In professional kitchens, recipes and formulas are generally measured using scales, in either ounces or grams. Though there is room for volume measures (yes, professional kitchens do use measuring cups!), measuring ingredients by weight is more accurate and generally more efficient. It also leaves you with less dirty dishes, which is always, always appreciated.
At home in the United States, however, kitchen scales are relatively uncommon, with most home cooks using volume measuring tools for recipes. Because of this, we’ve historically published recipes for a home audience in volume, even though the majority of recipes we use in our classrooms and professional trade books are measured in weight.
This leads to the question: should every home kitchen have a scale?
To me, the answer is easy. Yes, if you love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, you should own a kitchen scale. Here’s why:
- Having access to a scale will open you up to a greater breadth of recipes, including international recipes and professional recipes from your favorite restaurants.
- Scales help in halving or doubling recipes. If you want to make half of a recipe that calls for 3 eggs, for example, you’ll need 1 1/2 eggs. If you have access to a scale, you can weigh one egg and use half for the recipe.
- Portioning hamburgers, cookies, bread dough, or cake batter is made easy and precise using a scale. You will always know that your cake layers will be the exact same size or that your dinner rolls will bake evenly.
- If you like to buy in bulk, having a scale can help you portion usable quantities for a recipe or for storage. For example, if you buy a mega-bag of chocolate chips, and a recipe calls for one 12 oz bag of chocolate chips, you’ll be able to scale that out instead of Googling, “How many cups in 12 oz chocolate chips.”
- Three words: European-Style Butter. It's much easier to weigh butter from a block rather than figure out how to cut tablespoon quantities when they are not marked. 1 tbsp butter = 1/2 oz.
And my favorite non-culinary kitchen scale usage:
- You can weigh packages and print postage at home, avoiding the line at the post office!
There are thousands of digital scales on the market. And while we don’t have a favorite, there are a few things we look for:
- Displays in both ounces/pounds and grams/kilograms, and easily switches between the two.
- A large, legible display.
- Has a flat surface to which you can add your own container. Scales with built-in bowls are okay, but less convenient.
- Easy to clean. The platform may even be removable for getting to spills and crumbs.
- A reasonable price. Scales do one job, and there is no reason for a home-use scale to be an investment. Look for well-reviewed scales in the $20 to $30 range.
We will always use volume measures in our recipes for those who do not have a scale, but thanks to your feedback (we are always paying attention!), we’ll begin to add weight measures when possible and appropriate. Keep an eye out for those changes!
Posted by Laura Monroe, DISH Editor