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Digital kitchen scale vs. mechanical kitchen scale

Is a mechanical or digital kitchen scale better? 

Have you ever followed a baking recipe to the letter but ended up with disappointing results? This usually comes down to using inherently imprecise volume measurements and a recipe for failure. It's better to weigh your ingredients, but should you buy a digital kitchen scale or a mechanical kitchen scale? 

It's easier to read digital scales, and they give you accurate measurements within 0.1 ounces. Mechanical scales are trickier to read to fractions of an ounce but have the bonus of not needing batteries.

Digital kitchen scales

Digital kitchen scales are generally compact and flat with a digital display for the weight readout. They don't come with a measuring bowl, but you can use a bowl or other container of your choice to measure ingredients. 

You can find standard digital kitchen scales for less than $10, while high-end offerings with lots of extra features can cost up to $30. 

What you’ll love about digital kitchen scales

  • Digital kitchen scales make it easy to switch between different measurement units at the press of a button. At the very least, you can switch between pounds and kilograms, while many scales also use fluid ounces and milliliters for measuring liquids. 
  • The "tare" or "zero" button sets the weight back to zero instantly, allowing you to use containers of different weights to measure your ingredients efficiently. It is great for recipes where you measure several ingredients into the same bowl. 
  • You can measure to an accuracy of 0.1 ounces on digital scales and sometimes even to an accuracy of 0.01 ounces. In contrast, mechanical scales usually measure to the whole ounce or occasionally to 0.5 or 0.25 ounces. 

What you should consider about digital kitchen scales

  • Digital food scales are battery-powered, so you'll need to replace the batteries every so often. There’s also a chance that they could run out mid-recipe. 
  • Most digital kitchen scales aren't fully waterproof, so you'll need to exercise caution when cleaning them. 

Top digital kitchen scales

GreaterGoods Digital Food Kitchen Scale

This affordable and reliable kitchen scale is available in a range of colors. It's compact, so it won't take up too much cabinet space and has an 11-pound capacity, which is more than enough for most kitchen uses. 

Sold by Amazon

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale with Pull-Out Display

Simple to use with an 11-pound capacity and the ability to weigh to an accuracy of 0.1 ounces. The pull-out display is useful when weighing items on plates or large containers that could obscure your view of the display panel. 

Sold by Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon

Ozeri Pronto Digital Kitchen Scale

Users love how precise this scale is, measuring in graduations of 0.05 ounces. It's also durable and reasonably priced, making it an excellent, all-around choice. 

Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Mechanical kitchen scales

Mechanical scales are entirely analog. The measuring platform links to a spring that moves an indicator or pointer around the dial to show you the weight of the items you're measuring. 

Although you can find some mechanical scales starting around $10-$15, on average, they cost more than digital scales, with the majority priced between $20-$50. This means you have to prefer the features offered by mechanical kitchen scales to buy them instead of digital kitchen scales. 

What you’ll love about mechanical kitchen scales

  • Many mechanical kitchen scales have a retro appearance, making them a feature of your kitchen if you use them regularly or don't want to hide them away in a cabinet. 
  • Because they have no electrical components, you don't need to worry about having spare batteries on hand when you own a mechanical food scale. 
  • Mechanical kitchen scales have a knob that allows you to recalibrate the dial back to zero if it moves over time or when you want to measure more than one ingredient into the same bowl without doing math. 

What you should consider about mechanical kitchen scales

  • Mechanical kitchen scales are bulkier than their digital counterparts, so they take up more counter space or cabinet space. 
  • You can't measure as precisely on mechanical scales as you can on digital food scales as most mechanical kitchen scales measure in increments of 1 ounce. In contrast, digital scales usually measure in increments of 0.05 to 0.1 ounces. 

Top mechanical kitchen scales

Taylor Stainless Steel Analog Kitchen Scale

A large mechanical scale that measures up to 11 pounds in increments of an ounce. It features both pounds/ounces and kilograms/grams on the dial.

Sold by Amazon

OXO Good Grips Analog Kitchen Scale

Slightly more compact than most mechanical scales, this is an excellent choice for small kitchens. It only measures up to a pound in total but measures in graduations of 0.25 pounds, which offers more accuracy than many analog scales.

Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Starfrit Retro Mechanical Kitchen Scale

Buyers appreciate the retro design of this mechanical kitchen scale. It can measure up to 5 kilograms or 11 pounds in total in increments of 20 grams or 1 ounce.

Sold by Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond

Should you get a digital kitchen scale or a mechanical kitchen scale?

For the majority of buyers, digital scales are recommended over mechanical scales. They're easy to read, allow you to measure ingredients to 0.1 ounces and are simple to set back to zero when you want to measure a different ingredient back into the same bowl.

Mechanical scales are trickier to read to as great a degree of accuracy and often bulkier than digital scales. What they have going for them is that they don't need a battery, so you'll never be left in a frustrating position where your scales run out of juice part way through a recipe. 


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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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