How we decided
In addition to testing the accuracy of the scales with lab weights and bread dough ingredients, we timed how long each stayed on before the auto-off function kicked in.
We spent nearly 30 hours researching, interviewing experts, and testing digital kitchen scales over the last two years. Of the 45 models we've considered, the Jennings CJ4000 has proved the most versatile for a range of kitchen tasks and the best for most people.
Who should buy this?
Anyone who wants more consistent results from their baking, cooking, or coffee brewing should consider getting a kitchen scale. It's far more accurate to weigh flour, diced vegetables, shredded cheese, or any number of ingredients than to cram them into a measuring cup or spoon. And since you can pour everything into one mixing bowlsubtracting cups and spoons from the equationthis type of cooking and baking cuts down significantly on dishes.
For precision coffee brewing, as with pour overs, a scale can help you get an accurate combination of beans and water every time. (If you're into home espresso, see our other recommendations below for even more accurate pocket scales.)
Why we like Jennings CJ4000 above all else
When turned on, the Jennings CJ4000 defaults to the last unit measurement used. Simply press the "mode" button to switch between grams, ounces, pounds, and pieces (the counting function).
With a capacity of .5 grams to 4000 grams (about 8.8 pounds), the Jennings scale is precise enough for pour overs, but can also handle big batches of dough. Many cooks and bakers may not need the .5 gram level of accuracy, but we like that the precision gives you options down the road.
We also like that the Jennings comes with an AC adapter. (Most of the other models we tested only use batteries.) This conserves battery, and could save you an emergency trip to the store when the batteries have finally died.
The Jennings scale was one of a few we found where you can disable the auto-off function, so you can take as much time as you need to measure ingredients without the scale turning off. If this isn't disabled, the scale turns off after only a minute and a half of inactivity.
We found the Jennings scale's bright orange backlit screen, which stays on as long as the scale does, easy to read. We also like that the scale has a small footprint, making it convenient to store in a cupboard or drawer.
Overall, we think the Jennings CJ4000 offers a lot of value for a very reasonable price. It also comes with a 20-year manufacturer's warranty.
Flaws (but not dealbreakers)
Although the Jennings scale reads in .5 g increments, it wouldn't pick up our 500 milligram lab weight on its own. It only registered the 500 mg increment when we added an additional 1 gram weight.
When testing with lab weights, the Jennings scale consistently read .5 g too high. The slight misread could prove problematic for some coffee people, but not a biggie for most bakers or cooks.
If using a big pot for mixing dough, it takes some maneuvering to see the screen. You definitely can't see the measurement if using a sheet pan. Yet for most baking, cooking, and coffee tasks, we think the Jennings will work just fine.
If you bake in bulk
At 4 inches tall and with a footprint of 10 by 7.5 inches, the My Weigh KD8000 (left) is roughly the same size as the OXO, Jennings, and Ozeri scales combined.
The $36 My Weigh KD8000 is a beast compared to the other scales we tested and only measures in full grams, but as with the Jennings scale, you can use an AC adapter, disable the auto-off function, and keep the backlight on as long as the scale. It's a good choice for quantity baking, as it'll weigh up to 17 pounds, 9 ounces. Just be aware it takes up quite a bit of counter space.
The best designed scale
We like the OXO's pull-out display screen, especially when using a flared mixing bowl, large pot, or wide sheet pan.
The much sleeker OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale has an easier to read display, and the best overall design of all the scales we tested. But at $50 it's relatively pricey and doesn't function better than the Jennings CJ4000.
For extra precision
To switch unit measurements on the American Weigh SC-2KG pocket scale, simply press the mode button. The scale will remember the the last measurement used, even after you've turned it off.
For weighing very small amounts very preciselysuch as espresso, spices, or leavenerswe'd go with the $18 American Weigh 2KG pocket scale, which measures in .1 gram increments, or the American Weigh Signature Digital Pocket Scale ($8.50), which measures in .01 gram increments.
Our favorite digital kitchen scale is the most versatile for a range of kitchen tasks, but some of our other picks have better designed features and even more precision. For most cooking, baking, and even coffee brewing, though, we'd buy the Jennings CJ4000.
This guide may have been updated. To see the current recommendation please go to TheSweethome.com.