shrimp (spoiler: It’s a lot more than you think) during our weekly Sunday food preps or measuring flour for bread bakes, the My Weigh KD8000 gave us exactly what we needed.

The My Weigh boasted the highest capacity of the food scales we tested, fully capable of measuring up to 8,000 grams, 282 ounces and 17.5 pounds. When meal prepping, during which you might make a big ol’ batch of fish, chicken and vegetables, not having to split up that measuring and cooking makes it a lot easier to work efficiently.

Save for two scales, all of the food scales we tested measure grams, pounds and ounces, but this is the only scale that offers baker’s percentage as part of its vital functionality. Why does this matter? No matter if you’re an experienced baker or making your very first dough, you’ll find that baking is a little, well, scientific. A little too much flour here and you’ll have a dough that’s rock hard; a bit too much egg there and you’ll have an overly sticky mess. Either way, your final product is going to be less than perfect.

With baker’s percentage, you can always ensure ingredients are in perfect proportion, even when scaling up or down depending on the size of bake you need (yes, that’ll involve some math). Here’s how it works:

  1. To begin, you add and weigh the flour.
  2. Then you press the “%” button to set your flour to 100%.
  3. Next, you hit “tare” to zero out the scale.
  4. Finally, you can add water, milk or whatever you need and it will display the percentage of your flour weight.

Every time you hit “tare,” it’ll continue to tell you the rate relative to flour so you can better control texture and bake. For folks who love baking, it’s a game changer, since you have more control over the texture and you know if your percentages are accurate for recipes.

The display is another highlight of the My Weigh. The display itself is much bigger and brighter than the other scales we tested, so we could quickly glance and see the numbers. The plastic cover in front of the display screen of this food scale ensures it’s an easy cleanup. If we dripped, the display was protected and the buttons weren’t triggered.

Another feature that’s worth mentioning is the “always on” button. Most food scales would automatically shut off after three or so minutes. Typically, that’s ideal, since it saves batteries and you don’t have to think about turning it off actively. If you’re baking or gradually adding items to your measuring bowl, though, it’s nice to have the option to keep your scale on. While it is a great feature, we did find the battery life ran out faster than we would have liked — so maybe we were overusing that “always on” button a bit too much.

In terms of cleanup, this scale isn’t waterproof (in fact, none of them are). We gave My Weigh KD8000 high points because it holds up against water spills and a quick rinse under the sink. And by fast, we mean less than a few seconds. It was also easy to swipe clean with a wet dish towel, as the protective screen ensured the display never got dirty.

With the good comes the less than great, and there are two negatives worth noting for this food scale. The first one is size. Most kitchen scales for at-home use (versus commercial) are super slender, like the others reviewed in this story. This one is slightly bigger, hence why it can measure heavier weight. If you don’t need to weigh heavy doughs like we sometimes do, the other scales would be just fine.

A second shortcoming is the battery life: We had to replace them three weeks into use, and we didn’t use the scale daily. While the first set of batteries are included, it was surprising how quickly the scale went through them. As a note, this scale is also the only one with a power adapter option, meaning technically you could plug it in; however, said adapter isn’t included, and you must purchase it separately.

When weighing it all together, though, the My Weigh Bakers Math Kitchen Scale features additional functionalities that, if you’re a true baker (or aspiring to be), make it fully worth the upgrade.

Performance

  • Accuracy: We compared the food scales against one another and also measured things we knew the weight of, like a nickel. We also measured the same item three times in a row to see if the number changed.
  • Ease of use: We tested how easy it was to use the scale for everyday tasks, including meal prep, baking and other kitchen activities.
  • Ease of reading display: We tested how easy it was to read the display screen based on brightness, text size and design.
  • On/off function: We tested to see how long the scale would stay on before automatically shutting off. We gave points if it was long enough to read the measurement and took points off if it was too fast.
  • Speed of measurement: We tested to see how long it took for a scale to give a reading, from a few seconds to 30 seconds. We took off points if it frequently gave error messages or couldn’t decide on a weight.
  • Various weight measurements: We gave higher points for food scales that measured grams, ounces and milligrams, and deducted points if the scale measured only one figure.
  • Capacity: We tested how well the food scales measured larger amounts and oddly shaped bowls or ingredients.

Build

  • Stability: During everyday use, meal prepping and baking, we rated how well it held its form. We rated based on if the scale tipped over, moved around and so on.
  • Ease of cleaning: We gave points based on how easy it was to clean the food scale after use, including the display screen, the measuring dock and various buttons or small crevices.
  • Waterproofness: Though none of the food scales were waterproof, we measured how the scales reacted to a bit of water or a spill to test durability.
  • Size: We gave a rating based on how much counter space the scale took up.

Other factors

  • Warranty: We noted the warranty, if any, for each device and rated its offering.

Using the metrics and guidelines above, we rated each individually. Then we tallied up the total number in each subcategory. Lastly, we found the overall score for each and thus named a winner. We broke down the scores as follows:

  • Performance had a maximum of 65 points: accuracy (15 points), ease of use (15 points), ease of reading display (10 points), on/off function (10 points), speed of measurement (5 points), various weight measurements (5 points) and capacity (5 points).
  • Build had a maximum of 30 points: stability (10 points), ease of cleaning (10 points), waterproofness (5 points) and size (5 points)
  • Other factors had a maximum of 5 points: Warranty (less than two years = 0 points; two to five years = 2 points; more than five years = 5 points).

Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Food Scale ($24.95; amazon.com)

Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Food Scale

PHOTO: Amazon

Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Food Scale

This solid scale is ideal for most households since it measures ounces, pounds and grams, up to 11 pounds. You won’t ever need to weigh out more in most cases, but it may not be the right fit for your home if you do have heavy loaves. While it’s slightly bigger than some of the other scales, it’s still relatively small, so you can easily store it behind a coffee maker or in a thin drawer.

The buttons are intuitive and easy to grasp right from the start, and the package comes complete with a two-year warranty and batteries. Sometimes it would take it a minute to decide on weight, going up and down a few ounces before settling. In those cases, we remeasured and found it was consistent. We also liked that the buttons weren’t as sensitive as some of the other scales we tested.

Oxo 11212400 Good Grips 6-Pound Precision Coffee Scale With Timer ($49.99; amazon.com)

Oxo 11212400 Good Grips 6-Pound Precision Coffee Scale With Timer

PHOTO: Amazon

Oxo 11212400 Good Grips 6-Pound Precision Coffee Scale With Timer

With a lifetime warranty, this scale from Oxo is a smart buy if you aren’t using it for food prep. It can handle some food measurements, but hence the name, it’s meant for coffee drinkers who want the perfect cup of joe. It measures grams, ounces and pounds up to 6 pounds. It’s razor thin and lightweight, and it features a built-in timer that’s great for setting your steep time. The design is also sleek and modern so that it won’t look cluttered next to your coffee cups and beans. A nice feature is the removable silicone cover that keeps it protected and makes it easier to clean. A drawback here is batteries, which needed to be replaced within a few weeks.

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Scale With Pull-Out Digital Display ($48.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Scale With Pull-Out Digital Display

PHOTO: Bed Bath and Beyond

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Scale With Pull-Out Digital Display

Part of the same family of the previous scale, you’ll also receive a lifetime guarantee warranty with this Oxo stainless steel option that measures ounces, pounds and kilograms up to 11 pounds. What we liked about this scale is its ease of use: It’s compact, quick to turn on, allows enough time (around one minute) to read the display and has a bright screen. We found it reasonably accurate most of the time when we used it compared to some of the other scales. However, it was an indecisive reader, and it would often go back and forth a few ounces several times before arriving at the final weight. Wiping it clean was fast and straightforward, and the pull-out display was also great for cleanliness.

Taylor Precision Products Taylor Stainless Steel Analog Kitchen Scale ($21.70; amazon.com)

Taylor Precision Products Taylor Stainless Steel Analog Kitchen Scale

PHOTO: Amazon

Taylor Precision Products Taylor Stainless Steel Analog Kitchen Scale

The design of this scale is an aesthetic Joanna Gaines would probably love — and would make a grand statement in your kitchen. Sadly, for those of us who have small spaces, it’s a bulky food scale that takes up a ton of counter space. It’s also the only analog we tested, and it measures ounces, grams and pounds up to 11 pounds.

Two big drawbacks of this scale are putting it together and cleaning it. First, you need a screwdriver to attach the bowl holder to the base. And second, if you drop anything on it, you can’t run it underwater and instead need a cloth to wipe it clean. The included bowl is a perk, but it’s the only thing you can use to measure food or liquids, so if you have an odd-shaped item, it’s complicated. The base also tended to wobble for me, and every time we used it, we needed to calibrate it back to zero via a dial. Overall, we really, really wanted to like this scale, but in summary, it didn’t measure up to our expectations.

GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale ($14.88; amazon.com)

GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale

PHOTO: Amazon

GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale

This bargain measures grams, milliliters, ounces and pounds up to 11 pounds and features a five-year warranty. We liked the brightly lit screen and the easy-to-use functionality. It was simple, intuitive and easy to use several times, and the small size was a mega perk.

However, the packaging didn’t deliver from the GreaterGoods brand: There were no instructions, no included batteries (the only one not to include!) and no information on the warranty, even though there is a five-year one. It also did not pass our quick water test, and it spazzed out briefly. Lastly, the buttons were super sensitive. If you barely brushed up against them or touched them, they cleared the measurements.

Weighmax 2810-2KG ($14.88; amazon.com)

This scale measures ounces, grams and pounds up to 4.4 pounds, making it the lightest load of all. The design also felt a little strange and a little cheap. It comes with an included plastic bowl, but it’s unnecessary to use it since the base can also support plates and other shapes. The base itself is chunky and awkward, so it’s not easy to tuck away when you’re not using it. The screen section that displays the unit is tiny, making it difficult to read.

However, the biggest reason for the negative points is due to the fact that the toggle screen between measurements (ounces, grams, etc.) is underneath the scale. This means if you’re making a salad and you want to measure chicken ounces and then nuts in grams, you can’t since you have to pick up the scale to change the unit.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

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