Measuring cups are notoriously inaccurate when it comes to, you know, measuring. Give three people a cup and ask them to fill it with flour and you’ll get back three different weights. It’s why lots of chefs and bakers swear by weighing out ingredients.
It’s a whole process, though, to convert a recipe to ounces or grams yourself. The Drop Kitchen Scale dose the work for you, and with its accompanying iOS app, it will guide you through a recipe — effectively negating the need for (mis)measuring cups. As long as you don’t want to get too exploratory in the kitchen, it works really well.
With its red silicone top and droplet shape, the Drop looks low-tech, almost like the top to some container you’ve misplaced. It’s pretty small — just under six inches in diameter. The only clue to what’s beneath the silicone is a little red light that softly illuminates when you push the divot that serves as its button. And that’s all it is to my fiancé, who has an Android phone. Everything else happens on the iPhone app; there’s not even a display so you can use it as a regular scale.
Once the app is downloaded, tap the button on the scale to pair it with your phone via Bluetooth. There isn’t a whole lot on the settings page to deal with; you chose whether you want grams or ounces, and Fahrenheit or Celsius. If you create an account, you can do things like save your favorite recipes.
Of course, it’s not like you’ll easily get lost among the Drop app’s recipe list. The search function is pretty straightforward and has filters for things like meal, diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo, low fat, dairy-free, vegan, low sugar, and nut-free), difficulty, total time, (less than 30 minutes to over two hours), and occasions.
But also, the app only has 271 recipes total.
Drop paired with Good Housekeeping and the food community Food52 to make the recipes, and they’re definitely delicious. Drop emphasized quality over quantity when it comes to the recipes, and it shows. Also, the Drop’s legacy as a baker’s tool is evident. Here’s the breakdown when it comes to recipes in each category:
- Breakfast and brunch: 87
- Lunch: 34
- Dinner: 29
- Sides: 32
- Appetizers: 16
- Desserts: 114
- Snacks and treats: 93
To go along with Drop’s delicious thyme and garlic marinated chicken, I tried to find a recipe for Brussels sprouts. There weren’t any — and I couldn’t import my own. Drop says it’s working hard on this feature, but for now, it’s like the difference between buying a single cookbook and having the Internet’s whole database of recipes at your fingertips.
Whip it up
The Drop scale has a lot of features that make it better than the regular dumb scale we have in our kitchen, but it’s not perfect. I weighed a lemon on the regular scale, and it instantly told me it was 4.7 ounces. Provided you have the app, you can use the Drop as a regular scale, too, but I had a weird experience with it. The scale feature climbed like I was watching a thermometer all the way to 4.7 ounces. This didn’t happen when I put a half-full (7.6 ounces) can of soda on it, though. It seemed to have a bit of trouble with light measurements.
I noticed this when making the (much raved about) lemon poppy seed cookies. When you’re making a recipe, the app has a really cool feature: a dashed line that indicates how much of an ingredient you need. As you pour in the flour or lemon juice, the space below fills up with white. Once you reach the right amount, the app automatically moves you forward to the next step. The 0.2 ounces of baking powder fluttered below the line, seeming to take far more than the teaspoon the recipe called for. For larger amounts, though, like the two cups of flour, everything worked fine.
Sometimes the app doesn’t automatically skip forward — if you’re mixing something together, for example. For that, there’s the button on the scale itself. Hit it with batter-covered fingers and it will move the app along. It’s way better than getting goo on your phone… or phone germs on your food.
They emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to the recipes, and it shows.
I made two batches of the cookies, and the results seemed perfectly consistent both times. The same might not be said if I was using my imperfect measuring cup.
Another really useful thing about the Drop is its “scale up” feature. While I can’t do something like tell it to double the recipe, I could put in twice the amount of butter, then hit the scale up button. It would then automatically apply the new measurements to the rest of the recipe. Maybe it’s not the ideal way to double a recipe, but it’s really useful if I accidentally didn’t buy enough poppy seeds, for example. If I start with that measurement, the Drop adjusts everything down to fit the quantity I have. This is especially useful for something like chicken, when packages never give you exactly a pound.
The app tries to be self-contained. It gives you little hints and tips for certain steps, has a built-in timer, and lets you swap out ingredients. You can’t substitute anything for bananas when making banana bread, but it gives a whole list of sugars you can use if you don’t have brown on hand.
Overall, I found the recipes really easy to follow and the results fabulous. I do have one bone to pick with the app’s new cocktail feature, however. Much like with baking or cooking, it walks you through the steps of crafting 21 drinks. I tried the Moscow Mule and was dismayed to find that it didn’t call for any lime juice. It tells you to garnish with a lime, sure, but it doesn’t actually prompt you to pour any in. I’ve never seen a Moscow Mule recipe that didn’t call for it (nor has my brother, a former bartender). Even Oprah’s recipe, which weirdly adds simple syrup, has lime juice. Drop told me it’s making the cocktail recipes in house. After trying the Moscow Mule, I took their drink recipes with a salty rim.
The $100 Drop seems like a good tool to bust out when you’re baking cookies — just not if you’re making your grandma’s secret recipe. If you could upload your own recipes to the Drop app, it would easily become a tool for daily use in the kitchen. But If you’re paleo, for example, there are only six recipes on the entire app that fit your dietary restrictions.
With fewer than 300 recipes and an occasionally wonky scale feature, you might not pull the Drop out to make dinner every night — but you’ll be happy when you do.
- Easy to use
- Good recipes
- Consistent results
- Clean, compact design
- Limited recipe database
- Scale readings sometimes fluctuate
- No display on the scale itself