How to Use a Cooking Scale

If you’ve spent your entire life on the American system of baking, then you might be surprised when you encounter your first recipe from Europe or Asia. In North America, most of the cookbooks you find will include recipes measured in cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons. But a good chunk of the world doesn’t do this–their recipes are measured in grams and CCs.

Measuring by weight is actually more precise than measuring by cup. After all, a densely packed cup will be different than a loosely packed cup, but 100g of brown sugar is, absolutely and always, the same amount of brown sugar. But if you’ve never had to bake something with a cooking scale, the whole experience might be weird. So here’s how to do it.

Buying a Cooking Scale

You can buy a cooking scale anywhere. You can grab them at Target if you want. I got mine off of for $25.

They’re really easy to find. Seriously. You just need two things:

  • Be sure to find one that can measure in grams. Most of the ones I’ve seen–even the cheap ones–can switch between pounds and grams.
  • You also need to have a scale that has an “add” or “TARE” feature. Pretty much all of the electronic models have one.

I have an Escali Digital Kitchen Scale. It even comes in a range of lovely colors! (I have the practical navy blue one.)

Reading Measurements

Next, you’ll need to find a recipe. I love Japanese recipes, so I get all of mine off of

But really? You don’t need to worry. You will see grams and CCs. They’re pretty much the same.

  • Grams: The standard measurement. Make sure your kitchen scale can measure in grams.
  • CCs: A gram of liquid is a CC. So, essentially it’s exactly the same as a gram, it’s just different semantically.

But a Japanese tablespoon or teaspoon isn’t the same as ours.

I have one Japanese cookbook that says that:

  • Tablespoon: 15 grams
  • Teaspoon: 5 grams

Because these are so precise, I generally just measure them out. I don’t use my American measuring spoons for Japanese recipes.

Using a Kitchen Scale

And now that you have a scale and a recipe, it’s time to put it to work! This is super easy. Believe me. You probably don’t even need me to explain this.

OK. Put an empty bowl on top of the scale. Wait for the scale to even out the weight. Then hit “TARE” or “add.” The scale will zero out.

So now you don’t have to do any mental math to figure out how many grams you just added to the mix. Your scale reads “0.” So if you have to add 200g of something, pour in the ingredient until you have 200g. Once it reads 200g, hit “tare” again. It will now read “0.” Add the next ingredient.

Tada! That’s it! It’s really easy. If you want to be super careful, you can measure out every ingredient separately and add them together later. (This is kind of fun, since you can pretend you’re on a cooking show, surrounded by tiny bowls with perfectly-measured proportions.) But if you’re like me, you’ll just dump everything into one bowl and measure as you go. That just requires extreme care, because otherwise you’ll ruin your whole batter when your hand slips and you dump 10g too much milk into the mix.

That’s it! Have fun!

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