When is a cup of flour not actually a cup of flour? When you’re using a measuring cup. That’s because when you use cups and spoons to measure by volume, what you think is a precise amount often turns out to be anything but. A slew of factors—whether it’s the uneven clumping of sugar or the not-quite-level scoop of cornmeal—can throw off a measurement, by some estimates as much as 50 percent. In baking, that discrepancy can mean the difference between a perfectly risen loaf of bread and a dense mess.
That’s why we’re fans of digital kitchen scales; weighing ingredients is the best way to guarantee consistency. We also appreciate that weighing reduces cleanup. Rather than dirtying individual measuring spoons and cups, we simply set the bowl on the scale, then hit tare (the function that zeros out the current weight) for each new ingredient.
The catch: Recipes often don’t include weights. So it’s helpful to have an at-a-glance chart of weight conversions. Here are our test results for the 15 ingredients we’ve found it most useful to weigh during cooking.