We tested 8 garlic presses in 2021 – these 3 are worth your money

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  • A quality garlic press is easy to clean and produces a high yield of crushed garlic.
  • Our top pick is the Orblue Stainless Steel Garlic Press.
  • 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.

Here are the best garlic presses in 2021

Our testing methodology

garlic presses loaded with garlic cloves for testing of the best garlic press in 2021

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

product image of orblue garlic press, the best garlic press overall in 2021

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

product image of kuhn rikon garlic press, the best garlic press for unpeeled cloves in 2021

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

product image of zyliss garlic press, the best garlic press for easy cleaning in 2021

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

hand holding a garlic press with crushed garlic coming through holes as part of testing for the best garlic

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. 

FAQs

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.

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We tested 16 ice cube trays, here are the 4 best ice trays and molds in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Choosing an ice cube tray requires sorting through different materials, sizes, and shapes.
  • We tested 16 ice cube trays to determine the best for everyday use, large cubes, spheres, and more.
  • Our top pick is the W&P Everyday Tray for its easy release and neatly shaped ice cubes.

Most ice cube trays successfully freeze water, but are difficult to maneuver when full, don’t release the ice easily, take up too much space in the freezer, or produce misshapen cubes. To solve those problems, classic plastic trays are being replaced by silicone molds and trays with locking lids. We wanted to put these features to the test to see if they improved the ice making experience.

There are three main materials for ice trays: silicone, plastic, and stainless steel. We tested trays in all three materials and focused on the most common shapes: regular cubes, large cubes, and spheres.

While ice might be the last thing on your mind when preparing a cocktail or a glass of ice water, experts told us that choosing the right size and shape cubes for your drink can make your drink taste better or stay colder longer. Joseph Gitter, senior editor at America’s Test Kitchen and recipe developer for How to Cocktail, told us that ice with a lower surface area to volume ratio (i.e., bigger cubes) takes longer to melt, cooling drinks slowly without diluting them. On the flipside, small cubes or crushed ice cool drinks faster, but provide more dilution.

I tested 16 ice cube trays and molds, making ice multiple times in each. I also spoke with Gitter and Micah Melton, Beverage Director at The Aviary, to find out what makes a great ice cube tray. Whether you’re a cocktail aficionado or just a fan of iced water, there is an ice cube tray in this guide for you.

Here are the 4 best ice cube trays of 2021

Our testing methodology

The white W&P Ice Tray stained with coffee and coffee ice cubes next to it, showing how we tested the tray for scent and stain retention.
An ice cube tray stained with coffee, as part of our testing for odor and stain retention.

We consulted two experts on the uses of different ice shapes, how to make clear ice, and how to solve common ice problems. We spoke with Joseph Gitter, senior editor at America’s Test Kitchen and recipe developer for How to Cocktail, and Micah Melton, Beverage Director at The Aviary.

I tested 14 ice cube trays, making ice between three and five times in each tray according to the following tests.

Ease of use: The ideal tray is easy to bring to the freezer without spilling water, releases the ice without too much effort, and can be stacked in the freezer. We evaluated each tray based on these qualities. 

Performance: We evaluated the appearance and taste of the finished ice. We looked for sharp-edged cubes and smooth spheres. 

Odor retention: Silicone is a porous material and therefore can absorb scent that then imparts a taste or smell to the ice. We froze coffee in the ice cube trays, emptied and washed them, smelled them, and then froze water in the trays to see if the coffee taste or smell remained. (It’s worth noting that all but one of the trays passed this test.)

Leaking: For trays with sealable lids, we flipped unfrozen, full trays upside down to see if water spilled out.

The best ice cube tray overall

Our pick for the best overall ice tray, the W&P Everyday Tray in white, shown with the ice it made.

The W&P Everyday Tray had the smoothest release of all the trays we tested; each cube popped out without any resistance.

Pros: Ice cubes come out easily, you can remove exactly as many as you need

Cons: It’s time consuming to empty the whole tray of ice

The construction of the Everyday Tray is unique among the ice cube trays I tested. The Everyday Tray is made of silicone and none of the cubes share a wall, so you can release them one at a time by applying pressure to the bottom. I also found that this helps the cubes release easily because there is no friction between neighboring ice cubes and the whole tray doesn’t empty out at once.

Like many silicone trays, the Everyday Tray wobbled slightly when I walked it to the freezer, but the reinforced rim provides a good grip. The lid doesn’t seal, though it allows for stacking and promises some protection from odors. We will focus on this in our long term testing.

Best ice mold for spheres

The best sphere mold, the Tovolo Sphere Mold, shown in separated into top and bottom piece, with a hand holding the ice sphere.

The Tovolo Sphere Molds‘ silicone and plastic construction makes them easy to fill and store without spills.

Pros: Easy to avoid overfilling, ridge between hemispheres less prominent than others we tested

Cons: You can only make two at a time

I tested three sphere molds and overflowed all of them, except for the Tovolo. The Tovolo has a plastic bottom with a marked max fill line and a silicone top. You fill the bottom portion and then push in the top, which squeezes out any excess water. There is no space for overflow to sneak in and freeze an odd shape to the sphere. 

After freezing, the instructions recommend running the plastic section under hot water, and I found the spheres popped out easily after doing so. All of the spheres had slight ridges where the top and bottom of the mold meet, but this line was less noticeable than on spheres made using other molds.

Best ice cube tray for large cubes

The best for large cubes, the Samuelworld Jumbo Cube Tray in dark gray, with one cube it made.

The silicone Samuelworld Large Cube Tray is structured enough to produce cubes with sharp edges, but flexible enough that they pop out easily.

Pros: Cubes had neat edges

Cons: Can be difficult to extract cubes when ice tray is full

The Large Cube Tray from Samuelworld had the best combination of easily release and neatly shaped cubes. Part of the appeal of large cubes is their appearance. The Samuelworld tray is made of rigid silicone so the edges of the cubes stay sharp even as the water freezes and expands. 

The firm silicone is necessary for getting a precise shape, but it does make it harder to release the cubes. I have used this tray regularly for three months; it has held it’s shape and has no noticeable odor. I started using the large cubes for iced coffee because they melt slower, keeping my coffee strong for longer.

Best spill-proof ice cube tray

The best spill-proof tray, the OXO Ice Tray, with the crescent shaped cubes it produced.

The OXO tray‘s silicone lid prevents leaking, allowing you to store it in small or crowded freezers without worry.

Pros: Leakproof, can be stored slanted or stacked

Cons: Cubes are an irregular shape, not dishwasher safe 

The OXO was the only truly leakproof ice cube tray we tested. The lid is a sheet of thin, flexible silicone, with tabs at one end to keep it attached to the plastic base. You smooth down the silicone over the filled tray and it adheres to the plastic so that no water escapes even if you flip the tray upside down (which we did).

The plastic base produced crescent shaped ice cubes that released easily with one or two taps on the bottom of the tray. If you’re looking for aesthetically pleasing ice, this tray may not be best for you because our cubes came out irregularly shaped (though still perfectly serviceable).

What else we tested

All the spherical ice molds we tested shown separated into top and bottom pieces.

What else we recommend and why:

TrueCubes Clear Ice Tray: This tray delivers on its promise: totally clear ice. The clear cubes were completely transparent and had sharp, clean edges, easily the most visually attractive ice I’ve ever seen. Because of how the system works, you do need 18-22 hours to freeze the whole thing properly. Additionally, I had to wait a few minutes for the ice to soften slightly before I could separate the top and bottom mold. 

Target Made By Design Ice Cube Tray: This is an upgraded plastic tray. The frame and lid are plastic, but the bottom is silicone. Instead of twisting and cracking the ice, you can push on the silicone base and pop out the cubes. The lid does not make it leakproof, but it does enable you to stack thing on top of it while it freezes. Ultimately, this is an inexpensive improvement on traditional ice trays.

Lekue Ice Cube Tray and Box: This product had a lot of positives, but some design flaws. It takes three full lids of ice to fill the box, and the lid isn’t as flexible as other silicone trays so it’s harder to release the ice. However, I liked the gem-shaped ice aesthetically and the ice box itself is convenient and well-insulated. I left the full ice box covered at room temperature for a half hour and the ice inside didn’t melt. 

Tovolo Perfect Cube Ice Tray: This tray was a close second to the W&P Everyday Tray in the best overall category. The Tovolo’s unified bottom and plastic lid make it easy to store. It does make three more cubes than the Everyday Tray, but the cubes are much harder to get out. Though this tray has a sealing lid, it leaks more than our favorite no-spill tray. 

Tovolo King Cube Tray: Out of the large cube trays, the Tovolo had the most flexible silicone. While the ice cubes were the easiest to release, they were also the most misshapen. Since the aesthetics of large cubes are important, this was not my top pick.

Peak Sphere Ice Tray: This tray is made entirely of silicone, unlike the other spherical trays, which included at least some plastic. The silicone construction means these spheres were the easiest to get out of the mold right out of the freezer. Fortunately, excess water didn’t freeze onto the spheres because it was very easy to overflow this mold.


What we don’t recommend and why:

RSVP Endurance Old Fashioned Ice Cube Tray: If you are looking to avoid plastic and silicone, a stainless steel tray is your best solution. However, when testing the RSVP Endurance Tray, I noticed that the mechanism to break and release the cubes is not foolproof and can take several attempts to accomplish.

Peak Crushed Ice Tray and Lekue Crushed Ice Tray: I tested two crushed ice trays, but neither of them were successful. The shallow and narrow troughs produced ice spears, and twisting the molds to break them apart resulted in tinier spears, not crushed pieces. One plus is that because of the size and shape, the ice freezes quicker than in any other tray. The Lekue trays froze within two hours. 

Samuelworld Ice Sphere Molds: This mold has small spouts that you pour water through, and the funnel shape did make filling the mold less messy. However, if you overfilled it even a bit, some of the water would freeze in the shape of the spout, ruining the perfect sphere.   

OXO Good Grips Covered Large Ice Tray: This tray tried to fix the issues of stability and storage common to silicone trays by placing the silicone tray inside a plastic frame with a locking lid. Though the frame made it easier to stack, the lid froze to the base and was difficult to unlock. Plus, you have to remove the silicone tray from the plastic frame in order to get out the ice cubes. The problems solved were not greater than the inconveniences introduced.

What we’re testing next

A hand holding an ice sphere, with all the spherical trays we tested laid out in the background.

Glacio Ice Sphere Maker: These are stand-alone molds, like our current top pick for ice spheres, but made entirely of silicone. Testing the Glacio spheres could illustrate whether the plastic element or the stand-alone construction of our top pick was key to its success.  

Joseph Joseph QuickSnap Ice Cube Tray: This tray has push tabs next to each cube, which would allow you to release the ice cubes individually. We are curious to see if this actually works, as a benefit of our best tray overall is that you can get one ice cube at a time. 

FAQs

Two large ice cubes next to each other. The left one is cloudier than the right one.

Are ice cube trays dishwasher safe?

Cleaning instructions vary by product, so we recommend consulting the manufacturer’s instructions. All but one of our top picks is dishwasher safe.


Why does ice sometimes have an odor? How can you deodorize an ice cube tray?

Water absorbs air as it freezes, which can impact the flavor. Additionally, silicone is a porous material that can absorb scent. 

There are a few methods to deal with this problem. Tovolo recommends soaking its trays for an hour in a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water. For trays made wholly out of silicone, the New York Times suggests baking the trays for 20 minutes at 250 degrees F or lower.


Why should I use large cubes or spheres?

The main reason to use large cubes or spheres is to chill alcoholic beverages without diluting them. For example, spheres have a lower surface area to volume ratio than regular ice cubes. “Ice spheres are the worst at making a drink cold, but dilute it the least,” said Gitter. This is why large cubes are most ideal for a straight spirit.

However, large ice cubes or spheres aren’t perfect for all drinks. Some cocktails are meant to be diluted and slow melting ice can change the intended flavor. Gitter mentioned martinis as an example of this because, traditionally, the gin and vermouth are stirred with regular ice cubes before serving. The stirring action starts the melting process, which chills and dilutes the drink to a palatable flavor. An ice sphere wouldn’t melt quickly enough for this purpose, and you’d be left with a too strong and too warm cocktail.

We recommend using large cubes or spheres when serving straight spirits, or when you want to keep a drink cold without changing its flavor and strength.


What is clear ice and how is it made?

There are two factors that make ice cloudy: the direction the water freezes and impurities or air bubbles in the water. 

Most ice cube trays are not insulated, so water freezes from the outside in and from all directions. Safe tap water contains impurities that aren’t dangerous to drink, but can impact the flavor of the water and the appearance of the ice. As water freezes, it also absorbs some of the surrounding air. The absorbed air bubbles and the impurities are pushed towards the center of the ice as the outer layer freezes first. The air bubbles and impurities interfere with forming an organized crystal lattice and so the ice appears cloudy, said Gitter.

When making clear ice, you eliminate or limit those bubbles and impurities and focus the direction of freezing. “Essentially the process involves freezing the ice from a single direction versus all directions like a standard freezer,” said Melton. To make clear ice at home, first purify your water by boiling it. Then, you can follow Gitter’s technique of insulating an ice tray by surrounding it with dish towels and leaving the top exposed so it only freezes from the top down.

Besides the aesthetics, clear ice is less likely to have an odor or taste because it doesn’t contain absorbed gases from the surrounding air, according to Melton.

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product image of three red wine glasses with different shapes best wine glasses 2021
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The 7 best KitchenAid attachments we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The best KitchenAid mixer attachments can make a variety of foods and replace several appliances.
  • Our favorites include a pasta maker, a meat grinder, a spiralizer, a food processor, and more.
  • Don’t own a KitchenAid mixer? Check out our guide to the best KitchenAid stand mixers.

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.

Here are the best KitchenAid attachments:

The best KitchenAid attachment for pasta

best kitchenaid attachments 2021 pasta roller cutter

With the KitchenAid 3-Piece Pasta Roller & Cutter Attachment Set, you turn your stand mixer into an all-inclusive homemade pasta maker.

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 best KitchenAid attachment for straining

best kitchenaid attachments 2021 fruit and vegetable strainer set and food grinder

Whether you want to make your own sausage or you have a bounty of garden produce to process, the KitchenAid Fruit & Vegetable Strainer Set with Food Grinder Attachment can handle a broad range of tasks.

Pros: Handles any soft meats, fruits, vegetables, or cheese

Cons: Made of plastic, not suitable for all meats

The KitchenAid Fruit & Vegetable Strainer Set with Food Grinder Attachment is really two accessories in one set. The strainer converts cooked pears and apples into sauces for immediate consumption or preserving. Making fresh tomato sauce is also a popular use.

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.

This attachment can even be used to create a sorbet base to use with the Ice Cream Maker Attachment.

The best KitchenAid attachment for spiralizing vegetables

best kitchenaid attachments 2021 spiralizer with peel core and slicer

The KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment with Peel, Core & Slice is ideal for low-carb eaters, paleo dieters, individuals sensitive to gluten, and anyone else who wants an easy way to peel, slice, core, and spiralize vegetables, fruits, and more.

Pros: Mostly metal construction, convenient storage for the four blades

Cons: Stops short of spiralizing the entire vegetable

The KitchenAid Spiralizer Attachment comes with a versatile system of four quick-change blades plus a peeling blade. The blades include:

  • 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

best kitchenaid attachments 2021 pasta extruder

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 best KitchenAid attachment for milling grain

best kitchenaid attachments 2021 all metal grain mill

If you use your KitchenAid mixer to make bread and are always looking to improve the flavor profile, the KitchenAid All Metal Grain Mill Attachment will be a real game-changer.

Pros: Easy to clean and use

Cons: Loud, has trouble with larger tasks

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

best kitchenaid attachments 2021 commercial food processor

Drastically decrease the time it takes to prep ingredients for your meals by using the KitchenAid Commerical Food Processor Attachment to slice, shred, and julienne vegetables, cheeses, and fruits.

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.

The best KitchenAid attachment for meat grinding

best kitchenaid attachments 2021 metal food grinder

If you like burgers, sausages, and other dishes that call for ground meat, the KitchenAid Metal Food Grinder is a must-have attachment.

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.

Read our full review of the KitchenAid Meat Grinder Attachment.

Learn how to grind meat and make sausage with your KitchenAid and attachments. 

See more great kitchen buying guides

kitchenaid artisan

The best KitchenAid mixers

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.


The best blenders

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.


The best food processors

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 best juicers

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.

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The 5 best reusable straws you can buy in 2021

Reusable straws are an eco-friendly alternative to disposable plastic drinking straws. There are lots of materials to choose from – food-grade silicone, 18/10 stainless steel, and reusable, BPA-free plastic are the most common – as well as styles to consider (like straight, bent, or collapsible).

Stainless steel is the sturdiest option (in other words, you won’t have any trouble punching through the top of a to-go cup), but temperature transference is something to consider – the material retains heat and cold, which can be useful for cocktails, but potentially dangerous when it comes to coffee. If you want a straw that will remain closer to room temperature when submerged in a hot or cold beverage, silicone is a good bet. For the best of both worlds, you might want to consider a stainless steel straw with a silicone tip for comfortable sipping, like our top pick from OXO. We did not include glass straws in this guide because they have a tendency to chip or shatter.

Cleaning your reusable straws regularly is essential for preventing mold and germs. All the packs we recommend come with a brush that fits inside the straws, so you can scrub them with soap and water. Some of the straws are dishwasher safe, but we suggest running the scrub brush through them first to dislodge any stubborn particles.

Here are the five best reusable straws of 2021

The best reusable straws overall

A glass of iced coffee with the OXO reusable straw in the cup, with another straw and a straw cleaner on the counter next to it.

OXO’s Reusable Straws combine sturdy stainless steel bodies with silicone tips for comfortable sipping. 

You get the best of both worlds with the stainless steel bodies and silicone tips of these OXO straws. The stainless steel is sturdy, meaning you can easily stir your drink, while the silicone tips make these straws more comfortable to use with hot and cold beverages, since the material reduces temperature transference. 

There are two color combos available — blue and green or red and gray — as well as two sizes. The 10-inch straws will fit most 20 to 30-ounce tumblers (as well as grande Starbucks drinks), while the 8.5-inch straws will fit beverages under 16 ounces. That being said, we found the latter to be best suited for open top drinking at home. Both straw sizes are average width, and we have used them to drink thin smoothies, although they’re not wide enough to handle, say, a small chunk of frozen strawberry or a tapioca pearl. 

We also appreciate the wide handle on the accompanying scrub brush, which makes cleaning the straws fast and comfortable. 

The best stainless steel reusable straws

4 of the Hiware Stainless Steel Reusable straws in large metal cups on a table with condensation on the cups and ice in the background.

The Hiware 12-pack of stainless steel straws works for multiple drinking preferences and beverage sizes.

If you don’t like the feel of silicone, or you prefer that your straw absorb the temperature of your beverage, a completely stainless steel straw is a solid option. However, we highly encourage doing a touch test first if you decide to use your stainless steel straw to sip hot coffee. And we should also note that all-metal straws are not the safest pick for small children (or for those who tend to chew their straws). 

This Hiware 18/10 stainless steel 12-pack comes with six straight and six bent straws in two sizes — 10 inches and 8.5 inches, like our top pick, above — to suit all of your drinking needs. The bent straws are great for taller beverages, since they allow for a more comfortable drinking angle. 

While the straws are dishwasher safe, Hiware has included two cleaning brushes. As we mentioned earlier, it’s best to run a brush through your reusable straws before putting them in the dishwasher, to dislodge any stubborn particles. 

The best silicone reusable straws

6 GoSili straws on a gray background

Silicone straws, like this set from GoSili, are easy to clean and safe for hot or cold beverages.

Entirely silicone straws are flexible and soft, meaning they’re an excellent choice for any straw-chewers out there. And, if you use straws to drink hot coffee, silicone won’t absorb as much heat from your drink as other materials. GoSili’s straws are even microwave-safe. 

We should mention that all of the straws in this set are 8 inches long, meaning they may not fit in large to-to cups. And, at just under a quarter of an inch wide, these straws are not ideal for thick smoothies.

We appreciate the fact that these straws are slightly translucent, so you can check for stubborn particles as you’re cleaning.

 

The best collapsible reusable straw

The box, collapsed, opened straw, and cleaner of the Flyby reusable straw on a white background

The case and straw are both so pretty and practical that you’ll want to take your Flyby Reusable Straw everywhere.

All reusable straws are portable, but the Flyby Collapsible Straws are built to be carried lightly and cleanly. Collapsible straws come in two forms: silicone ones that can fold into a case or metal telescopic ones that collapse into themselves like telescopes. We like the latter style, since you can adjust the length; the stainless steel Flyby Straw extends from a compact five inches to a maximum of 9 inches. This model is safe for hot and cold beverages, though, as mentioned earlier, the stainless steel surface will absorb the temperature of your drink. 

The scrub brush is also telescopic and fits alongside the straw in a 6-inch case, and there’s a carabiner included so you can attach the case to your keys or bag. While you can choose from a rainbow of shades, we’re partial to the multi-colored gradient options. 

The best reusable plastic straws

Ello Reusable plastic straws on a white background

With the 8-pack of Ello Reusable Plastic Straws, you can replace your favorite tumbler straw or throw extras in your bag for drinking on the go.

At less than $1 per straw, this Ello Multipack is perfect for stocking your straw drawer in one go. Each of the eight straws has a different pattern, so siblings can choose their favorites and the unique straws can be identifiers for drinks at a party. 

These plastic straws can even replace ones from your favorite tumblers. At 10 inches tall, they’ll comfortably fit in 20-ounce drinks. The opening of an Ello straw is just over a quarter of an inch, so it’s perfect for thinner smoothies.

FAQs

Are reusable straws dishwasher safe?

Always consult the manufacturer’s description for cleaning instructions, but generally, stainless steel and silicone reusable straws are dishwasher safe. Some straws, like the Ello Reusable Plastic Set, are only top-rack dishwasher safe. We recommend cleaning the straws with the included scrub brush to dislodge any particles before putting them in the dishwasher.


What reusable straws can be used in hot drinks?

Silicone straws are best for hot drinks because they don’t conduct heat as well as stainless steel straws do. The safety concern with straws and hot drinks is not the material degrading or leaching chemicals, but rather the temperature of the straw body as it touches your skin. Entirely silicone or silicone tipped straws are typically more comfortable to use in hot beverages.


What size straw should I buy?

There is no industry standard for straw sizes; instead, straws vary in diameter and length depending on their intended use. Consider your own drinking habits when purchasing straws: if you have a smoothie every day, it’s probably worth it to buy a wider straw. Similarly, you can measure the height of your favorite to-go cup. A 10-inch straw generally fits in a standard 20-ounce tumbler.

Boba straws are the category where accurate sizing matters the most, and, unfortunately, there isn’t agreement between straw companies on the appropriate diameter. These straws range between .36 and .5-inches in diameter, so you may be better off buying a larger one and then sizing down if necessary. 

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The 3 best espresso tampers we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • An espresso tamper packs grounds into your espresso machine’s portafilter to ensure a balanced shot.
  • We tested nine tampers to find the best one you can buy considering price, effectiveness, and more.
  • The Decent Tamper is best for most people thanks to its easy-to-grip handle, calibration, and shape.

An espresso tamper is a tool used to pack, or “tamp,” grounds into the basket of an espresso machine, and it’s essential to prepping a well-balanced shot.

When it comes to choosing the perfect tamper, the most important criterion is that it fits snugly in your espresso machine’s portafilter (measured in millimeters). If you get the wrong size, it either won’t fit at all, or you’re going to end up with an uneven tamp, which means you’ll get, at best, a mediocre shot of espresso.

“The thing the tamp really does,” as former Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) World Barista Judge and home-barista.com founder Dan Kehn explained, “is help with the pre-infusion or pre-wetting.” The real goal is to evenly distribute the grounds so that the puck of coffee soaks evenly. This prevents what’s called channeling, or the uneven flow of water through your grounds, which can undermine the balance of your shot by over-extracting on either side of the channel and under-extracting elsewhere.

A tamper’s weight is also crucial to its effectiveness. The flimsy plastic thing that may have been included with your machine? It’s not going to balance as well as a nicely weighted – ideally one-to-two-pound – hunk of stainless steel. Aside from fit and weight, picking a tamper comes down to feel (how does it fit in your palm?) and aesthetics.

Below, we’ve found the best tampers for most people, considering budget (you can spend hundreds if you want to, but we don’t believe it’s necessary), ease of use (and adjustability where applicable), and shape, all informed by dozens of hours of testing. You can read more about our testing methodology here.

Here are the best espresso tampers in 2021

Our testing methodology

Tamper methodology

Preparation

Before we began testing tampers, we stocked up on several pounds of Ugandan dark roast from Atlas Coffee Company, measuring our grounds using a Kruve Sifter to make sure we were within the realm of espresso (250-500 micrometers, or somewhere between white flour and table salt in size). Throughout testing, we used Gaggia’s Classic Pro espresso machine, which is our top pick for most people and most budgets.

Pulling shots

For each tamper, we pulled four shots: two with a leveler, or a distribution tool to even out the grounds, and two without. 

This was the most telling testing phase. Once you’ve gotten a handle on espresso making, how your shot pours tells you almost all you need to know. Whether you’re using a spouted or a bottomless (or “naked”) portafilter, you want a slow, constant drizzle with enough foam, or crema, to give it a golden hue. This signifies an even extraction.

If the flow is too slow, it’s an indication that the grounds are compacted. Conversely, if espresso is cascading and/or spurting out of the bottom of your portafilter, your grounds are probably not tamped enough, or too coarse to start.

Tasting

Tasting is always going to be highly subjective at best. We noted where shots seemed under- or over-extracted, and when we pulled a shot that wasn’t up to par, we checked to make sure that the issue was related to the tamper we were using, and not the result of improperly-sized grounds or a portafilter in need of cleaning. 

Analyzing the puck

Apart from tasting and watching a shot pour, looking at the puck afterward is the next best way to dissect the quality of an espresso shot It’s a bit like making a tea-leaf prophecy in reverse. If it’s rock-hard, there’s a good chance that the grounds were too fine. If it’s soft, your grounds might be too coarse or you might have tamped too finely. If it’s cracked, or partially dry, the tamp was almost certainly uneven. 

During testing, we oftentimes looked at the puck to essentially confirm what we already knew from previous steps. Between watching the shot pour, tasting the shot, and analyzing the puck, we were able to form a clear picture of what happened, and specifically what went wrong and what went right.

The best tamper overall

Decent Espresso Tamper

Between its spring-loaded calibration and the wide rim, the 13.5-ounce Decent Tamper makes packing and pulling a shot of espresso as foolproof as it gets.

Pros: Almost entirely foolproof, large, comfortable grip

Cons: You’ll need to keep it clean and dry

Whether you’re just getting started or having trouble consistently getting an even tamp, a calibrated tamper can help — especially one designed like Decent’s, with a rim that prevents slanted or “sideways” tamping.

Tamping properly is paramount to achieving a good shot of espresso, and just like hanging a picture frame perfectly straight, you’re almost never going to tamp in a flawlessly level manner. While a slightly off-kilter picture frame might be unnoticeable to the naked eye, a lopsided tamp will almost certainly produce a poor shot of espresso, with over-extraction of the less tightly-packed side being the culprit.

Apart from the mechanical aspects of this tamper, it’s adequately weighted at 13.5 ounces (the pros we’ve spoken with recommend something close to one pound) and has a rounded handle for a comfortable palm grip. While it does have a number of moving parts, everything is robust enough to handle a fall from the counter. The only thing you’ll want to be careful of is getting the mechanism(s) wet. If the thing does end up submerged in water, you’ll want to take it apart and make sure to thoroughly dry it in order to prevent rust.

This is a pricier option, all things considered, but it’s the best because it is as foolproof as tamping gadgets get.

The best 2-in-1 leveler and tamper

Best 2 in 1 tamper

A tamper and a leveler in one, Matow’s Dual Head Coffee Leveler is nicely weighted (17.3 ounces) and adjustable on both sides to accommodate a spectrum of portafilter basket depths.

Pros: Easy to use, easy to adjust, compact (for a two-in-one device)

Cons: Only comes in three sizes, we wish it had visible measurements so you could change between depth calibrations without having to guess

As we mentioned earlier, a tamper’s weight is crucial to its effectiveness, and at 17.3 ounces the Matow was the heaviest option we tested. That’s thanks in part to its two-in-one tamper and leveler design. A leveler, or distributor, is the tool you use to level out espresso grounds before tamping in order to get a more consistent extraction. Most levelers, including Matow’s, feature a set of fins accentuated by deep grooves for flat and even redistribution. Some people prefer to use a leveler sans tamper, or vice versa, to achieve the perfect pour. If you’re unsure of your preference, you can read a bit more about the pros and cons of levelers versus tampers here

In testing the device, we had to spend a little bit of time calibrating its adjustable depths to the stock portafilter baskets from the Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine we were using. As long as you don’t change baskets too often, this isn’t much of a nuisance, but it’s a downside to consider. We’re hoping Matow will engrave a simple scale into future versions of the Dual Head Coffee Leveler. 

Once we got everything dialed, extraction was flawless, and the grippy surface on the outer ring made tamping especially comfortable. Knowing that you can use either or both sides of this single tool to achieve your ideal shot of espresso is everything, and the price can’t be beat. The major downside is that Matow is a relatively no-name brand in the espresso world and there’s no sign of a warranty or even a brand website beyond this Facebook page. Granted, Amazon usually has your back, and we’ve used and tweaked it enough to know it’s not going to fall apart easily.

The best budget tamper

Best budget tamper

The Luxhaus Tamper offers significant weight and a well-balanced handle at less than half the price of most of its competitors.

Pros: Good balance between the handle and base, lifetime satisfaction guarantee, comes in most portafilter sizes

Cons: The brand doesn’t offer interchangeable bases or handles

The Luxhaus is about as bare-bones as espresso tampers get without skimping on quality metal or meticulous construction, as evidenced by its perfectly balanced handle and base. The handle’s conical shape accommodates a range of hand sizes and grips, and at just shy of 14 ounces, this tamper is hefty enough to get the job done with or without a leveler. For comparison, our top pick is just two ounces heavier than this model. 

The Luxhaus was comfortable and effortless to use, and the 58mm model we tried fit snugly inside the 58mm portafilter basket of our Gaggia Classic Pro espresso machine (the top pick in our espresso machine guide).

Simply put, there are no design shortcuts that make it inferior to many of the $100+ models we tried. Dip below the Luxhaus’s price point, however, and you’ll start to find unbalanced handles that don’t offer enough stability and cheap plastic components that bring a tamper’s weight down and make it more unwieldy. 

If you want a streamlined, non-mechanical tamper that’s dependable and properly weighted for under $30, Luxhaus is the way to go.

This model also comes with a lifetime warranty and a felt bag for storage. 

What else we tested and recommend

What else we tested tampers

Asso Ergo, $89.50-106.57:With its series of interchangeable bases, Asso’s Ergo Tamper is the most versatile tool for tamping and leveling we’ve found yet, and we love it. Hefty, interchangeable convex and lined (patterned) bases make this the tamper for experimenting, but it’s not for everyone, and certainly not at this price point. We wish the brand offered a leveler attachment for tamper handles, though, and keep in mind that extra bases are sold separately. 

Espro Calibrated Tamper, $99: Espro’s Calibrated Tamper is hefty at 16.2 ounces, spring-loaded to 30 pounds of pressure so you know exactly when you’ve tamped correctly, and has the most comfortable handle out of all the tampers we tried. 

LuxHaus Calibrated Tamper, $39: If you want a calibrated tamper on a budget, Luxhaus offers a highly competitive option. We preferred the handle, weight, and squared-off the design of the Espro Calibrated Tamper above, but Luxhaus works every bit as well; we just recommend using a leveler with this one because it fit a little loosely (in our 58mm portafilter baskets) and left room for more uneven tamping than usual.

Rattleware Tamper, $39.99: This is another great option with a larger handle than our top pick, and it’s especially convenient for those with large hands. The only reason we didn’t recommend it this go around (it was a favorite of ours in past guides) is that it’s not widely available at present, and there aren’t enough available sizes for it to work for most people. If you find this tamper in the right size, we wholeheartedly recommend purchasing it.

How to use a tamper

How to use a tamper

A good grinder and fresh grounds are the initial keys to success. After dialing your burr grinder and getting your grounds the right size and consistency, measure out whatever your portafilter basket’s recommended capacity is (7-9 grams is about standard for a single-shot basket; somewhere between 14 and 20 grams will usually fill a double basket). Note that if your grounds touch the screen of the group head (the part of the espresso machine where the water comes out) when you lock in your portafilter, your basket is overfilled. 

Next is where a leveler (another tool for evenly distributing espresso grounds) makes tamping immeasurably easier. If your leveler isn’t calibrated, adjust it so that it reaches the top of your grounds when they’re sitting in your portafilter basket. Again, this depth will vary from basket to basket, which is why an adjustable leveler is best. Give the leveler a few good spins and check to make sure the grounds are neatly leveled. If there’s a wave in the grounds from the fins or ridges of your leveler, it’s probably set too deep. Conversely, if the leveler doesn’t fully reach the grounds, you’ll want to extend it some.

Note: If you don’t have a leveler like the Matow one we recommend above, it’s worth adding one to your kit. You can still make espresso without a leveler, of course, but the process won’t be as foolproof. 

Next, you simply place your tamper in the basket atop the grounds and push down until it clicks (assuming it’s calibrated). To tidy things up, some baristas recommend “polishing” the puck by briefly spinning your tamper with about five pounds of pressure. Once you’re done tamping, look at the grounds in the basket to make sure they’re level. If your puck is slanted, water is going to find the path of least resistance and channel its way through rather than evenly extract.

Now brush or dust off the edge of the basket and the portafilter, because you want to avoid getting coffee grounds in the group head of your espresso machine, attach it to the group head, and pull your shot. Provided your grind size is right and your grounds are consistent, you should get a slow but steady trickle into your demitasse. There’s no exact standard, but a single shot should be ready in roughly 20 to 30 seconds, and a double somewhere between 35 and 45 seconds.

If you want to see how your infusion and extraction are working, try removing your puck right after the machine completes the pre-infusion (or pre-wetting). If you see dry spots, that’s where water didn’t penetrate. If you see cracks, that’s where water channeled. Wipe your basket and portafilter clean.

Espresso levelers (or distributors) vs. tampers

Why you want a leveler

A tamper is a flat (or in some cases convex or lined) piece of metal used to press coffee grounds into a compact puck within your portafilter basket. A leveler is a tool that sweeps across the surface of loosely piled grounds in order to distribute them evenly throughout the portafilter basket. You can use a leveler without a tamper — and a lot of contemporary baristas do — but a tamper provides an extra bit of insurance against channeling.

While 30 pounds is often cited as the amount of pressure needed to properly tamp, former Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) World Barista Judge and home-barista.com founder Dan Kehn along with the folks at both Javapress and Whole Latte Love maintain that 10 pounds will do the trick. Kehn regaled us with a tale of a fellow espresso aficionado who found that whether they tamped with 6 pounds, 60 pounds, or 660 pounds of pressure, variation in compaction was negligible. There were still small air pockets, and the grounds didn’t compress much further with each increase in pressure. Leveling your coffee grounds inherently tamps them, but you shouldn’t use force with a leveler the way you would with a tamper. 

Basically, tamping an espresso shot without a leveler is a bit like hanging a picture frame without a level: it might look straight, but there’s hardly a chance that it actually is. Once the grounds are perfectly leveled, they’ll remain even within the portafilter. Tamping them afterward just reduces the margin of error.

Glossary of espresso terms

Burr grinder: A mill designed to crush coffee beans between two abrasive surfaces set a particular distance apart (determined by the user)

Calibrated tamper: A tamper with a spring to gauge and determine the amount of pressure a barista puts on grounds to pack the portafilter basket

Choke: What a less powerful espresso machine does when it is unable to force water through grounds (usually due to grounds being too fine for the machine)

Convex tamper: A tamper with an outwardly curved surface or face, meant to assist in even extraction

Double: A double espresso; two shots, or somewhere between about 14 and 20 grams from a double portafilter basket

Grind size: The average or standard particle size of ground coffee beans

Grounds: Coffee beans that have been reduced (by way of a blade or burr) to a particular size for brewing

Leveler: A tool for evenly distributing a dose of grounds within a portafilter basket

Lined tamper: A tamper whose face is lined with rings to create an even pattern of ridges and valleys in the top of a puck

Over-extract: To pull too many of the soluble flavors from coffee (ends up extra viscous and bitter)

Portafilter: A holder for baskets and espresso grounds that attaches to the group or group head of an espresso machine

Portafilter basket: A stainless steel basket that holds espresso grounds and fits into the portafilter

Puck: A tamped, or compressed, pile of grounds in (or from) a portafilter

Single shot: One small portafilter basket-worth of coffee (about seven to nine grams)

Tamp: To pack and concentrate

Under-extract: To pull too few of the soluble flavors from coffee (ends up watery and bland)

See more great coffee buying guides

woman making coffee at home

The best espresso machines


The best French Presses


The best stovetop espresso makers


The best coffee grinders

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The best garlic presses we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A quality garlic press is easy to clean and produces a high yield of crushed garlic.
  • Our top pick is the Orblue Stainless Steel Garlic Press.
  • 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 seven garlic presses to identify the ones that make prepping garlic easy and fast.

Here are the best garlic presses in 2021

The best garlic press overall

product image of orblue garlic press, the best garlic press overall in 2021

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

product image of kuhn rikon garlic press, the best garlic press for unpeeled cloves in 2021

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.

The best garlic press for easy cleaning

product image of zyliss garlic press, the best garlic press for easy cleaning in 2021

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

hand holding a garlic press with crushed garlic coming through holes as part of testing for the best garlic

What else we recommend and why:

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.

Our testing methodology

garlic presses loaded with garlic cloves for testing of the best garlic press in 2021

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.

What we’re testing next

Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker: This was out of stock when we were testing, so we will include it for an update. This curved stainless steel piece is not a traditional garlic press, but claims to accomplish the same texture while being easier to clean. 

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.

FAQs

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.

Check out our other great kitchen guides

Our Methodology Knife Sets
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It’s Grill Week at Insider! Here are exclusive deals for our readers, plus your ultimate guide to the best grills and tools we’ve tested

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Spring Grilling Gear Hub 4x3
  • If you love good food and warm weather, grill season may be the highlight of your year.
  • We rounded up our favorite grilling guides to help you set up and start cooking.
  • We’ve also arranged for some exclusive deals on grills, meat, and grill accessories just for Insider Reviews readers.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

In honor of grill season, we’ve gathered all of our grill resources in one place. Along with our guides to the best grills and gear, we have a running list of sales and exclusive discounts on our favorite grilling products.

We’ve assembled and tested dozens upon dozens of grills from age-old charcoal kettle grills to state-of-the-art Bluetooth-controlled pellet grills and smokers. Through all of that, along with just as many interviews with experts, we’ve learned a few things:

1. You – yes, you! – can grill just about anything you’d eat, so don’t think grilling has to be a meat-centric, testosterone-driven affair: Cauliflower and courgettes are worth lighting up the grill every bit as much as sirloins and sausages.

2. Grilling doesn’t have to take forever: With the right equipment, it can be hardly more of a time investment than preheating an oven or priming a cast-iron skillet on the stove.

3. A good thermometer is everything: Whether you’re a novice or you fancy yourself an amateur expert, grilling doesn’t have to be guesswork, and there’s no substitute for a temperature probe.

Grilling is what you make of it. There’s a lot of false mysticism around how to grill meat specifically, and no shortage of sorcery and folklore about measuring doneness – another reason people shy away from the task. Fortunately, with the right gear, grilling can be fun and easy. We’ve got you covered with all our favorite grill equipment and accessories.

Here are our favorite resources to help you get grilling this spring:

Insider exclusive Grill Week deals

We’ve arranged for some exclusive discounts for Insider readers on our favorite grill brands and meat purveyors. Act fast, though, these deals are only valid during Grill Week, which runs May 10 through May 16. 

Grill deals

Deals on grilling meat and grilling accessories

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Other great grilling deals and discounts happening now

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  • The Home Depot: Savings of up to 40% on select grills.
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  • Traeger: Free grill cover and pellets with select grill purchases.
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The best charcoal grills

weber smokey joe

The 4 best charcoal grills

The best charcoal for grilling

Review: The IG Charcoal Grill, a weatherproof workhorse

Charcoal grilling is about as elemental as it gets, save for maybe an open hardwood fire, and to many of us, there’s little else in this world that elicits the smell of summer.

A good charcoal grill doesn’t have to be fancy. In the end, it’s one of those things that’s best made with robust parts, and not too many frills. We tried out a lot of charcoal grills, and and have picks for solid, well-built models in every size and price range.

Here are some of our favorite charcoal grills:

Charcoal BBQ (small)Original Kettle 22-Inch Charcoal Grill (small)10020 Smokey Joe 14-Inch Portable Grill (small)Double Play 3 Burner Gas and Charcoal Grill (small)
The best gas grills

pat16

The 5 best gas grills in 2021

There’s a reason legendary butcher Pat LaFrieda endorsed this at-home overhead grill

Gas grills, be they propane or natural gas, are among the more convenient options out there, and while a basic one is often the best choice for many people, it’s worth considering different designs that incorporate flat-tops, smokers, and one of our favorites, the overhead broiler.

Here are some of our favorite gas grills:

Spirit II E-310 LP Gas Grill (small)3-Burner Open Cart Propane Gas Grill (small)
The best BBQ smokers

Nexgrill smoker

The 5 best BBQ smokers in 2021

Smokers come in all shapes, sizes, and forms. The best for you depends on how much time and space you want to dedicate to the task, and whether you see it as a hobby or a chore. You’ll also want to consider flavor: While electric smokers are considerably easier and lower-maintenance, hardwood, charcoal, and pellet smokers tend to offer considerably more smokey flavor.

A great smoker, though, should be built to last at least a couple of years on the more budget-friendly end of the spectrum, and the better part of a decade on the higher end (if not longer, provided you take excellent care of it).

Here are some of our favorite barbecue smokers:

Wide Body Vertical Offset Charcoal Smoker (small)29-inch Barrel Charcoal Grill with Smoker (small)30 Inch Digital Electric Meat Smoker (small)
The best pizza ovens

Ooni pizza oven

The 5 best pizza ovens

A pizza oven is a fantastic investment if you have a knack for dough, or have limited access to quality, wood-fired pizza. Grilling pizza requires just a few ingredients and a quick flash in the pizza oven. The results are untold dollars saved for real pizza devotees that would otherwise be ordering it clad in cardboard several times a week.

Hardwood, wood pellets, charcoal, and propane (among other methods) are all feasible means of making pizza, and we have plenty of recommendations.

Here are some of our favorite pizza ovens:

Roccbox Pizza Oven (small)Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven (small)Basic Oven Kit (small)
The best meat and seafood for grilling

rastellis meat and fish delivery 4

Meat was in short supply during periods of the pandemic. Thankfully, most purveyors have replenished their stock by now, so your grill won’t stand empty. If you want to skip the butcher, we created a list of the best places to buy meat online.

When we spoke with Chef Pat LaFrieda about how to cook the perfect medium rare steak, he told us what we’ve heard from many other chefs: a quality steak is so delicious that it doesn’t need much in terms of preparation. The best way to start a grilling experience is with the best meat. 

Seafood is another great option for outdoor cooking, but it can be intimidating to order online. You want to make sure the retailer handles seafood properly, so that fresh or frozen, it tastes delicious. We spent eight months testing seafood and found the best places to buy seafood online.

Farmers Market Subscription (small)
The best grill gloves and brushes

Best grill brush

The best BBQ gloves

The 5 best grill brushes and cleaning tools in 2021

Grilling can be a messy endeavor, but keeping yourself and your grill relatively clean pays off. Regularly cleaning your grill improves its longevity and prevents the harmful build-up of bacteria and rust. Similarly, wearing quality grill gloves will keep your hands safe and clean while handling raw meat and hot cookware.

Here are some of our favorite grilling gloves and tools:

Extra Long Suede Grill Gloves (small)360° Clean Grill Brush (small)
Other great grilling products to enjoy this spring

traeger grill

Once you have the basics, it’s time to think about grilling extras that will take your experience and meals up a notch. Everyone’s favorite meat expert Pat LaFrieda told Insider Reviews about his must have grill accessories. There’s no substitute for the benefits of a quality meat thermometer or grill spatula. 

LaFrieda told Insider Reviews that a meat thermometer is the real key to a great grilling experience. “This whole thing about ‘if you touch it, and it feels like your cheek,’ … I never got that. Stick a thermometer in the center where it’s toughest and where the bone is,” he said.

Meat: Everything You Need to Know (small)Thermapen Mk4 (small)Grilling Spatula (small)Togiharu Inox Steel Gyuto (small)
How to grill

gasgrill

Okay, so you’ve got a grill. We all have a basic idea of how to operate a grill, but how do you choose what to grill, and how do you know how to set and adjust the temperature? And what about cleaning it? Here are our guides to using and caring for your grill(s).

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best pizza stones we tested in 2021

  • Using a pizza stone is a simple way to get better pizza out of your home oven or grill.
  • The Original Baking Steel is our top pick because it’s durable, easy to clean, and produces exceptional home cooked pizza.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you’ve ever tried making pizza in your home oven without any special equipment, you’ve probably found the results markedly different than what you get from your favorite pizza joint. Home-cooked pizzas tend to emerge from the oven pale, doughy, and less flavorful (browning = flavor). That’s because home ovens max out at around 550 degrees Fahrenheit, unlike commercial or wood-fired pizza ovens that can reach 900+ degrees. In order to achieve a pizza with a well-browned, flavorful crust and airy, chewy interior, you need to cook the pizza as hot and as fast as possible to mimic the intense heat of a traditional wood-fired oven.

That’s where pizza stones come in. Pizza stones are rectangular or circular slabs of relatively thick stone or metal that absorb heat to cook pizza much faster than a pan or sheet tray. With practice and the right pizza stone, you can churn out pizzas that resemble the pies you get from your favorite slice shop.

I’m no stranger to pizza stones after working in professional kitchens for many years, where we used these slabs for much more than just pizza. They’re great for baking bread, especially oblong loaves like baguettes, and they can put a mean sear on steak or vegetables. For this guide, I focused primarily on pizza, using each stone to make multiple thin-crust pizzas in my oven. I also used each stone to bake bread in the oven, though I weighed this test less heavily. I had the tough job of evaluating the quality of the finished pizza through multiple taste tests and also based my recommendations on how easy the stones were to move, use, and clean.

To learn more about how to choose, use, and care for a pizza stone, I interviewed pizza expert and colleague Andrew Janjigian (@wordloaf), baking instructor and former resident bread expert at Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. You can read more about our methodology, along with answers to FAQs, and pizza stone tips and tricks here.

Here are the best pizza stones in 2021

Our testing methodology

Best pizza stone 2021 methodology

In addition to interviewing Andrew Janjigian, a pizza expert, we put each pizza stone through a series of tests to judge how well they made pizza, and how easy they were to move, use, and clean. Here’s how we tested and rated pizza stones:

Shape: I researched dozens of stones, but after conferring with Janjigian, focused on rectangular stones when I could because the shape is more versatile and easy to use.

How it made pizza: We preheated each stone in a 500-degree oven for two hours and then used it to make three thin-crust pizzas using a recipe from Serious Eats, a website known for its science-based, well-tested recipes. Over the course of several weeks, we adjusted cook time, oven temperature, and stone position in between pizzas in pursuit of the best results. A good pizza should have a well-browned, bubbly crust that is crisp on the outside and moist and chewy on the inside; cheese should be fully melted in the time it takes to cook the crust. My husband and I both sampled each finished pizza for flavor and texture. I only tested the cast-iron pan on a charcoal grill because its size, shape, and material were best suited for that use.

How it made bread: Many people bake bread with their pizza stones, so I used each to make an easy recipe for crusty white bread from King Arthur, a respected flour company where Janjigian teaches baking classes. I looked for loaves that were well-baked inside and browned (but not burnt) on the bottom. 

Ease of Use: I frequently moved the stones in and out of the oven using oven mitts, and with my bare hands when the stones had cooled down, noting how easy and comfortable they were to move. After each use, I cleaned the stone according to manufacturer instructions, evaluating how easily they cleaned up and noting their appearance after use and cleaning. 

Durability: I didn’t intentionally drop any stones during testing, as I know that cordierite in particular is prone to cracking and breaking, having broken a few of these stones in the past. Instead, I consulted with an expert and did my own research about the durability of different materials.  

Best pizza stone overall

Best pizza stone 2021 Baking Steel

If you want to make the best, most bubbly, and well-browned pizza, The Original Baking Steel produces a crust like no other and is easy to move, clean, and use. 

Pros: Excellent thermal conductivity for superior pizza, preheats faster than cordierite stones, easy to clean, practically indestructible, doesn’t show wear like cordierite stones

Cons: Heavy to lift, gets too hot for baking bread or cooking on the grill

Unlike traditional pizza stones, which are made from cordierite stone, the Baking Steel is (as the name suggests) made of steel, which transfers heat much faster. All materials have different thermal conductivity, meaning they hold and transfer heat differently. That’s why, for example, it hurts to touch a hot oven rack, but only feels warm when you hold your hand in the oven air. When heated to 500 F, the Baking Steel behaves the same way as the surface of a traditional 900 F brick oven. 

The Baking Steel consistently made the most well-browned, bubbly pizzas, with great speckling across the bottom of the crust. This not only made for pizza with a better texture, but also a more robust flavor, since those browned bits offer much more flavor.

However, the properties that make the Baking Steel great for pizza make it a bad choice for bread, which needs slower, more consistent heat to bake properly. In testing, the Baking Steel burned the bottoms of my loaves. Steel also isn’t a good choice for making pizza on the grill, where the temperatures exceed 700 F and the exceptional heat transfer from the steel becomes overkill.

The steel is well-sized for pizzas that are large or aren’t perfectly round. The slick, seasoned surface cleaned up easier than other stones, and while this is minor, I liked that the dark color didn’t show wear the way cordierite stones do. Since it’s made from steel, it’s also basically indestructible and thus much more durable than cordierite. If you’re really serious about pizza quality, the Baking Stone is absolutely the best all-around choice. 

Best baking stone

Best pizza stone 2021 Solido

This cordierite pizza stone bakes good pizza, but also produces excellent bread, making it a great choice for those looking to make a variety of recipes with their pizza stone.

Pros: Makes decent pizza and excellent bread, cleans up easily, has feet for easy maneuvering 

Cons: Produces less browning, takes a long time to preheat, cordierite is prone to cracking and staining

The Solido 14×16 Cordierite Pizza Stone makes delicious pizza that is moist, springy, and chewy. However, it doesn’t produce quite the level of browning as the baking steel — the pizza was good, but still distinctly home-baked pizza not reminiscent of restaurant pizza. 

Cordierite stones like the Solido absorb and release heat slowly. They take about two hours to preheat in the oven and a very long time to cool down enough to handle after cooking. This slow heat is decent for pizza but exceptional for baking bread, which relies on consistent heat over a much longer bake time. The Solido stone is well-shaped to accommodate longer, oblong loaves like baguettes or rustic bread, and made loaves that were beautifully browned.

Design-wise, it’s pretty basic: a rectangular slab of cordierite. However, unlike other cordierite stones, it has raised grooves along the bottom that lift it off the oven rack and make it much easier to grab and move around. While this is a minor design feature, it distinguished the Solido stone from other very similar stones. 

Its rounded corners also fit better when I tried it on a charcoal grill. However, like all cordierite stones, it takes a long time to preheat, which makes it an inefficient option for grilling unless you want to waste a ton of propane or charcoal. 

This is a great stone if you loathe the idea of a unitasker — it made great oven pizza and excellent bread. It was also simple to clean, though it retained stains like all cordierite stones are prone to do. Cordierite can crack or break if not cared for properly; we don’t expect this stone is any different, though we didn’t see any cracking during testing.

Best pizza stone for the grill

Best pizza stone 2021 Lodge pizza stone

This round cast-iron stone has handles for easy maneuvering and is perfectly sized and shaped for making pizza on both charcoal and gas grills. 

Pros: Good thermal conductivity for well-browned pizzas, cleans up easily, doesn’t show stains, circular shape fits well on round grill, handles make moving easy

Cons: Difficult to slide a pizza onto its circular shape

While you can make pizza directly on your grill’s grates (in fact, this is the method Janjigian recommends if you’re interested in grilled pizza), a stone makes the process less daunting and potentially less messy. 

The Lodge 15 Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Pizza Pan is well-suited to cooking on the grill; it offers a happy medium between steel and cordierite in how quickly it heats up and how fast it transfers heat to your pizza. In testing, the Lodge pan was ready to go after about a half-hour of preheating on my gas grill, and it cooked a beautifully baked pie with good spotting on the top and excellent browning on the bottom. The built-in handles made it easy to transfer the stone in and out of the grill, and it cleans up easily with just a sponge and some water. 

Grilling was also the only situation where I found the circular stone to have an advantage over rectangular stones; you can read more about circular versus rectangular stones here. While the rectangular stones fit fine on my gas grill, some didn’t fit at all on my small kettle charcoal grill. The round stone fit nicely in both the gas and charcoal grill and left plenty of room for air circulation.  

The stone isn’t just for grilling though; it made excellent pizza in my oven, but I found its circular shape was less forgiving than rectangular stones. If I was off-center by just a bit when sliding the pizza off the peel, the dough hung off the edge and made a mess in my oven. This stone is a great option if you’re dabbling in the world of grilled pizza, but most other users will get better benefits from one of our other rectangular picks. 

What else we tested

Best pizza stone 2021 What else we tested

Pizza stones are relatively simple pieces of equipment; usually just slabs of stone or metal with little difference between models. All of the products we tested made great pizza, and top choices came down to minor differences like size, shape, handles, and feet. 

What else we recommend and why:

  • Honey-Can-Do 14×16 Cordierite Pizza Stone ($49.99): Previously sold as the Old Stone Oven pizza stone, this model has changed a bit now that it’s sold by Honey-Can-Do. Reviewers report that the new stone doesn’t have feet like the old stone, and that the corners are sharper. I tested the new stone and found it made great pizza on par with the Solido 14×16 Cordierite Pizza Stone in our lineup. However, it had no distinguishing features to earn it a space on our top picks. Furthermore, it seems as though there’s still confusion among retailers about the old stone versus the new stone, with listings on Amazon and Walmart showing photos of the old stone, but sending buyers the new stone instead. These issues are made more frustrating by fluctuating stock and significant price mark-ups from third party retailers. We’ll revisit whether this stone makes the top picks when the company clears up the confusion. 

What we’re testing next

Best pizza stone 2021 What were testing next

We plan to continually test new pizza stones and add them to this guide. Here are some products on our radar: 

  • Nerd Chef Steel Stone, Standard ($84.99): Slightly less expensive than our top pick, the Original Baking Steel, this steel pizza stone is also made of conductive steel. The shape and thickness are similar to our top pick, but the Nerd Chef model has two finger-sized holes for moving and storing the steel. 
  • Dough-Joe Samurai Pizza Steel ($65.21): Another Baking Steel copycat, this model was reviewed by one of our reporters, who found it identical in performance to the Baking Steel. I look forward to putting it through all the tests for this guide and reporting back my findings. 
  • Love This Kitchen Ultimate 16-inch Round Pizza Stone ($47.97): Previously our top pick for best circular stone, this model was out of stock at the time of testing for this guide. While I think rectangular stones are more versatile and easy to use than circular stones, I was intrigued that this circular stone offers a “no-spill stopper” — a little raised lip at the back of the stone that’s meant to stop the pizza from sliding over the edge (a common complaint in circular stones). Now that it appears back in stock at Amazon, I look forward to seeing how this model compares to the top picks in our guide.
  • Bialetti Taste of Italy Baking Stone Tile Set ($25.55): This set comes with four 7.5-inch tiles that you can either use individually or put together to make one large stone. The smaller and customizable shape might be a good option for those with smaller home ovens that can’t fit a large 14-inch by 16-inch pizza stone.

What to look for in a pizza stone

Best pizza stone 2021 What to look for

Here are some considerations to think about when looking for a pizza stone: 

Shape: One might think that since pizza is round, a pizza stone should be too. But we actually think you’ll get much better pizza out of a rectangular stone. “With a round stone, if you miss that target by a little, [the pizza] is going to hang off the edge,” said Janjigian. “You don’t have to aim perfectly with a rectangular stone.” Rectangular stones are often larger, so they also hold more heat, which can make a pizza with better browning. Finally, rectangular stones are more versatile. “I want the real estate for things that aren’t perfectly round,” said Janjigian, who also uses a pizza stone to bake bread. The only time we see a round stone having an advantage is for grilling since larger rectangular stones sometimes don’t fit, especially on circular grills. For almost all uses, rectangular is the way to go. 

Size: “I want my stone to be as big as my oven rack, minus some space for airflow,” said Janjigian. A larger stone not only holds more heat but provides plenty of real estate for larger pies and long baked goods like baguettes. We found a stone that is about 16 inches by 14 inches to be the ideal size for most home ovens. If you’re looking for a cordierite stone, thicker is also better, says Janjigian, because thicker stones are less prone to cracking. Our favorite cordierite stone measures ¾ inch thick, and we found this size to be a good compromise between durability and maneuverability. 

Weight: While lighter stones may be easier to transport in and out of the oven, Janjigian said that heavier stones will produce better pizza. “The lighter it is, the less mass it has, and the less it can heat the pie,” he said. A heavier stone will hold a lot of heat, and make a well-browned pizza. Pizza stones usually weigh about nine pounds, but most of our top picks are 13 to 16 pounds because they’re thicker or made with heavier material like steel or cast iron.

Material: We looked at stones made from steel, cordierite (a heat-resistant mineral), and cast iron, all of which have different thermal properties, and thus, different uses. Of these, steel absorbs and transfers heat the fastest, which makes it ideal for pizza in the home oven. If you’re serious about good home pizza, we recommend opting for a pizza steel. Cordierite stones make decent pizza but have less thermal mass than steel, so the crust tends to be paler and less developed. However, cordierite is a great choice if you plan on using your stone to bake bread since other materials tend to burn loaves. If you hate the idea of a unitasker and have a robust baking repertoire, a cordierite stone will absolutely do the trick. Finally, cast iron offers a happy medium between steel and cordierite in terms of heat conductivity. However, we have yet to find a rectangular cast iron stone, only circular pans, which are trickier to use. We think circular cast iron pizza stones are a good option if you’re interested in grilled pizza, especially if you have a round grill. 

Price: Pizza stones are basically just slabs of material so be wary of any stone priced significantly more or less than competitors made from the same material. Expect to pay about $40 to $60 for a cordierite or cast iron stone and $70 to $90 for a steel one. You won’t get a significant increase in performance from something priced higher. 

FAQs

Best pizza stone 2021 FAQs

Why do I need a pizza stone?

A pizza stone can help you make restaurant-quality pizza at home. Many pizza joints use commercial or wood-fired ovens that can reach 900+ F, creating the well-browned crust you expect from a restaurant pie. Home ovens don’t get that hot, so pizza made in a pan or sheet tray usually comes out doughy and pale. A pizza stone recreates some of the restaurant experience by providing a super hot surface to cook the pizza, resulting in better browning and bubbling.

Can I use a pizza stone in a countertop oven or toaster oven?

The stones we tested are too big for most toaster ovens, and most toaster ovens don’t reach the temperatures needed to churn out good pizza (many max out at 450 F). Some circular stones may fit in large countertop smart ovens like the June Oven

Do I need to preheat my pizza stone?

Absolutely. You’ll only get the benefits of using a pizza stone or steel if you preheat it. You should preheat most stones and steels for one to two hours, enough time for the stone to get as hot as the air around it. If you don’t, the results won’t be much different than what you get from using a pizza pan or baking sheet. 

Can I cook frozen pizza on my pizza stone?

Thermal shock from placing frozen items on a hot stone can cause your stone to crack. Most frozen pizzas are parbaked at the factory and heating them simply involves warming the crust and melting the cheese. You likely won’t see a marked difference if you’re using a stone to cook a frozen pizza. If you do want to try, thaw your frozen pizza before placing it on the stone.

Pizza stone care and maintenance

Like any specialty equipment, pizza stones require extra care to stay in prime condition. Here’s our advice on how to keep your pizza stone in the best shape.

How to clean a pizza stone

Use soap and water sparingly: It’s important to clean all types of pizza stones gently and without soap when you can; cordierite is very porous and that soapy flavor can soak into the stone and impact the flavor of your pizza. Steel and cast iron should similarly be cleaned lightly so as not to disturb the built-up seasoning.

Scrape off debris first: Use a metal or plastic spatula to scrape big chunks of debris off of the stone when you’re done cooking, and wipe the surface lightly with water and a soft sponge. Any leftover stickiness or stuck-on bits will likely burn off the next time you preheat the stone.

Let it dry: If you use water to clean a cordierite stone, let it dry for at least 48 hours before you use it again.

Preventing your pizza stone from cracking

Cast iron and steel stones should never crack, as both are extremely durable materials. Almost all cracking occurs with cordierite stones. Despite being “stone,” cordierite pizza stones are relatively delicate. A common cause of cracking is thermal shock, which is when the stone is rapidly exposed to a drastically different temperature. You should never put a room temperature stone in a hot oven; always put the stone in a cold oven and allow it to preheat. Similarly, avoid putting frozen food onto a blazing hot stone (yes, that includes frozen pizza) and let the stone cool completely in the oven before removing or washing it.

Stones can also crack from too much moisture. Cordierite stones are very porous; they’ll absorb moisture from the food cooking and from washing. If you don’t give your stone time to dry after washing it, the water can remain in the stone and cause a build-up of steam the next time you heat the stone, resulting in a crack. Finally, stones can crack from even minor drops (this is how I broke my first stone); treat your stone as gently as you would a piece of pottery when handling or moving it.

After you take out your pizza, let your stone stay in the oven until both are completely cooled to avoid any potential cracking. This can take several hours, but it’s important for maintaining the durability of your stone.

Why is my pizza stone discolored?

While your pizza stone will never look as pristine as the day you bought it, those stains and smudges can actually help make your pizza stone more nonstick over time. Materials like cast iron and carbon steel become more “seasoned” with use, as oils bond to the surface and form a natural protective coating. 

Pizza stone tips and tricks

Best pizza stone 2021 Pizza Stone Tips and Tricks

Making great pizza at home takes practice. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned over seven years of working in professional kitchens for getting the most out of your pizza stone.

Crank up the heat: Heat is your friend when cooking pizza. Some pizza aficionados have been known to toggle with broiler settings and even try to hack their oven’s self-clean cycles in pursuit of perfect home pizza. While we don’t think you need to go that far, we recommend cranking the heat in your oven up to 500 F if you’re using a steel or 550 F if you’re using a cordierite stone. 

Preheat your stone in the oven: Put your stone in the cold oven and preheat both stone and oven together for one to two hours. This step is essential for achieving a well-browned pizza.

Use a pizza peel: A peel is a tool to shuttle your pizza on and off the blazing hot stone. After years of using makeshift peels, including the back of a skillet and an overturned sheet pan, I finally took the plunge and purchased a pizza peel. It makes the process significantly easier and less daunting. I build my pizza right on the peel for an easy transition from the counter to the oven.

Rotate the pizza: Give the pizza a turn once through baking with the help of your peel or a good set of kitchen tongs. The back of the oven tends to be hotter than the front, so rotating your pizza once during cooking can help prevent burning.

Tweak and refine: It takes practice to make great pizza at home. Don’t be discouraged if your first pizza ends up burnt or too doughy inside. Try different recipes and tinker with cooking times and temperatures until you find what works for your oven. 

Turbocharge your pizza making: If you’re really wild about homemade pizza, Janjigian said you can buy both a stone and steel and put them together to “supercharge” your pizza making. “If you put the steel on top of the stone, the stone acts like a battery to continually pump heat into the steel,” he said. This tip is primarily for those super-invested in making pizza at home, but the steel-on-stone method can be great for churning out pie after pie, or getting the char and bubbling on the crust you normally only really get from wood-fired ovens. 

Check out our other pizza-making buying guides

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The 5 best stovetop cleaners of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Whether you can barely boil water or are a gourmet cook, stovetops can get messy. When food drops and then burns onto surfaces, pots boil over, and hot grease flies everywhere, ignoring cleanup can leave sticky and stubborn residue.

That’s where stovetop cleaners come in. The best product for cleaning stovetops depends on the surface material: baked paint or porcelain enamel, ceramic (often called a glass cooktop), or stainless steel. There are even some differences in how you should safely clean a gas stove-top and an electric coil stove-top with drip pans, which we explain at the end of this guide.

After a lifetime of cooking in test labs and at home, I’ve cleaned every type of stovetop, tested dozens of cleaning products, and followed different care tips to find the best. And, because any type of cleaning that requires less elbow grease appeals to me, I’m always looking for the most effective, easiest to use, and greatest value in products.

Here are the best stovetop cleaners of 2021

The best stovetop cleaner for baked enamel

Zep cleaner

ZEP Heavy-Duty Citrus Degreaser will eradicate greasy film on both gas and electric baked enamel stovetops.

Pros: Easily removes grease, pleasant citrus odor, available in one-gallon size for easy bottle refills

Cons: Can damage granite countertops and painted wood surfaces, usually only available online or in home improvement stores

For decades, almost every home stovetop was constructed of baked porcelain enamel, a heavy-duty, heat-resistant material that is fused to the steel surface. Today, you can still purchase both gas and electric porcelain enamel stoves as well as matte-painted baked enamel finishes.

Both finishes are durable and easy to clean once you remove the greasy film that may coat cooking surfaces. With ZEP Heavy-Duty Citrus Degreaser, there’s no need for scouring with abrasive pads because its natural citrus solvents cut through grease. Simply spray it on, wait a few minutes, and then wipe away the sticky messes. Finish up with a clean cloth or sponge dipped in hot water for a final rinse.

I like to pour some ZEP into a separate spray bottle and dilute it 50/50 with water to use on small everyday messes. It’s effective and safe to use on stainless steel, aluminum, and other metal surfaces, too. Be sure not to use this cleaner on granite and painted wood surfaces as it can lead to damage.

For tough, burned-on food, spray on ZEP and allow it to work for at least five minutes. You can then use a rubber scraper to loosen the food and wipe it away.  If you have a free-standing or built-in stove, be sure to lift the stove-top or remove the drip pans to clean away any food that dripped inside. ZEP also offers gallon sizes for easy refills. 

The best stovetop cleaner for stainless steel

Amazon trinova stovetop cleaner

TriNova Stainless Steel Cleaner and Polish not only eliminates kitchen grease and stuck-on food, it helps prevent them.

Pros: Removes grease and burned-on food easily, leaves stainless stove-tops streak-free, comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth, can be used on all stainless steel appliances

Cons: Not readily available in mass-market stores

Stainless steel stovetops have plenty of great qualities. They are extremely durable but can also show every water spot and smudge. They don’t hold up well under harsh scouring powders, steel wool, or abrasive sponges. Once the damage is done, there is no reversing the marred finish.

Not only does TriNova remove food splatters, grease, and smudges easily with a non-abrasive, water-based product, it also coats the surface of stainless steel to help repel messes so it stays shiny longer. Simply give the bottle a good shake and spray on the cleaner. The solution is slightly thick so it adheres to the surface.

TriNova includes a large microfiber towel with each purchase. Fold it into quarters and use one side to wipe the cleaner in the direction of the grain. Finish by using a dry side of the towel for a final buff of the surface to increase the shine.  When your stove-top is gleaming, don’t forget the dishwasher, sink, and refrigerator!

The best stovetop cleaner for ceramic stovetops

Weiman cook top cleaner

Ceramic stovetops are prone to scratching, and the Weiman Cooktop Cleaner Max is the perfect liquid agent for streak- and scratch-free stovetops.

Pros: Removes the worst burned-on messes and grease effectively, will not scratch ceramic surfaces, comes with a scrubbing pad

Cons: Does not remove scratches caused by knives, pots and pans, not readily found in all mass-market stores

After years of cleaning enamel and stainless steel cooktops, I encountered a smooth ceramic stovetop. It looked sleek and conducted heat well, but removing the overflow from a boiling pot was difficult until I found Weiman Cooktop Cleaner Max.

The micro-bead technology in the formula provides just the right amount of abrasive power to remove burned-on food and grease without scratching the surface. After cleaning with the lemon-scented paste and enclosed pad (that conveniently stores in the lid of the container) and rinsing, there are no streaks or watermarks at all.

Though it doesn’t remove scratches caused by knives, pots, and pans, it’s the most effective ceramic stovetop cleaner we found.

The best stovetop cleaner for gas grates

Austin's ammonia

With Austin’s Clear Ammonia Multipurpose Cleaner, you won’t have to scrub grungy gas stovetop grates and burner heads.

Pros: One-step cleaning, cuts through heavy grease and burned-on buildup, works well to remove smudges

Cons: Powerful odor, potential skin irritant, cannot be used in combination with other cleaners

I think we have established that we all love any type of cleaning that requires very little effort. If you own a gas stovetop, Austin’s Clear Ammonia Multipurpose Cleaner is the one-step cleaner that removes grease for a sparkling result.

All you need is a sealable plastic bag or container and the cleaner. Simply place the grates and burner heads in the bag and pour in just enough ammonia to cover the pieces. Seal up the container and let them “soak” for about eight hours or overnight. Remove the pieces, sponge them off with a bit of soapy water, rinse well with hot water, and they are sparkling clean! Just dry them and reinstall.

As with any too-easy-to-believe hack, there are a couple of things you should note. Ammonia has a very potent odor and should be used in a well-ventilated space. Never mix ammonia with other cleaning products, especially chlorine bleach, which can cause deadly gases. You should use tongs or wear protective gloves when removing stovetop pieces from the soaking solution to prevent skin irritation, too. Luckily, ammonia can be safely disposed of down the drain.

Once you discover the cleaning potential of household ammonia, you’ll find plenty of uses in the kitchen, laundry room, and throughout the house.

The best stovetop cleaner for electric drip pans

Mr. Clean magic eraser

For leftover bits of burned-on food on stovetop drip pans, Mr. Clean Extra Durable Magic Erasers work like a charm.

Pros: Eraser can be cut for specific cleaning jobs, disposable, removes tough grime

Cons: May dull the finish of new, highly polished drip pans

A small rectangular miracle cleaning tool, also known as  Mr. Clean’s Extra Durable Magic Erasers, uses melamine-foam activated with water as micro-scrubbers to remove stuck-on grime from nearly every type of surface — including electric stovetop drip pans.

I grew up with an electric stove with burner coils and drip pans that took lots of abuse. It was my mother’s favorite chore assignment for me: “Make those drip pans shine!” I spent plenty of time at the sink with hot water, scrubbing powders, and steel wool trying to get rid of burned-on food. 

To make cleaning simple, my first suggestion is to use Austin’s Clear Ammonia Multipurpose Cleaner to give the drip pans a soak that will cut through the grease and food on pans. If any bits linger, Mr. Clean will easily remove them.

I usually cut the erasers into smaller pieces that can be used to scrub away residue and then tossed after they become too messy. Finish by simply rinsing with warm water to remove any foam particles that might remain. Though they may dull the finish of newer, highly-polished drip pans, they work like a charm for an essential clean.

How to clean stovetops

how to clean stovetops

For the simplest cleaning process, I swear by daily wipedowns and then a thorough cleaning after a big cooking session. Here are some basic steps for a thorough cleaning:

  • Step 1: Always start with a completely cool surface and with everything turned off.
  • Step 2: Remove as many components like knobs, electric coils, drip pans, gas grates, and burner caps as possible. For gas stove-tops, cover the gas fuel openings with plastic wrap or a coffee cup to prevent splashing any cleaning solution into the opening.
  • Step 3: Place the loose components with heavy grease and burned-on food, in cleaning solutions to soak. Wipe down knobs and lightly soiled components so they are ready to reinstall.
  • Step 4: Wipe down the entire surface with a damp cloth to remove crumbs and light soil. Tackle tough stains using the proper cleaning product and tools for the specific type of surface to prevent damage and to leave it streak-free.
  • Step 5: Reassemble the stove-top and pledge to clean it after every use to make the job easier next time.

Check out our other kitchen cleaning guides

cleaning
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10 black finish accessories to complete a kitchen remodel

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SOKA Faucet

Interior design trends are always changing, and it’s normal to want to spruce up your own space after living in it for a while. Black kitchens are becoming increasingly popular. From cabinetry to appliances and paints, people are gravitating towards the sophistication of a darker cooking space.

If you’re interested in darkening up your kitchen, there are lots of great products to do so on Amazon. Whether you’re moving to a new home and looking to design a kitchen from scratch or you’re just in the mood for a sleek spring refresh, we’ve got you covered. We rounded up 10 pieces to add a modern touch to your kitchen, from faucets to pot racks, all with rich black finishes.

A touchless faucet

Moen black faucet

Moen Motionsense Kitchen Faucet, $416

This sleek touchless faucet uses MotionSense technology, making it easy to get the water running when your hands are full or dirty.

Check out our guide to the best kitchen faucets.

A pot rack

KES Pot Rack

Tehome Rounded Rectangular Mirror, $120

This matte black pot rack has a shelf and 12 hooks for hanging. Not only does it provide great storage, but it makes for an eye-catching piece of utilitarian decor.

Check out our guide to the best cookware sets.

A sink stopper

InSinkErator

InSinkErator Sink Stopper, $8

A sink stopper is important to make sure your pipes don’t get clogged with grease and food. This one comes in over 10 finishes if you want something different.

A soap dispenser

Gappo soap dispenser

Gappo Sink Soap Dispenser, $18

This durable stainless steel soap pump can be installed in just a few minutes. The matte black is a sophisticated touch.

Check out our guide to the best hand soaps.

A fun light fixture

ALISADABOY Sputnik lighting

Alisadaboy Sputnik Light, $65

This sputnik light fixture has eight bulbs for lots of light and a unique style that goes with all sorts of home decor.

Check out our guide to the best light bulbs.

A garbage can

MDesign Trash Can

MDesign Slim Profile Trash Can, $25

This simple trash can has over 6,000 5-star ratings and comes in a variety of colors. It’s an affordable, modern upgrade to your basic plastic option.

Check out our guide to the best trash cans.

Kitchen cabinet knobs

Ilyapa Cabinet Knobs

Ilyapa Cabinet Knobs, 25-pack, $29

These knobs have a timeless, classic shape and come in multiple different shapes and finishes.

Check out these 10 easy DIY projects to upgrade your space.

Cabinet handles

Ravinte Cabinet Handles

Ravinte Cabinet Pulls, 30-pack, $27

If you prefer something more modern than traditional cabinet knobs, these handles feel a lot more sleek. The matte black is particularly sophisticated.

A single-handle faucet

SOKA Faucet

Soka Single Handle Kitchen Faucet, $89

A great faucet is a fixture in any kitchen. This one has a pull-down sprayer with has 3-functions — spray, stream, and pause — so you can avoid splashing and get the right stream for whatever you need to do.

Check out our guide to the best dish soap.

Floating shelves

Bayka Shelves

Bayka Wood Floating Shelves, 3-pack, $26

Show off photos, mugs, or small appliances on these cute floating shelves. Each shelf is strong enough to hold 40 pounds.

Check out our guide to the best storage shelves.

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