No cook will get very far without a set of kitchen scales. But don’t just buy the first set you see. Some weigh just dry ingredients, others weigh liquids too.

Some are small enough to store away, while others have to sit on your work surface. Some have much clearer display screens than others and while most have the tare function (that is, being able to reset it to zero so you can add more ingredients), that’s not the case for all of them.

Consider what type of scales you prefer – balance scales, mechanical scales or digital scales. Balance scales – considered vintage nowadays – look a bit like a seesaw. You pop the weights on one arm and the ingredients in the bowl at the other and wait for them to, as the name suggests, balance. You don’t need a battery and they’re easy to use, but they are the least precise of all scales types and it can be difficult to accurately measure smaller amounts.

Mechanical scales have a spring that moves the display dial upwards as you add your ingredients. There are some nice retro designs and the weight capacity is often higher than other scales. Plus, you don’t need batteries. But they’re not the best for measuring tiny amounts and they may not stay accurate in the long term as the spring can wear out over time.

Digital scales, which use LCD displays, are by far the most popular. They are often small enough to store away easily and are very precise in measuring, including small amounts – and you can switch between different measurements too. But there’s often limited weight capacity and most need batteries to work, while some of the cheaper options have annoying flaws like resetting to zero or even turning themselves off in the middle of weighing.

Taking all of that into consideration, we’ve weighed enough ingredients to cook up a feast so we can bring you the best of the best kitchen scales. Here are our favourites.

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Heston Blumenthal precision double platform digital kitchen scales by Salter: £45, Argos

Heston is all about the science of cooking, making him the ideal candidate to work with the UK’s top name in kitchen scales. The result is this digital set with two platforms – a large, high capacity platform for weighing up to 10kg and a smaller, “ultimate precision” platform for anything up to 200mg. Making a curry? Simply pop your chicken on the bigger one, and the likes of your ginger or chilli on the other. And so on. It’s ultra-responsive, with instant and accurate measurements.

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Salter waterproof digital kitchen scales: £29.97, Amazon

You can chuck this compact set of scales into the kitchen sink with the rest of the washing up when you’re finished cooking because it’s completely waterproof. You can leave it in water for up to 30 minutes. It’s also got other handy features, including a large, clear LCD display and the ability to measure liquids as well as dry ingredients. It looks good, with a contemporary shiny black design and touch-sensitive buttons. Our only complaint was that fitting the battery could be easier.

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John Lewis & Partners vintage mechanical scales: £40, John Lewis & Partners

This robust, well made set of scales is a keeper, seeing you through years of baking and cooking. They look brilliantly vintage while still feeling contemporary, which means they’ll look good on a worktop of any kitchen, rustic or modern – a good job as they’re big so therefore difficult to store away. Showing both metric and imperial measurements in 20g/1oz increments, you can add to your ingredients as you go by resetting, but as with any mechanical set they’re not as precise as digital scales. They are easy to keep clean with a dishwasher proof bowl and wipe-clean main body.

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Morphy Richards 3-in-1 digital kitchen scales: £19.99, Amazon

You can weigh, measure and mix both wet and dry ingredients with these handy all-in-one scales which means you don’t have to empty your cupboards of bowls and jugs every time you want to rustle up a culinary delight. We found it accurate for both types of ingredients and the bowl can be washed up afterwards, although it is a shame it’s so fiddly to remove and click the bowl back in. You do get used to it, but there’s a knack. We’d also have liked the viewing screen to be brighter and easier to see.

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John Lewis & Partners flat digital scales: £20, John Lewis & Partners

Available in a silver or red finish, this slimline, easy-to-store glass-topped set of digital scales is a good all-rounder. It’s got an excellent range, so you can weigh very light ingredients through to heavy and the precise weight is clearly displayed on the large LCD screen. The tare function works very well, so you can reset to zero any time. Although this is a feature of most kitchen scales, some can play up – a nightmare when you’re you’ve already started layering ingredients. It can do liquid measurements too.

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Lakeland wind-up digital kitchen scales: £29.99, Lakeland

If you can’t be bothered with changing batteries on your digital scales (why do they always seem to run out in the most crucial cooking moment?), then this small, slim set will do you proud as it just needs a turn of the dial to charge and activate. They’re very sensitive, so make sure you have a completely level surface, and be mindful it takes a few more seconds than usual to give you the right reading, but otherwise these are highly accurate and odour-resistant, with a clear LCD display.

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Joseph Joseph Tri Scale: £28, Amazon

If you’re short on space, these are a sound purchase. The digital scales fold neatly away into practically nothing, so you can easily slip them into a kitchen drawer, along with your cutlery and utensils. Available in green or white, we found them quick and easy to set up, with a responsive touchscreen, as well as being accurate, although they aren’t as stable as some and the small central area can prove tricky when trying to balance a larger bowl or pan on it.

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Kitchen Craft traditional balance scales: £65, John Lewis & Partners

These grandmotherly looking scales offer a nostalgic nod to yesteryear and lend themselves to a country cottage-style kitchen, where you can leave them proudly on your worktop. But there are modern touches, too, including the dishwasher-safe bowl, which is a decent, large size. We also like that it’s tear-shaped – handy for scooping and pouring. Bear in mind that you have to buy the weights (metric or imperial) separately and they’ll set you back over £30.

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Procook glass digital scales: £18, Procook

These have good accuracy and are ultra-slim, so you can pop them in a drawer afterwards. The wipe-clean tempered glass top has a handy reference guide for spoon and cup quantities and temperature so that you can put your phone away while cooking. The non-stick feet make a sturdy base and there’s a reset button for measuring multiple ingredients and even a built-in timer, in case you don’t have one on your oven. The metric and imperial LCD display is nice and clear too.

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Joseph Joseph SwitchScale: £50, Joseph Joseph

Here’s another set of innovative scales from Joseph Joseph. This time the USP is the flappable lid, which can act as bowl scales for weighing loose ingredients or a platform scale for weighing ingredients in your own bowl. It’s small and light, making it easy to store away, and will cope with both wet and dry foods quickly, giving consistent, accurate results which are easy to see on the big, bright LCD display. We like the touch sensitive controls too.

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The verdict: Kitchen scales

Our favourite was the Heston Blumenthal precision dual platform digital kitchen scales by Salter – it’s precise, versatile and easy to use and keep clean. Meanwhile, for pure innovation, our top recommendation goes to Joseph Joseph triscale, which folds up even smaller than we’d expected.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.