Made to Measure

It’s important to invest in quality tools when it comes to keeping time, measuring ingredients, and taking the temperature of foods.

Precision matters when you’re cooking. An extra minute of cooking time can spell disaster, and too much smoked paprika or too little salt can change the flavor of a dish. In this week’s buying guide, we’ve collected the best equipment for accuracy while cooking. From our top-rated digital thermometer to our favorite measuring spoons, these are tools we rely on for success in the kitchen.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

The redesigned version of the OXO scale is accurate and had all the features that made the old model our favorite: sturdy construction, responsive buttons, and a removable platform for easy cleaning. The screen can still be pulled out nearly 4 inches when weighing oversize items. Instead of a backlight setting, the screen now has brightly lit digits on a dark background, which we found even easier to read than the old model’s screen. OXO also added two display options for weight. Users can choose to view ounces only (24 oz), pounds and ounces (1 lb 8 oz), grams only (2500 g), or kilograms and grams (2 kg 500 g), which comes in handy when doubling a recipe. The scale now uses decimals rather than fractions, so it’s more precise and easier to read.

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This classic model was accurate and had bold, easy-to-read measurement lines that clearly corresponded to specific numbers. The handle, though small, was smooth and wide enough to be comfortable. We also liked that the glass resisted staining and was durable. Our one criticism: Using the cup properly requires crouching down and looking at the lines at eye level, which was uncomfortable for some. 

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The newest instant-read thermometer by ThermoWorks is the best we’ve tested yet. It has all the features we loved in our previous favorite: a large, grippy handle; a rotating screen with large, highly legible numbers; and a backlight that goes on when viewing conditions are dim. Like the Mk4, it’s waterproof to a water depth of 39 inches for 30 minutes, it goes to sleep when not in use, and the display wakes up automatically when you pick up the entire unit. The ONE improves on the Mk4, though: As its name indicates, it takes just 1 second to measure a temperature. The backlight is brighter, and you can now use the thermometer when cooking on induction burners—the engineers at ThermoWorks have taken measures to eliminate the electromagnetic interference that sometimes occurs when you use digital thermometers with induction cooktops.

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This model combines a clock, timer (count down), and stopwatch (count up); has direct numerical entry; and easily toggles between the three settings with a clearly marked mode button. Because it’s oriented vertically, it fits comfortably in hand. It’s also lightweight and slim enough to fit in a pocket, and its 38-inch lanyard is both comfortable and long enough to slip easily overhead.

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All copies of this model aced our accuracy tests. It sports a wide, sturdy base and clear temperature markings with large numbers and boldly visible dashes at 50- and 25-degree increments. Its silver face is more prone to glare and light reflection than models with white backgrounds, but it’s still fairly easy to read.

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This model was the easiest to operate, with a plunger that glided smoothly through the barrel and consistently scraped the barrel clean. Its wide, stable base sits securely on the counter and keeps the plunger from accidentally going all the way through the barrel. This model’s markings didn’t fade in our thorough washing tests (including both hand-washes and cycles through the dishwasher), but if you’re concerned, we recommend sticking with hand washing. This model takes some extra attention—occasional lubrication of the plunger and care not to drop it lest the barrel break—but we still think its ease of use and convenience are worth the tradeoff.

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The big digital screen and clearly labeled buttons made it easy to read and use this simple, intuitive timer. The digits on its screen were some of the largest in our lineup, and the entire screen flashes when the timer goes off. Splash-resistant and sturdy, this timer looked as good as new at the end of testing. The timer has a wide base and can be tilted up on a kickstand so that it is easy to read from above. It also has magnets and can be positioned on a refrigerator or other magnetic surface.

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This compact triple-event timer is accurate and easy to use. The screen displays all three events at once (no scrolling required). It’s easy to set and adjust the individual events because each one has its own button, and a pair of horizontal bars on the screen brackets the event being modified. We like that each event makes a unique sound—one beep for the first event, two beeps for the second event, and three beeps for the third event—and that the volume is adjustable. Our only quibble is that the digits on the screen are slightly smaller than ideal.

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Right out of the box the base paired automatically with the receiver, making it ready to use in seconds. Both base and receiver had bright, clear displays that could be read easily in both bright and dim light; both also have backlights for operating in the dark. The unit maintains a connection for up to 300 feet and alerts you when you go out of range. When you go back into range, it automatically reconnects, and its alarms were loud and easy to set. While we used it primarily for grilling, this thermometer can read up to 572 degrees and transmits temperature data from the probe to the base in 8 seconds, which also makes it useful for candy making and deep frying. It can be made to work with a smartphone by purchasing the Smoke Gateway ($89); however, we found it difficult to set up and the app glitchy.

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