Something that no kitchen should be without is a kitchen scale. A kitchen scale helps you to weigh your ingredients accurately so that you are sure to succeed in every recipe. This makes it easier for you to bake and cook according to a recipe, and your dishes will be of a higher quality.
But what are the differences between the various kitchen scales? The answer to all your questions about kitchen scales can be found here. We present all the different models here in our big kitchen trolley test 2023. We explain all the different functions of the kitchen scales as well as their advantages and disadvantages.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best Kitchen Scale: Our Picks
- 3 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a kitchen scale
- 4 Decision: What types of kitchen scales are there and which is the right one for you?
- 5 Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate kitchen scales based on these factors
- 6 Facts worth knowing about kitchen scales
- With the help of a kitchen scale, you can measure ingredients such as flour or sugar exactly. This should make cooking or baking much easier.
- There are two different types of kitchen scales – digital and analogue. Both types are completely opposite and you should be aware of which type you prefer before buying.
- Digital scales only run on battery power and in most cases come with many useful additional functions. Analogue scales, on the other hand, are limited to the actual weighing function, but are often popular with nostalgics and because of the mechanical principle of operation.
The Best Kitchen Scale: Our Picks
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a kitchen scale
What does a kitchen scale cost?
This increases all the way to the “professional models”, which start in the three-digit range. This shows that prices vary greatly depending on the equipment and design.
With analogue scales, the price does not depend mainly on the equipment, but rather on the look or the manufacturer. Prices for this type of scale range from just under 8 euros to 75 euros.
|Digital kitchen scales||approx. 6-130 €|
|Analogue kitchen scales||approx. 8-75 €|
What functions does a kitchen scale have?
Of course, the additional functions vary depending on the model and manufacturer and you cannot assume that every digital scale has the following functions:
- Tare Weighing function
- Hold function
- Voice function
- Nutritional analysis
- Time display
- Timer function
- Battery level display
- Automatic switch-off
- Conversion to other units of measurement
- Solar operation
- App on smartphone
Electronic scales can score with quite a few different additional functions. The most common functions are the tare function, the battery level indicator, the automatic switch-off and the conversion to other units of measurement.
The tare function is used to set the scale to “0”, so to speak. This is a great advantage when weighing loose foods such as sugar or flour, as these cannot simply be placed on the scale but must be poured into a weighing pan.
The weight of the container naturally distorts the weight of the ingredients and can be reset using the tare function so that only the ingredients without the bowl are weighed. The tare function is also advantageous if you want to weigh several ingredients in succession.
Once an ingredient has been weighed, the scale can be reset to zero and it is the next ingredient’s turn. This eliminates the usually tedious mental calculation.
The hold or memory function saves the weight of the last food weighed. This way you can make sure a second time. This function is also particularly practical when the display is covered by a large container. After removing the large object, you can simply display the weight again.
The voice function is actually self-explanatory. The weight on the display is read aloud instead of just being shown. This function is especially beneficial for senior citizens or for people with visual impairments. The nutritional analysis function is suitable for people who want or need to keep an overview of their diet.
That is why a scale with this function is a big plus for health enthusiasts as a fitness scale or for diabetics. Instead of simply determining the weight of the food, such a digital scale shows all nutritional values such as calories, salt and protein content, fat content, carbohydrates and bread units.
The time display on some kitchen scales ensures that you always have the time in view, even if there is no clock in the room. With digital kitchen scales, the time is of course also displayed in digital format. However, there are also analogue scales that have a built-in clockwork in addition to the weight scale.
The time is sometimes supplemented by a timer function. This helps to keep track of all cooking and baking times. When the time is up, you are reminded by an alarm. With the battery level indicator, you always know when it is time to get a new battery for the scale.
This way you can avoid the scale giving up the ghost at an inappropriate time or even during the weighing process. The automatic switch-off function ensures that the battery life is extended. Often people get distracted or forget to switch off the scale and it continues to run until the battery is empty.
With this function, the digital scale switches itself off after a certain time. The function for converting to other units of measurement is helpful when you want to use recipes from other countries. Other units of measurement are often used, such as the American ounce (oz) or pound (lb).
The conversion function saves the tedious research and conversion in your head. Solar operation is especially recommended for the environmentally conscious among us. Solar-powered scales have solar cells that capture any light irradiation and thus function without any other power source.
This function is especially recommended from an ecological, but also from a financial point of view. Thanks to modern technology, it is now even possible to connect your digital scales to an app on your smartphone. The connection between the scale and the smartphone usually runs via Bluetooth.
This connection is intended to transfer the recipe from a certain app on the smartphone directly to the kitchen scale, which then guides the buyer through the recipe step by step. However, it is worth noting here that there are not yet many scales that support this function and these are then naturally more expensive.
In addition, often only certain smartphones are compatible. Before buying an electronic kitchen scale, you should think about which functions are a must and which are an option in order to find the right model.
What are the alternatives to a classic kitchen scale?
However, the advantage of a kitchen scale is that it can be used universally. We will describe the following alternatives below:
- Spoon scale
- Precision scales
- Letter scale
- Pocket scale
A spoon scale is particularly suitable if you often have to weigh very small quantities, such as spices. A precision scale is also called a fine scale and enables a particularly exact determination of the weight.
A letter scale is similar to a precision scale, but as the name suggests, it is mainly for weighing letters. The pocket scale is a faithful companion if you often have to transport the scale or take it somewhere.
So if you need a scale for one of these special purposes, you should think about buying an alternative to the kitchen scale. The kitchen scale as a basic piece of equipment is still usually needed in every household.
What battery do I need for my digital scales?
Most digital kitchen scales require the smallest battery size, AAA, or a coin cell battery – usually the CR 2032 size. The use of AAA batteries could be described as a small plus point, as they are slightly cheaper and available everywhere.
Is it possible to mount the kitchen scale on the wall?
Many of the wall-mounted scales can also be folded up to save even more space. Wall-mounted scales can simply be screwed to any place on the kitchen wall. However, the location is only suitable if you can still easily position the food on the scale and read the display.
When using a wall-mounted kitchen scale, it is important to make sure that the load capacity is not exceeded, otherwise the hinges could suffer or the scale could break.
Decision: What types of kitchen scales are there and which is the right one for you?
Basically, there are two different types of kitchen scales:
- Digital kitchen scales
- Analogue kitchen scales
Since the two types are very different, they have different advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your preferences and your individual cooking and baking habits, you should choose either a digital or an analogue kitchen scale.
The following section will help you determine which type of kitchen scale is best for you. For this reason, we will introduce you to the two types of kitchen scales mentioned above and describe the advantages and disadvantages of each.
What is a digital kitchen scale and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
With their measuring accuracy and often many additional functions, digital kitchen scales are a functional companion for anyone who regularly works in the kitchen.
Digital kitchen scales are also called electronic kitchen scales because inside the scale the electrical resistance is measured by a microchip and the weight is then shown on a digital display. They enable optimal results when baking or cooking, as the ingredients can be weighed to the gram, thus significantly increasing the certainty of success for recipes.
A major advantage of digital kitchen scales over analogue kitchen scales is, of course, the precise measurement results that can be achieved as already mentioned.
Operation is made easier by the fact that there are many additional functions that can be integrated into digital scales. Among other things, there is the automatic switch-off, the tare function or the voice function. The additional functions are described in more detail in the section “What functions are available on kitchen scales?”
Most electronic kitchen scales also score points for their compact size. They are often very small and space-saving and can therefore be placed in any kitchen. The only disadvantage that digital technology brings to kitchen scales is the fact that the scales need batteries.
That’s why you have to rely on this component – without electricity, digital kitchen scales won’t work and you have to look for an alternative.
Digital scales are space-saving, functional and precise, but they need new batteries regularly to work.
How can an analogue kitchen scale be described and what are its advantages and disadvantages?
If you are a fan of retro designs and prefer the look or nostalgia to the functional benefits, then an analogue kitchen scale is for you. The analogue kitchen scale as a counterpart to the digital kitchen scale is often also called a mechanical or manual kitchen scale.
It works without electricity by indicating the weight of a food item with a pointer on a scale. After something has been positioned on the scale, the pointer strikes out manually due to the action of the weight – hence the name.
Because of its appearance, the mechanical standing scale is often also called a retro scale. This explains why it is particularly popular with nostalgics who have a soft spot for special design.
Because of the coarse measurement results, analogue kitchen scales are not really suitable for regular cooking and baking – unless you don’t attach much importance to perfection, but rather to the feeling of “cooking like in grandma’s time”.
If you already have a lot of experience and can estimate quantities intuitively for the most part, then a manual kitchen scale may be sufficient as a support. Analogue kitchen scales are often quite bulky and cannot be stowed away as easily as the modern, electronic kitchen scales.
However, the owners of analogue scales are usually interested in presenting the scales with their nostalgic design anyway. In this case, the size does not necessarily have to be a disadvantage if you have enough space in the kitchen.
One advantage of the analogue kitchen scale is the aspect that no further maintenance costs arise, as it runs completely mechanically and requires no electricity. For this reason, the analogue scale may be more reliable than the digital one, as it is always ready for use, even if there are no batteries. It is also not as susceptible to defects.
Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate kitchen scales based on these factors
Since there are so many different models with different functions in the scales sector these days, there is a greater need than ever to help readers make a decision.
The following section aims to show which criteria should be considered in order to compare and then evaluate kitchen scales. This will make it easier for you to choose the right device. These factors are presented in detail:
- Maximum capacity
- Fine graduation
- Size / Weight
- Ease of cleaning
- Extra functions and features
Each of these buying criteria is explained in the following paragraphs and which characteristics might bring advantages and disadvantages.
Maximum load capacity
The load capacity of a scale is actually the main distinguishing feature, if you leave aside the additional functions of a digital kitchen scale. Depending on the model, the maximum capacity of a kitchen scale can be between 1.5 and 15 kilograms.
So before buying a kitchen scale, you should definitely be aware of what food or objects you want to weigh with the scale. Accordingly, for example, only kitchen scales with a measuring range of 1.5 to 5 kilograms should be considered if you plan to weigh mainly lighter foods. If you occasionally need to weigh a smaller package or something similar, then you should choose a device with a larger capacity.
In addition to the maximum load capacity, the fine graduation of a scale also plays a major role. The fine graduation describes the accuracy of a scale. There are digital kitchen scales with a graduation of 10 grams, 1 gram or even only 0.1 gram.
This value means that the displayed weight may deviate from the actual value by a maximum of 10, 1 or 0.1 grams. With analogue scales, the fine graduation is up to 50 grams. For baking and cooking, an analogue scale with a deviation of 10 or 20 grams might still be suitable, but with a division of 50 grams, the measurement results become very inaccurate.
Then you have to assume that certain recipes might not turn out so well unless you have a very good intuitive feeling for estimating quantities in the kitchen. If, on the other hand, you also want to weigh letters or many light objects with the scale, a deviation of more than 1 gram would falsify the weight very strongly.
That’s why most of today’s digital kitchen scales have a fine graduation of 1 gram. A deviation of 0.1 grams, on the other hand, is less common and is more likely to be found on precision scales, where the weight must be determined very precisely. These models, which weigh particularly accurately, are often more expensive than devices with a larger measuring deviation.
Size / weight
Depending on how big your kitchen is, the dimensions and weight of the kitchen scales also play an important role. Especially if you want to put the kitchen scales back in the cupboard after each use, it is annoying if the scales are heavy or have unwieldy dimensions.
The weight of a digital scale should usually be well under one kilogram. With mechanical scales, the weight can sometimes reach 2 kilograms, but these models are not intended for storage in the cupboard anyway. The dimensions also vary depending on the model, but the average footprint is 20 x 20 cm – depending on the shape, the sides can of course be shorter or longer.
The height of electronic kitchen scales is very low, whereas models with weighing plates are generally somewhat higher. The visually appealing analogue scales, on the other hand, are 25 cm high on average. Since analogue scales often have an integrated bowl, this makes them much higher.
|Average values digital scales||Average values analogue scales|
|Weight||ca. 300-800 g||ca. 300-1700 g|
|Height||ca. 1,5-6 cm||ca. 6-25 cm|
|Width/Length||ca. 15-25 cm||ca. 14-27 cm|
The design of a kitchen scale depends mainly on these three components:
- Colour of the kitchen scales
- Shape of the appliance
The colour is difficult to evaluate because it is a very subjective criterion due to different tastes. Most kitchen scales come in plain colours like black, white or grey. These colours have the advantage that they match any inventory and are very timeless.
However, if you want to set colour accents with kitchen appliances such as the scales, this is also no problem. Many appliances are also available in different bright colours, so there should be something for everyone. As far as the shape of your digital kitchen scales is concerned, you basically have the choice between flat kitchen scales and kitchen scales with a weighing plate.
Flat kitchen scales save space and are easier to store. When it comes to analogue scales, there are also flatter models that resemble electronic scales with a weighing plate and, on the other hand, the familiar models in retro design. However, you alone must decide which shape you like best.
Most digital kitchen scales are either made of plastic with glass or stainless steel. Glass is of course very vulnerable to falls, although most scales are equipped with safety glass. This is not quite as sensitive. The housing of analogue scales is usually made of steel or plastic. All materials are easy to clean and well suited for the kitchen.
Ease of cleaning
In general, scales today are all designed to make cleaning as uncomplicated as possible – for example, weighing plates can often be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher. The different difficulty of cleaning a kitchen scale depends mainly on the design and material of the scale.
Flat, digital scales without weighing plates have an advantage because they don’t have so many corners and edges where dirt could collect. You simply wipe the flat weighing surface and the scale should be clean again. Cleaning scales with a weighing plate is not quite so easy.
Although the weighing plate is removable on many kitchen scales, you cannot simply wipe over a smooth surface. Analogue retro models are more difficult to clean because they have a much larger surface. The weighing pan can often be removed, but it still requires more cleaning. As a designer piece, they should of course also look beautiful and not dirty.
Extra functions and features
We have already explained the various additional functions that a digital scale can have in the question “What are the functions of a kitchen scale? So if you don’t know what exactly is meant by a function, please read that again.
Extra functions that almost every electronic kitchen scale has nowadays and that are part of the basic equipment are the tare function, the automatic switch-off, the LCD display and the conversion of the weight into different units.
When you buy a digital scale, you can take these functions for granted. Analogue scales only have a weighing function, if any.Special functions such as the hold function, a timer or a nutritional analysis are only integrated in selected digital models. If you need one of these special functions, you have to be careful to choose a device that really has these extras.
But even the previously mentioned “basic functions” of electronic kitchen scales are not always equally good. The LCD display may be too small or hard to read, or the conversion may only be done in certain units. The quality of the sensor button operation, if available, can also vary greatly. When it comes to the automatic switch-off, you should make sure that the time period is not too short.
If the scale switches off after 30 seconds of inactivity, it can quickly become a nuisance. An automatic switch-off after at least 120 seconds is within reason and usually provides enough time to quickly fetch a missing ingredient.
In terms of extra equipment, a weighing bowl is included in some models. However, this is not the rule and if you value an included bowl or dish, you should explicitly look for it when buying. The retro scales actually always have a stainless steel weighing bowl integrated, which also contributes significantly to the familiar appearance.
The batteries needed for the kitchen scales are often a decisive purchase criterion. We have already described above that either normal batteries in the size AA or AAA or a button cell are needed for electronic kitchen scales.
The use of normal batteries as opposed to button cells is a positive aspect, as they last longer, are available everywhere and are cheaper. Analogue scales are superior in this category as they do not need batteries at all.
Very many digital scales come with a set of batteries. The advantage of this is that you can start right away and don’t have to buy batteries. Often, however, the batteries supplied are not of particularly good quality or they are not fully charged and therefore run out quickly.
Facts worth knowing about kitchen scales
What is the history of the kitchen scale?
The kitchen scale was invented out of the need to make goods comparable in trade. This original type of scale has evolved from the first analogue kitchen scales to today’s digital scales.
For many centuries, scales have been indispensable to mankind – especially since trade in goods required an instrument to determine weight. The first kitchen scales were created in the first half of the 19th century.
The digital scale then developed from the functional principle of these analogue scales. In 1939, two American engineers ushered in the age of electronic scales by inventing them. The first model was, of course, further developed in many ways – up to the kind of digital kitchen aid that is taken for granted today.
How can I weigh without kitchen scales?
There are various tips and tricks on how to measure food without kitchen scales. The ways mentioned are the use of a measuring cup, orientation on guideline values or on the full package. Nevertheless, it is obvious how inconvenient this is and the need for a scale in every household is obvious.
Without kitchen scales, many people nowadays are at a loss when it comes to weighing food. Nonetheless, we have researched a few pieces of advice to get over the awkward situation, at least temporarily. It is best to have a measuring cup with markings for units of measurement such as grams for sugar or flour and millilitres for liquids in the house for emergencies.
This allows you to measure many foods, at least to a certain extent. If you do not have such a measuring cup, you can work with guide values. For liquids, a tablespoon corresponds to about 15 ml and a teaspoon to about 5 ml. A small cup will hold about 125 ml and a large cup about 250 ml of liquid.
For flour, a tablespoon is about 10 g, a teaspoon about 5 g and a small cup about 80 g. One tablespoon fits about 15 g of sugar, one teaspoon fits 8 g and one small cup fits about 110 g of sugar. A tablespoon of butter or margarine is about 10 g and a teaspoon about 5 g.
Another tip is to estimate how much of an ingredient you need by looking at the packet. For example, if you have a whole pack of 250 g butter and you need 100 g, you can divide the butter into 5 equal pieces and use 2 of them.
What can I do about typical error messages?
Many of the typical error messages with an electronic kitchen scale can be easily remedied after a little research. In order to relieve you of the research, we present the two most common error messages along with a solution here:
The first error message that many users of digital scales are confronted with sooner or later is the message “out2”. “Out2” stands for “Out of Range”, which means that the scale has been overloaded and must now be readjusted.
You can read more about this in the next question “What does calibrating or adjusting a kitchen scale mean? Another message that may appear more often is “lo”. “Lo” simply stands for “low battery” – this means that the battery is running low and needs to be replaced.
For scales that do not have a battery level indicator, this is the signal that the battery should be replaced as soon as possible.
What does calibrating or adjusting a kitchen scale mean?
These two processes are usually related. If the kitchen scales no longer show the correct weight, calibrating and adjusting the device can help. First, the deviations of the scales must be detected and documented by the calibration and then the intervention can take place, in which the device is set correctly again, i.e. adjusted.
If the explanation above was not understandable enough, here is a more detailed description: sooner or later, many users of digital kitchen scales are confronted with the problem that the device no longer weighs correctly and always displays incorrect values.
Adjusting the scales can often help. You should follow the explanation in the operating instructions, as the process can be slightly different for each kitchen scale. What is the difference between calibration and adjustment?
In simple terms, calibration stands for the determination and documentation of measurement deviations on the scales. This means that the difference between the weight displayed on the scale and the real weight of the object is determined.
Adjustment, on the other hand, refers to the actual process of setting the scales so that the measurement deviations are as small as possible and thus lie within the permitted limits.
How do I clean my kitchen scales?
Most kitchen scales are basically uncomplicated to clean. It is best to wipe off external food residues with a damp cloth and possibly a mild washing-up liquid. The weighing pan – if available – can simply be cleaned in the dishwasher.
However, especially with digital kitchen scales, you should take care that no moisture gets inside the scale, as liquid could damage the scale’s electronics. Although analogue kitchen scales do not have sensitive electronics, you should still make sure that no water gets into the scale with the pointer and impairs the function of the scale.
How exactly does an electronic kitchen scale work?
Inside the scales are complex electronics that measure the electrical resistance when the scales are loaded and can convert this resistance into a weight by means of a microchip. The user can then read this weight on a digital display. The heart of every digital scale is the “load cell” – a piece of metal a few centimetres long with wafer-thin wires.
The piece of metal is the load cell and the wires are called strain gauges. Now, when the scale is loaded, the load cell is stretched in a similar way to a spring. This means that the metal piece bends minimally – just by a few tenths of a millimetre – under the effect of force and returns to its original state after the load. This strain can be determined by the strain gauges.
This works because the measuring strips are very slightly energised and are connected to a microchip. When the strips are stretched, the electrical resistance increases and this allows the chip to determine exactly how heavy the object on the scale must be.
Image source: Pixabay.com / moritz320