How to Use a Kitchen Scale

This article will show you how to properly use a kitchen scale to dramatically increase the quality of your bakes.

Hi sweet friend!

Let’s talk scales! No, not a body scale- let’s definitely not talk about body scales. Those are way overrated. You know what’s not overrated, though? A kitchen scale! 

That’s right, like the kind you’ve possibly seen used on The Great British Baking Show?  You may have seen as the contestants magically poured ingredients into a bowl with not a mixing cup in sight, wondering how they knew the right amount. I still remember watching thinking something was different, but it looked like a good kind of different and I wanted to know more.

So I set out to learn more about scales.

What I learned, while pretty common sense, blew my mind and completely changed up the way I baked. Up until this point, the only scales in my life were the one at the doctor’s office or in my bathroom (referenced above), which to be honest, I did my best to avoid. I also remembered the ones they used to measure my baby boys when they were born. That was really my first introduction to grams, besides what I didn’t remember from math class in highschool. 

When my twins were born, they weighed 740 grams. That might sound like a big number if you aren’t familiar with grams, but it’s definitely not. In fact, its equivalent to about 1 lb 10 ounces and they actually got all the way down to 1 lb 3 ounces at their smallest. That’s right, my sweet little babies weighed less than the amount of butter I use in some of my recipes. When something is so small though, weighing in grams is important, because every gram counts.

It’s a similar concept in the kitchen. Because baking is a science, every gram counts, which means when we weigh something out on a scale it’s precise everytime versus when we scoop it out with a measuring spoon

How was I going to transfer that to the kitchen?

A little background:

A year or so before this point, I had become more serious about my home baking. My husband and I were newlyweds with no kids and a lot more time on our hands to entertain. I loved having friends over and I loved making delicious things for them to eat! I began baking more and more, and even started a little blog. 

After baking a huge spread for my dad’s 50th birthday party, I had requests from multiple people for treats- including a wedding cake! That’s a disaster story for another time, though. I had also started making and selling oatmeal cream pies, and they were a huge hit amongst family and friends as well as the people who started buying them at the softball tournaments I was keeping supplied. Now, though, I was wanting to take things to the next level and start selling cakes, but there was a part of me that didn’t want to sell just any cakes; I wanted to sell my cakes.

I started doing some research. 

This desire to start a home bakery business collided perfectly with this sudden drive I had to understand how to make the most delicious treats and why scales are such an important part of that. I knew I needed a scale in the kitchen and wanted to see for myself if they really were better than your good ol’ tried and true measuring cups. I found that the reason they’re so much better is that they’re SO much more precise. And with precise measurements comes consistency with your bakes. And that is really good for business!

Measuring Cups vs. Kitchen Scale

Take flour, for instance. There are a couple different ways people measure flour with a measuring cup. One way is to spoon it into the measuring cup, then level it. This is the more precise way, and the preferred way if you don’t have access to a kitchen scale. Another way that you may have measured flour (I’ve definitely done it myself) is to just scoop it out and then level it. The problem with this method is that if you scoop and level, you’re actually packing the flour into the measuring cup. This leaves you with too much flour. Too much flour then causes your baked goods to be tough, dry, and crumbly- definitely not what you want!

With a kitchen scale; however, the amount of flour is the amount of flour is the amount of flour. It’s always the same, every single time. It removes any and all guesswork in terms of measurement. How cool is that?!

Is it difficult?

Not. At. All! I would venture to say that using a scale is actually just as simple as using measuring cups, if not easier once you have the hang of it. 

For example: If you’re measuring out ingredients for a chocolate cake, set your bowl for dry ingredients onto the scale, set your sifter on top of that, check and make sure the scales is labeled “grams” and hit the “tare” button. “Tare” simply means it brings the scale back to zero, so that each new ingredient you add is measured correctly. This is really important to remember between adding ingredients or your measurements will be off. Do this for the remaining ingredients in their respective bowls and you’re ready to bake!

*Side Note: if an ingredient calls for an amount in teaspoons or tablespoons, I measure them with my favorite measuring teaspoons/tablespoons. The amount of grams is so minute that your scale may have difficulty recognizing the 4 grams in your teaspoon of baking powder. Just continue using your teaspoons/tablespoons for items like that.

How do I know what the equivalent weights are for classic measurements?

This is such a great question! As I researched, I found there are slight variances in volume vs grams depending on the source. My favorite source for this is King Arthur Flour. Their website has a wonderful ingredient weight chart that I always refer to when I’m working on a new recipe. You can check it out on their website, and I’ve also compiled a list of my most used baking ingredients for you to use as reference here. I feel like it’s made me so much more knowledgeable and confident in my baking!

Scale Conversion Guide from OKC Sweets