After about five hours and many hundreds of spoonfuls testing nine different sets of measuring spoons, we think the Prepworks by Progressive Magnetic Measuring Spoons are the best choice for most home cooks. They’re accurate, easy to use, and conveniently held together by magnets. The double-ended spoons mean you’re essentially getting two sets for the price of one, which means you can switch between wet and dry ingredients without having to pause to clean. Plus, the narrow ends fit easily into most spice jars.
If the Prepworks spoons sell out, or if you plan to put your measuring spoons through a lot of heavy-duty tasks, the Cuisipro Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons are a sturdy stainless steel alternative. They’re heavy enough not to bend but not so heavy that using them feels awkward, and the measurements are stamped in so they won’t fade over time. Plus, the elongated spoons fit into most spice jars. Other spoons proved a little more accurate, but these should do the job for anything other than the most finicky baking recipes.
I’m a former professional baker and now frequent home cook, so I’ve seen my fair share of good and bad measuring spoons, and I know where they most often go wrong. For this review, I also turned to two seasoned kitchen experts for advice: Tish Boyle, the editor of Dessert Professional magazine and author of numerous baking books, including The Cake Book and Flavorful; and Lynn Blanchard, the test kitchen director at Better Homes & Gardens. Then I scoured the internet for reviews and forum discussions of measuring spoons from trusted sources like Cooks Illustrated (subscription required), Serious Eats, Chowhound, The Kitchn, and Real Simple.
Measuring spoons are such an essential kitchen tool that if you cook at all, chances are you already have a set. But there are many reasons why you might be due for an upgrade. Maybe your spoons are too wide to fit into any spice jar or too shallow to hold anything without spilling. Maybe one or two have gotten separated from the pack and disappeared into the depths of a drawer. Just the annoyance of cooking with poorly-designed spoons should be enough to warrant a new set, given that most cost well under $20. And a good set of accurate spoons is an even more crucial investment for anyone who ever bakes at home.
Baking requires more accuracy than other kinds of cooking. Having one ingredient just a little bit off can lead to dry cookies or a sunken cake. That’s usually a good reason to measure with a kitchen scale, but the average kitchen scale isn’t sensitive enough to weigh fractions of a gram, as Serious Eats has demonstrated. This means a scale can be wildly inaccurate when asked to measure just a few grams (or less) of something. Even a scale-loving baker needs a good, accurate set of measuring spoons. (And not all spoons are.)
A good set of measuring spoons should include a tablespoon, a teaspoon, a ½ teaspoon, and a ¼ teaspoon. Boyle says she likes to have an ⅛ teaspoon as well because she prefers the extra accuracy, but Blanchard doesn’t think it’s necessary. I think it’s great to have but not a dealbreaker. I can’t remember ever seeing a recipe call for an eighth of a teaspoon of baking soda or baking powder, and for anything else—like salt or spices—it won’t hurt to just eyeball with the quarter teaspoon. Other sizes, like a ½ tablespoon or a ¾ teaspoon, are a bonus but not strictly necessary (a tablespoon equals three teaspoons, so ½ tablespoon is the same as 1½ teaspoons).
The spoons should come with something like a ring to hold them all together—ideally something easy to take on and off. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before one disappears. Life is also a lot easier if the spoons can fit into the narrow mouth of a spice jar, which is usually 1½ inches or less in diameter. It’s much easier and more efficient to scoop spices from a jar than to try to pour them out onto the tiny surface area of a teaspoon.
Both Boyle and Blanchard say they prefer stainless steel spoons over plastic, and I tend to agree. “Plastic spoons are bulkier,” says Blanchard, “and they don’t store as well.” They’re bulkier because they have to be: a plastic spoon as thin as most metal ones would be liable to snap. Boyle points out that at least one of her sets of plastic spoons seems to have warped in the dishwasher, and “I can see how if you were going to sweep across the top, it might not be level.” Plus, they usually have measurements painted on rather than stamped in, and that paint tends to wear off over time. On the other hand, plastic spoons tend to be less expensive and feel a little more kid-friendly, so I did throw one set into the mix.
I ruled out any of those cute novelty spoons shaped like hearts or Mason jars, which in my experience tend to favor design over accuracy. Anything ceramic was also out of the question; measuring spoons get used often enough that they need to be sturdier than ceramic. You should be able to toss them in the sink without a second thought. Gimmicky adjustable spoons were also out, since they tend to leak liquids and have to be cleaned between every measurement. Measuring spoons should be simple and straightforward tools, and the price ought to reflect that, too. Most quality sets I’ve encountered cost around $15 or less, so I ruled out anything over $20. I can’t imagine, nor did I discover, any fancy feature that would make a set worth that much more.
From there I combed through Amazon, looking at all the sets recommended by Boyle, Blanchard, and the other sources I mentioned earlier. I also looked for any other well-rated sets that appeared to fit the criteria listed above, combing through Amazon reviews to rule out those with obvious issues (like rusting or inaccuracy) or with obviously inflated reviews (be wary of many reviews posted on the same day, or of reviews by people who received the product for free). Ultimately, I considered 22 different sets of spoons and narrowed this down to nine sets to actually test.
Accuracy is important, especially for the baker, and not all measuring spoons are equally accurate, even within a single set. When measuring something like baking powder or baking soda, a difference of two or three grams is enough to have an impact. So I tested the accuracy of each spoon in each set by using it to measure out water onto our favorite super-precise coffee scale, the American Weigh SC-2KG digital pocket scale, which is sensitive to differences of 0.1 grams. I didn’t need to go any more precise than that, since anything less than a tenth of a gram isn’t big enough to make a difference in even the most precise baking task. I used water because its liquid weight measurement is easy (1 mL water = 1 gram). In measuring out the water, I filled the spoons as precisely as possible, but I also repeated the measurement 10 times for each spoon and calculated the average in order to account for inevitable human variability. I then compared that average to the standard weight of each spoonful of water defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (link to PDF).
Then I used each spoon to measure a variety of ingredients: baking powder, caraway seeds, clumpy curry powder, slippery dried oregano, staticky dry yeast, and thick, sticky corn syrup. I looked for how easy it was to scoop and level each ingredient, and to scrape all the corn syrup from the spoon. I also tested each spoon in two different sized spice jars, one with a narrow mouth, one with a wider one, noting which (if any) were too big to fit.
I tried reaching to the bottom of a spice jar with each spoon and used each set with spoons still attached to the ring (if they came with a ring) to test how easy or awkward they felt to use. I also tried bending each spoon, and I finally gave them all a wash and let them sit damp in a sealed bag overnight to check for signs of rust.
For home cooks, the Prepworks by Progressive Magnetic Measuring Spoons are the most useful out there. They’re one of the most accurate sets I tested. Rather than a metal ring, a magnet holds this set together, so the spoons store together reliably but are still easy to separate. They level cleanly, maneuver in and out of most spice jars with ease, and are double-ended, so you’re getting double the bang for your buck.
One end of the Prepworks spoons, technically for liquids, is round, while the other end, technically for dry ingredients, is oval and better able to fit into spice jars. Honestly, you can use either end for wet or dry; the real advantage is that you’re basically getting two sets of spoons for the price of one (and the set is no more expensive than any other good quality set I tested). That means you can juggle measuring a lot more different ingredients without having to stop to clean off a spoon in between. Having two ends also makes these spoons a good length for reaching deep into jars, which proved tough and a little messy with short spoons like OXO’s Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons With Magnetic Snaps. Only two other sets I tested offer the same two-in-one deal. Amco’s Wet & Dry Measuring Spoons were more expensive and not as well-designed. (I’ll get into that later.) The Prepworks by Progressive Snap Fit Measuring Spoons, though related to our winner, fell short because they were made of plastic, and therefore clunkier and unable to fit as easily into spice jars. They are also held together by a plastic snapping mechanism, which seems less durable than magnets.
A magnetic fastener is easily my favorite means of keeping spoons together, and the Prepworks’ mid-spoon magnet placement is great. Magnets are also on the Amco Wet & Dry spoons and by OXO, though OXO’s magnets, stuck on the ends, allowed the spoons to spin and break apart more easily. The Prepworks spoons stay safely together in storage, but you never have to deal with spoons dangling awkwardly from the end of the one in use, or with trying to undo a tight clasp with slippery fingers. Those were problems I encountered with almost all the non-magnetic measuring spoons, with the worst offenders being the impossible-to-remove key ring on HIC’s Spice Measuring Spoons and the awkwardly enormous plastic ring on the OXO Spice Jar Measuring Spoons.
Other less showy design features also made the Prepworks set stand out. For one, the edges of the spoons are perfectly flat and flush with the handles, so it’s easy to sweep them level. Spoons like the CEK Choice Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons, which dip down where handle meets spoon, or the OXO magnetic spoons, which have a dimple near the base of the spoon, made leveling slightly more difficult. Plus the narrow, oval-shaped spoons on one end fit easily into most spice jars, which can’t be said for spoons with a more traditional round shape. Even Prepworks’ oval tablespoon was narrow enough to fit into the wider of the two spice jars I tested with, and the teaspoon fit easily through the mouth of both jars. Other sets were messy and frustrating, like the round Amco Advanced Performance spoons or the CEK Choice Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons, which couldn’t even fit a ½ teaspoon through the narrow-mouthed jar.
The bowls of the Prepworks spoons are also nice and deep, which means that it’s a little bit harder for ingredients (especially liquids) to slosh out on the way to the bowl. The difference between using those and using a set of spoons like the particularly shallow Amco Advanced Performance Measuring Spoons is like the difference between carrying a glass of milk and a saucer of milk. Other spoons I tested came in shapes that presented other problems. A rectangular set of spoons like the HIC spoons tends to be harder to scrape clean. Sticky substances like corn syrup or peanut butter lodge in the corners and can’t easily be swiped out by a spatula. Meanwhile, the OXO Spice Jar spoons and the Amco Wet & Dry Measuring Spoons both employ a shovel-like shape that lets ingredients slide right back out of the spoon when you try to pull it out of a jar or to sweep it level.
With one exception, the Prepworks spoons were some of the most accurate I tried. The oval tablespoon was unfortunately too small by about a ¼ teaspoon, but its round counterpart was only off by about half a gram, which is slightly less than an ⅛ of a teaspoon. The teaspoons were off by about 0.4 grams, and everything else by only 0.1 or 0.2 grams. That’s not perfect, but no spoon was. Only the OXO magnetic spoons proved slightly more accurate, but their short stubby length and dimpled design where handle meets spoon also made them slightly more difficult to use.
The Prepworks set includes a ½ tablespoon in the set, which isn’t really necessary since it’s just the same thing as 1½ teaspoons, but it can at least make measuring a little more efficient. Also not strictly necessary are the measurements marked in milliliters as well as tablespoons and teaspoons, but they’re nice to have and could come in handy if you ever find yourself needing to measure with the metric system.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The Prepworks spoons are stainless steel, so they won’t rust, but unfortunately they are a lot thinner than the Cuisipro Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons or some of the other stainless steel spoons I tested, and I was able to bend them with some pressure. For many measuring tasks, this probably won’t be a problem—a tablespoon of anything isn’t going to bend the spoon. But trying to scoop cold, stiff cookie dough or dig into a clump of hardened brown sugar may present a problem. I think a good portion scoop is better for scooping cookies anyway, so it’s not a dealbreaker for me, but you may want to opt for the Cuisipro spoons (our runner-up) if you tend to find a lot of heavy-duty uses for your measuring spoons. These were also Cook’s Illustrated’s top pick and a favorite of Tish Boyle.
Another durability issue with the Prepworks spoons is that they have the measurements printed onto the plastic button at the center of each spoon instead of stamped into the steel, so those markings may wear off over time. But the painted area is recessed slightly, so it’s a little harder to scratch accidentally—I was able to do it with a knife, but only by holding it at the correct angle. The paint seems intact after a few washings, and anecdotal evidence from one of our editors says it’s held up fine after many runs through a dishwasher, so they’ll probably last a while for the average home cook (who probably won’t be washing these every single day).
One small flaw with the double-ended design: if you do use one end to measure something like honey, it’s going to be tricky to keep that honey off your hands if you need to flip around the spoon to use the other end. I think the convenience of having two sets of spoons on hand makes that worth it, but it’s something to consider if messiness annoys you.
For those who are especially tough on their measuring spoons or who even just plan to use them a lot, the Cuisipro Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons are a good choice. For a reasonable cost, this set is sturdy and well-designed, and it includes a ⅛ teaspoon as well as a tablespoon, teaspoon, ½ and ¼ teaspoon—something only four of the nine models I tested did.
Most notably, the Cuisipro set is from heavy-gauge stainless steel, which not only keeps them from rusting and from bending under pressure, but also gives them a weight that made them feel steadier in my hand than other, lighter spoons. Only two other sets I tested (Amco’s Advanced Performance Measuring Spoons and HIC’s Spice Measuring Spoons) have a comparable heft and strength, but both of those (besides other flaws I’ll discuss later) are actually a bit heavier than the Cuisipros, making them more awkward than steady to hold. Plus, like all the other purely stainless steel spoons I tested, the Cuisipro spoons have their measurements stamped into them, so there’s no risk of them fading or disappearing, like they may eventually on the Prepworks magnetic spoons. Though it’s admittedly easy enough to tell which spoon is which when they’re all lined up next to each other, it’s still better never to have to think about it at all.
The Cuisipro spoons have a nice oval shape so that, just like the oval ends of our top choice, they fit into most spice jars. The cup of the spoons is nice and deep, so that ingredients don’t slosh or slide out too easily, and the handle is nice and level with the base of the spoon, so that it’s easy to sweep ingredients level. Plus, as a bonus, the handles curve downward at the ends so that each spoon can rest flat on a counter, allowing you to set down a full spoon without its contents spilling out.
A couple of the other sets I tested edged out Cuisipro in the accuracy test. Cuisipro’s tablespoon came out short by about 0.75 grams of water, which is a little more than an ⅛ of a teaspoon (an ⅛ teaspoon weighs 0.6 grams). The teaspoon was too small by about half a gram, and the ½ teaspoon was too big by the same amount. No set of spoons was perfectly accurate, and for most everyday uses measuring things like spices or oil, those inaccuracies aren’t big enough to make a difference. They’ll probably even be ok for most baking recipes, but it’s something to be aware of when tackling something that requires precision. Still, only a set like the Amco Wet & Dry spoons, where the round “wet” spoons were all off by over a gram (and by a whopping 3 grams in the case of the tablespoon) is likely to cause frequent problems.
Cuisipro also has a unique way of holding the spoons together, which isn’t the best but also isn’t the worst. The set actually came with two fasteners: a beaded chain and a stretchy silicone band, which you open and close by pulling a cone-shaped end through a hole (the cone slides in easily one way, but you have to stretch and pull to pop it back out). The chain was flimsy and kept popping open, so I opted for the silicone band, but even that wasn’t perfect. It’s easy enough to open and close, but the band stretches and twists so that the spoons get tangled in a way they wouldn’t if they were on a ring. Overall, I’d prefer magnetic.
The Amco Advanced Performance Measuring Spoons are made of heavy duty stainless steel, but are very wide and shallow. This made them hard to fit into spice jars and hard to move without their contents spilling everywhere.
The OXO Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons With Magnetic Snaps were the most consistently accurate of any spoons I tested and held together conveniently by magnets. But they were also the shortest of any spoons I tested, making it difficult to reach into deeper containers. Printed-on measurements were easy to scratch off, and the handle isn’t perfectly flat where it meets the spoon, making it a little trickier to sweep a knife across the top.
OXO’s Stainless Steel Spice Jar Measuring Spoons were also quite accurate but clunky in design. The scoop-shaped spoons let certain clumpier ingredients like curry powder, slide right out when I tried to sweep them level, and the ring attachment is so huge that it gets in the way when you try to use a spoon while it’s still attached. Plus, these spoons were flimsy and bendable.
The Prepworks by Progressive Snap Fit Measuring Spoons are very similar to our runner-up, except that they’re plastic and they snap together instead of holding together with magnets. Being plastic, they were thicker than their steel counterparts, and even the elongated ends of the spoons couldn’t fit as easily into a narrow jar. Some Amazon reviews suggest that the snaps may also wear out over time.
Amco’s Wet & Dry Measuring Spoons are a clumsier version of our runner-up. The shovel-shaped end meant for dry ingredients lets them slide right out, while the round end meant for wet ingredients was consistently much too big. This size issue seems to be thanks to a molded “fill line” below the lip of each spoon, which is hard to see and does nothing to actually keep the spoon from filling to the brim.
This set of HIC Spice Measuring Spoons was sturdy and narrow enough to fit into most spice jars. But the handles were actually so long that these were awkward to use with the spoons still on the ring; the spoons bumped and dragged on the counter, throwing my hand off balance. And it’s hard to clear sticky ingredients from the corners of a rectangular spoon like these.
The CEK Choice Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons are relatively affordable, and similar to those found in commercial kitchens. But they were somewhat flimsy, and I could bend them without much effort. The larger sizes are also too wide to fit into most spice jars.
(Photos by Michael Hession.)
Originally published: August 8, 2016