When I moved to Berlin nearly two years ago, US measuring cups were one of the first things I realized I forgot to bring with me. Germany uses the metric system, which means that it's not an easy place to find the measuring cups I'd been used to using my whole life. If I wanted to continue cooking or baking (which I knew I would), buying a kitchen scale would be my only real option.
At first, I thought I'd made the biggest mistake in the world, but in time I came to realize it was a blessing in disguise. Using a kitchen scale taught me so much about cooking that I never would have realized before. Instead of making my life in the kitchen harder, it actually ended up making it a lot easier. As soon as I started using it, all of my baked goods began turning out better than they ever had before. And I suddenly had far fewer dishes to clean. Not to mention, it helped me to assimilate to life in Germany in a way I would have never expected—figuring out the metric system made feel like I actually belonged.
Now, I bring my digital kitchen scale with me everywhere, even when I go home to the United States. My measuring cups and spoons are but a distant memory, and these are all the reasons I think you should make the swap, too.
For one, using a kitchen scale means fewer dirty dishes.
My absolute favorite thing about using a kitchen scale instead of measuring cups is that I now only have to dirty one bowl when I'm cooking or baking. I simply tare the scale to zero after I add each ingredient. So, for example, if I'm making cookies, I'll add my flour, then tare the scale back down to zero before adding my sugar. That way I know I've used exactly the right amount of each ingredient, without having to use several different measuring spoons or cups.
My baked goods turn out way better because baking by weight is more exact and reliable.
As any frequent baker will tell you, it's extremely important to use the exact right amount of each ingredient during the process. If you use a tablespoon of baking powder instead of a teaspoon, whatever you're baking will be virtually ruined. Measuring cups and spoons aren't nearly as exact as kitchen scales, because many of them are sold in slightly different shapes or sizes, which may not seem like a big deal but can have a bigger effect on your food than you might realize; it only takes a bit more flour to take your cake from light and fluffy to hard and dense.
With a kitchen scale you don't have that problem, because you're measuring by weight which makes it impossible to use the wrong amount of an ingredient. The only catch with this is that you may have to convert the measurements in a recipe to grams. Luckily, you can easily find conversions for everything online as well as recipes that measure in grams instead of cups or tablespoons (the New York Times has a lot of recipes like this). Alternatively, you can buy a scale that allows you to change the unit of measurement to pounds, ounces, liters, or whatever you prefer.
It's also great for measuring things like produce that would otherwise be too hard to measure.
When a recipe calls for a pound of Brussels sprouts, you usually just eyeball it, right? With a kitchen scale, you don't have to. In fact, it's great for any recipe that calls for a specific amount of fruits and vegetables, which can be damn near impossible to measure any other way.
Now that I've convinced you to make the switch, these are the kitchen scales worth buying.
If you want to spring for something fancy, this OXO Stainless Steel Food Scale will cost you around $ 50, but it's totally worth it. It can detect even the lightest ingredients (like baking soda and powder), it has a long battery life, and a pull-out screen to keep the machine from getting dirty.
But for something that gets the job done just as well at half the price, go for the Escali Primo Digital Scale. It doesn't have as many fancy features, but it'll never fail you.