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.
The full rotation and stainless steel construction of the Orblue Garlic Press makes it the easiest to load, press, and clean.
Pros: Full rotation, handles have looped ends so the press can be hung for storage, dishwasher safe, can accommodate multiple cloves at once
Cons: Water spots appeared on stainless steel after washing
This heavy duty kitchen tool features an almost 360 degree range of rotation. While most garlic presses feature a hopper (where the cloves go) that is attached to the handle, a feature of this press is that the hopper swings out separately from the handles. This allows you better access for loading garlic and for cleaning.
The Orblue is on the heavier side, but not unwieldy, and the heft makes squeezing easier when crushing multiple cloves at once. The crushed garlic came out even and paste-like. The press comes with a silicone garlic roller for peeling cloves and a small cleaning brush.
The best garlic press for unpeeled cloves
Whether used with unpeeled cloves or peeled cloves, the Kuhn Rikon Garlic Press consistently produced the same amount of crushed garlic and required minimal pressure.
Pros: Presses both peeled and unpeeled cloves with ease, can accommodate multiple cloves
Cons: Heavy, expensive
The Kuhn Rikon was the most consistent garlic press I tested. Regardless of how the garlic was positioned or whether it was peeled or unpeeled, the Kuhn Rikon felt the same to squeeze and produced the same amount of garlic paste from each clove. This is a big plus if you’re making something that requires a lot of garlic, like garlic bread or aglio e olio.
That said, the Kuhn Rikon is $26 more than our top pick and only performed better with unpeeled cloves. If you’re looking to avoid peeling garlic, the Rikon is easiest to use, but it may not be worth the increased price for everyone.
The best garlic press for easy cleaning
The Zyliss Garlic Press comes with a cleaning tool that was the most effective of any that we tested and stores neatly inside the press so you don’t lose it.
Pros: Mobile lever, cleaning tool stored in the press, can accommodate multiple cloves at once
Cons: Stationary basket, requires a lot of force to press larger cloves
Cleaning a garlic press is the worst part of using it, but the Zyliss makes it almost painless. The cleaning tool is stored tucked into one of the handles, ensuring you don’t lose it. The tool has small spikes that match up with the holes in the basket, so you can push the garlic remains out from the holes, making it easier to remove the peels from the press.
The Zyliss is made of aluminum and does not have the power of the heavier presses, so you have to apply more force. Though the basket is stationary, the press itself opens 180 degrees and the lever is mobile, so you still have space to fill and clean it.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why:
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
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.
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.
Regardless of whether you brew your coffee with a French press, pour-over setup, drip machine, or espresso maker, the key to getting the perfect cup lies in the quality and consistency of the grounds. In other words, you need a top-notch coffee grinder.
As Dan Kehn, founder of espresso enthusiast forum Home-Barista.com said of the device’s importance, “This is not a weed whacker, it is a precision instrument,” – meaning, above all, a good coffee grinder consistently produces uniformly sized grounds. That’s because the less even your grounds are, the less even the extraction will be, and the more likely your cup of coffee will be over or under-brewed, bitter, or weak.
There are two basic types of coffee grinders on the market: burr and blade. Burr grinders are pricier, but they offer more uniform results, carefully crushing coffee beans between two revolving sharp-edged surfaces, or “burrs.” You can adjust the space between those burrs to determine the size of the grounds.
Blade grinders, on the other hand, work similarly to blenders, pulverizing coffee beans with a propeller-like blade attached to a motor. While they don’t offer the same consistency or control as burr grinders, they’re significantly more affordable and can be used to make a decent pot of drip coffee.
We tested every grinder in this guide for grind-size consistency on multiple settings, measured their noise levels, timed how quickly they turned beans into grounds, evaluated their ease of use, and noted any special features. During testing, we found that the brands’ recommended settings were often off-target, so we included our own additional suggestions for each machine. You can read more about our testing methods here, along with a rundown of which grind size to use for which brewing method.
In testing coffee grinders, I applied several years of tireless personal and professional research on my quest to achieve the perfect espresso pour and all the necessary and auxiliary accouterments that accompany and assist the art of espresso making. We also consulted the more distinguished expertise of Sum Ngai (co-founder of the SCAA-accredited Coffee Project New York), Brooklyn Roasting Company founder Jim Munson), and Home-Barista.com founder and editor Dan Kehn.
Consistency: The most important factor when determining the quality of each coffee grinder was consistency. We used the brand-recommended settings for French press coffee and espresso on each grinder, as well as our own settings, based on expert input, personal experience, and guidelines set forth by The Craft and Science of Coffee. We then measured the grounds with a set of Kruve sifters — a series of stacked screens that separate coffee grounds at your determined grind size from any outliers — to see how many fine particles and boulders were left behind after each grind.
Once we achieved the best yield of a target size (measured in micrometers), we repeated the process to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. In the case of espresso, the aim was 250-500 micrometers. For French press grounds, we shot for between 600 and 1100 micrometers. Keep in mind, though, that these are just general suggestions, and we were testing for uniformity of particles above all; taste-wise, you may have your own grind size preference.
Settings: We recorded the number of settings on every machine, and tested to see how each grinder performed on several of those settings, noting accuracy, consistency, and speed. Espresso is the most demanding grind size, and you’ll need a machine with stainless steel burrs and at least 40 settings.
Programming: We noted whether or not you could program your own settings, and tested this function on each machine that offered it, docking points for grinders that made the process overly complicated.
Espresso compatibility: While the ability to produce consistent, uniform grounds in the 250-500 micrometer range is the most essential coffee grinder requirement for making espresso, it’s not the only factor we considered. Having a portafilter holder and a programmable interface also streamline the espresso brewing process, and we made sure to note machines with these features.
Noise: We measured noise levels with a decibel meter, but ultimately this didn’t factor too much into our final rankings. Some of the best burr grinders also happened to be the noisiest, but it’s an inconvenience we can live with for quality coffee.
The best coffee grinder overall
The Baratza Encore is a solid entry-level burr grinder that will suit most coffee drinkers’ needs, thanks to its wide range of settings, quiet motor, and consistent results.
Pros: Sturdy, nicely weighted, 40 grind settings
Cons: Not ideal for espresso
What Baratza set out to do with the Encore was make burr grinders accessible to all. This is by no stretch a commercial-grade machine, but it will elevate your coffee into the (relative) stratosphere if you’re upgrading from a blade grinder, and it’s significantly more affordable than most burr grinders on the market, which tend to start at around $200.
The Encore won’t get you immaculate grounds, but it will reduce the number of boulders and fines (how coffee pros refer to too-large and too-small particles) in each grind. Using Kruve sieves — a set of stacked sifters that separate coffee grounds at your determined grind size from any outliers — we found that the Encore managed between 70 and 80 percent of our target French press grind (600-1100 micrometers), outperforming the burr grinders we tested within and slightly above its price range.
However, when we tried a finer grind for espresso (250-500 micrometers), the results were only 50 to 70 percent on-target, with the irregular particles mostly being fines. A too-small grind can lead to over-extraction, which results in a bitter brew. So, while this machine will serve most home coffee brewers very well, we recommend upgrading to the Baratza Sette 270 if you plan on making espresso regularly.
Although many of its competitors feature ceramic burrs, the Encore‘s is made from stainless steel, making it significantly more durable. That being said, all burrs will eventually require replacement, regardless of material. This machine is also among the quieter burr grinders we tested, registering at 74 decibels, or a little louder than a vacuum at a yard away.
The best coffee grinder on a budget
The OXO Conical Burr Grinder is equipped with a stainless steel conical burr, 15 grind settings, and an attractive finish.
Cons: Only 15 settings, not ideal for espresso, some plastic parts
The quietest of the machines we tested at 70 decibels (a noise level we compare to a vacuum cleaner one yard away), OXO’s Conical Burr Grinder is the gadget to buy if you’re a French press, drip, or pour-over enthusiast who is ready to trade in their blade grinder for an entry-level burr grinder.
As with our top pick, we’ll steer you away from using this grinder to make espresso, although that’s not to say it can’t be done. The Baratza Sette 270, however, is much better suited to that purpose.
While we applaud OXO for outfitting this grinder with a stainless steel burr without sacrificing affordability, we found the Baratza Encore’s burr to be more robust (it’s a leap up in price for a reason). To that point, the OXO Conical Burr Grinder has 15 settings to the Encore’s 40, and the former’s burr is held in place by a plastic cap while the latter’s is secured with a stainless steel wingnut. This isn’t to say the OXO grinder isn’t worth buying — it’s a solid starter burr grinder — but it is a bit flimsier than the other models on our list.
We ended up with a little more than half of our target French press grind, with lots of fines mixed in, but fared slightly better when we switched to a coarser setting. Our coffee was certainly a step up from the batches made with blade grinders, and if you mainly drink pour-over or drip coffee — in other words, anything that uses a paper filter — the difference in taste between the OXO and more expensive burr grinders is close to negligible.
Espresso, as we mentioned earlier, is where this machine falls short. Again, too many fine particles will lead to bitter coffee, and they can choke your grinder, preventing it from pushing water through the grounds.
The best coffee grinder upgrade
From ultra-fine espresso grounds to the coarsest settings required for French Press coffee, you can get a quick and consistent grind out of the Virtuoso+ with minimal effort.
Pros: Works for all grind sizes, stainless steel burr, stainless steel finish
Cons: Only one programmable setting, some ground retention within machine, some plastic parts
If you want the best possible grinder for as little investment as possible, the Virtuoso+ from Baratza is the strongest contender we’ve encountered. It isn’t as immaculate in its performance as its sibling, the Sette 270, but it covers just about every grind size and it’s equally as dependable.
This machine’s capabilities are right at the threshold of what is required to get truly good espresso (the most finicky grind size) at home. The Virtuoso+ is also what barista trainer Sum Ngai of Coffee Project NY chooses to use at home, citing that it’s easy to use, easy to clean, churns out consistent grounds, and offers just enough settings (40 in all) to be viable for any brewing method.
Again you’re not going to get perfect grounds out of this machine, but any deviation from your target size is going to be minimal. We were able to achieve about 80-90 percent of our target ranges for both espresso (250-500 micrometers) and French press (600-1100 micrometers) during our testing, and any effect the small amounts of fines and boulders had upon tasting was negligible.
This machine has the same basic plastic basin you get with most budget grinders, so dosing becomes a little more of a chore when you’re working with espresso because you can’t grind directly into a portafilter like you can with the Sette 270. So if highly convenient espresso-making is a top concern of yours, we recommend considering that option.
In the end, this is a do-it-all package at a reasonable price, and if you take your home coffee seriously, it’s a great step toward improving your setup without making a major investment (top quality burr grinders can easily go for four figures).
At 78 decibels, the Virtuoso+ is about as loud as a washing machine a yard away, so it’s a bit noisier than the Encore, but that’s to be expected of a more powerful grinder.
The best coffee grinder for espresso
Perfect for home espresso brewers, the Baratza Sette 270 handles grinding and dosing as meticulously as a commercial grinder, but on a consumer scale.
Pros: Perfect for espresso, macro and micro grind settings, high speed, user-friendly interface and programming
Cons: Not ideal for coarser grounds, loud
Achieving the perfect espresso grind requires a finely-tuned auger designed for working with precise, minuscule particles. If you’re exclusively making espresso, the Baratza Sette 270 is one of the best machines you can buy. We should say up front that it also happens to be one of the loudest; at 88 decibels, it’s akin to a propeller plane flying 1,000 feet overhead.
One of the common issues with coffee grinders is that most will pulverize your beans to dust much smaller than the generally recommended 250-500 micrometers for espresso. This is where the Sette 270 shows what it’s made of. While every machine up to this price point left us with 10 to 20 percent fine particles, the Sette 270 produced such a negligible amount of fines that not only could we not weigh them, we couldn’t scrape enough together to transfer them from the basin to the scale.
This machine is easily programmable, with three timed settings you can adjust down to the one-hundredth of a second.
Going back and forth between a portafilter (for espresso) and a grind catcher is also simple. There are two arms that will hold a portafilter, but by pushing the left one inward and outward, it clears the way for the catcher. Other machines require removing fittings, and we found this to be the easiest to switch back and forth by far.
Overall, the Sette 270 is an excellent choice if you’re serious about espresso, or use a moka pot (which also requires particularly fine grounds), but it might be overkill for less-precise brewing methods. Our top pick, the Baratza Encore, will suit most other coffee-making needs.
The best blade grinder
Krups’ F203 blade grinder is powerful, durable, affordable, and features a clear lid so you can monitor the grinding process.
Pros: Simple, small footprint, long-lasting
Cons: Inconsistent and uncontrollable grind
While burr grinders produce far more consistent coffee grounds than blade grinders, there’s no getting around the fact that they’re significantly more expensive. And while particle size uniformity is crucial when it comes to making complicated drinks like espresso, that level of precision isn’t necessary if you use a drip machine; any difference in taste will be negligible.
The best blade grinder we’ve tried is the Krups F203, which is sadly going to be discontinued soon (so we recommend buying it now). It has a simple on and off button, which you hold down to keep the blade spinning. The longer you hold it, the finer the grind will be.
It took about 30 seconds to produce a somewhat coarse French press grind that landed us on the safer side of not being left with too many fines. That’s a good blade grinder rule in general: go for coarser grounds and let them steep a little longer, since it takes more time for water to penetrate particles with larger surface areas. Fines will make your coffee bitter, while boulders will only make it weaker (and you can compensate by brewing or steeping longer). After brewing our French press coffee, we were left with some sludge at the bottom of the carafe, but we didn’t notice any difference in taste.
If your go-to brewing method involves a paper filter, it’s even easier to get away with using a blade grinder. You’re still going to get uneven extraction (finer particles emit oils faster; coarser ones emit oils slower), but at least the paper will catch the fine particulate so that it doesn’t end up as sludge.
We still ran this machine through some espresso tests, but they proved what the pros had warned us about, and we were unable to get anything close to a consistent pour.
Blade grinders can last an incredibly long time — some friends and family members have had this exact model for over 20 years — while burr grinders require more consistent upkeep and replacement. And, if you ever decide to upgrade to a burr grinder, you can still use your blade grinder to grind spices (burr grinders, on the other hand, are single-purpose machines).
The bottom line is, blade grinders will break your beans down into grounds and you will be able to make decent coffee — provided your go-to brewing method isn’t fussy — but you’re probably not going to get top-tier results by using one. If all of that sounds fine, the Krups will more than suit your needs.
What else we tested
Bodum Bistro Electric Grinder: This machine works well enough, and the borosilicate grounds catcher is far more durable than many of its competitors’ plastic versions, but there weren’t enough settings for this one to make the cut.
Breville Smart Grinder Pro: This is a good grinder by any measure. It puts out fairly even grounds, it has multiple fittings to accommodate espresso portafilters of different sizes, and its interface is user-friendly. However, we found that the Baratza Virtuoso+ produced more consistent grounds, especially when it came to espresso.
Chefman Electric Burr Mill: For the price, this is an impressive machine. There are some problems with static and consistency, and the ceramic (as opposed to stainless steel) burr isn’t ideal, but compare it a blade grinder, and it’s worth the extra $15 to $20.
Rancilio Rocky: This is a highly capable, professional-grade grinder, and while we wholly recommend it, we think the smaller, similarly equipped Baratza Sette 270 is a better, more kitchen counter-friendly option for most folks.
Comandante: A favorite of Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Labs, several Brewer’s Cup champions have used this very grinder in competition. With a cult following online, the Comandante manual burr grinder comes with a language unto itself, as each click on the dial is 30 microns, which helps immensely when learning to grind and brew. Case in point: this overview from Prima Coffee.
Hario Skerton: We’re in the process of re-testing this manual coffee grinder for our next update, but you can read our review here in the meantime. Both our original tester and other experts consulted at Coffee Project NY praise it for its portability, consistency, and ease of use.
Which grind size should you use for which coffee brewing method?
First off, preferred grind size is going to be highly subjective, especially if you tend to prefer your coffee on either the stronger or weaker side.
In order to decide grind size ranges for particular brewing methods, we consulted experts including Dan Kehn of Home-Barista.com, Sum Ngai of Coffee Project NY, Kruve’s grind size guide, and The Craft and Science of Coffee. The recommendations below are meant to be loose guidelines we developed by condensing the above information and exercising trial and error, but again, in the end, it all comes down to your preferences. These are some basic parameters to help you get started.
Aeropress: 500-900 micrometers
Cold-brew: 600-1100 micrometers
Drip: 400-900 micrometers
Espresso: 250-500 micrometers
French press: 600-1000 micrometers
Moka pot/Turkish Coffee: 350-700 micrometers
Pour-over: 400-800 micrometers
Syphon: 400-800 micrometers
How do you clean and maintain a burr grinder?
As with any precision instrument, upkeep becomes increasingly important over time. “If you bought a good set of kitchen knives and you didn’t sharpen them for five years,” Dan Kehn, of Home-Barista.com, said, “it would be unrealistic for you to expect them to perform as well as they did the first week.”
A quick cleaning of stainless steel burrs involves using a small brush that is almost always included with your purchase of a grinder. Remove the hopper, pop out the burr, and brush it off.
In some cases, especially if it’s been a while between quick cleanings, you’ll need to do more work to remove the grounds and oils that have been wedged between the burrs. Remove them both and feel free to wash them with soap and water, but they must be perfectly dried — no exceptions — before going back into the machine or you’re going to face corrosion. Don’t let the “stainless” descriptor fool you: stainless steel is not actually stainless (such is the case with stainless steel knives, too).
Each grinder will need to be disassembled and reassembled a different way. Follow the brand’s instructions, and if you’ve long-since tossed them, they can most likely be found online (here are Baratza’s, and here are OXO’s).
Blade (grinder): A grinder that works like a blender or a propeller, employing a set of blades attached to a motor.
Boulders: Large grounds that are undesirable because they will under-extract and leave coffee watery.
Burr (grinder): A mill, usually made of ceramic or steel. It consists of a rough-edged pair of abrasive surfaces, one a disc-like shape, the other forming a ring around the first.
Basin: The container into which the grounds fall.
Fines: Small grounds almost dust-like in size, these are too small to brew as they’ll be over-extracted and leave coffee tasting bitter.
Hopper: The basin that stores the beans in the top of a burr grinder, ahead of grinding. You’ll usually have to remove this to access, clean, and replace burrs.
Micrometers: The standard unit of measurement for coffee grounds (.001 millimeters).
(Grounds) Retention: The amount of grounds left trapped in the machine and/or burrs after grinding.
Check out our other great coffee-related buying guides
There’s only one thing between you and a delicious glass of wine, and that’s the cork. If you’ve ever spent too much time wrangling a bottle with a flimsy wine opener, now’s your chance to get a strong and reliable replacement.
We spoke to sommeliers, winemakers, and beverage directors, and they all agreed that a double-hinged wine key (also known as a waiter’s corkscrew) is the best kind of wine opener. It provides excellent leverage and also comes with a small blade to cut the foil off your bottle.
“The classic double-hinged waiter’s corkscrew is the gold standard that people should master. It is probably one of the most common types in the wine world,” said Peter Mondavi, Jr., co-proprietor of Charles Krug Winery in Napa Valley.
If you’re new to wine, don’t feel intimidated. We have plenty of expert-backed tips and tricks at the end of this guide, as well as photos and videos throughout to show you exactly how to use each wine opener.
The Le Creuset Waiter’s Friend Corkscrew is a beautiful wine key that’s comfortable to hold and provides the leverage to pull corks out with little resistance. Its foil cutter is sharp and easy to use, while its nonstick screw inserts smoothly into natural and synthetic corks alike.
Wine pros love wine keys because they’re compact and easy to carry around, and they have everything you need to pull a stubborn cork out, including a smart, simple leverage system and a built-in foil cutter.
Le Creuset’s wine key is functional and beautiful to boot. Made from sturdy stainless steel, with a wooden handle, it feels substantial, looks great, and was the most comfortable to grasp of all the wine keys we tried. The sharp, serrated foil cutter cuts through foil easily. The screw, which is coated in a nonstick material, works well on a variety of corks and doesn’t leave a mess once inserted or removed.
The hinges throughout the wine key have just the right amount of give — they’re not too tight or loose — and the two boot lever notches (the parts that rest on the lip on the bottle) sit comfortably on the bottle opening. They won’t slip off as you’re pulling the cork out. There’s even a helpful “push” etching to remind you of how to use these levers.
Pros: Soft grips on the wings and top handle, fits securely over bottle opening, strong wings, dishwasher-safe
Cons: Wings may loosen after long-term use
Most of my bad experiences with wine openers come from winged corkscrews. The wings break, they’re not strong enough to pull the cork out, or the screw doesn’t insert securely into the cork. KitchenAid’s contender gave me hope in the maligned winged corkscrew again.
It feels thick and substantial, and it has a non-slip grip material on the top handle, wings, and bottom to help prevent the bottle from moving. The screw inserts into corks smoothly, while the wings pull them out effectively.
We recommend being patient and pushing down on the wings slowly from the top. There can be a little resistance depending on the kind of cork you use, but consistent pressure should pop the cork out successfully in the end. It’s also easy to push the cork back out by turning the handle counterclockwise.
While this was the most comfortable and efficient winged corkscrew we tried, we also know that winged openers often break after a lot of use, so we’re continuing to test this corkscrew for long-term durability.
The best lever corkscrew
Featuring stainless steel construction and a comfortable, textured grip, the Rabbit Vertical Lever Corkscrew makes removing corks easy with a single pulling motion.
Pros: Textured handle grip, comes with a foil cutter, durable
Cons: Struggles with synthetic cork, hard to see whether it’s inserted in the middle of the cork
Using a lever corkscrew is only a matter of two steps: place the corkscrew into the cork, then squeeze the bottom of the opener and pull the lever upwards to remove the cork.
It might not be the best design for visual people, since the cylindrical opener covers the entire bottle top and it can be hard to tell when the cork has been removed if you’re a beginner.
Still, Rabbit makes using a vertical lever corkscrew nearly foolproof. Even if you don’t insert the screw right in the middle, it pulls the cork out smoothly, and the lever feels sturdy and durable. It does struggle more with synthetic corks, though, and you might experience some resistance while pulling.
In addition to the smooth operation, the cushioned and textured grip on the handle was a standout feature. This made pulling on the handle much more comfortable and gave me confidence that my hand wouldn’t slip.
The best wine opener on a budget
It’s not the most comfortable to hold, but the Truetap Double-Hinged Corkscrew removes corks smoothly and effectively. It comes in many different colors so you can find one that fits your personal style.
Pros: Good value, nonstick screw inserts easily, provides strong leverage to remove cork, comes in many colors
Cons: Foil cutter is difficult to get out, less comfortable to grip than the Le Creuset
The Truetap corkscrew is metal all around. It’s slim and light, with a thinner grip than the Le Creuset corkscrew. Because of this design, I found it less comfortable to hold as I removed the cork. I also had trouble pulling out the foil cutter, which was frustrating.
However, the overall effectiveness of the corkscrew is still there. All the hinges operate smoothly and aren’t too tight or loose. The boot lever notches sit securely on the bottle lip and the screw is coated in a nonstick material, letting me pull out both synthetic and natural corks with no problem.
It’s hard to find a corkscrew that’s both this affordable and effective, plus it comes in more than two dozen colors. You could easily stock up on a few of these openers and they’d still cost less than a nice bottle of wine.
The best electric wine opener
The sleek, fast-charging, and cordless Secura Electric Wine Opener can pull out 30 corks on one charge. All you do is push a button and it does the work for you.
Pros: Cordless, rechargeable, requires much less physical effort, comes with a foil cutter, has a viewing window
Cons: Bulkier than other types of openers, must be charged
Most kinds of wine openers require some physical effort and hand mobility. An electric wine opener is much more accessible. To use Secura’s wine opener, all you need to do is press and hold the “down” button and it will insert the screw into the cork and take it out of the bottle. When you press the “up” button, it pushes the cork off the screw.
One tip is to hold the bottle as the opener does the work, or else the bottle will also spin. Other than that, the opener is user-friendly and efficient. There’s a clear plastic section on the bottom so you can watch the screw enter the cork and make sure it’s removing the cork effectively. And, the included foil cutter is very sharp.
It takes eight hours to charge, and the accompanying charging base is compact and unassuming. Since it’s made mostly from stainless steel, the opener looks sleeker and feels a lot more substantial then another top competitor, Oster’s electric opener.
Our testing methodology
I tested each wine opener on four bottles of wine: two bottles of Barefoot Wine, which uses synthetic cork, and two bottles of Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw (aka “Two-Buck Chuck”), which uses natural cork. In this initial round of testing, I opened 36 bottles of wine. I rated each opener on how smoothly and easily it pulled out the cork, while noting the comfort, compactness, and design features that added or detracted from its use.
I also washed each opener to evaluate the ease and comfort of washing and any specific care instructions. Finally, I dropped each opener from hip level onto the ground five times to test durability.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why
OXO Winged Corkscrew with Removable Foil Cutter: I loved that this model has a clever, removable foil cutter that detaches from the bottom. It’s comfortable to hold and removes corks smoothly. The main drawback is that it feels less substantial and sturdy than our top KitchenAid pick.
Oster Cordless Electric Wine Opener: The Oster removes all kinds of corks effectively. Personally, I found the style less attractive, and the construction felt cheaper than our top Secura pick. Still, its actual cork removal performance is great and it charges in eight hours to remove 30 corks on one charge.
What we don’t recommend and why
Viski Winged Corkscrew: This winged corkscrew is made completely of metal, which means it’s brittle and uncomfortable to use. It was especially uncomfortable and felt tight when pulling out synthetic corks.
OXO Vertical Corkscrew: This vertical lever corkscrew has inconsistent performance and only pulled synthetic corks out completely. It was also difficult to insert the screw.
Pulltap’s openers sold on Amazon: Pulltap’s was the brand most referenced and recommended by wine experts. To buy one of their wine openers online, you have to order it from Spain and pay an expensive shipping fee. As many reviewers (including Wirecutter) have discovered, Amazon is full of imitations and fakes, and they’re poorly made. If you’re willing to deal with international shipping, order it from the official site. In our next update, we’ll be ordering one from Amazon and one from the brand site to compare them side-by-side.
What we’re testing next
Pulltap’s Classic Corkscrew: We plan on ordering a Pulltap’s opener from the official site to see if all the extra shipping and international payment hurdles are worth the effort. The Classic Corkscrew has a double-hinged design, with two boot levers, a Teflon-coated screw, and a built-in serrated foil cutter.
Laguiole En Aubrac Waiter’s Corkscrew: We were sold by beverage director Jordan Salcito’s glowing review of the brand. She told Insider Reviews, “Their selection — in terms of style and price point -— is extraordinary and if you’re looking for a gift (for a wine lover or yourself), they engrave and also work with some incredible materials such as fossilized wooly mammoth tusk or wood from trees planted at Versaille by Marie Antoinette. They also offer a lifetime guarantee. If anything goes awry you can mail in your wine key and they’ll fix it, then send it back as good as new.”
Wine opener FAQs
What’s the best wine opener for beginners?
All our experts recommend the double-hinged wine key. Once you learn how to use it, it’s a breeze: “The two-step hinged wine key is great for beginners because it’s pretty straight-forward — you basically insert the screw into the cork, then twist and use the bottle as a leverage point to remove the cork easily and, most importantly, in one piece,” said Alison Rodriguez, a winemaker for The Hess Collection.
Help! The cork is stubborn and won’t come out. How do you get it out?
Take it slow and be firm with it. “Good old careful muscle is the best way to get out a stubborn cork,” said Jordan Salcito, founder of wine brand Ramona and former beverage director at Momofuku.
The screw placement is also important. It needs to be centered and deep in the cork. “I hold the screw at an angle to the bottle and poke the tip into the cork and then move the screw vertical before screwing it in,” said Mondavi, Jr.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take the task to the ground (really!). Mondavi, Jr. said, “Though not very graceful, it’s functional for very stubborn corks: place the bottle on the ground between your feet. Firmly hold the neck of the bottle down and pull straight up on the corkscrew handle. Once the cork is ‘broken loose,’ you can bring it up to the table to finish the job.”
How do you remove a delicate or old cork?
An Ah-So opener is the best type to tackle an old, delicate cork. “If you suspect from the start that you are working with a tricky cork, I’d go straight to the Ah-So opener. You may want to keep a decanter close by just in case you encounter a bit of crumbling along the way,” said Katie Griesbeck, the vice president of sales and marketing at Cakebread Cellars. An Ah-So wine opener has two thin prongs, which you wiggle in between the cork and lip of the bottle. Then, you twist the opener to remove the cork.
“You could also use a Durand which has both a corkscrew and the prongs on the side,” said Conor McKee, a partner and buyer at FIASCO! Wine and Spirits. “These are a little pricey ($125), but if you’re opening something special, or frequently opening older bottles, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth.”
Types of wine openers
Wine key: Also known as a waiter’s corkscrew. It’s typically double hinged and contains a foil cutter and handle on one side, a screw in the middle, and two notched pieces on the other side. To use it, open up both sides and insert the screw. Bring the side with the notched pieces down vertically and push the top piece inwards to rest on the lip of the bottle. Pull the handle on the other side to bring the cork out halfway. The notched piece should provide enough leverage. Once there’s enough space, switch to and move the bottom notched piece to the lip of the bottle and continue pulling the handle to completely remove the cork.
Winged corkscrew: A wine opener with a wing on each side and a top handle that’s connected to a screw in the middle. Insert the screw and twist the handle to push the screw deeper. As you’re pushing the screw in, the wings on each side should lift up. Once the screw is deep enough, hold and push down the outer wings to remove the cork.
Lever corkscrew: A wine opener with a lever on one side. To use it, insert the screw, then squeeze the bottom of the opener and pull the lever upwards to remove the cork.
Electric opener: A wine opener that’s usually rechargeable. It inserts the screw and removes the cork for you. Typically, it’s operated with simple up and down buttons.
Ah-So opener: A wine opener with one long prong and one shorter prong. It’s used to remove delicate or old corks. To use it, wiggle the long prong in between the cork and bottle. Then wiggle the shorter prong in, and twist the handle slowly to remove the cork.
And, here are two wine opener terms you should know:
Foil cutter: A utensil used to cut the foil off the top of a wine bottle. It can come in the form of a small serrated knife, or as a circular accessory that has two blades. For the latter, you place the accessory over the top of the bottle, squeeze, and turn it to cut through the foil.
Screw: Also known as a worm. The coiled part of a wine opener that is sharp on one end and inserted into the cork to remove it.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
A blender is an essential tool for most kitchens, whether for the occasional smoothie or daily use.
We tested 11, and the user-friendly, high-powered Vitamix 5200 is our favorite.
It blends everything from smoothies to nut butter faster and more consistently than the rest.
Whether you’re a daily smoothie drinker or you tend to use your blender for everything from soups and purees to nut flours and butters, the right blender makes the process of blending, preparing, and cleaning remarkably more seamless.
Your main considerations with a blender are power, functions, and size. Most blenders can handle making a basic smoothie well (and quickly) enough, but when it comes to pureeing, or preparing any number of ingredients for baking, or making nut butter, a little guidance in the way of programming can be an immense help. That’s not to say that you can’t make just about anything in a reasonably well-built and powerful blender – all of the blenders we tested did everything we asked them to with enough coaxing – but the right one for your needs will make it all the easier.
During our tests, we made everything from frozen berry smoothies and kale smoothies to nut flour and butter, and also timed how long it took for each blender to grind up eight ounces of ice cubes into a uniform shave-ice-like consistency.
We also consulted multiple experts, who told us not to overlook how easy a blender is to clean – a factor worth considering when it comes to any expensive, hard-to-wash kitchen appliance. You can read more about our methodology below.
We consulted Erika Wong, PureFish’s in-house registered dietitian and nutritionist, who also worked as a counselor at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her biggest concerns when choosing a blender are power (her favorite blender carries 1,380 watts), speed (at least a handful of speed settings beyond “high” and “low”), and simplicity. Too many buttons or settings corresponding to specific foods can become confusing, especially when you vary ingredient amounts. “Simplicity is key, and the control panel needs to be easy to use.”
With all of that in mind, here’s how I evaluated each of the 11 blenders I tested:
Ice: The blenders we ended up recommending were all able to evenly reduce ice cubes into shaved ice in under 10 seconds. Along with the almond flour and almond butter tests (more on those below), the ice test really set the fast, powerful machines apart from their slower, slightly rougher competitors.
Frozen strawberries: We put six ounces of frozen strawberries in each blender and set them to high in order to see how fast they turned the fruit into mush. The more powerful blenders achieved the task within about 10 seconds. The weaker ones, as well as those with a wider jar design, struggled to finish the job, leaving stray larger pieces to the side or in many cases lacerating but not separating the frozen berries.
Strawberry-banana smoothies: We made strawberry-banana smoothies using frozen strawberries and fresh bananas because of the difference in texture (and also this particular flavor combo’s popularity). Across the board, we ran into almost no issues with all of the blenders we tested. The only real difference was the time it took, which corresponded almost perfectly with increments of price. Still, it came down to about 10 to 15 seconds. Kale smoothies: Because kale is relatively light and airy (we used curly kale), it did prove a little trickier for blenders that didn’t make a narrow vortex like the Vitamix 5200 and the Cleanblend 3HP, and the blenders with wider pitchers almost invariably required the use of a tamper. This wasn’t a big deal, but it might be a consideration for some.
Almond flour: While our budget and smoothie-only recommendations didn’t quite manage an even flour (there were chunks of almond still left behind while the flour at the bottom was beginning to turn into butter), our top recommendation performed the task flawlessly.
Almond butter: Almond butter was by far the most demanding test of them all. While we’re confident that with practice and more intimate acquaintance with each blender we could pull it off with any of them, it was a real chore with most, and several didn’t make it past the flour stage on the way to almond butter. Again, the wider jars performed the most poorly, as did the lower-powered blenders. In every case save for the Vitamix 5200, we still had whole or nearly whole almonds lingering amongst the flour while at the bottom, the flour was turning to butter.
Settings: While we tried to work with presets on those machines that had them available, they’re only useful if the set portions make sense for your needs — most of us don’t really want to make 32 ounces of nut butter at once, for example.
Wattage: We found that at the lowest end of the blenders we tested, 600 watts was still plenty of power to achieve a uniform smoothie. Similarly, while our budget pick packs 1800 watts, our overall pick carries only 1,500 watts, but runs much more smoothly and processes much more quickly. Wattage doesn’t always dictate how a blender will perform.
Cleanup: We stated this above as well, but again: Don’t underestimate the value of an easy cleanup. Some blenders had a lot of hard-to-reach spots that even a dishwasher might not always effectively hit. Others were downright perilous to clean, and we have the scars to prove it. All of our recommendations above took these considerations into account.
The best blender overall
The Vitamix 5200 is an easy-to-use, easy-to-clean blender with the power and speed variation to handle any task.
Pros: Simple but sufficient controls, powerful enough for any task, the best pitcher shape of any blender we tried
Cons: Tall, doesn’t easily fit in or under many cabinets
The Vitamix 5200 is possibly Vitamix’s most popular blender, and we think it’s the best blender out there, period. It has the power to tackle any task within reason, it accelerates and decelerates as smoothly as a finely-tuned sports car, and the design of the jar minimizes splatter.
Out of all of the blenders we tested, none performed so quickly or consistently. Through every test we ran, the 5200 came out shining, and it was the only blender to produce both almond flour and butter without any assistance (we didn’t even need to use the included tamper).
Rather than getting stuck in the corners and sides of the blending jar — as we found to be the case with other blenders, — the pile of almonds automatically and neatly folded back onto itself as it was ground first into flour and eventually butter. While there are plenty of blenders out there with a dizzying list of presets, we found this simplistic design — with nothing more than a power dial, on/off switch, and a high-power switch (which functions like the 5200‘s overdrive mode) — the easiest to operate and adjust.
Cleaning this blender was relatively easy. There are no tough-to-reach grooves or gasket channels and the blade is simple enough to work around (though it’s best to remove it for proper cleaning).
As a further vote of confidence, we went around Brooklyn noting which blenders smoothie stands were using, and this one was by far the most popular.
Now, there’s no way of getting around that this blender costs half a grand, but it will likely last you well over a decade. If spending this kind of money on a blender is out of the question, we have perfectly capable recommendations below for less than half the price.
Cons: Not as smooth as others, bottom can’t be unscrewed for cleaning (voids warranty)
The Cleanblend 3HP Commercial Blender is a surprisingly powerful machine for its size and price. It can take on any basic task with absolute ease, and while making nut butter and almond flour is a bit of chore, it will get the job done.
We found that we needed more than the included tamping tool to scrape the butter-in-the-making off the sides multiple times before we got anywhere near the final product, and ended up having to turn the machine off and use a spatula to do so.
I’ve been testing this blender for two years and while it doesn’t operate as smoothly as some pricier options, it has no trouble reducing ice cubes to uniform shave ice in almost as little time as the Vitamix 5200, and I’ve easily made 100 smoothies and blended drinks without any issues.
Cleaning, as with the Vitamix 5200, is about as easy as it gets for a blender. The shape of the jar and the positioning of the blades doesn’t leave much in the way of hard-to-reach spaces, there are no strangely-placed gaskets, and the lid and lid cap are easy enough to take apart and clean.
The only downside is that you can’t unscrew the bottom to give that region a thorough wash. Still, in two years of testing, we haven’t noticed any alarming signs (such as mold) that would suggest anything is getting trapped in the bottom.
If you want something close to the Vitamix 5200 but just can’t reason spending so much on a blender, the Cleanblend is a great alternative and almost identical in design. Nut butter and almond flour aside, it works and cleans almost every bit as well for less than half the price.
Best budget blender
If all you’re making is the odd smoothie, the Kitchenaid K150‘s timeless design will more than suffice.
Pros: Simple single dial, easy to clean and operate
Cons: Not very good for making almond flour or nut butter, relatively low power
If you’re the type of person who only makes smoothies or frozen cocktails from time to time, you probably don’t need a state-of-the-art blender. But you still want something that will last. We should note up top that the Kitchenaid K150 is half the price of our budget pick, but that’s because we didn’t find it particularly effective if you need something that can perform a wide array of tasks outside of smoothies, soups, and purees.
When it came to making nut butters and flour, we were unable to produce either. But that’s okay; if you’re not getting too ambitious with what you blend, the Kitchenaid K150 is all you need. It has a no-fuss design with one control knob and three settings, plus a pulse setting for crushing ice.
Speaking of ice, when we were comparing blenders, one of the most telling tests was how quickly and evenly they could reduce eight ounces of ice cubes into shaved ice. This one wasn’t the fastest, but we still got the results we were looking for within about 10 seconds. We then followed with strawberry-banana and kale smoothies using ice as well. Again, it wasn’t the fastest, but within 30 seconds every time, we had perfectly thick smoothies with no inconsistencies, chunks of fruit, stalks, or leaves. Frankly, we couldn’t differentiate smoothies that came from this blender from what came from our top pick (more than four times the price).
We also like that the K150 is extremely lightweight, easy to store, and doesn’t take up much counter space. And, if you’re after the classic Kitchenaid aesthetic but want a slightly beefed-up blender, look at the larger K400, which packs 1,200 watts, five dial settings, and four presets.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why:
Breville Super Q: Despite being a large, heavy blender with lots of buttons, this is a truly powerful appliance that runs every bit as smoothly as our top pick, but it wasn’t as convenient to clean or store (or move). If you have your eyes set on stainless steel appliances, this is a great one.
Kitchenaid K400: This model worked only marginally better than the K150, and while it holds its aesthetic, we think spending just a bit more to get the Cleanblend 3HP, our budget pick, is the wiser move. That said, if you like the looks of it (it’s our favorite blender to look at) and only ever make smoothies or frozen drinks, it won’t do you wrong.
Ninja Chef: This is Ninja’s older model, which we like better than the Foodi. As far as electronics go, this one is highly intuitive, with a dial and recommended settings that light up. As was the problem with any of the more advanced blenders we tested, the recipe settings are calibrated to produce certain amounts, which may not fit with your needs.
Vitamix 750 Professional Series: This is similar to the Vitamix 5200 in almost every way, except it’s slightly less powerful, and the jar is shorter and wider. We found the jar shape of the 5200 to be the best, and highly recommend it over any other Vitamix, unless you are preparing for larger households or parties.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Cuisinart Hurricane Pro/CBT-2000: Perfectly sufficient for making smoothies, the jar for this model was too wide for other applications, and we found bits of food tended to clump together around the edges and evade the blades.
Ninja Foodi: While this machine is affordable and offers an impressive interface, we found the basin of the jar too large for the blades, and we also found out the hard way that the blades are not affixed to the jar, so when you pour something out, the blade comes with it. We think that by and large, this needs to be addressed by the manufacturer. That aside, it obliterated ice with the best of the blenders we tested.
Vitamix A3300: This is clearly a very powerful machine, but the electronics on it were puzzling, and while we’re aware of the initial error in our ways when first loading it (not enough liquid), we received a series of error messages with no option to resolve, even after turning it on and off again. This is far too complex for most people who just want to turn a blender on and get on with their food or drink preparation.
Oster Versa: This is a heavy-duty piece of machinery, and it’s priced competitively. We just found that it didn’t blend particularly well due to the shape of the jar. If you have short storage space either in or under your cabinets, though, this one is much squatter than most other models.
What we’re testing next
Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender($159.99): We’ve recommended this blender in the past, but haven’t tried it side by side with our new top picks. We’ll look to retest it soon, as it’s competitively priced and powerful enough to contend for our budget recommendation.
Nutribullet Full Size Blender($99.99): This is a powerful blender for the price, and also might contend for a budget pick. We’ll plan to try it as soon as we can and report back.
Oster Blend Active Portable Blender ($29.99): We’re looking to recommend a portable, personal-sized blender as soon as we’ve tested enough available options, and will update our guide accordingly. This is currently at the top of our list, and we have already used it for smoothies, which it blended perfectly well.
What’s the difference between a blender and a food processor?
Blenders and food processors have some overlap, but blenders are better for things like smoothies, thinner purees, and whipping fresh fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens into an even consistency.
Since a food processor isn’t designed to create a vortex to suck everything in toward the blades the way that a blender is, it’s better for thicker sauces and purees, like hummus. It’s also better for things that might require fine knifework, like chopping onions or grating parmesan.
In the end, if you spend a lot of time prepping in the kitchen, you may want both, but while a blender isn’t always the best option, a good one like our top recommendation can get the job done well enough, especially with a little practice.
What’s the best way to clean a blender?
If you have a dishwasher and your blender is dishwasher-safe, the best way to clean it with confidence is to disassemble the entire jar as much as possible, taking care to separate the bottom cap and blades, where a lot of bacteria can hide out. This is also true if you’re only washing by hand, although removing and cleaning those parts is a fussier process.
The best blenders allow for easy and safe removal of the blades, some. If your blender’s blades don’t come out, your best bet is to soak it in lots of hot, soapy water, and use a coarse brush with a long handle so that you can safely and efficiently scrub at and around the blades.
Sous vide is a precise way of cooking that ensures your food is always cooked perfectly temperature.
Sous vide machines – also known as immersion circulators – make the process easy by heating to an exact temperature.
The best sous vide machine is the Anova Nano because it’s easy to use, inexpensive, and accurate.
Sous vide is a method of very precise cooking where you seal food in plastic bags (some foods can be prepared in glass containers) and immerse it in a water bath set to a relatively low temperature, usually your desired final cooking temperature of the food. As the food sits in the bath, it slowly comes up to the same temperature of the water.
While it may sound futuristic, sous vide cooking has quite a few advantages: the long, slow cook time can turn tough cuts of meat incredibly tender; the sealed environment helps contain moisture so food doesn’t dry out; and because the temperature is so low, there’s almost no risk of overcooking. With the right equipment, sous vide cooking can be safe and easy, and help you produce some of the most delicious meals you’ve ever had.
I’ve been testing and writing about sous vide machines since 2014. My sous vide reviews and research have been published in Cook’s Illustrated magazine, aired on “America’s Test Kitchen,” and published in “Sous Vide for Everybody.” For this guide I tested seven popular sous vide machines, running each through a series of time, temperature, and cooking tests. You can read more about how we tested here.
Pros: Accurate, onboard controls are incredibly easy to use, compact for easy storage, can be paired with an app via Bluetooth, accommodates a range of vessel types and depths
Cons: Preheating takes awhile, app can be buggy
After years of testing sous vide machines, I’ve found that one thing matters above all when it comes to finding a machine you’ll want to cook with: ease of use. The simplest, most easy to use product we tested is the Anova Nano, and there’s no better sous vide machine you can get at this price.
The Anova Nano isn’t the fastest or most powerful machine we tested; it took almost 20 minutes to heat four quarts of water to 130 F. But for most home cooks, we think the $100+ savings in price compared to more powerful machines is probably worth the extra 10 minutes you’ll spend pre-heating the bath (a process that is totally hands off).
What it lacks in power and speed it makes up for in effortless controls, accuracy, and usability. I didn’t even need to read the instruction manual to get the Nano set up and cooking. The onboard controls are intuitive and it can be paired with Anova’s app via Bluetooth. I found the Bluetooth connection to be much more stable and reliable than Anova’s other sous vide machines, which pair via Wi-Fi and seemed to frequently lose connection. That said, all the Anova machines use the same app, and I found it to be fairly buggy. Most folks will find the onboard controls easier to use.
In all, this slender, inexpensive machine has everything you’ll want or need to get started with sous vide cooking, and is the best option for most home cooks.
The best sous vide machine with an app
This nimble, compact machine heats water quickly, can work in a wide range of vessels, and is operated entirely through a helpful app.
Pros: Accurate, fast, compact for easy storage, app connected, accommodates widest range of vessel types and depths, has a magnetic bottom for standing in pots
Cons: Lacks onboard controls and relies on an app for use
I’ll be honest: the Joule is my personal favorite sous vide machine and a very close contender for our top pick. The only reason why it was edged out by the Anova is because it lacks onboard controls and relies on an app for all functionality. If you don’t mind being tied to your phone or smart device to cook, the Joule could very well be the better option for you.
The Joule has several features that distinguish it from the Anova. First, it’s incredibly fast. In my tests, it was able to heat four quarts of water to 130 F in seven minutes; faster than any other machine in this guide. Second, it’s the smallest of all the machines we tried, but one of the most versatile. It can work with a minimum of 1.5 inches of water and a maximum of 8 inches, so can be used in something as small as a coffee mug or as large as a cooler. I love that I don’t have to break out the big Dutch oven every time I want to sous vide a couple of eggs. A magnetic bottom helps it stand in smaller metal pots for better stability.
I really love the Joule app. It’s the only app I tried as part of this testing that didn’t give me trouble. It connected to the unit easily every time, gave clear and accurate alerts, and has a robust selection of recipes for getting started.
The best sous vide machine for restaurants and pros
This powerful sous vide machine has thoughtful settings for pro users, like an adjustable flow rate and built-in memory for frequently used recipes.
Pros: Extremely accurate, heats quickly, built-in collection of recipes, can program to remember frequently used settings, adjustable flow rate, comes apart for easy cleaning
Cons: Doesn’t have an app, bulkier, takes many steps to toggle between Celsius and Fahrenheit settings
Sous vide is a popular restaurant cooking technique because it allows the chefs to hold large quantities of food at the perfect serving temperature without risk of overcooking. For example, by holding steaks at 125 degrees F in a sous vide bath, a steakhouse can take each out as orders come in, give them a quick sear, and send off perfectly cooked steaks to diners in record time. It’s a technique used in both Michelin-starred restaurants and chains like Starbucks and Chipotle.
But, if you own or work in a restaurant, or are otherwise well-acquainted with sous vide cooking, I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. For restaurant folks and pros who are looking for something with more commercial features than the sous vide machines marketed for home cooks, I highly recommend the HydroPro.
The machine is thoughtfully designed for precision and repeatability. A touch screen lets you control time, temperature, and flow rate (three speeds), and offers a robust collection of built-in time and temperature algorithms for cooking and pasteurizing a wide range of foods, including grains, custards, and a whole host of meat cuts. You can save any settings in “my presets” right on the device, so you can easily repeat recipes night after night. The machine is ultra accurate and fast, heating to 130 F in just eight minutes.
The adjustable flow settings were key when cooking eggs. I was able to lower the flow rate and angle the outport away from the eggs so none broke during cooking. The clamp is fully adjustable, the body comes apart for easy cleaning, and the machine can purportedly heat nearly 12 gallons of water when the bath is covered. In all, a powerful and thoughtfully designed choice for more experienced users or those working in a commercial setting.
The best multitasking sous vide machine
The Instant Pot Duo Crisp is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, air fryer, and sous vide machine all in one, making it one of the most useful and economical small appliances we tested.
Pros: Multi-use appliance that sous vides, pressure cooks, slow cooks, sears, and air fries; easy to use
Cons: Slow to heat, more limited capacity than immersion circulators
Sous vide is still a pretty niche cooking technique, and not one that most people use every single day. For folks who are interested in trying sous vide but don’t want to buy a dedicated machine, we recommend the InstantPot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer, which has a sous vide setting.
I’m usually skeptical of products that tack on sous vide settings to a completely different product, as I’ve found they usually don’t have the precision temperature control needed for proper sous vide, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the InstantPot Duo Crisp. The machine reminds me a bit of traditional water ovens — the original sous vide machines before circulators came onto the market — which are essentially big heated boxes of water. Of course, the Duo Crisp also has the added benefit of multicooker functions like pressure cook, slow cook, sear, and even air fry. While I’ve tried all these settings over the last few months, for this guide, I focused on how well it could sous vide.
The machine took about a half hour to bring four quarts of room temperature water to both 130 and 190 degrees in separate tests, which was longer than other machines. However, the temperature was fairly accurate — only 1 or 2 degrees off from the target temperature at most — and not enough to impact the cook on most foods.
Aside from the slow heating and the more limited capacity compared to versatile immersion circulators, I actually really liked using the InstantPot to sous vide. It was easy and intuitive to use, and makes for one less appliance I need in my house. If you’re sous vide curious but not ready to invest in a dedicated machine, the InstantPot Duo Crisp is a great first step.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why:
Anova Precision Cooker ($199.00): The mid-priced option from Anova, this circulator also has both onboard and app controls. I found it almost identical in usage and features to the Nano. The only difference most home cooks will encounter is that this model heats a tiny bit faster and the clamp is adjustable. However, in my opinion, these upgrades don’t justify the $100 jump in price over the Nano.
Anova Precision Cooker Pro ($399.00): An even bigger step up in price from the Anova Precision Cooker is this Pro model. It’s billed as being the fastest and most precise of Anova’s machines, but we found Anova’s other models just as accurate. Usability wise, it offers the same app and onboard controls of the other Anova models, but is designed to withstand accidental dips in water, has an adjustable clamp, and comes apart for cleaning. Once again, we don’t think these features justify the huge jump in price for most home cooks. It might be a good option for restaurant kitchens or pros, but we think the Breville | Polyscience Hydro Pro still offers more power, speed, and functionality for expert users.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Tribest Sousvant Complete Sous Vide Circulator ($275.10): This tabletop water oven looks and sounds a lot like a fish tank. It heated quickly and was easy enough to use, but for a unitasking appliance that takes up a lot of room, it lacked many of the features we like in a good sous vide machine. For starters, it doesn’t make any sound to let you know the water is up to temperature so you can start cooking, and its timer is more like a stopwatch; you can’t set it for a certain time and it starts counting up the second the water is up to temperature, whether you’ve added the food or not. The manual recommends against stacking individual pieces of food vertically on top of each other in the bath, but the machine is much taller than it is wide or deep, leaving little other choice than to stack vertically if you want to cook multiple pieces. We think you can get much more versatility with a smaller, less expensive machine.
Our testing methodology
I’ve been testing and reviewing sous vide machines for seven years. During that time, I’ve interviewed pioneers in sous vide cooking like Dave Arnold, Scott Heimendinger, and Tony Maws, and followed the growth of many brands in this guide since their startup phase and first-generation prototypes. My sous vide machine reviews and research on the history and safety of sous vide cooking have been published in “Sous Vide for Everybody” and Cook’s Illustrated magazine. Over the years, I’ve learned that the best sous vide machines excel at speed, accuracy, and — above all — ease of use.
For this guide, we tested seven sous vide machines, running each through a series of time and temperature tests; measuring fit in a variety of vessels; and evaluating ease of setup, use, and cleaning. We also cooked 63 C runny “onsen” eggs and 130 F steaks with each machine. Here’s the criteria we looked at:
Speed: I timed how long it took each machine to heat four quarts of room temperature water to 130 F and 190 F. The best machines were able to do this in under 10 minutes and under 25 minutes, respectively. (It’s worth noting that you can speed this process by covering the bath with plastic wrap, which we didn’t for this test.)
Versatility: A good sous vide machine can be used in a variety of vessels to suit your needs. Models with a large range between minimum and maximum fill lines offered the most flexibility in this area.
Accuracy: Sous vide is a precision cooking technique, so accuracy is paramount. We regularly used a lab-calibrated thermometer to see if the actual temperature of the bath matched the temperature we set with the controls.
Ease of use: Sous vide is a somewhat niche cooking technique, so if your experience with it is frustrating or difficult, it’s likely that your sous vide gear will end up in the donation pile. The best sous vide machines have bright, clear displays; are intuitive to operate; and easy to set up, clean, and store. We also looked at app connectivity for smart sous vide machines, though we ultimately prioritized models that have onboard controls, since they’re the most user-friendly and versatile.
Cooking: Of course we looked at how well the machines cooked food. Generally speaking, if a sous vide machine is accurate, it’ll cook just fine. But we also made eggs and steak with each machine to see if any machines had issues that impact cooking. The biggest issue we found was that machines with adjustable flow rates and outports were gentler on eggs, while machines without this feature often jostled eggs so much during cooking that they cracked.
What we look forward to testing
Breville | Polyscience HydroPro Plus ($599.95): In addition to the HydroPro, which we were able to test for this guide, Breville | Polyscience released an upgraded model called the HydroPro Plus in the first quarter of 2021. This model is geared towards pros and restaurant cooks, and features a similar design to the HydroPro, but with a built-in probe for monitoring the temperature of food as it cooks. This makes it easier to do what sous vide aficionados call Delta-T cooking, where you cook the food at a higher water temperature than the final desired food temperature for faster results. It also can log temperature data for HACCP compliance — not something you’ll likely need unless you work in a restaurant, but a great added benefit if you do. While these features are probably overkill if you’re just a casual sous vide user, I’m looking forward to testing this model for our “prosumer” readers.
What is sous vide?
Sous vide is a method of cooking food where the ingredients are sealed in plastic (though glass jars can be used for some applications) and immersed in a water bath set to (typically) the final cooking temperature of the food. As the sealed food sits in the bath, it slowly comes up to the correct internal temperature, so there’s no danger of overcooking.
What types of foods can you sous vide?
Sous vide cooking works best with meat, vegetables, and eggs. It particularly excels as a method of rendering tough cuts of meat juicy and tender; the low and slow temperatures allow tough collagen and fat to render slowly over many hours. Sous vide can also be used as a method of pasteurization for foods like eggs or homemade mayonnaise.
Do I need a vacuum sealer for sous vide?
No. You can sous vide in any zipper-lock bag as long as you first remove the air. The easiest way to do this is place the food in the zipper-lock bag, press as much air out as you can, and then use the zipper-lock to seal all but a small corner of the bag. Slowly submerge the partially sealed bag in the water bath until all but the unsealed corner of the bag is submerged. The water will push out almost all of the air. Once the food appears tight against the bag, seal the final corner and drop the bag into the bath to cook.
If you regularly sous vide large or irregularly-sized cuts of meat, you may want to purchase a vacuum sealer, which does a more complete job of removing air.
Do I need to vacuum seal eggs?
No. Whole eggs in their shells do not need to be vacuum sealed. You can place the whole egg directly in the water bath. The shell will act as its own little vacuum sealed environment.
Check out our other small kitchen appliance buying guides
A dishwasher is one of the most time-saving products you can have for your home.
After research and expert interviews, we determined theBosch SHEM63W55N as the best.
It’s quiet, has an adjustable middle rack for larger items, and has a good reputation among experts.
As a homeowner, a dishwasher will give you the biggest return on investment. Instead of washing, rinsing, and drying dishes by hand, you’re free to relax while the dishwasher accomplishes the same goal.
And they don’t just save time, they also greatly reduce water usage. According to Energy Star, the average modern dishwasher uses less water than hand-washing dishes and because it can use much hotter water, it sanitizes and more effectively removes bacteria. Considering these time-saving, water-conserving, and sanitizing benefits, it’s easy to see how valuable a dishwasher can be to your home.
I was a residential carpenter for four years and have experience installing, removing, and repositioning dishwashers. I used my experience, along with the insight of four experts, to curate this list of the four best dishwashers. For a look at my research methodology, head over here.
Cons: Exterior is not smudge-proof, not ADA compliant
When I consulted my experts on their most recommended brands, Bosch came up time and time again. Gurfinkel of Appliance Repair LA specifically praised the brand’s usability, reliability, and technical support, putting Bosch in the top tier of residential dishwashers.
The Bosch SHEM63W55N features a stainless steel interior tub, a roomy third rack, and an adjustable upper rack. The tines on the top and bottom racks are can fold down to customize their storage capacity. However, all this room translates to a unit that isn’t compatible with those needing special height requirements.
The Bosch SHEM63W55N boasts some special features, like a quick-wash cycle that takes only about an hour, a sanitizing setting, and a leak protection feature, a system of sensors that can detect when leaks occur and instantly shuts off the water supply. I’ve personally come home from a long weekend to find my dishwasher had leaked onto my parents’ hardwood floors, so this can be an extremely helpful feature.
At only 44 dB, this dishwasher makes around the same amount of noise as a refrigerator — which is to say it’s one of the quietest options you can buy.
The stainless steel exterior and recessed handle give it a sleek, high-end look, and the front-facing control panel allows you to monitor its operation easily. The exterior is not fingerprint-resistant, however, so if you have active kids around, you might want to have a bottle of stainless steel cleaner on hand.
The best budget dishwasher
Despite its reasonable price tag, the Frigidaire FGID2466QF still provides a lot of the valuable features you see on high-end models, like a sanitizing wash cycle, fold-down tines, and a drying mode.
Pros: Smudge-proof stainless steel, sanitizing cycle, StayPut hinge ensures the door will not fall open or closed
Cons: Slightly louder than others, plastic interior tub, not ADA compliant
The fact that the Frigidaire FGID2466QF doesn’t look like a budget model is one of the reasons Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors recommended it so highly.
The hidden control panel and stainless steel exterior are clean and modern. The front panel and bar handle has a smudge-proof finish, which can look darker than uncoated stainless steel. If you’re planning on matching your stainless steel appliances, visit a showroom or appliance store if possible to take a look yourself.
The plastic interior tub is less durable and harder to clean than stainless steel, though it’s likely a big reason why this machine is relatively affordable. The height also isn’t ADA compliant, which can be another drawback.
I was impressed by its door hinge, which prevents it from falling open or closing shut when you don’t want it to. The Frigidaire FGID2466QF also features fold-down tines and has a high-temperature sanitizing setting.
The Frigidaire FGID2466QF uses sensors to determine how much water pressure is needed based on how dirty the dishes are — a feature you often see in high-end models. Its dual drying options allow you to choose whether you prefer heated drying or not. It can also be programmed for half loads — an energy-saving feature that Yahoodain pointed out in his recommendation.
The Frigidaire FGID2466QF uses 268 kWh per year, assuming an average household runs about four loads per week. This comes out to an estimated yearly cost of about $32.
Gurfinkel recommended the Miele G 7566 for its high-quality and impressive five-year warranty.
It features a stainless steel tub and an adjustable third rack. It also has four LEDs to illuminate the interior, making it easy to see what you’re loading and unloading.
The Miele G 7566 has a few special features that I haven’t seen in other models — most notably, the Wi-Fi connectivity and pre-set times so you can start the wash cycle even when you’re not home. It also features a QuickIntenseWash, which cleans and dries dishes in 58 minutes compared to the average normal dishwasher cycle of two hours.
It looks modern and minimal with hidden controls and a stainless steel bar handle. The white LED readout gives it a high-tech look and really separates it from other models that use black or red. The surface should also be easy to clean and maintain.
This model is not officially NSF-certified to sanitize glassware, cookware, and dishes though its SaniWash cycle reaches 167 degrees. This exceeds the 150 degrees that NSF requires for certification and the Miele manual describes this cycle as intended for “baby bottles, cutting boards, and prepared dishes,” but you won’t have the peace of mind that comes from an official NSF certification.
According to its energy label, it should use about 230 kWh per year, which comes out to about $30.
The best portable dishwasher
Even though it’s a portable model, the GE GPT225SGLBB has the sleek look of a built-in unit, features a hard food disposer, and is mounted on four swiveling casters for easy transport.
Pros: Hard food disposer, stainless steel tub, the top can be used as extra counter space
Cons: Loud, must be hooked up to the sink to operate, needs an additional bucket if your sink is higher than 34 inches
Gurfinkel recommended the GE GPT225SGLBB as his top portable option. It has a food disposal, stainless steel interior tub, sanitizing cycle, and can adjust the water temperature for an ideal wash cycle.
The GE GPT225SGLBB is reasonably energy-efficient at about 270 kWh/year. This adds up to about $35 with an electric water heater or $23 with a natural gas heater.
The unit is black on all sides with a metal door and laminate wood top, which you can use as additional countertop space. The hidden controls give it a modern utilitarian look.
Portable dishwashers are simple to install. Unlike built-ins that connect to existing plumbing fixtures, the GE GPT225SGLBB needs an outlet and connects via a unicouple. This is essentially two hoses: one that attaches to the faucet for hot water and the other to expel wastewater back into the sink.
I wasn’t able to physically test these dishwashers myself, so I leaned on my kitchen remodeling experience and background as a general contractor. I also consulted four experts for brand and model recommendations, as well as criteria that I could use to compare and contrast models as I did my research.
After consulting experts, I developed a set of criteria to use to compare potential options, including their appearance, construction, installation details, special features, energy use, noise levels, certifications, and repair and warranty details.
I then spent hours rigorously researching the most popular options from online retailers and read countless best-of lists and customer reviews, developing a list that I vetted with my experts and removing ones that didn’t meet their criteria. The result is four expertly-vetted dishwashers.
When should I use a dishwasher?
This is ultimately a personal preference, but there are smart ways to use your dishwasher so you’re not wasting money or water.
Run your dishwasher when you have a full load — that means when the upper, middle, and lower racks are full. If you use a dishwasher when it barely has anything to clean, you can easily run up your water bills. This might mean waiting a day or two to accumulate enough dishes to run a load.
And if you have hard water, try to run the dishwasher early in the evening so you’re still awake to remove and dry dishes by hand and avoid hard water spots.
How do I load a dishwasher?
Yahoodain said that loading your dishwasher is specific to your machine and typically mapped out in the user manual, especially for machines that have specific wash zones or half-load options.
Generally, according to Brunskole, “It’s a good idea to position items at an angle to help with drainage, with the top rack commonly used for smaller items and larger on the bottom. For utensils, some dishwashers have an upper utensil rack or a silverware basket on the bottom. Whichever style you choose, review the manual before you get started to learn the best way to load your dishwasher.”
Do you need to rinse dishes first?
Even though you might think you’re helping by rinsing off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you could actually be making it less effective. This is because the sensors that some dishwashers use to determine how long a cycle should run and how much water to use can be fooled by pre-rinsed dishes. It assumes that the load is cleaner than it actually is and ends up running a lighter wash cycle.
Can you wash plastic takeout containers in a dishwasher?
Brunskole said that plastics are commonly loaded on the uppermost racks away from the lower heating element, but you should always refer to the manufacturer’s recommended washing cycles and rack loading guidelines. Even if plastic take-out containers have a dishwasher-safe label on them, check the manufacturer’s manual first to see what can and can’t be washed.
What types of dishwashers are there?
Built-In: These are the most common types of dishwashers. They are designed to be installed in a dedicated area under your kitchen counter and are connected to permanent plumbing hookups. They’re typically sandwiched on both sides by cabinetry or drawers, which muffle the noise of its operation.
Portable: Unlike built-in models that are permanently installed, portable dishwashers are freestanding units that sit on wheels and can be moved around as you like. Since they don’t have any dedicated plumbing connections, they typically get their water supply by hooking directly to your kitchen faucet. The wheels allow you to roll them into a closet or storage area after use. Plus, since they’re not located underneath a counter, you can usually use their top as a kitchen workspace.
Countertop: For those who are really tight on space, countertop dishwashers are even more convenient than portable options. They connect right to your kitchen faucet and use considerably less water than full-size dishwashers. They’re on the smaller side so they wouldn’t be a great choice for households that produce a lot of dirty dishes. We didn’t feature any countertop models in this guide, but I look forward to testing them in the future.
How do you install a dishwasher?
Dishwasher installation is a pretty straightforward process, so if you’ve got a reasonable amount of experience working with appliances, you should be alright to DIY. Gurfinkel explained that a YouTube video and proper equipment like a hose and a wrench can be enough. Issues may arise if your original dishwasher wasn’t installed properly and can’t be removed — this will require breaking countertops and floors, and above all else, a professional.
If you’d rather have a professional install your dishwasher entirely, Gurfinkel recommended going with a local installer, rather than a big box store. He explained that local installers usually care more about how the installation goes since they rely on positive reviews and word of mouth, unlike big box stores.
If you decide to install your dishwasher yourself, Yahoodain said the most important things to remember are to make sure everything is connected properly and the machine is level. “You also want to check with the manufacturer to make sure that a professional installer isn’t required to uphold the warranty,” he said.
What sizes of dishwashers are there?
Safaradi said, “Dishwasher dimensions are standard: 23 ¾ inches wide by 33 ⅝ inches high by 24 ⅝ inches deep, except for handicapped-enabled (ADA-compliant) units which are 24 inches wide by 34 ½ inches high by 24 inches deep.” Compact-sized dishwashers tend to be about 18 inches wide.
Even though portable versions are freestanding and don’t need to fit into an opening, you still want to get a good idea of how they’ll fit in your kitchen. These dishwashers run about 24 inches wide, 27 inches deep, and 37 inches high (a bit taller than the rest due to their rolling casters).
How long should a dishwasher last?
“On average, you can expect a dishwasher to last you about 10 years with potential maintenance in between,” Yahoodain said. Gurfinkel’s caveat to that is how you use them, so make sure to follow the manufacture’s guidelines for optimal operation. One thing our experts stressed was the durability of stainless steel tubs over plastic, so that can be a large factor in the lifespan of your dishwasher.
Is a front or top-mounted control panel better?
Most dishwashers offer the option of having the control panel located either on the front of the unit or on the top of the door, which is hidden from view when the door is closed. This is really just a matter of personal preference as some people like the minimal look of the top-mounted design, and it also prevents curious kids from pressing buttons at random. I personally prefer the convenience of the front-facing panel since I can always tell how much time is remaining on the cycle just by glancing at the unit. Top-mounted units will sometimes direct a red light on the floor to indicate that it’s not finished yet, but that’s not enough information for me.
Brunskole said, “The certified sanitizing cycle on your dishwasher means it has been tested to reduce 99.999% (5-log) of bacteria. Cleaning is removing visible soil from a surface whereas sanitizing is reducing the bacteria on a surface. It is not always necessary to sanitize dishes; however, it is important to choose this cycle on your dishwasher when you have raw meat juice, for example on a cutting board, that you put in the dishwasher to clean.”
All of our top picks are NSF-certified, except for the Miele 24″ G 7566, though it uses water temperatures that meet NSF guidelines to sanitize dishes.
Yahoodain also recommended prospective shoppers look for dishwashers with a certified Energy Star rating which means the unit is more efficient than ones that meet just the federal minimum standard for energy efficiency. All of the options I chose are Energy Star certified.
Depending on where you live, you might qualify for certain rebates to cut costs and energy use, said Yahoodain.
How do you clean a dishwasher?
This can vary depending on the machine, according to Yahoodain, who explains that cleaning “depends on the type of dishwasher, finish (stainless, plastic, or a mix), and the type of filter which catches leftover food in the machine.”
I have personally had success using a simple mixture of warm water and vinegar and using a dishrag to wipe down the interior components. That being said, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions first.
You can also buy dishwasher cleaning tablets, like these from Affresh, to keep build-up at bay. There are a few different types that work for different brands, so make sure you get the right one. Try to clean your dishwasher once a month, or at least on a regular cycle.
When should you use the sanitizing cycle?
If your dishes, knives, or dishwasher-safe cutting boards have been in contact with raw meat, you should disinfect them with the sanitizing cycle. The same goes for any baby-related items such as bottles or toys. Brunskole said, “A good rule of thumb is to use the sanitizing cycle on your dishwasher when dishes inside have sat for more than two hours. Food left at room temperature can be a breeding ground for bacteria leading to potential foodborne illness.”
What should you do if your dishwasher isn’t draining?
Try running your dishwasher a second time — it may have shut down by itself in the middle of the initial cycle. If there’s still water collecting at the bottom, try these fixes: unplug the dishwasher and check the hose for clogs or kinks, run your garbage disposal, and clean the air gap that connects to the drain hose (if your dishwasher’s hose doesn’t empty into the garbage disposal drain).
Wash zone: Your dishwasher has multiple areas that can be washed in different ways — these are wash zones. Typically a dishwasher will have two wash zones, the upper and lower racks, giving you the option to wash both or just one. This comes in handy when you only have half a load of dishes to clean.
Filter: Your dishwasher filter prevents pieces of food from ending up back on your dishes or clogging your drain. These can be either self-cleaning or manual versions, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to keep them clean.
Sensor wash: Using a beam of light to analyze your dishes, sensor wash dishwashers can determine the best cycle, temperature, and duration to clean specific dish loads.
Lower rack: This is the main storage area of the dishwasher and is used for items like plates, pots, pans, and larger bowls.
Top rack: This is the second rack of the dishwasher and is used for cups, glasses, and oddly shaped utensils that may be too tall for the bottom rack.
Third rack: Located at the top of the dishwasher, this is a thin tray that slides out and provides the ideal space to lay down smaller or irregularly shaped items. A third rack can sometimes act as the utensil basket, freeing up valuable space on the bottom rack.
Settings: Each machine has different settings, but these are among the most common based on my research.
Normal: The standard cycle that should be used on typical, moderately soiled loads. The duration can vary depending on the machine, but on average lasts about two hours.
Eco: Lower washing and rinsing temperatures to minimize the amount of energy and water used. This cycle can take longer than normal, up to 2.5hours.
Auto: A sensor analyzes how soiled the dishes are and selects the best cycle.
Quick Wash: This setting uses more water and higher temperatures to get your dishes done quickly, though this can sometimes result in less effective results than a normal wash. This cycle can usually run between 30 and 60 minutes.
Sanitize: Uses extra-hot water (above 150 degrees F) to sanitize your dishes and destroy bacteria. This is recommended when washing dishes that have come in contact with raw meat or any other source of potential bacteria. This cycle is usually used in addition to another cycle and should add about 30 minutes to the wash time.
Pots & Pans: This setting uses extra water to ensure your extra-large cookware is cleaned effectively. This cycle tends to run about 2.5hours.
Check out more guides to kitchen appliances and fixtures
Choosing an ice cube tray requires sorting through different materials, sizes, and shapes.
We tested 14 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 14 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.
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 for spheres
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 for large cubes
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.
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
What else we recommend and why:
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.
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.
What we’re testing next
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.
True Cubes Clear Ice Cube Tray: We did not test an official clear ice system during this round of testing. After attempting to make clear ice ourselves, and finding it difficult, we are looking forward to seeing if this product makes it easier.
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.
Non-slip kitchen mats help prevent spills and stains on your floor while staying firmly in place.
We found the best non-slip kitchen mats for standard spaces, big kitchens, outdoors, and more.
Kitchen floors tend to get dirty and without proper protection, food or liquid spills can cause stains and messes that are a pain to clean up.
Kitchen mats can provide a sleek solution for protecting your floors, but you’ll want a non-slip kitchen mat to ensure it stays firmly in place and doesn’t trip you up. Mats with patterns can also add to the decor of your space, and some of the best non-slip kitchen mats may even help prevent aches and pains when you’re standing for long periods of time cooking or washing up.
We rounded up the best non-slip kitchen mats for a variety of uses, whether you’re cooking in your home, at a restaurant, or grilling in your outdoor kitchen.
What we like: Prevents build-ups over time, waterproof, easy to clean, anti-fatigue cushioning
This Sky Solutions mat is more than just a typical kitchen floor protector thanks to its anti-fatigue, .75-inch padded base. This makes for a far more comfortable experience whether you’re washing dishes or chopping veggies. In fact, some studies even show this kind of padding can help to reduce back pain and joint pain.
Aside from its comfort, the mat is also made to support places like restaurants and offices, so it’ll have no problem lasting a long time even in the most high-trafficked home kitchens. It features an anti-curl edge so you won’t have to worry about any tripping hazards, and its wrinkle-free and stain-resistant design adds to its ease of use.
What we like: Machine washable, durable PVC bottom, comes in packs of up to three mats
These COSYHOMEER mats are made with a polypropylene material that not only makes them easy to clean and machine washable, but also ensures they’re durable and won’t break down or compress over time.
These mats come in packs of up to three, so you can have matching mats in multiple rooms, or near both your sink and stovetop for optimal coverage. The mats have a PVC bottom that ensures they stay put and avoids any slips.
Best non-slip kitchen mat for commercial use
The DEXI Anti-Fatigue Kitchen Mat has an oil-proof, waterproof surface great for high-trafficked areas and thick cushioning that adds comfort for anyone standing all day.
What we like: Cushioned material for long-term standing, easy-to-clean diamond design, oil-proof
This mat’s anti-fatigue, thick cushioning makes it a comfortable choice for people looking to use it in commercial common areas or places where workers often stand for long periods of time, whether that’s a professional kitchen or behind a store counter. The mat comes in two sizes, including one option that’s over six feet long for bigger spaces. With many similar style mats coming in at significantly higher price points, this is also a great value.
Best non-slip kitchen mats for large home kitchens
What we like: Multiple colors for different style kitchens, washable surface, long
This pack is able to take up serious floor space thanks to the fact it comes with two large mats that are both three or four inches larger than many standard kitchen mats. The mats’ polypropylene material is sturdy and also won’t pick up stains as easily as other mats.
Anti-fatigue cushioning adds comfort and the anti-skid bottoms ensure they won’t slide around. You can even throw these in the washing machine for easy cleaning.
What we like: Use for multiple spaces, designed for drainage, waterproof, durable
This mat can pair up with patios for a mess-free and comfier grilling experience. The anti-slip mat is equipped with a hole pattern that not only helps trap debris and allows for better drainage, but also makes it extra easy to just hose down for quick cleaning. The rubber material is durable and waterproof so it can withstand outdoor elements.
Investing in a juicer saves you money on store-bought juice and helps add nutrients to your diet.
We recommend slow juicers over high-speed ones because they keep nutritious fibers intact.
Hurom’s HP slow juicer is our favorite because it’s compact, reliable, and easy to use and clean.
If you buy fresh juiceregularly, you may want to invest in a juicer. The best ones can pulverize an entire farmer’s market haul into smooth, flavorful juice with little foam, easily fit on the counter, won’t wake up the whole house, are simple to clean, and come with a decent warranty (10 years is the industry standard).
There are two basic juicer types on the market: centrifugal and masticating (or slow). The larger, noisier, and more affordable of the two, centrifugal juicers use a high-speed blade and tend to yield less juice and more foam than their slow-juicing counterparts.
Masticating juicers steadily turn an auger that pulverizes fruits and veggies, leaving more nutrients and enzymes intact and producing smoother, silkier, and better-tasting juice overall. For these reasons, this guide focuses solely on slow juicers.
To arrive at our top picks, we juiced everything from hardy root vegetables to leafy greens, and considered the resulting juices’ taste, texture, foam levels, and oxidation rates. We also measured the volume of liquid each machine produced and the amount of pulp left behind, as well as the juicers’ speeds and noise levels. Lastly, with the help of a mechanical engineer, we pulled apart several juicers to see if they were made with identical parts (despite differences in size and price).
Not only was the Hurom HP Slow Juicer one of the most powerful models we tested, it was also the most compact and user-friendly.
Pros: Small size, intuitive design, 100% BPA-free plastic, 10-year motor warranty, easy to clean, high juice yield
Cons: 2-year parts warranty, somewhat slow (even by slow juicer standards), juice is slightly less concentrated than its more expensive competitors’
While Hurom’s HP Slow Juicer is the smallest machine we tested, it uses the same powerful motor as models that take up nearly twice the space (like the Omega VSJ843, for example). We discovered this after disassembling and examining several highly-rated juicers with the help of a mechanical engineer — a process that we describe in greater detail under “Our Methodology,” below.
The HP comes with a fine strainer, a larger strainer to allow some pulp to pass through — always a good idea, nutritionally — and two cleaning brushes. In other words, it has exactly all you need and nothing you don’t. That doesn’t mean the machine is without its conveniences, though; we’re fans of the inner spinning brush that helps clear the strainers while you’re juicing, allowing for a higher yield.
Indeed, the HP did produce a high yield. It pulled the most liquid out of every single fruit or veggie we juiced, and consistently had among the driest discarded pulp (in these respects, it even outperformed our other recommendation from Hurom, the H-AI Self-Feeding Juicer). The resulting juice was clean, bright, and refreshing, and contained little foam, although it wasn’t quite as rich and intense as its pricier competitors’ output.
When it’s time to clean up, there are no awkward angles to scrub, and that cleaning brush does an excellent job of removing pulp from hard-to-reach spots thanks to a convenient pick built into its handle. Hurom cautions against running the machine’s parts through the dishwasher, although we managed to do so without a problem. (Is this cleaning method a good idea, long-term? Probably not, but we wanted to make sure the HP could handle it in a pinch.)
A note to those who tend to juice while rushing out the door: if speed is of the essence, Hurom’s HP Slow Juicer may not be the machine for you. It runs at 43 RPM, which is a bit slow even by slow juicer standards. For comparison, the Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer and the previously mentioned Hurom H-AI — two models included in this guide — run at 60 RPM, while the Omega Cold Press 365, which we’re currently testing, runs at 90 to 110 RPM.
In the end, the HP’s ease of use, simple clean-up, and compact size make it a clear winner for us. After all, if your juicer is compact enough to live on your countertop instead of a cabinet, you’ll notice — and therefore use — it all the more often.
The best multi-use juicer
The Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer produces rich, velvety juice, and goes beyond the usual call of duty to act as a citrus juicer and ice cream maker with the help of attachments.
Pros: Versatile, 10-year warranty on all parts, BPA-free plastic, extra-wide feeding spout
Cons: Heavy, some attachments sold separately, cleanup can be time-consuming
The Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer is a sound investment if you like the idea of an appliance that can do quadruple duty. Not only is it an excellent slow juicer in its own right, it’s designed to accommodate three attachments: smoothie and frozen dessert makers (both included) and a citrus juicer (sold separately).
To use the citrus juicer attachment, you palm halves of citrus over a reamer that’s turned by the machine’s motor. It’s simple and gets the job done, and while we think the price of the attachment is higher than it needs to be, it’s still far more affordable than purchasing a separate appliance.
During our testing, we used the smoothie strainer to make a berry and banana smoothie that was texturally consistent, foam-free, and silkier than anything we’ve pulled from a blender. The blank strainer for frozen desserts was more difficult to master: we were successful with banana gelato, but not much else. It seems that a particular level of frozenness (and practice) is required to churn out sorbets, gelatos, and ice creams as effortlessly as this YouTuber.
As far as its main duty goes, the Whole Slow Juicer’s 3.2-inch-wide feeding spout can accommodate larger pieces of fruit than our top pick, and at 60 RPM it’s a bit faster, too. The extra speed may come at the expense of maximum juicing; compared to the Hurom HP, the Kuvings squeezed less liquid out of our fruits and vegetables, and its wetter pulp suggested that there was some good stuff left behind in the discard pile.
That being said, the Whole Slow Juicer produced the richest, most velvety juice we tried during our taste tests, with and without the detachable external strainer that helps catch any residual pulp.
There is one design quirk we should note, though: the chute makes an awkward turn towards the auger, which means harder fruits and vegetables like carrots and beets get hung up, while softer ones like grapes leave a significant amount of mush in the bend. We had to reverse the auger more times for the Kuvings than for any other juicer, and while we were able to send most of that aforementioned mush back through, it was an extra, messy step.
That turn in the chute also made for more complicated cleanup work, but that’s only nominal when it comes to juicers. Plus, any additional time spent was mostly offset by the Kuvings’ self-cleaning internal strainer, whose basket is lined with pulp-sweeping brushes. Like everything we tested, its parts withstood the dishwasher.
Small flaws considered, if you want a juicer that does it all, this is the only one we know of that can make smoothies, frozen desserts (with some trial and error), and citrus juice.
The best self-feeding juicer
Hurom’s H-AI Slow Juicer has a small footprint, is easy to clean, and because it’s self-feeding, does a lot of the work for you.
Pros: Easy to use and clean, space-saving, self-feeding hopper is a time-saver, BPA-free plastic, 10-year warranty on motor
Cons: Only a two-year warranty on parts, some produce gets stuck in self-feeding hopper (though only peaches and pears, in our experience)
A self-feeding juicer like Hurom’s H-AI Slow Juicer can make juicing a good deal easier, and because it takes up so little space, it’s not unreasonable to leave it out and ready for use.
There’s a bit of debate as to whether or not the self-feeding hopper works well, but in our experience over the past two years we’ve only had two problems: once with peaches, and another time with pears. In both instances, the fruits were bordering on overripe and turned into a mush that could not be fed from the hopper into the auger. While it’s true that another juicer might have handled this problem better, most of us aren’t juicing a ton of overripe fruits. Further, if you start to encounter this problem, a good solution (before it’s too late) is to intersperse some harder fruits into the mix to help push the rest through.
Otherwise, everything we put into the hopper made it through to the auger and came out as juice, and the pulp was among the driest from the juicers we’ve tested (aside from our top pick, the Hurom HP). We also ended up with notably less waste from this juicer than any other.
This machine yielded more juice than the Kuvings — despite the fact that both turn at 60 RPM — thanks to a preparatory blade in the hopper. However, the results weren’t as rich as the Kuvings’ and the H-AI produced a little more foam, although the difference was marginal.
Because this machine is completely vertically integrated (even the pulp canister is built into it vertically), we found cleanup to be markedly quick. Everything pulls apart easily, and the self-feeding hopper is much more open than the Kuvings’ chute.
If you find you don’t like the self-feeding hopper, or want to use a chute for softer fruits, there’s a two-inch-wide one in the kit, along with a fine and large strainer, so you have juicing options.
Every component of this juicer, save for the stand and motor, has been through the washing machine well over 20 times, and we haven’t had any problems to date.
This is an expensive machine, but it has worked flawlessly for us for over two years of rigorous use. If you want a juicer that does everything, the Kuvings might be for you, but if you’re looking to juice with exceptional ease, the Hurom H-AI is tops.
What else we tested
What else we recommend and why:
Breville Juice Fountain Plus: If you do want a centrifugal juicer, this is one of the best in its category. We’ve used it many times in the past, we’ve seen it hold up at several small juice stands, and the price is right. Still, it produces a lot of foam, and it’s a good deal larger than the vertical slow juicers we recommend.
Omega VSJ843: This juicer, down to almost every single part, turned out to be identical to the Hurom HP. The big difference is that it comes with a 15-year warranty on “parts and performance” versus a 10-year warranty on the Hurom juicers’ motors and a two-year warranty on other parts. In the end, the motor warranty is a bigger consideration, because if you break a part (and it’s not due to a defect), it’s still on you to replace. We’re going to work on comparing customer service between the two companies for further consideration.
What we don’t recommend and why:
Breville Bluicer: This could be a handy machine if you happen to need a juicer and a blender at once, but it’s large, and comes with a lot of parts you might not want to use (let alone store). We found the juice yield so low and the amount of foam so high, though, that on top of other detrimental factors such as size and noise, we decided against recommending it in this guide.
Hamilton Beach Big Mouth: This centrifugal high-speed juicer is more affordable than the Breville Juice Fountain Plus, but while it worked, it produced a ton of foam.
Oster’s Self-Cleaning Professional Juice Extractor: This high-speed (centrifugal) juicer is another case of an appliance that is just too large and complex for most people’s use. It works, though you’ll still have to do a good bit of cleaning up afterward. Still, if you do want a high-speed juicer, it’s a good choice for a budget option, and we like that it’s dishwasher-safe.
Smeg Slow Juicer: Smeg’s Slow Juicer had a lot of the same qualities as the Omega VSJ843 or the Hurom HP, but at about $500, you’re mostly paying for its ’50s-vintage appeal. If that’s worth it to you, go for it. It’s a perfectly capable machine, and our tester’s unit is still going strong more than two years into weekly-plus use.
To test the juicers’ ability to handle a variety of fruits and vegetables, we ran beets, carrots, kale, and black seedless grapes through each machine. We weighed the produce beforehand to make sure we were putting the exact same amount in each juicer, then measured the volume (fluid ounces) of the resulting juice.
We noted the amount of foam that settled at the top of each cup of juice, the rate of oxidation (some juices browned faster than others), and the amount of pulp left behind.
And, of course, we measured taste, however subjectively, and found that some juices were more watery than others (we used a fine strainer throughout testing) while others were incredibly rich.
We also pulled apart four juicers after speaking with Duncan Freake, a mechanical engineer at Epam Continuum, who posited that certain parts, including the augers, strainers, and receptacles were the same between Omega and HP. Sure enough, while the parts inside each of the juicers we disassembled weren’t exactly identical, it was clear that they came from the same factory, or used the same components, from Korea. And while both brands advertise that their juicers are made in Korea, they don’t divulge that many of their parts come from the same set of factories as their competitors, Zhejiang Linix Motor Co., Ltd. Granted, this is a common case with many household appliances, and something we found to be true when researching for our guide to the best countertop ice makers, too.
Can drinking juice help you lose weight?
While some people claim green juice can help you lose weight and clear the body of “toxins,” these ideas are not medically supported.
“Even if you’re making it yourself, juice is still more processed than a whole fruit or veggie, and studies consistently show that it’s more beneficial to eat foods in their more natural state,” Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, author of “Sugar Shock” told us. “Our bodies don’t register the calories we drink in the same way they register calories from food, so you don’t get the same level of fullness from juice as you would from eating an apple or veggie.”
However, Cassetty said fresh juice is still an excellent way to add more nutrients to your diet, and based on our testing, the juicers above all perform at the top level.