It offers a full range of motion, is dishwasher safe, and can press multiple cloves at a time.
Garlic is a versatile ingredient used every day in many kitchens. Preparing it can be a sticky and smelly task, which is where a garlic press comes in. A garlic press has two primary goals: prepare garlic to a grated-like consistency and keep your hands cleaner than chopping does.
Garlic’s smell and taste become stronger when it’s cut because of a compound called allicin that forms when the cells are crushed. The smaller the garlic pieces, the more allicin is formed and the heavier the garlic flavor. Garlic presses combine crushing and mincing motions to produce garlic paste that is fragrant and flavorful. A high quality garlic press can also save time, especially if you have several cloves to press.
The most difficult part of using a garlic press is cleaning the leftover pieces of garlic skin from the basket. This will be an issue in any garlic press you use, but factors like full rotation of the press or mobility of the basket can make it easier. We tested eight garlic presses to identify the ones that make prepping garlic easy and fast.
As a kitchenware reporter, I have tested many tools to determine not only if they work as intended, but also if they make life in the kitchen easier. For this guide, we used a central question to inform our testing: does this product make preparing garlic easier and keep your hands cleaner than using a good knife or a microplane grater? I tested seven garlic presses and rated them on the following criteria:
Performance: We used each press to prepare both large and small cloves, peeled and unpeeled. We looked for the garlic produced to be uniform in shape and near a paste-like consistency. When using the press with unpeeled garlic, we noted if less pressed garlic was produced or if the press was more difficult to squeeze and clean.
Ease of use: We noted how many cloves could fit comfortably in the basket at once. We attempted to squeeze each press with one hand and then two hands to see which was easier and more effective.
Cleaning: We considered how easy the tools were to clean. We ran dishwasher-safe presses through the regular dishwasher cycle and hand washed any presses that weren’t dishwasher safe.
The best garlic press overall
The full rotation and stainless steel construction of the Orblue Garlic Press makes it the easiest to load, press, and clean.
Pros: Full rotation, handles have looped ends so the press can be hung for storage, dishwasher safe, can accommodate multiple cloves at once
Cons: Water spots appeared on stainless steel after washing
This heavy duty kitchen tool features an almost 360 degree range of rotation. While most garlic presses feature a hopper (where the cloves go) that is attached to the handle, a feature of this press is that the hopper swings out separately from the handles. This allows you better access for loading garlic and for cleaning.
The Orblue is on the heavier side, but not unwieldy, and the heft makes squeezing easier when crushing multiple cloves at once. The crushed garlic came out even and paste-like. The press comes with a silicone garlic roller for peeling cloves and a small cleaning brush.
The best garlic press for unpeeled cloves
Whether used with unpeeled cloves or peeled cloves, the Kuhn Rikon Garlic Press consistently produced the same amount of crushed garlic and required minimal pressure.
Pros: Presses both peeled and unpeeled cloves with ease, can accommodate multiple cloves
Cons: Heavy, expensive
The Kuhn Rikon was the most consistent garlic press I tested. Regardless of how the garlic was positioned or whether it was peeled or unpeeled, the Kuhn Rikon felt the same to squeeze and produced the same amount of garlic paste from each clove. This is a big plus if you’re making something that requires a lot of garlic, like garlic bread or aglio e olio.
That said, the Kuhn Rikon is $26 more than our top pick and only performed better with unpeeled cloves. If you’re looking to avoid peeling garlic, the Rikon is easiest to use, but it may not be worth the increased price for everyone.
*This press is currently out of stock on Amazon, but is still available for purchase. New inventory is expected to ship in August 2021.
The best garlic press for easy cleaning
The Zyliss Garlic Press comes with a cleaning tool that was the most effective of any that we tested and stores neatly inside the press so you don’t lose it.
Pros: Mobile lever, cleaning tool stored in the press, can accommodate multiple cloves at once
Cons: Stationary basket, requires a lot of force to press larger cloves
Cleaning a garlic press is the worst part of using it, but the Zyliss makes it almost painless. The cleaning tool is stored tucked into one of the handles, ensuring you don’t lose it. The tool has small spikes that match up with the holes in the basket, so you can push the garlic remains out from the holes, making it easier to remove the peels from the press.
The Zyliss is made of aluminum and does not have the power of the heavier presses, so you have to apply more force. Though the basket is stationary, the press itself opens 180 degrees and the lever is mobile, so you still have space to fill and clean it.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why:
Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker: The main difference between this tool and a traditional press is the size of the garlic pieces produced. Garlic is pushed through larger holes in the Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker, so the texture is less like garlic paste and more like finely diced garlic. Despite that, I do recommend this tool because it is easy to clean, takes up less space than a typical garlic press, and it doesn’t require hand strength. As long as you can lean down and push on the edges of the curved steel, you will successfully crush the clove.
KitchenAid Classic Garlic Press: This press performed similarly to the Orblue, our top pick. It was a little lighter and had a removable basket, but the force required was the same. A removable basket made it easier to clean the press, but it was hard to keep track of this small part and the press would be useless without it. I still recommend this press for someone confident in their ability to keep all the pieces together.
Dreamfarm Garject Self-Cleaning Garlic Press: This press had the most bells and whistles, with a built-in scraper and peel ejector. I loved the addition of the scraper because it pushes all the garlic off the front of the press. While the peel ejector works, it doesn’t make a huge difference in cleaning because smaller pieces of garlic still stick in the basket. The basket is big enough for multiple cloves, but it was very difficult to press when full.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Faberware Garlic Peeler and Press Set: This press was made of plastic and substantially lighter than the stainless steel presses. However, this meant I had little leverage when I squeezed it. This resulted in more work for less output.
Chef’N Garlic Zoom Chopper: Though not technically a press, we tested this product as an option for finely chopped garlic that didn’t require squeezing. While it did fit multiple cloves and chopped them easily, there were flaws in the design. The blade is removable, but it is not secured, so it tends to fall out when you open the top to get garlic out. Additionally, the garlic sticks to the sides.
What we’re testing next
Alpha Grillers Garlic Press: This press can be used with unpeeled cloves and has an extra large basket to press several cloves at once. We will test whether this basket holds more garlic than the standard baskets of our top picks.
OXO Good Grips Garlic Press:We have reviewed many OXO products and find them to be consistently high-performing. We are curious if this garlic press lives up to that standard, and if the padded handles make it easier or more comfortable to use.
What is the best way to clean a garlic press?
Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on whether or not your press is dishwasher safe. If it isn’t, the hardest part will be getting the pieces of garlic out from the basket. A press with a full range of rotation or removable basket is easier to clean because you have access to the nooks and crannies. If your sink has a spray nozzle, blasting the basket with a steam of water can push out stubborn pieces of garlic.
Can you use unpeeled cloves in a garlic press?
You don’t necessarily need to peel garlic before pressing it through a garlic press, though some presses are better at processing unpeeled garlic than others. The manufacturer will list if a press is intended for use with unpeeled cloves. During testing, I had to squeeze harder when pressing unpeeled garlic with all the tools, except the Kuhn Rikon.
What is the best garlic press for weak and arthritic hands?
In general, we do not recommend a garlic press for people with weak hands. None of the garlic presses we tested were easy to use with one hand. Most garlic presses operate by squeezing the handles together to crush the garlic. This is a difficult motion for folks with weaker hands, and we will be testing other methods of preparing garlic for our next update. We’ll also be looking for garlic presses with soft grips, which may be easier to squeeze for some.
When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.
To me, there’s no better gift to give or receive than a great cookbook. A cookbook with beautiful photos, thoughtful narratives, and foolproof recipes can feed the imagination, transport your giftee to another city or country, and inspire them to get creative in the kitchen. There are cookbooks out there to suit every type of cook, whether novice or expert, and feed all interests – from TV show cookbooks to comprehensive tomes on the science of cooking.
Every year, hundreds of new cookbooks make their way onto bookstore shelves. Here are our favorite cookbooks, new and old, to gift this year.
Here are 34 of the best cookbooks gifts for every type of cook:
For the traveler interested in culture and cuisine
A finalist in two different seasons of “Top Chef,” Sheldon Simeon co-authored a cookbook with Garrett Snyder, transporting readers to the tropical islands of Hawaii. The book dives into stories of Simeon’s family, as well as the state’s history and cultural traditions. With 100 recipes throughout the book, this personalized guide to Hawaiian cooking has something for beginners and advanced cooks.
For the friend who knows all the words to “Lady Marmalade”
Patti LaBelle is not only the Godmother of Soul and a musical icon, but she is also a New York Times bestselling author for her cookbooks. Her newest cookbook, “Labelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About,” has recipes centered around LaBelle’s family’s Southern roots. With comfort-food favorites like potato salad and peach cobbler, she showcases a variety of her recipes that are full of personal touches.
Ayesha Curry and her husband, basketball star Stephen Curry, have three children and busy schedules. She created her newest cookbook with her energetic household in mind, and it features 100 recipes that take under an hour to make. “The Full Plate” is perfect for anyone who wants to spend less time cooking while still ending up with delicious meals.
Joanna Gaines and her family rose to reality-television stardom through the show “Fixer Upper.” The house-flipping matriarch released a cookbook highlighting 150 of her family’s favorite recipes, including garden-to-kitchen seasonal meals. Other recipes are from the family’s restaurant, Magnolia Table, in Waco, TX.
Technically unofficial, this cookbook will transport you directly into Disneyland. You can replicate a variety of food found in Disney theme parks. It features 100 recipes of iconic Disneyland treats and snacks, including the famous Dole whip, beignets, and more.
This debut cookbook from Betty Liu (who somehow found the time to author it amid her general surgery residency) is an homage to seasonal cooking and her family’s roots in the Chinese regions of Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang. I picked up this cookbook up in my local bookstore and couldn’t put it down (and ended up bringing it home with me). The chapters are organized by season and explain the influence the weather, holidays, and traditions have on the recipes prepared throughout the year. I love the stories Liu relates about the inspirations behind her recipes, like climbing a mountain to eat Double-Mushroom Noodle Soup at a temple, foraging spring bamboo shoots for Oil-Braised Spring Bamboo, and the bowls of breakfast noodles her father would make her before test days. I’ve already made the Shanghai Stir-Fried Rice Cakes four or five times, and I can’t wait to dive into more of the recipes as the seasons progress.
My best friend (and fellow cookbook collector) recently texted me raving about this cookbook and the genius of Rodney Scott’s Loaded Pork Skin “Nachos,” Pit-Smoked Turkey, and whole-hog approach to Carolina barbecue. Scott’s positivity and passion shine throughout the book, and you’ll learn lots about southern foodways and the history of Carolina barbecue along the way.
Whether it’s London or Bombay that is your giftee’s next destination, “Dishoom” is required reading before they jet off. The popular Dishoom restaurants in London are inspired by the Irani cafes of Bombay and serve “tipples,” snacks, and mains like Mango Kulfi, Pav Bhaji, and Roomali Roti. In “Dishoom,” you’ll learn to cook the restaurant’s entire menu, and be taken on a tour of Bombay’s cafes (complete with a map) along the way.
At Insider Reviews we have lots of opinions, especially about food, and a recent debate centered around the merits of cinnamon versus chocolate fillings for babka. I like Jake Cohen’s philosophy in “Jew-ish,” which is that babka is delicious no matter what you fill it with. “Jew-ish” is a thoughtful collection of recipes centered around Cohen’s Ashkenazi heritage, his own self-discovery in the kitchen, and the Persian-Iraqi traditions of his husband. Cohen celebrates the origins of Jewish dishes, while also putting his own twist on the classics. You’ll see this in action in his recipes for Cacio e Pepe Rugelach, Black and White Chocolate Chip Cookies, and yes, You Can Go Your Own Way: Babka Edition.
For the family member intimidated by their new Instant Pot
Insider Reviews reporter, James Brains, is currently testing Instant Pots and other multicookers for an update to our guide to the best electric pressure cookers. He’s been using recipes from this cookbook and reports that they’re easy to follow, have plenty of photos, and are delicious to boot. The book features more than 750 photos detailing step-by-step how to make the 100+ recipes, and makes a great gift for anyone who is curious about Instant Pots but hasn’t taken the plunge yet.
Toni Tipton-Martin’s personal collection of African-American cookbooks spans more than 400 titles and her knowledge of American food history is on full display in “Jubilee.” Through recipes and stories, she relates the history of Black folks who shaped American cuisine into what it is today, from those who cooked under the confines of brutal enslavement to the chefs who ran White House kitchens. “Jubilee” is a masterful work of American history, as told through food.
A compendium of 255 pie recipes, “Pie Academy” is likely the last pie cookbook you’ll ever need. It has nearly a dozen recipes for different types of pie crust, a troubleshooting section for when things don’t go as expected, and chapters organized by seasonality and filling type. It’s guaranteed to be a hit with the pie lover in your life, especially one who is interested in making pies but has always found them a bit daunting.
While not a cookbook, “Black, White, and The Grey,” tells the story of one of the most celebrated restaurants in America: The Grey in Savannah, Georgia. Mashama Bailey, who is Black, and John O. Morisano, who is white, relate the story of how they turned a dilapidated formerly segregated Greyhound bus station into an award-winning restaurant. The dual memoir touches on race, community, and friendship, with some delicious food anecdotes along the way.
Michelin-starred chef Hooni Kim’s debut cookbook is a crash course in the essentials of Korean cuisine. The book’s tagline is “traditional flavors, modern recipes,” and that is an accurate summation of what you can expect to find in this cookbook — from Dolsot Bibimbap to Budae Jjigae to Hanjan’s Spicy Rice Cakes. When I first laid my hands on this cookbook, I wanted to make (and eat) every single recipe. If you’re looking for some solid foundation recipes, “My Korea” delivers.
In her debut cookbook, Priya Krishna (contributor to Bon Appetit, New York Times, and others) offers up beloved favorite recipes from her Indian-American family, including Tomato Rice with Crispy Cheddar, Malaysian Ramen, and what her dad calls Indian Gatorade (Shikanji). The recipes are largely vegetarian, creative, fun, comforting, and guaranteed to inspire anyone who feels stuck in a rut with their cooking in 2021.
This was the year of the sourdough starter, and few people are as well-versed in fermented breads as Bryan Ford, blogger and baker. We’re not just talking about your classic sourdough boule; Ford is well-known for demonstrating the breadth of what you can do with a sourdough starter: from Sourdough Pan de Coco to Sourdough Discard Battered Fried Chicken.
In this beautifully illustrated cookbook, chef and New York Times columnist Samin Nosrat outlines the foundations of cooking, from when to salt your chicken to how to make the perfect focaccia. All the information is presented in a fun, engaging way alongside original illustrations you’ll want to frame and hang in your kitchen.
“La Buvette” is part cookbook, part guide to French living. Interspersed with recipes from the cookbook’s namesake cafe are beautiful pictures of Paris, tips about shopping in France’s vintage markets, and instructions on how to dry flowers. The cookbook is a lovely escape into Parisian living, perfect for any Francophile dreaming of a visit to the City of Lights.
For your friend who knows all the best restaurants
Xi’an Famous Foods started as a small family-owned market stall in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. Its hand-pulled cumin lamb noodles have become so loved that there are now 14 locations all around New York City. In this cookbook, the son of the family and CEO of the business Jason Wang divulges some of the recipes that made his family business famous, as well as other classic dishes from Xi’an in western China.
Fans of GBBO will likely remember series nine runner-up Kim-Joy’s adorable and creative bakes, like her giant chocolate planet filled with “space turtles,” or her “Silke the vegetarian mermaid” pie. Kim-Joy brings the same color and fun to her bakes in her debut cookbook, which includes Pigfiteroles in Mud, Tazhong Cat Buns, and a version of her Space Turtle Cake.
For the person experimenting with a plant-based lifestyle this year
James Beard Award-winning chef and food activist Bryant Terry offers 150 vegan recipes in his most recent cookbook. Instead of trying to imitate meaty dishes, Terry’s book celebrates the vegetable and all its parts: skin, husk, flowers, roots, and all. You’ll find recipes for Pea Shoot and Peanut Salad, Grilled Spring Onions with Lemon-Thyme Oil, Cornmeal-Fried Oyster Mushroom Po’Boys, and more. A special hallmark of Terry’s books is that they often contain a playlist to listen to while you’re cooking, and “Vegetable Kingdom” is no different, featuring recommended tracks by Duke Ellington, Santana, Björk, and more.
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi were both born in Jerusalem in the same year — Tamimi on the Arab east side and Ottolenghi in the Jewish west. This cookbook is a unique, cross-cultural homage to the vibrant flavors of the city in totality with more than 100 recipes.
Longtime Ottolenghi collaborator (and co-author of “Jerusalem,” another of our cookbook picks), Sam Tamimi, crafted his latest cookbook as an homage to Palestinian food. The book is rich in recipes, from multiple variations of shakshuka and hummus, to verdant salads, and colorful dips. Along the way, Tamimi tells the culinary history of Palestinian food — from the home cooks feeding their neighbors in refugee camps to the restaurateurs cooking for tourists in Bethlehem.
For the friend who lives for the next Li Ziqi video
Grace Young, a self-described wok therapist and advocate for the future of America’s Chinatowns, has been teaching the next generation the ins and outs of wok cooking. I bought my first wok on her recommendation and it’s easily my favorite pan to cook in. Her book “The Breath of a Wok” outlines key techniques for cooking in this versatile pan, like making use of the hot and cool zones and using the large bowl of the wok for deep frying.
Molly Yeh is the star of Food Network’s “Girl Meets Farm” and winner of the Judges’ Choice IACP Cookbook Award. “Molly on the Range” explores home, family, her Jewish and Chinese heritage, and Yeh’s Midwestern farm life. You’ll find recipes for Sufganiyot, Chicken Potstickers, Challah Waffles, and more.
For the person who gets all their news from Twitter
Supermodel, mom, and prolific tweeter Chrissy Teigen is also the author of two cookbooks. Her first, “Cravings,” is a celebration of all things comfort food and includes selections from her Thai-American upbringing (Jok Moo), recipes from her husband John Legend (John’s Fried Chicken Wings with Spicy Honey Butter), and favorites inspired by her travels to Italy and beyond (Lemony Arugula Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe). The book is filled with anecdotes and Teigen’s signature humor, and the recipes are delicious and approachable.
If your giftee already has and loves “Cravings” and “Cravings: Hungry for More,” they’ll be thrilled to know that Chrissy Teigen’s mom Pepper is getting a cookbook of her own. Pepper is a beloved fixture in both of Chrissy’s books, on her website, and on her YouTube channel, where she has her own mini-series: Pepper’s Corner. You can expect “The Pepper Thai Cookbook” to include dishes like Pad Korat (the version of Pad Thai served in her hometown of Korat), Pad Thai Brussels Sprouts, and Nam Prik Sloppy Joes. This cookbook is shipping in April, and already gearing up to be one of the most anticipated cookbooks of 2021.
I worked for America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) for seven years and was privy to the care its team puts into each and every one of its cookbooks. ATK’s series of cookbooks for kids is the epitome of that detail and care; every one of the recipes in this volume was tested by pro chefs and kid cooks. The recipes are specifically designed with kids in mind, outlining when to get an adult for help with handling hot ingredients or sharp tools. This is the book I wish was available to me when I was a child, and I’ve gifted it and the kid’s baking book to every kid I know. I love getting reports from their parents about a new recipe they cooked or discovered.
For the person always posting pictures of their cheese board
In her best-selling cookbook, author and food blogger Shelley Westerhausen shares 40 casual yet chic spreads (complete with meat and drink pairings) that anyone can make and enjoy. It’s also a visual cornucopia that’s just as satisfying to flip through as to use when hosting get-togethers when it’s safe to do so.
For the friend who likes to Instagram all their food
Yotam Ottolenghi is owner and chef of some of London’s most beloved cafes and restaurants. His recipes are some of the most colorful and beautiful out there, and his latest cookbook is no exception. “Flavor” is filled with mostly vegetarian recipes that not only pack a punch visually but flavor-wise, too. Ottolenghi and his co-authors expound the building blocks of flavor in three sections: process, pairing, and produce. The result is more than 100 ‘gram-worthy recipes from Spicy Mushroom Lasagna to Iceberg Wedges with Smoky Eggplant Cream.
Claire Saffitz may be known for her wildly popular Gourmet Makes series on YouTube, but she’s a pastry chef at heart and her affinity for baked goods is out in full force with her new cookbook “Dessert Person.” In this cookbook, you can find creative recipes for Babkallah (a babka-Challah mashup), Apple and Concord Grape Crumble Pie, Strawberry-Cornmeal Layer Cake, and Malted Forever Brownies. It’s sure to please the dessert lover in your life.
For the person who had to cancel their vacation last year
This cookbook centers around grandmothers (or bibis) from eight south and east African countries. Throughout the book, we get to know the women whose recipes are featured and learn about their personal history and the history of their country. Along the way, you’ll find recipes for Eritrean Doro Wat, Tanzanian Date Bread, Kenyan Kachumbari, and more. It’s the kind of cookbook that makes think about your grandmother.
For the person who lives by a cookie-a-day philosophy
A good ol’ chocolate chip cookie never goes out of style, but if you have a cookie lover in your life, consider gifting them this homage to baked goods. You’ll find recipes for the classics (including four different variations of chocolate chip cookies) as well cookies you’ve probably never had before, like Banana-Espresso-Cacao Nib cookies.
Outside of deal events like Presidents’ Day and Black Friday, you can find solid discounts on some of the Le Creuset lineup on its site, year round. The Specials section holds tons of excellent discounts pretty much all year – so you should never settle for paying retail price for Le Creuset cookware.
Right now, shoppers can also save up to 50% on select Le Creuset cookware and accessories as well, including ramekins, griddles, dinner plates, and more.
Demi Kettle and Mug Set (medium)Sauteuse (medium)Craft Series Utensil Set (medium)Mugs (Set of 4) (medium)Heritage Square Baking Dishes (Set of 2) (medium)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)Product Card (medium)Toughened Nonstick PRO Square Grill Pan (medium)
Electric skillets are one of the most underrated kitchen appliances. If you live in a dorm, tiny home, RV, or just don’t have access to a stove, an electric skillet comes in handy for an array of cooking tasks. In addition to sautéing and pan-frying, a skillet is useful for deep frying, browning meats, and griddle cooking. You can even find recipes for baking cakes and other treats in electric skillets. While working on this guide, I frequently referenced and enjoyed The Sensational Skillet Cookbook.
Even if you have a spacious kitchen with several burners, it’s smart to keep an electric skillet around when the summer heat makes using the stove unbearable, when kitchen space is at a premium during the holidays, or when you just want to keep your food warm at a potluck.
For this guide, I fried 15 pounds of chicken thighs and eight pounds of burgers, and made more than 50 pancakes in six electric skillets.
I have reviewed kitchen appliances for four years and have developed many objective tests to determine which models are best for different budgets and cooking needs. You can find details about how I test electric skillets here.
We put each electric skillet in this guide through several objective tests. The most important factors to take into account when buying an electric skillet are how evenly it heats and cooks and how easy it is to use and clean.
Here are the main attributes we consider and the ways we test for them:
Ease of use: I set up each of the units without referencing the user manual to assess how easy they were to use. Even with some minor assembly, none of the skillets took more than 10 minutes to set up. I also examined how easy the handles were to grab barehanded when hot and covered with slippery cooking oil. The handles stayed cool on all of the models, but there were a few instances where the handles were small or poorly placed so that it was hard to avoid coming in contact with the hot pan. I also looked at special features that improved usability, such as a long power cord, easy storage, or a built-in pour spout.
Even heating: To test how evenly the skillets heated, I sprinkled 1/3 cup flour evenly over the cooking surface of each. Then, I turned the heat on high and closely watched the coloration of the flour. If the skillet heats evenly, all of the flour should darken at the same time. This was not the case with any of the skillets. With every unit except our top pick, the flour darkened where the heating element was located under the pan.
Speed: I poured two cups of peanut oil into the skillet, cranked the heat, and timed how long it took the oil to reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit as measured with a probe thermometer. Most of the models took five to seven minutes. Only our top pick took a little longer — eight minutes and 30 seconds.
Cleaning process: I washed each of the electric skillets several times per the manufacturer’s instructions and noted how difficult the cleaning process was. For the units that are dishwasher safe, I ran them through the dishwasher at least once. I found washing by hand to be more convenient than machine washing; the skillets hogged a lot of dishwasher space and the nonstick surfaces made removing grime with a sponge fairly easy.
Cooking performance: I put the electric skillets through three cooking tests.
Fried chicken: I preheated two cups of peanut oil and filled each skillet with as many chicken thighs (coated with gluten-free flour and Tajín Clásico Seasoning) as I could fit without crowding. I timed how long it took for the chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, I assessed how evenly the chicken cooked and how good it tasted.
Hamburgers: After preheating the skillets, I added as many quarter-pound patties as I could fit without crowding and timed how long it took them to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Once done, I assessed how even the sear was and how the burger tasted.
Pancakes: I made pancake batter from Krusteaz mix and scooped quarter-cup dollops onto the preheated and bacon-greased skillets. I timed how long it took the pancakes to cook through. Then, I rated how evenly the pancakes cooked based on taste and appearance.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR): I assessed how socially responsible the manufacturers of each skillet are based on information the organizations provided as well as my own research. I considered environmental initiatives and whether the companies are engaged in any questionable practices, and I looked at data from sites like CSRHub and Glassdoor to get a sense of diversity in leadership and employee satisfaction. Since it’s virtually impossible to collect consistent data across all companies, I didn’t weigh this attribute heavily, but I did note any information that consumers may want to know before supporting a company.
Pros: Heats evenly, comes with two pans and a steamer, user-friendly controls, easy to clean, long cord that detaches easily for safety, produced delicious and evenly-cooked fried chicken, burgers, and pancakes
Cons: Small cooking surface
There are several features that set the Zojirushi Gourmet d’Expert Electric Skillet (model EP-RAC50) apart from other skillets we tested. First of all, it comes with two pans: a deeper pan for soup-type foods, including hot pots, and a flatter plate for frying and grilling. The set also includes a tempered glass lid and vented steamer.
The skillet comes with a long cord that detaches when something pulls on it so it’s hard to accidentally send the skillet’s contents flying across your kitchen.
Setup was intuitive and took about five minutes. And, the Gourmet d’Expert has user-friendly controls. You simply move the slider on the face of the unit to the temperature you want. In contrast, the other models we tested relied on poorly-placed dials.
I was impressed with the even heating of the Zojirushi. While the other models were hotter around the heating element — exhibiting a telltale dark ring in our flour test — the heating element location wasn’t as clear with the Gourmet d’Expert as the flour darkened more evenly.
The Zojirushi skillet did a good job of cooking fried chicken, burgers, and pancakes. While it was the slowest to heat oil, it was the fastest to cook the fried chicken, only taking 25 minutes. And, the skin was as evenly-cooked and tasty as it gets. The meat was juicy with just the right amount of grease. Plus, the skillet produced a great sear on the burgers, and the pancakes were cooked evenly and quickly.
Cleanup was a snap. While the pan isn’t dishwasher safe, you can remove it from the base to wash it by hand, and grime slid right off thanks to the nonstick coating.
The biggest negative with the Gourmet d’Expert is it’s the smallest model we tested, and fit the fewest burgers, pancakes, and chicken thighs.
While I would have liked to take Zojirushi’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) rating into account during my evaluation, the company did not provide the info I requested. If that changes, I will update this guide accordingly.
Pros: Large capacity, fast preheating, produced outstanding burgers, simple design, lightweight, easy to store
Cons: Heats and cooks unevenly, not dishwasher safe
The Dash Family Size Rapid Heat Electric Skillet (model DRG214RD) is the only skillet under $50 that we recommend. It also has the largest capacity of the units we tested, fitting the most chicken thighs, burgers, and pancakes, which makes it ideal for families.
The Dash skillet has a basic design and setup. The unit consists of the base with its built-in nonstick pan, a power cord with a dial control that plugs into the back, and a lid with a silicone ring to form a tight seal. Setup took about five minutes, and the only assembly was attaching the knob to the lid.
The handles are large and easy to grip (even when greasy), and, as the name suggests, the Dash Rapid Heat Electric Skillet heats quickly. Unfortunately, that speed comes at the expense of even heat distribution. In the flour test, I could clearly see where the ring-shaped heating element was located. This led to fast but uneven pancake cooking. And, some of the chicken started to burn in spots, while other pieces were still undercooked. However, the hamburgers were the most forgiving. The Dash skillet produced beautifully-seared burgers that tasted delicious.
Cleaning the skillet was a pain. It’s big and isn’t dishwasher safe. Fortunately, it has a nonstick surface so debris comes right off, and the unit is lightweight, which makes it easy to move around and store.
Dash is a subsidiary of Groupe SEB, which has a strong record of social responsibility. For more info about how we evaluate CSR, see our testing methodology.
The best electric skillet for frying
At just a few dollars more than our budget pick, the Presto Electric Foldaway Skillet did an outstanding job of frying chicken and cooking pancakes in our tests, and it folds up for easy storage.
Pros: Did an outstanding job frying chicken and cooking pancakes, easy to clean and use, folds up for compact storage, features a pour spout
Cons: Cooked burgers slowly and unevenly, heats unevenly
Presto is arguably the biggest name in electric skillets. The company even published the most popular electric skillet cookbook on Amazon, the Eclectic Electric Skillet Cookbook. And, the Presto Electric Foldaway Skillet (model 06857) is one of the best-selling skillets with its unique design that folds up for compact storage, making it ideal for RVs or other tight quarters. Another unique feature is a pour spout on the rim for accurate pouring of the pan’s contents.
The setup of the Presto Foldaway is a little more involved than most skillets since you need to clip the pan into the base, but it was easy to do without instructions, and the setup process only took five minutes.
The Presto skillet did an excellent job of making chicken and pancakes. The oil preheated in under seven minutes, and the fried chicken took 26 minutes to get to a safe internal temperature. The results were absolutely delicious. Pancakes took about three minutes and were cooked evenly.
The burgers didn’t turn out as good. It took 10 minutes to cook them in the Presto Foldaway — longer than any other model — and they browned unevenly. The flour test more clearly revealed the uneven heating as a ring of darkened flour formed where the heating element was located.
Fortunately, cleaning the Presto Foldaway was easy since the pan detaches from the base. The pan is dishwasher safe, but Presto encourages washing by hand to prolong the life of the nonstick coating. I preferred washing it by hand anyway, since the coating kept bits of debris from sticking.
Presto’s parent company, National Presto Industries, may be problematic for some, with its low social responsibility ranking, lack of diversity in leadership roles, and production of warheads. For more info about how we evaluate CSR, see our testing methodology.
What else we tested
We tested six electric skillets for this guide. These are the ones that didn’t make the cut.
What else we recommend and why:
De’Longhi (model BG45, $54.99): We almost included the De’Longhi electric skillet in our guide, but it wasn’t the best in any category. It does a great job cooking fried chicken, is dishwasher safe, and has a large cooking area for such a compact appliance. Plus, the company has an impressive 97% CSRHub ranking. However, it did not heat evenly, and other electric skillets made better pancakes and hamburgers. Still, this is a solid alternative if our top picks are out of stock.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Cuisinart Stainless Steel Non-Stick (model CSK-150, $139.99): In the fried chicken test, the Cuisinart skillet was the fastest to heat the oil, and the resulting chicken was evenly cooked and delicious. And, since it’s dishwasher safe, it’s easy to clean. Those were about the only positives though. The small handles made it easy to accidentally burn your hand on the hot pan, it didn’t always heat evenly, and the temperatures on the dial control appeared to be inaccurate.
Presto Grey Ceramic (model 06856, $44.99): The Grey Ceramic skillet made excellent chicken and pancakes, like the Presto Foldaway skillet. However, it wasn’t as easy to clean since the pan doesn’t detach from the base, and it doesn’t fold up for easy storage or have a pour spout. It also performed poorly in our flour test and didn’t cook burgers evenly. Plus, we have concerns about National Presto Industries’ CSR record.
What we look forward to testing
We’re always testing new electric skillets and retesting our top picks to determine the best ones. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:
Bella Ceramic Titanium (model 14607, $32.09): Featuring a copper ceramic titanium coating on cast aluminum, we’re curious to see how durable and even heating this is. It’s on the smaller side so it might be a good solution if you’re cooking for one.
Nesco (model ES-08, $24.33): This model costs less than half as much as our top budget pick, and at eight inches square (per the manufacturer), it’s quite a bit smaller than any unit we tested. It seems like it could be a good option for college kids living in kitchen-less dorms.
What can I cook in an electric skillet?
Electric skillets are underrated, versatile appliances that can make a broad range of foods. An electric skillet can be used to cook all of your breakfast favorites, including crispy bacon, hash browns, eggs, pancakes, French toast, and more. You can use it to toast bread, which I like to do in bacon grease for added flavor.
You can simmer soups, chilis, and chowders in an electric skillet, but you’ll want to keep the heat low and stir often to avoid burning. And I’ve found it’s fun to use an electric skillet to cook right on the dining room table. For instance, you can make fondue or have a non-traditional hibachi grilling experience.
An electric skillet can also be used for baking cakes, cookies, and pies, making pizza, and cooking one-pot pasta dishes (like lasagna or spaghetti) and casseroles. Basically, anything you can bake, fry, deep fry, sauté, simmer, boil, steam, or slow cook can be made in an electric skillet. When you purchase one, I recommend picking up some cookbooks as well. The two I use are The Sensational Skillet Cookbook and Electric Skillet Cookbook Complete.
When it comes to mixers, KitchenAid stand mixers are in a class of their own. In addition to mixing batters and kneading doughs, these mixers work with a wide array of attachments.
If you own a KitchenAid already, you are only one attachment away from making your own pasta, straining and grinding fruits and vegetables, making sausage, spiralizing vegetables, creating homemade ice cream, grinding your own flour, or turning your mixer into a food processor.
Most of the attachments in our guide work with all KitchenAid mixers. The Pasta Extruder Attachment is the only accessory on our list that doesn’t fit every model.
We pored over the expert and user reviews to find out which attachments are worth buying based on value, long-lasting performance, and versatility. We chose the KitchenAid attachments for our guide after assessing the most common positive and negative attributes of the most popular accessories available.
Pros: Built to last, easy to use when you follow the directions
Cons: Takes a little practice to get the pasta just right
If you have ever had fresh pasta, you know the pre-packaged dry stuff doesn’t compare. With the KitchenAid 3-Piece Pasta Roller & Cutter Attachment Set, you turn your KitchenAid stand mixer into a one-stop pasta shop. This set comes with a pasta roller that rolls six-inch sheets of pasta to eight different thicknesses, a fettuccine cutter, a spaghetti cutter, and a cleaning brush. All of the pieces are made in Italy.
How does it work? First, you prepare the dough using the mixer, then you flatten the dough and feed it into the rollers on the 2-speed setting. This will knead it. You repeat the rolling process until the dough is smooth and pliable. You slowly decrease the thickness of the dough until it is at your desired thickness. Then, to make the noodles, you either feed it through the spaghetti cutter or the fettuccine cutter.
It took me some practice to get the dough just right to feed it through the rollers, but once I got the hang of it, it was easy and fun. I’m impressed with how durable the pieces are. They feel heavy duty, and I haven’t had any issues with them in the two years I’ve had them.
I also appreciate that the attachment provides an excellent rolling and cutting speed, and the attachments are easy to switch out.
The grinder comes with fine and coarse plates for making fresh hamburger, processing vegetables for salsa, and grinding your own cheese. These accessories work with any KitchenAid stand mixer, and if you want to make sausage, we recommend adding the Sausage Stuffer Kit Attachment to your order.
Fine Spiralizer Blade for sweet potatoes, beets, and zucchini
Medium Spiralizer Blade for sweet potatoes, potatoes, and zucchini
Spiral Slice Blades for Small and Large Cores for zucchini, apples, beets, and pears
Spiral Peeling Blade for potatoes and apples
All of the pieces fit into a simple storage case, and the set comes with a one-year replacement warranty.
The attachment is also backed by a respected manufacturer and made of durable metal so it’s long-lasting. This attachment is useful for peeling potatoes and the quick-change blades make meal preparation simple and fast. While a hand crank spiralizer, typically takes a couple minutes to spiral a zucchini, with this attachment it’s a matter of seconds.
However, a few buyers have noted the device leaves about half an inch of the vegetable at the end, and the thinnest the spirals get is about 3/8-inch thick.
The best KitchenAid attachment for extruding pasta
If you are looking for an easy way to make fusilli, rigatoni, macaroni, bucatini, and several other types of pasta, the KitchenAid Pasta Extruder Attachment is the best attachment for you.
Pros: Sturdy design, intuitive assembly, fun to use
Cons: Expensive, hard to clean
The KitchenAid Pasta Extruder Attachment provides a fun way to make traditional Italian dishes at home. It comes with a combo tool, cleaning brush, six pasta plates, a wrench, pasta ring, and auger and hook. All of the pieces store snugly in the included case.
How does the Extruder differ from the 3-Piece Pasta Roller & Cutter Attachment Set? There are four major ways. First, unlike most other KitchenAid stand mixer attachments, the Extruder only works with certain models. On the Amazon page, you can type in your model number to see if this attachment is compatible with your machine.
Another way they differ is that the Pasta Roller & Cutter is basically only good for making two types of pasta: fettuccine and spaghetti. The Extruder allows for many other options. Also, the Pasta Roller & Cutter requires less effort to use and clean up. However, the Extruder is also more expensive.
A negative is the pasta ring breaks easily. To avoid this, you should skip the dough recipe found in the user manual since it produces a dough that is stiff and could lead to problems. Instead, consider using a recipe like this. Also, do not put too much dough in the attachment at once.
The KitchenAid All Metal Grain Mill Attachment is designed to mill any non-oily, low-moisture grains, such as barley, rice, rye, wheat, millet, buckwheat, oats, and corn. Do not put coffee or peanuts in this attachment because it could damage the grinding mechanism. Before you use the attachment, clean it with a mild detergent to remove any oils used to protect the device from rust. Also, the mill is not dishwasher safe so use the brush that comes with the kit to clean it off or wash by hand if you need to.
The mill can produce cracked to extra fine consistencies. The mill features symbols for the finest grind and the coarsest grind, and there are several notches in between. First, you choose a setting, put the grain in the hopper, and start the mixer at speed 10. If the grind is not precisely to your liking, adjust the knob until you get it as coarse or fine as you want. If the mixer appears to be overheating, turn it off for at least 45 minutes before continuing.
Those who enjoy multigrain bread and cracking grains for porridge will like that this accessory can mill very coarsely. However, be wary of milling massive amounts of grain on the finest setting at high speeds.
Be aware that the mill seems to work best with newer models in the Professional and Artisan series and is geared toward the home baking enthusiast who needs about two or three pounds of flour per week.
The best KitchenAid attachment for food processing
Pros: Streamlined design is easy to clean, durable
Cons: Unlike your standard food processor, it does not mix food together
The KitchenAid Commercial Food Processor Attachment (model KSM2FPA) comes with shredding, julienning, and slicing discs. Plus, the ExactSlice System has a lever that allows you to adjust the thickness of the slicing. It is made out of plastic with metal blades and comes with a one-year replacement warranty.
This attachment does everything a top-quality food processor does, without the need for a new appliance that takes up extra space in your kitchen.
This Commercial Food Processor Attachment is the pricier sibling of the similar KSM1FPA. The main differences between the two is the higher-end KSM2FPA comes with a storage case, commercial-style dicing kit, and currently costs a bit more. If you purchase the KSM1FPA and find you cannot live without the storage case or dicing kit, you can purchase them separately.
Pros: Produces better tasting and more affordable ground meat, easy to clean, works well for sausage making
Cons: There’s a small amount of wasted meat
The KitchenAid Metal Food Grinder Attachment is not the first mixer attachment that can handle meat, but it is the first put out by KitchenAid that is made entirely of metal. This makes it ideal for heavy-duty grinding projects and ensures long-term durability.
The attachment comes with the main housing, a removable tray, a grind screw, the blade, three grinding plates, the collar for securing the plates, a plastic sausage stuffer plate, small and large plastic sausage stuffer tubes, a food pusher, and a cleaning brush.
KitchenAid sent me the grinder to test, and I fell in love with it. I no longer buy ground meat. I do it all myself, and the results are always far superior to what you would buy pre-packaged at the store. I keep my grinder in the freezer so it’s always ready to go when I want ground meat. It’s important to chill the grinder to protect against temperature increases that could lead to bacteria growth while grinding.
One of my favorite creations was half pork jowl bacon/half beef burgers. I also made beer bratwurst for the first time with spectacular results.
And, cleanup was a snap. All of the metal parts should be washed by hand, and I recommend cleaning the grinder immediately after use or rinsing it off at least. Otherwise, bits of meat dry onto it and are hard to remove.
I’ve used this attachment for three years now, and I haven’t seen any degradation in performance.
The best KitchenAid mixers serve as an indispensable tool as you bake cakes, pies, bread, cookies, and other delicious treats. They can knead the toughest dough for long periods of time, and they are versatile enough to make pasta and sausage. We’ve rounded up the five best models in our buying guide.
When selecting a blender for your kitchen, you’re going to want one that’s powerful enough to do whatever job you need, whether it’s creating a simple smoothie or crushing ice. Although blenders all seem to perform the same task, there are a few different types, each with its own unique features: conventional, multi-function, personal, and immersion. These are our favorites.
One of the unsung heroes of this electronic kitchen revolution is the humble food processor. While not as common as electric ranges and microwaves, a food processor is one of those appliances that will leave you wondering how you ever lived without one. Here are the best options.
The nutritional benefits of starting your day with fruits and vegetables are undeniable, but so is the financial hit of being a juice bar regular (if you go five times a week, we’re talking hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars a year). With a juicer, however, you can offset the cost of your healthy habit by squeezing your own greens at home. These are the best juicers on the market.
Picnics have always been a firm favourite. There’s nothing like enjoying the Great British Summertime surrounded by your friends, soaking up the rays, munching on strawberries and cheese sandwiches.
This year, with people being encouraged to meet others outside, picnics have become a popular and pandemic-proof way to catch up with loved ones. Out of this has emerged an opportunity to make extra income, or even set up a whole new business, surrounding the pop-up picnic experience.
Firstly, you will need to establish a niche for your picnics.
Are you going to do a particular theme?
Or, perhaps, you may cater to each individual client depending on their preferences, or a particular occasion?
You may even pick a handful of occasions you want to specialise in. For example, hen dos, baby showers or birthdays.
Utilise photo sharing websites and begin to note down some set up ideas. Websites including Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr have thousands of photographs you can draw inspiration from. If you search ‘Picnics’, you’ll be thrust into a world you never knew existed. You can save these pictures to go back to as you begin to develop your ideas further. From these, you can decide particular concepts you want to include in your picnics, from the colour schemes and decor of your picnics, to the type of food and beverages you will serve.
Your set up doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. It’s beneficial to have a rummage in your local charity shops or at boot sales, to pick up low-cost decor and seating. Similarly, you could search second-hand websites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace and even Freecycle and get unique pieces to give your picnics a special edge.
A key decision in the process is to decide how many people you are willing to cater to at one time. As you build your business, you may wish to start small. You may choose to only cater for up to six people at a time, and as you find your footing and become familiar with the process, you may choose to expand this number. This, of course, is entirely up to you and how comfortable you feel.
Finally, you should decide the location of your business. Are you going to provide picnics within a 2-mile radius of where you live? Are you willing to travel for clients? Again, this is up to you and dependent on access to transport and the ease of which you are able to get to a new location.
Services to offer
You could also begin to think about the type of service you’d like to offer to your clients. You may opt to offer the making, set up and removal of the picnic only, or you may choose to go the extra mile and offer your waiting services. For example, topping up people’s drinks, offering them hor’deurves and nibbles as they enjoy themselves. Additionally, you may opt to be a ‘host’ as such, organising games or quizzes for the guests.
Some picnic businesses aim to create an entire experience, rather than just a picnic. A fun idea could be to offer a ‘bottomless brunch’ for your guests. This could include unlimited top-ups of prosecco for a set amount of time. Some restaurants charge as much as £40 per head for 90 minutes of brunching fun. You could also cater to special occasions such as graduations, going the extra mile to provide graduation-themed decor, such as cupcakes decorated with graduation caps or banners reading ‘Class of 2021’, for example.
What should you include?
Starting with arguably the main part of a picnic (besides the prosecco!), it’s important to think about the type of food you will offer. Are you going to go for a traditional style picnic, with sandwiches, scotch eggs and strawberries? Or maybe you’re more inclined to deliver a ‘luxury’ picnic, making a proper meal with tear and share bread or a side salad. Perhaps you could mix and match, catering specifically to the requests of those organising the event.
Charcuterie boards are an easy way to incorporate a bit of luxury into your picnic. Mixed meats, cheese, olives, pickles, grapes, bread and crackers neatly organised on a large platter for people to pick and choose as they wish. Enjoyed with a nice glass of red or a bottle of bubbly, it’s an achievable way to offer something unique without breaking your budget.
It’s imperative your picnics look appealing. Not only for the sake of taking aesthetically pleasing photographs in order to draw in clientele, but to impress your guests, encourage them to use your services again in the future and wow them in a way that spreads the word about your business. As mentioned previously, your decor doesn’t have to break the bank. Search your local charity shops for cushions, blankets and even little coffee tables to create a unique and magical atmosphere.
How much should you charge?
It’s a good idea to have a base fee. This is used to cover the cost of food and the ‘rental’ of your décor, seating and utensils. A charge of £100 or so could be requested for groups of up to 6 people, with an extra £10 requested for every additional guest after that. Alternatively, you may want to charge per head and quote each client with a price dependent on their requirements.
Extra services and add-ons, such as occasion-specific decor, for example party hats or balloons, may incur extra costs. You may be asked to provide a birthday cake, some extra bubbly, party games or party favours, for which you could include additional charges.
How can you get the word out?
The internet is your best friend. Creating a website or a social media page to offer and promote your services is a good place to start. Try to ensure your website has a review section, where people can leave comments about their experience. It could also have a star-rating scale so others can see how highly your business is rated by others.
Social media, particularly where you can share photos, is extremely useful. You can share beautiful photos of your picnics to catch the eye of potential clientele and encourage them to book your services. You may wish to invest in a good camera or editing software, to ensure your photos are high quality and appealing.
Do a trial run with your friends and family and ask for their honest feedback. Invite your loved ones to experience a complimentary picnic. Don’t go overboard on the spending, as you aren’t getting paid, but allow yourself to give enough of an experience so you can test the waters.
What did they like? Was there anything they weren’t so keen on? Ask them how much they’d be willing to pay for the experience, and whether there was anything they thought was missing. They may also give you constructive feedback on your hosting skills. Don’t take criticisms too personally. They will aid you in shaping and fine-tuning your picnics.
When your business is up and running, make sure to interact with your guests. Be friendly, polite and get to know them, building relationships through interactions that leave them with a long-lasting, positive impression. Thank them for their custom, make sure they have everything they need and ensure they’re enjoying the experience. Go above and beyond. High client satisfaction will lead to them using your services again, as well as telling others about you.
Do you need any training?
It’s not imperative to get any sort of training to start a pop-up picnic business, but it is a worthwhile investment, particularly if your business takes off. The Food Standards Agency offers free online courses in food allergen training, as well of loads of advice on food handling and safety. The Safer Food Group offers qualifications in food hygiene from £12, and Essential Food Hygiene also provides a range of fully accredited courses from £10. Having these will give your business more credibility, helping your clients feel reassured that their food is being made and handled to a correct standard.
Sarah Pearson: Owner of a London picnic business
We had the opportunity to interview Sarah Pearson, a seasoned cake baker and decorator. Always having a desire to be a party planner, she has recently turned her career decorating cakes into a new picnic business venture.
After years of putting her creative skills to good use, making beautifully crafted birthday cakes for friends and family, Sarah was asked to help out with a few children’s birthday parties in the summer months. These parties were located in local parks, in which the children would be given picnics and play in the sun together.
“My own daughter was born in winter, so I was never able to plan summer parties outside for her,” Sarah tells us. However, she loves the idea of giving children a wonderful picnic experience to remember. After chatting with another mum at the school gates, they created something wonderful – a pop-up picnic experience.
We asked Sarah how the idea began to develop. “I love to create, I love seeing people’s reactions, and I love helping people out, take the pressure off”, she tells us. “I threw a picnic party for a family last year and they had such an amazing time. They want me to do another party for them again this year. They have a newborn baby, so with me organising the picnic the pressure is taken off them”. You can tell she is passionate about what she does, and it’s refreshing. She continues, “I’m really excited and I have great belief in it”.
Sarah bought herself a trailer, which she uses to transport everything she needs for the picnics. This includes decorations, food and any extras requested by the clients, such as blankets. In terms of what she charges, there is a base fee, with an additional small fee per hour of the party. This pays for her time, as well as the set-up and clean-up of the picnic. How much to extra charge, depending on what each person wants to eat or drink, is also calculated.
She suggests it’s easier to work out a cost per person. Everyone is likely to want different items or have various dietary requirements. She caters to gluten, dairy and even sugar free diets. “If you cater to people’s needs and give them what they want, it’s easier to judge how much food you will need to buy for the picnic. There’s also far less waste that way,” she advises. “I’d also suggest creating a set menu if you can. This helps with calculating the costs as well as making the food preparation more manageable”.
She makes traditional picnic food mostly – sandwiches, sausages, carrot sticks – but is happy to go above and beyond. If a client wants pasta, she’s happy to make pasta. She doesn’t mind if someone wants to swap or change an item on the set menu. She wants her clients to be thrilled with the food they are served.
Sarah also caters to particular themes. “We are doing a mermaid themed party next week,” she gushes excitedly. With the help of Pinterest, she has been able to get creative, with sea themed decorations and fruit platters. Of course, there will be an expertly decorated mermaid birthday cake. She’s also excited to begin expanding her themes, looking to do afternoon tea options.
Although Sarah is currently based in the Hyde Park area of London, she is hoping to expand her business geographically. Similarly, although she has mainly done children’s birthday parties, she’s eager to branch out to adult parties and occasions. She’s flexible, and will host indoors if preferred, or if the weather doesn’t permit an outdoor event.
“I’ve done food hygiene courses previously, and I’m hoping to update these skills soon,” Sarah informs us. She is planning to start renting a kitchen space, meaning high standards must be met, and rules and regulations followed.
Finally, we chat about the future of the business. “Even just talking to you is making me excited about it all,” her tone is happy and upbeat. “We are looking to get an official name for the business and set up social media pages too”. She has a plethora of ideas, and having her own picnic business is a venture she genuinely enjoys.
You can follow Sarah’s cake decorating business, Cakes In Kensington on Facebook and Instagram.
I saved more than $100 on my first order at Thrive Market than if I were to shop at a regular grocery store.
Membership (Monthly) (small)Membership (Annual) (small)Table of Contents: Masthead StickyRelated Article Module: The 5 best places to buy groceries online in 2021
When I first tried Thrive Market, I was just coming out of essentially a reverse-cleanse: a 12-pack of macaroni and cheese that I bought at a “great deal” discount on Amazon groceries. A couple of months of eating that and an unrelated health scare, and I was ready to commit to a complete pantry overhaul. That’s when I started shopping at Thrive Market.
What is Thrive Market?
Thrive Market bills itself as “wholesome food at wholesale prices.” It’s an online wholesale grocery store that curates the best organic, non-GMO products at a discounted rate of 25% to 50% off retail prices to its members.
You have two membership options. The annual membership costs $59.95 (or $5/month) and is billed once yearly. If you opt to do a monthly membership instead, you’ll pay $9.95 per month.
You’ll get free shipping on your first order over $25, plus all orders $49 or more. Thrive Market currently ships to all contiguous US states.
How it works:
Sign up for free: You can browse the catalog, see member saving, and receive 25% off your first purchase.
Start a free 30-day trial: You can start a free 30-day membership trial with your first purchase on Thrive Market. Cancel anytime.
Join as a member: After your trial, you can sign up for a paid membership. If you do, you’re also sponsoring a free membership for a low-income family.
You can shop Thrive Market category, by values (ie. gluten-free, paleo, raw, vegan, etc.), or by current deals.
While you can buy staples like meats and seafood, the rest of Thrive Market’s selection is mostly shelf-stable options. For produce, you’ll probably still want to stop at your neighborhood store, farmers’ market, or another grocery delivery option.
In addition to offering thousands of organic brands you could find at your local grocery store and online, they also have an in-house Thrive Market brand that packages organic products (the equivalent of your supermarket chain’s generic brand).
If you spend a lot of time researching healthy foods, have a dedicated diet or food restrictions, or consistently buy organic or non-GMO foods online, you’ll likely get the most value with Thrive Market.
Quality is a concern with organic substitutes, and it’s helpful to have customer ratings to simplify things as you go on Thrive Market. The healthy eating community is an intense one, so it’s nice that Thrive Market makes use of all that helpful, accumulative passion in a way that I, a newcomer, can utilize too.
The 25% to 50% price difference also could help to close the gap between the sometimes inflated “organic” prices at some grocery stores, making Thrive Market a viable choice for the average person on a budget.
If ordering food online seems risky to you, it’s good to note that you’ll be protected by a return policy. If anything is wrong with your groceries or your order, though, let them know here within 21 days.
When we price checked some of the items, Thrive Market was not always cheaper, but when it was, it usually offered a large enough gap in savings to be substantial overall. You could save more by buying local, though your selection may not be as wide or the process as convenient.
And if you’re concerned about getting value out of your membership, Thrive Market guarantees their annual membership will pay for itself. If your membership fee was $60, but you only saved $40 in a year, they will automatically give you the difference ($20) in Thrive Market credit after you renew.
Review of Thrive Market
I ordered my groceries from Thrive Market in pursuit of a pantry not entirely reliant upon mac and cheese. In my first Thrive order, the total was $99.16 and the savings listed were $145.33.
The savings claims held up, and I technically paid off the $60 annual membership fee in my first order. The food was delicious, and I discovered new better-for-you snacks. I also found Thrive to be surprisingly cheaper for some of my favorite skincare products, like this Aztec Clay Mask.
Thrive Market carries ethically sourced meat and seafood in large bulk “box” options, but the options are slightly more limited than the average meat and seafood counter at a grocery store. I also don’t have space in my freezer or fridge to handle $100+ worth of meat, but if you do, it could be another great place to see your savings.
My colleague, Owen Burke, a lifelong fisherman with a background in commercial fishing and tending oyster bars, tried out Thrive’s bevy of seafood on offer, and had this to say:
“I tried Thrive Market’s Deluxe Seafood box, which runs you about $170. This is not something you’ll want to buy unless you have a solid shelf of freezer space to spare, but I’ll commend Thrive and call this nothing short of a feat on their part. You’re getting six different species of seafood, and everything I received was wild-caught, and not in some far-flung waters using questionable methods and labor practices, something with which the industry is rife. These might not be the absolute best practices for every product, but Thrive is going leaps and bounds above your run-of-the-mill grocery store.
My favorite was the shrimp. They were superbly packed, vacuum-sealed, and packaged, which is among the most important things to do with any seafood. Mess that part up in any way (which, admittedly, is an easy thing to do), and you’re fighting a losing game against oxidation and freezer burn. These shrimp still looked fresh after I thawed them and pulled them out of the packaging. They were beautifully peeled and de-veined, and they had no hint of off-flavor that you sometimes get when shrimp (especially frozen shrimp) aren’t handled all that well. I give them an A+ here.
The sockeye salmon was also vacuum-sealed well, and while I always appreciate skin-on salmon fillets, they often come at the cost of turned (brown) blood meat, which imparts that”fishy” flavor associated with frozen fish. This is per usual, though, when it comes to frozen salmon, but I recommend eating around it, if not to avoid the taste then to avoid the toxins blood meat bears. You’ll also get four to five fillets, which means four to five servings (about six ounces a pop).
The lobster tails are very nicely processed, de-veined, and split so you can pop them right in the oven or on the grill. They’re not vacuum-sealed, but loose on a tray covered in plastic, which lends them to some freezer burn and ice buildup, but that really doesn’t create the problem for lobster as it does for fish, due to the tough quality of the meat.
The scallops I received provided two servings, and while they weren’t vacuum-sealed as I would have liked, they were plenty tasty. Just note that these are not your jumbo-sized U10 (under 10/pound) scallops, but they were tasty and clean (free of residual sand and mud). You can find better scallops out there, but for what you’re getting for the price of this box, I’d file no complaints.
It varies depending on what you get, but in all, you’re looking at 10-15 meals of fresh-frozen (that’s fish that was frozen fresh, as soon as it was processed) wild-caught protein of high quality. That’s something like $11-$17 dollars a dish, which is about as good as you’re going to do with high-quality fresh seafood unless you’ve got friends at the fishing docks.”
The bottom line
I wish it was possible to find everything here (fresh fruit, more options for meat), but ultimately the discounts and the easy delivery make using Thrive worth it. And I wish it was free shipping always instead of just orders of $49 and up, but I typically clear that just by restocking my favorite basics. All in all, I liked using Thrive Market regularly for healthy snacks, healthy-but-fast foods, and kitchen basics like pasta sauce and olive oil.
Toaster ovens are the unsung heroes of kitchen appliances. If your living situation doesn’t allow for a standard oven, a toaster oven allows you to bake, roast, and make anything else you might cook in a regular oven, only on a smaller scale.
During the holidays when a big turkey is hogging the oven, you can prepare your sides in the toaster oven. And, in the summer, you can cook meals efficiently without heating up your home.
Many convection toaster ovens are now marketed as air fryers. You should know that “convection cooking” and “air frying” are the same thing. Both methods brown your food by using heat and a fan. So, if you see that a toaster oven is an “air fryer,” know that it also does convection cooking and vice versa. We use both terms in our guide.
So, what’s the difference between the two? Convection toaster ovens give you the option of baking or broiling, while air fryers tend to only have one function: convection baking. Also, the typical toaster oven looks like a miniature standard oven with a window, while most air fryers have a small drawer that you put your food in.
For this guide, I roasted, toasted, air fried, and baked 32 pounds of chicken, eight dozen chocolate chip cookies, eight pizzas, and four loaves of bread in eight toaster ovens.
I have reviewed kitchen appliances for four years and have developed many objective tests to determine which models are best for different needs and budgets. You can find details about how I test toaster ovens here.
I tested all of the toaster ovens in this guide. I put each through many objective tests, and during the testing period, my traditional oven sat idle as I relied exclusively on the toaster ovens. When testing toaster ovens, the most important factors to consider are ease of use, temperature accuracy and consistency, and how quickly it preheats.
Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:
Ease of use: I evaluate ease of use several ways. First, I look at how intuitive the functions are. I was able to get all but the Anova up and running without the use of instructions. I see how easy it is to clean each, if there’s a removable crumb tray, if there are a few rack positions for different types of cooking, and if the timer allows you to run the unit for extended periods. I also looked for helpful functions, such as smart connectivity, convection/air fry cooking, and steam.
Temperature variance: When you set a toaster oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, you want it to reach that temperature and stay there. To assess this, I set each unit to 350 degrees and took digital readings of the temperature every 15 minutes for two hours. Then, I looked at the average and range of the temperatures. All of the models I tested averaged less than 350 degrees. The median was about 336 degrees, and the median range was 9.7 degrees.
Preheating: One of the main benefits of a toaster oven is that it preheats faster than a standard oven, and thus, you can enjoy your meal faster. I timed how quickly each oven reached 350 and 425 degrees, repeating each test several times, to see which models preheated fastest. Most models reached 350 in under six minutes, and half of the units had trouble even achieving a reading of 425 degrees.
Cooking performance: I put each toaster oven through four cooking tests:
Toasting bread: I evaluated how many slices of Hillbilly Old Fashion Bread each model held. Then, I set the controls to toast the bread to a medium shade. I looked at how long and how evenly each toasted.
Frozen Pizza: In addition to evaluating how large of a pizza each unit can fit, I timed how long it took to bake the pizza and how even it turned out. I used Kirkland Signature Pepperoni Pizza in all but two of the toaster ovens. The Hamilton Beach and Panasonic models couldn’t fit the 10.5-inch pizza so I used Totino’s Party Pizzas in those models instead.
Whole chicken: I cooked a whole chicken (between 3.5 and 4.5 pounds) according to the recipe in Toaster Oven Takeover. I used the Meater Block to monitor the internal temperature and removed the chicken once it hit 165 degrees. I timed how long it took to cook the chicken, how evenly it was cooked, and how different parts of the chicken tasted.
Cookies: I baked gluten-free chocolate chip cookies using a homemade dough and evaluated how quickly and evenly they cooked.
Pros: Has convection cooking/air frying, large enough to fit a 12-inch pizza, provides consistent heat, cooked pizza, chicken, and cookies quickly and evenly
Cons: Temperature settings appear to be inaccurate, did not toast evenly
The Cuisinart Digital AirFryer Toaster Oven (Model TOA-65) had the best overall performance in our objective tests. It took less than five minutes to set up and features an easy-to-read backlit digital display. You navigate through the many different functions by turning a knob and pressing it to select the function and adjust the time and temp.
The Cuisinart toaster oven was one of the best models for making pizza, chicken, and cookies. It heated a frozen pizza in under six minutes, and the cheese, crust, and pepperoni were evenly cooked. Using the convection cooking function, the chicken reached a safe internal temperature in 52 minutes, and the skin was a beautiful golden brown and tasted outstanding. The meat was moist and flavorful. And, the cookies were evenly cooked in about 12 minutes, which was significantly faster than the average, 13 minutes and 45 seconds.
When we ran the Cuisinart Digital AirFryer Toaster Oven for two hours at 350 degrees, we noticed the temperature only varied by four degrees. However, the display said it was preheated when our thermometer read 270. It continued to heat up and reached 350 after eight minutes. The average temperature during the test was 314, well below 350.
The Cuisinart toaster oven fell short of perfection in two other categories. We used the presets to toast six slices of bread, but after a blazing fast toasting speed of less than three minutes, the top was lighter than the medium shading we set it to. And, the bottom was uneven with the center almost burnt and the edges barely toasted. If I were to use this toaster oven for regular toasting, I’d likely up the time a little bit and flip the bread halfway through.
Lastly, by our measurements, the Cuisinart was slower than average to preheat to 350. However, it was quick to get to 425, which made it ideal for frozen pizza.
Pros: Fast preheating, accurate temperature settings, even cooking, features air frying/convection cooking, timer has stay-on function
Cons: Uneven toasting, was among slowest to roast a chicken
Despite costing less than a third of the price of the other models in our guide, the Black+Decker Crisp ‘N Bake Air Fry Toaster Oven (Model TO3217SS) held its own in our tests. We like that it has intuitive, no-nonsense analog knob controls, a roomy interior, and convection cooking/air frying. Another nice touch is the “stay on” option on the timer, which makes it so you don’t have to keep adding more time during longer cooks.
The Black+Decker toaster oven appeared to have the most accurate thermostat. At 347 degrees, it came closest to reaching a 350-degree average during our two-hour test. However, the temperature varied by 13 degrees, which put it in the middle of the pack.
It was consistently one of the fastest to preheat. The oven reached 350 degrees in under four minutes, and getting to 425 only took about a minute more.
The Black+Decker Crisp ‘N Bake Air Fry Toaster Oven excelled at making cookies and frozen pizza. Each batch took about 14 minutes to bake, which was just fair, but the results were even and delicious. The story was the same with frozen pizza: the cooking time was about average, but the pizza was excellent. The chicken was also great: flavorful, juicy, and evenly cooked. However, it took nearly an hour and a half to finish, which made it one of the slowest models.
The Black+Decker oven’s toasting was subpar. It toasted six slices of bread in three-and-a-half minutes, which was about average, but the results weren’t very even. The top of the toast was close to consistent, but it was noticeably less done near the front, and the bottom was much less toasted than the top.
The best large-capacity toaster oven
The Breville Smart Oven is large enough to fit nine slices of toast, a dozen cookies, or a 12-inch pizza making it ideal for larger families or if you just want to use it in place of your standard oven.
Pros: Can fit nine slices of toast and a 12-inch pizza, provides consistent and even heat, features convection cooking/air frying, attractive backlit digital display with several functions and sub-functions
Cons: Temperature settings were consistently higher than what we measured, slow to preheat
Along with our best combination pick below, the Breville Smart Oven (Model BOV800XL) was one of two models that could toast nine slices of bread at once, and it did a good job of it. Plus, it can hold a 12.5-inch pizza. This is impressive considering the exterior dimensions aren’t inordinately large.
Like our top pick, the Breville Smart Oven has a backlit digital display with separate knobs for quickly adjusting the function, temperature, and time. It also has sub-functions that adjust the cooking time and heat based on the size of the pizza you are baking or the slices of toast you’re toasting. Plus, the Smart Oven features convection cooking/air frying.
The oven excelled at chicken and cookies. It took a little more than an hour to roast a whole chicken, and it was the best tasting and most evenly cooked of all the birds in our tests. We baked a dozen cookies at once in the roomy Breville Smart Oven using the Cookie function, which utilized 350-degree convection cooking. The cookies came out evenly baked in 14 minutes, which was average.
The oven also cooked pizza evenly, but it took 17 minutes, which was longer than all but one of the models. It was also one of the slowest ovens to preheat. And, we weren’t able to get it to preheat to 425 degrees. It maxed out at 387. This was a consistent problem. In our temperature variance test, we measured an average temp of 292 despite setting the controls to 350. Because of this, we’d recommend utilizing an oven thermometer to find your target temperature setting.
On the plus side, the Breville toaster oven held its temperature consistently, only wavering by four degrees over the course of two hours.
The best combination toaster oven
In addition to baking, toasting, and air frying, the Anova Precision Oven offers sous vide cooking, and you can control it and monitor the internal temperature of your food using your phone.
Pros: Features sous vide and air fryer/convection cooking, smart WiFi connectivity via app, comes with probe thermometer that connects to oven, does a good job of roasting
Cons: Slow to preheat, bake, and toast, temperature didn’t stay consistent during our test
The Anova Precision Oven is the first toaster oven that offers sous vide, in addition to air frying/convection cooking. And, while most sous vide devices require vacuum sealing, the Precision Oven cooks your food without the need for additional packaging.
I cooked several steaks and pork ribs using the sous vide function and found it worked just as well, if not better, than an immersion circulator. I especially liked that the oven comes with a probe thermometer that plugs into the unit so I could monitor the internal temperature of the meat while it cooked, which you can’t do with vacuum-sealed meat in an immersion circulator
The touch buttons on the handle of the oven aren’t as responsive as I would like, and adjusting the temp one degree at a time using the up and down buttons is a hassle. So, I mainly used the Anova Oven app (available for iOS and Android), which allows you to key in your preferred temp and time. Or, you can automate the cooking process. The app features hundreds of recipes. One time, I used the app to preheat the oven as I waited in line at the store to pay for a frozen pizza so I could just pop it in when I got home.
This feature is particularly important since the Anova Culinary Precision Oven was one of the slowest to preheat. It takes about 10 minutes to heat to 350 degrees and 17 minutes to reach 425.
Also, while it has a relatively accurate setpoint, the temperature varied by 16 degrees during our two-hour test, which was more than most models.
The Anova Precision Oven also took a long time to toast. We used the toast preset, which involved a little steam to keep the bread from drying out. However, the process took longer than any of the other models, and the toast was still underdone.
It did much better on the other cooking tasks. The Anova oven fits a dozen cookies, and they baked quickly and evenly. We had the same experience with pizza: fast and even cooking. But, the oven really excelled at roasting a whole chicken. It completed the task in under an hour. The skin was crispy and flavorful, and the meat was moist and delicious. I particularly liked that the thermometer let me monitor the internal temperature of the chicken in the app.
What else we tested
We tested eight toaster ovens for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.
What else we recommend and why:
Hamilton Beach Countertop (Model 31401): There are two main reasons why you should consider the Hamilton Beach toaster oven. First, at $50, it’s the cheapest model we recommend. Second, it was one of the best at quickly preheating. Plus, it was in the middle of the pack in our toasting, cookie, and temperature variance tests. However, there are a few negatives. The oven is small, only fitting four slices of bread. It also took the longest to cook pizza and chicken.
Dash Chef Series 7-in-1 (Model DAFT2350GBGT01): There’s a lot to like about the Dash toaster oven, but it just wasn’t the best in any category. It has convection cooking/air frying and did an outstanding job baking cookies and pizza. The Dash oven was also one of the fastest to roast a chicken and one of the most even toasters. Yet, it took a long time to toast, parts of the chicken skin were burnt, the unit took longer than most to preheat, and it had the largest variance in temperature during our tests.
Emeril Lagasse Power AirFryer 360 (Model S∙AFO-001): Though we prefer to roast our chicken on a roasting pan, we like that this toaster oven from superstar chef Emeril Lagasse comes with a rotisserie spit. It also has an easy-to-use knob control system with backlit digital display. The Power AirFryer 360 preheated quickly and did a good job with chicken, pizza, and cookies, but it took a long time to toast and was uneven. It also did the worst in our temp variance test.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Panasonic FlashXpress Compact (Model NB-G110P): We really wanted to like this attractive toaster oven because it looks like something you might find in a child’s kitchen playset. It did the best job toasting and maintaining a consistent temperature. However, it was a pain to use. There are only eight temperature settings, and the timer only goes to 25 minutes. If you want to cook anything longer, you have to keep resetting the timer. Despite its small size, it took a long time to preheat. And, it didn’t do well making cookies, pizza, or chicken.
What we’re testing next
We’re always testing new toaster ovens and retesting our top picks to determine the best ones. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing for potential inclusion in this guide:
Chefman Toast-Air (Model RJ50-SS-T – $135.97): We’ve tested several Chefman kitchen appliances and have found the manufacturer makes quality products at an affordable price. We like that this features several preset functions and comes with two dehydrator racks, an air fry basket, baking/drip pan, and more.
Calphalon Quartz Heat Countertop ($199.99): I tested this years ago but wasn’t able to put it through our current testing methodology. I’m hoping to give it another try since it performed well, has an attractive appearance, and the digital display has an impressive array of functions and precise presets.
Oster (Model TSSTTVMNDG-SHP-2 – $91.11): We think the Oster Toaster Oven has a chance to contend for the best budget model. It has convection cooking/air frying, an attractive display, easy to read and adjust buttons, and a large capacity.
What are the benefits of using a toaster oven over a standard oven?
Roxanne Wyss, co-author of the toaster oven cookbook Toaster Oven Takeover, gives several reasons, including that it’s a green alternative. “When compared to a standard oven, the toaster oven preheats quickly,” said Wyss. “This means it is convenient to use for quick, everyday meals. It also means that it is a ‘green choice’ as there is no big oven to heat up and the toaster oven will not put a strain on the AC on a hot summer day.”
“Newer toaster ovens on the market, with electronic controls and even heat, brown food beautifully and cook quickly,” added Wyss. “You can place a toaster oven where it is convenient to use, which means at countertop height so no bending or lifting. It also means you can place the toaster oven in the family room or on the bar so it is easy to use for appetizers and snacks when friends gather.”
Additionally, since I started testing toaster ovens more than a month ago, I have not touched my standard oven. Every meal I’ve wanted to make for my family of four, I’ve been able to make in a toaster oven.
Should you get a toaster or a toaster oven?
Wyss believes toaster ovens are superior to toasters in several ways. “The versatility of the toaster oven outshines the regular toaster,” said Wyss. “You can toast a wide variety of bread sizes and often toast the number of slices you need for a larger family. Once toasted, you can top the toast with sandwich fixings or appetizer spreads so hot sandwiches or crostini are ready to serve in minutes. The toaster oven easily toasts English muffins, bagels, rolls, and a wide range of specialty rolls, pastries and buns.”
As with the standard oven, I found my toaster gathered dust while I was testing toaster ovens. The single-purpose toaster just didn’t seem worth the counter space. And, when making BLTs, it was nice to be able to toast six or more slices of bread at once.
However, there are a few key ways in which a toaster is often superior. First, most of the toaster ovens I tested didn’t toast as evenly or as quickly as most toasters. Second, toasters tend to cost much less than toaster ovens. Lastly, they take up less countertop space.
What should you look for when shopping for a toaster oven?
Kathy Moore pointed to several tips covered in the Toaster Oven Takeover cookbook she co-authored. “Think about what you want to prepare,” said Moore. “Do you want to cook a pizza or do you know you want to broil steaks? Do you foresee casseroles or toasted sandwiches? What pans fit into the oven? If you want to cook pizza, does your 12-inch pizza pan fit? What about a 9 by 12-inch rectangle pan? Some toaster ovens accommodate larger pans while others do not. Select one that accommodates the pans you own and for the food you would like to prepare.”
She also suggests thinking about where you will put the toaster oven. “Does it fit under your upper cabinets with room to spare or is it too wide to sit securely on a cart?” added Moore. “Does the door open conveniently for you?” To help you with this, we list the interior and exterior dimensions of each unit in our guide.
Also, think about the settings that are most appealing to your cooking preferences. “If your toaster oven advertises that it has a dehydrating setting, but that is not something you will do, it is not a necessary function,” said Moore. “Many now slow cook, but if you typically use a slow cooker and enjoy taking a hot meal in a slow cooker to a gathering, you may never use your toaster oven’s slow cook setting. Many people enjoy the toasting settings for bagels while others will enjoy the air fry settings. Evaluate the array of settings offered and be willing to experiment, but do not feel obligated to purchase an oven with settings you may never use.”
What’s the difference between a toaster oven and an air fryer?
Air fryers use a fan to blow hot air over your food to produce the Maillard reaction, which gives food its distinctive browning. Prior to the rise of air fryers, blowing hot air on food was known as “convection cooking,” and it’s something that all convection toaster ovens do. “Air frying” is essentially a wildly successful marketing campaign for technology that has been around for decades.
That said, not all toaster ovens can air fry, or convection cook, but a lot of them can these days. If this is a feature that’s important to you, look for a model that advertises that it air fries or convection cooks. In my experience, this is a useful feature. It can cut down on cooking times, give your food a nice browned exterior, and I’ve found it does an excellent job of revitalizing leftovers, especially pizza and french fries.
Check out our other buying guides for small appliances
Indoor herb gardens make for delicious meals year-round.
The best options are easy to set up and have successful seed growth, even if you don’t have gardening experience.
Our top pick by Click and Grow allows for year-round growth and automatically feeds your plants.
Herbs enhance the flavor of any meal, but it’s too easy to run out of a particular herb once you’ve already started preparing dinner. Buying an entire bundle of parsley at the store doesn’t make much sense if you only need a bit of it for a recipe. Growing an own indoor herb garden solves these problems, and ensures that you’ll have herbs on hand, year-round.
When it comes to indoor herb garden kits, though, you’re sure to run into variations in quality. Some kits have poor seed growth success rates, while others are made with flimsy materials that you’ll soon need to replace. We did the research and have found the best indoor herb gardens you can buy.
The herb gardens in this list are ideal for indoor use, although some of them can be transferred outside. The kits are beginner friendly, so if you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry. These herb gardens have been chosen for their quality, practicality, and design. Some of the planters use innovative ways to grow a garden within your home, and the kits offer just about everything you’ll need to get started, making gardening a hassle-free experience.
If you want to add a bit of freshness and flavor enhancement to your cooking and love the idea of always being able to harvest just the right amount of fresh herbs, then these indoor herb gardens are right for you.
Pros: Automatic watering and lighting makes for hassle-free gardening, year-round indoor plant growth, easy to set up and maintain
Cons: Smallest version has space to grow only three plants at a time, pricey
Growing herbs indoors couldn’t get any easier than with the Click and Grow Smart Garden Indoor Gardening Kit. You can set this kit up in just seconds — drop the plant cartridges into the container, fill the water reservoir, plug the unit in, and you’re done.
Using Click and Grow’s Smart system, the special plant pods gradually release nutrients to your plants, so there’s no worry about forgetting to add a nutrient solution into the soil. The watering system works through capillary action; it’s completely silent and keeps the soil appropriately moistened. Energy efficient LED lighting means you don’t have to rely on window light to grow your plants.
This kit includes pre-seeded basil capsules, but you can grow countless herbs with Click and Grow’s variety of plant pods. Choose from parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage, and cilantro. Salad greens and fruiting plants are also available. None of the Click and Grow plant pods use any GMO seeds or herbicides, pesticides, or fungicides.
This particular kit is the smaller version, which has room for growing only three plants at a time. A larger option, with space for nine plants, is available.
Pros: Cords allow you to adjust the distance between the pots, aesthetically appealing design, pluggable drain holes
Cons: Ceramic pots are heavy, careful mounting is required
With the Mkono Ceramic Hanging Planter, your herb garden won’t just be functional, but it also makes an attractive statement in your home. This sleek and chic planter is crafted from quality white ceramic and cotton rope. It fits right in with modern aesthetics but is also a wonderful way to add stylish contrast to a country design. Hang it in a sunny spot in your kitchen, dining room, or sun room for a living art piece.
This planter is ideal for an herb garden, though you can also use it for succulents, ferns, and other small plants. Each ceramic pot includes a small drainage hole and plug, so you can open up the hole only when it’s needed. The pots measure 6.5 inches long by 3.75 inches wide and 2.5 inches high, making them large enough to accommodate your herb garden without overwhelming a room. If you don’t have a windowsill or countertop space to spare, this planter is a convenient alternative since it’s hung from above.
Pros: Accommodates up to 15 different plants, easy to assemble, sturdy construction
Cons: Limited colors
Want to grow an assortment of herbs in your home, but don’t have the window or counter space for a large garden? The Amazing Creation Stackable Planter lets you utilize vertical space, so you can plant an herb garden without restriction. This five-tier planter consists of five different stackable pots that can accommodate up to 15 different plants. Each pot has 5 inches of space, so your creativity is the only limit to your herb garden.
This stackable planter includes built-in drainage grids, so water will drain down through the whole planter — all the way to the bottom tier. The planter is easy to set up and maintain, which is great for beginners. If you choose, you can take the planter outdoors during the summer and bring it indoors during the winter. The high-quality polypropylene is resistant to harsh weather.
Buying a cookware set can be overwhelming because of the sheer volume of brands, materials, and types of included pieces. While stainless steel, copper, and traditional nonstick are the most popular options for cookware sets and each have their benefits, another lesser-known cookware material can offer some of the best value: hard-anodized aluminum. According to Fran Groesbeck, managing director at the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association, hard-anodized cookware is known for its strength, durability, and even heating.
Raw aluminum is inexpensive and offers excellent conductivity for cooking, but it’s prone to discoloration and scratching. Hard-anodized aluminum has undergone a chemical process to oxidize the cooking surface of the pan so it’s more durable, nonstick, and doesn’t discolor the food. While hard-anodized cookware is plenty nonstick in its own right, many hard-anodized pieces have additional nonstick coatings. For more information on the technical aspects of the material, see our FAQs.
While durability, cooking, and ease of use and cleaning were top of mind when making our selections, we also looked for sets with useful pieces and no superfluous items. The most important pieces in any cookware set are a stockpot or Dutch oven, a 12-inch skillet, and a 4-quart saucepan, all with lids (it’s worth noting that cookware manufacturer’s consider lids as separate “pieces” when listing the number of pieces in a set). We used this blueprint to narrow down the choices in this guide. If you’re looking for a specific piece, consider purchasing individual items, as a large cookware set is likely to have more than you need.
We think hard-anodized cookware sets are a great option for folks who want to outfit their kitchen on a budget, and are looking for a set that is easy to cook with, care for, and maintain. Below we’ve outlined our top picks for hard-anodized sets.
Here are the best hard-anodized cookware sets in 2021
The GreenPan Valencia Pro set is our top pick because it features 11 basic cookware pieces that have safe ceramic nonstick coatings and are oven-safe to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, all for about $200.
Pros: Oven-safe to 600 degrees F, metal utensil safe, durable ceramic nonstick coating, lots of useful pieces, both PTFE- and PFOA-free
Cons: No 12-inch skillet (though sauté pan can be used in its place)
With seven pans and four lids, the Valencia Pro has everything you need to switch between stovetop and oven cooking. The hard-anodized bodies and stainless steel handles are durable, scratch resistant, and oven-safe up to 600 degrees F. The glass lids allow you to see what you’re cooking without releasing steam or heat (but keep in mind that the lids are only oven-safe to 425 degrees F). The casserole dish is just a Dutch oven by another name.
GreenPan uses a ceramic nonstick coating derived from sand particles, which is as durable and effective as traditional coatings, but free from PTFE, PFOA, and lead. The Valencia Pro set is also dishwasher and metal utensil safe for easier clean up and better durability.
Best hard-anodized cookware set on a budget
The Rachael Ray Cucina set features dishwasher safe and durable cookware basics, making it an ideal set for starting fresh in the kitchen on a budget.
Pros: Dishwasher safe, comes in three different cookware colors, large variety of pot and pan types
Cons: Only oven-safe to 400 degrees F, no large frying pan, saucepans are a bit on the small side
The Rachael Ray Cucina Hard-Anodized Set offers valuable basics in materials known for durability. The hard-anodized aluminum exterior is scratch-resistant, and the tempered glass lids are bordered by a stainless steel rim. The nonstick interior is PFOA free, but not metal utensil safe.
Instead of a third saucepan or skillet, the set includes a 3-quart sauté pan as a piece with more volume and versatility. The serving utensils (a slotted spoon and spatula) are a great addition for a starter cookware set. You can choose from three colors for the serving utensils and the silicone grips that wrap around stainless steel handles.
Best high-end hard-anodized cookware set
The Thermo-Clad cookware set features details that make cooking easier, from the heat-encapsulating stainless steel lids to the metal utensil safe nonstick coating.
Pros: Induction compatible, heat-sealing lids, includes a large stockpot
Cons: Fewer pieces than less expensive sets, no large skillet
Instead of glass, this set features stainless steel lids with double wall insulation to keep food warm. While this means you can’t see the food while it’s cooking, it’s useful for making items ahead of time and keeping food warm for serving. The entire set is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Thermo-Clad line features a tri-ply stainless steel base, designed to limit hot spots by covering the bottom of the pan edge to edge. The nonstick coating is metal utensil safe, though the brand recommends avoiding abrasive cleaners like steel wool. The unique item in this set is the 6-quart “essential pan,” which is nearly identical in design to a traditional saucier. With a wide base and high, rounded sides, this pan is great for one pot meals.
Best space-saving hard-anodized cookware set
The Calphalon Stackable Set includes every necessary piece to start a cookware collection and it all stacks neatly for easy storage in small kitchens.
Pros: Stacks compactly for storage, lids fit on multiple pieces
Cons: No large skillet, only oven-safe to 400 degrees F, not safe for metal utensils
This set is organized by diameter, so that all 8-inch wide pieces fit in a stack that can nest within the 10-inch wide stack. Interlocking plates on the pans’ outside edges stabilize the stacks. Because of the common diameters, the lids are interchangeable among pieces.
Silicone grips keep the handles cool to the touch, but limit the oven-safe temperature to 400 degrees F. The nonstick interior is also not safe for metal utensils. The highlight of this set is a stackable Dutch oven, giving you the versatility of the piece without taking up too much space.
Best hard-anodized cookware set for induction
The Ninja Foodi NeverStick cookware set works on all range types, including induction, and is constructed for maximum durability and heat retention with heavy-gauge aluminum and a stainless steel base.
Pros: Proprietary nonstick coating, metal utensil safe, induction compatible
Cons: No large skillet (though sauté pan can perform similar functions)
Ninja’s NeverStick technology is based on heating the particles used in the nonstick coating to higher temperatures than other brands do for their coatings. This promises a more durable nonstick surface that isn’t prone to chipping or flaking and is metal utensil safe.
The NeverStick line is available in a hard-anodized set that comes with 10 pieces and can be used on all range types, including induction. Though it lacks a large skillet, it comes with a generously-sized stockpot for making soups, stews, and one pot meals. The pieces are also safe to 500 degrees F for easy transition from stovetop to oven.
We identified the best hard-anodized cookware sets through research, an interview with Fran Groesbeck, managing director at the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association, and our own extensive experience with cookware. We developed baseline criteria, such as necessary pieces and safety requirements, and evaluated sets based on these elements and other factors like value for price. We plan on testing these sets in the future and updating this guide accordingly.
What is hard-anodized aluminum?
Aluminum is a common material used in bakeware and cookware because it’s lightweight and has great heat conductivity. The main issue with aluminum is that it will oxidize when exposed to acidic food, leaving dark marks on the surface that can transfer to light colored foods. To prevent this, most modern aluminum pans are coated in a ceramic layer or “anodized,” an electrochemical process that uses controlled oxidation to create a protective layer.
The unique element of this process is that the anodized layer isn’t applied to the surface, but created out of the molecules within the metal. Therefore, the anodized protective layer cannot chip or peel off. It can wear down, but if cared for properly, it lasts longer than applied coatings. “Hard-anodized aluminum is naturally stick resistant, and it is resistant to scratches and food odors,” said Groesbeck.
What utensils are safe to use on hard-anodized cookware?
The hard-anodized layer isn’t a coating, so a hard-anodized pan can be used with any material utensil. However, nonstick coatings are often applied to hard-anodized cookware, so we recommend checking the information provided by the manufacturer before using metal utensils. Single or double layer nonstick coatings can be scratched by metal utensils.
Can hard-anodized cookware be used on induction stovetops?
This depends on the set and will be listed in the manufacturer’s description of the product. Cookware must have magnetic properties to work on induction stovetops, and aluminum is a non-magnetic metal, Groesbeck said. Therefore, a magnetic plate must be applied to the base of aluminum cookware in order to be induction safe. This is why not every hard-anodized aluminum set is induction compatible.
Can hard-anodized cookware go in the oven?
While you should always consult the manufacturer’s instructions, most hard-anodized cookware is oven-safe to some degree. The exact oven-safe temperature will be listed by the manufacturer on the packaging. The lids may have a different oven-safe temperature depending on the material.
Is hard-anodized cookware dishwasher safe?
Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on using the dishwasher or hand-washing your cookware. If the cookware has a nonstick coating, it is always recommended to use non-abrasive cleaners and avoid steel wool or other harsh sponges.
PFOA and PTFE
The acronyms PFOA and PTFE are everywhere in cookware descriptions. Here’s what you need to know about each:
PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was used in the production of PTFE since Teflon was invented in the 1970s. In the manufacturing process, most of the PFOA burns off and only trace elements remain in the cookware. These elements are then only released if the cookware is overheated to temperatures of 570 degrees F. However, since 2010, the EPA has put programs and regulations in place to phase out the use of PFOAs in American manufacturing. The majority of cookware made in the United States since 2015 is PFOA-free, and so are all of our top picks.
International standards are not the same as American ones, so PFOA may still be used in products from other countries.