The best pizza stones we tested in 2021

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

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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

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

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

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

Here are the best pizza stones in 2021

Our testing methodology

Best pizza stone 2021 methodology

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best pizza stone overall

Best pizza stone 2021 Baking Steel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best baking stone

Best pizza stone 2021 Solido

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best pizza stone for the grill

Best pizza stone 2021 Lodge pizza stone

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

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

Cons: Difficult to slide a pizza onto its circular shape

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

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

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

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

What else we tested

Best pizza stone 2021 What else we tested

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

What else we recommend and why:

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

What we’re testing next

Best pizza stone 2021 What were testing next

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

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

What to look for in a pizza stone

Best pizza stone 2021 What to look for

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAQs

Best pizza stone 2021 FAQs

Why do I need a pizza stone?

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

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

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

Do I need to preheat my pizza stone?

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

Can I cook frozen pizza on my pizza stone?

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

Pizza stone care and maintenance

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

How to clean a pizza stone

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

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

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

Preventing your pizza stone from cracking

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

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

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

Why is my pizza stone discolored?

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

Pizza stone tips and tricks

Best pizza stone 2021 Pizza Stone Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out our other pizza-making buying guides

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The best pizza peels


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Read the original article on Business Insider

The best blenders we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • 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.

Here are the best blenders in 2021

Our testing methodology

The best blenders our methodology

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

vitamix 5200

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.

Best mid-priced blender

Cleanblend 3HP Commercial Blender

The Cleanblend 3HP Commercial Blender can handle most any task nearly as well as some blenders more than twice its price.

Pros: Powerful, easy-to-use design

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

KitchenAid K150 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.

FAQs

The best blenders FAQ

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.

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The 4 best sous vide machines we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • 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.

Here are the best sous vide machines in 2021

The best sous vide machine overall

best sous vide machine 2021 anova nano

The Anova Precision Cooker Nano offers accuracy and ease of use at a price unmatched by other sous vide machines.

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

best sous vide machine 2021 breville joule

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

best sous vide machine 2021 breville polyscience hydropro

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

best sous vide machine 2021 InstantPot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer

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 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

best sous vide machine 2021 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.

FAQs

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.

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The 4 best dishwashers of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A dishwasher is one of the most time-saving products you can have for your home.
  • After research and expert interviews, we determined the Bosch 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.

Here are the best dishwashers in 2021

The best dishwasher overall

Best dishwashers 2021 - Bosch SHEM63W55N 4x3

The sleek design, ultra-quiet operation, and the unanimous support of its brand by our experts make the Bosch SHEM63W55N the best dishwasher you can buy.

Pros: Extremely quiet operation, stainless steel interior tub, AquaStop leak protection

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.

Its estimated yearly energy use is 269 kWh, according to the US Government Energy Guide. This comes out to about $25 per year, assuming you run four loads per week. 

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

Best dishwashers 2021 - Frigidaire FGID2466QF 4x3

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. 

At 52 dB, it’s well under the noise level of a normal conversation and surprisingly, a typical dishwasher — which registers at around 70 dB by the CDC. 

The best high-end dishwasher

Best dishwashers 2021 - Miele Fully integrated XXL 4x3

The Miele G 7566 might have an intimidating price tag, but if money’s no object, its top of the line components, reputation for quality, and Wi-Fi connectivity are worth it.

Pros: Wi-Fi connectivity, quiet operation, customizable tray designs

Cons: Not NSF certified

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. 

The Miele G 7566 runs even quieter than the Bosch at 38 dB.

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

Best dishwashers 2021 - GE GPT225SGLBB 4x3

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.

Because they lack the noise-deadening benefits of surrounding cabinets, portable dishwashers tend to be louder than built-ins. The GE GPT225SGLBB runs at 54 dBA, the loudest of all the units I researched and a little under the level of a normal conversation

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. 

If your sink is 34 inches or higher off the floor, you won’t be able to drain wastewater into the sink because it’s too high, so you’ll need a bucket or pitcher that’s lower than the height of the sink.

Our research methodology

Best dishwashers 2021 4x3

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. 

I consulted a food safety expert, Kaylyn Brunskole, the technical manager of Food Equipment at NSF International. I also reached out to an appliance retailer, Albert Safaradi of Albee’s Appliances, and a home remodeling expert, Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors, and an appliance repair expert, Alexander Gurfinkel of Appliance Repair LA

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.

FAQs

Best dishwashers 2021 FAQ's 4x3

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. 


What certifications should I look for? 

One of the ways to effectively clean and sanitize dishes is to use a dishwasher with a NSF/ANSI 184: Residential Dishwashers certification

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).

Glossary

Best dishwashers 2021 Glossary 4x3

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

kitchen faucet 2021 moen
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The 4 best ice cube trays we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • 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.

Here are the 4 best ice cube trays of 2021

The best overall

best ice cube tray 2021 w&p everyday tray

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

best ice cube tray 2021 tolovo sphere mold

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

Best ice cube trays of 2021   best jumbo cube tray Samuelworld

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.

Best spill-proof

best ice cube tray 2021 OXO

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

best ice cube tray 2021 what else

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.

Our methodology

best ice cube tray 2021 methodology
An ice cube tray stained with coffee, as part of our testing for odor and stain retention.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we’re testing next

best ice cube tray 2021 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.

FAQs

best ice cube tray 2021 FAQ

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.

Check out our other buying guides

best red wine glass 2021
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The 5 best non-slip kitchen mats of 2021

best non-slip kitchen mats

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • 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.

Here are the best non-slip kitchen mats

The best non-slip kitchen mat overall

Sky Solutions Anti Fatigue Mat
This wrinkle-free mat is easy to clean with soap and water.

The Sky Solutions Anti Fatigue Mat collects spilt food and liquid in its diamond-like design.

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.

Best multi-pack of non-slip kitchen mats

COSY HOMEER Anti Fatigue Kitchen Rug Mats
This pack comes in 9 different colors to suit your personal style.

If you need non-slip mats in multiple areas, the COSYHOMEER Anti Fatigue Kitchen Rug Mats are made with stain-resistant material and come in packs of three.

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

DEXI Anti Fatigue Kitchen Mat
The thick, .4-ich padding makes this a good choice for those who need to stand all day.

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

COSY HOMEER Kitchen Rug Mats
COSYHOMEER also produces slightly larger memory foam kitchen mat packs, as well.

The COSYHOMEER 48 x 20 in. / 30 x 20 in. Kitchen Rug Mats pack can cover the floor from your sink to your stovetop.

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. 

Best non-slip kitchen mat for outdoor use

best non slip kitchen mat outdoor

The Envelor Anti Fatigue Rubber Indoor/Outdoor Floor Mat is waterproof, durable, and easy to hose down.

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. 

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We tested 9 juicers and these are the 3 best in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • 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 juice regularly, 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).

Here are the best juicers you can buy in 2021

The best juicer overall

hurom hp slow juicer

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

kuvings slow 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 h ai 4x3

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 ExtractorThis 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.

Our methodology

2lb carrot juice test

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.

FAQs

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.

Check out our other small appliance guides

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Read the original article on Business Insider

The best flatware and silverware in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Good flatware should be made of high-quality metals to last you for several years.
  • We researched the best materials and spoke with two designers and a metal worker to choose our top picks.
  • The Olivia & Oliver Madison 20-Piece Flatware Set is our best overall pick for it’s durability and affordability.

Flatware isn’t something you replace frequently, so when it came time to choose my own, I wanted to pick a set that was timeless, durable, corrosion-free, affordable, and would last me for years. As a product reviewer who has tested hundreds of home products, I turned that same discerning eye to researching flatware. While individual tastes vary, I spoke with three experts – Courtney Whitmore, cookbook author and party hosting expert; Marian Parsons, interior designer and artist; and Jefferson Mack, a flatware and metal product designer – to learn what makes great flatware, regardless of personal style.

After many hours of research, we’ve rounded up our top picks based on expert recommendations, brand reputation, reported durability from consumer reviews, visual aesthetic, ease of use and care according to manufacturer directions, and affordability. We also included information about shopping for flatware, including deciding between sets versus open stock pieces, choosing the best metals, properly setting a table, and caring for flatware.

Here are our top picks for the best flatware

The best flatware overall

Oliver and Oliver

If you’re looking for flatware for everyday use, the Olivia & Oliver Madison 20-Piece Flatware Set is durable, moderately-priced, and fits seamlessly with any table setting design.

Pros: Made from 18/10 stainless steel that’s durable for everyday use, timeless yet contemporary design, comes in three finishes, reputable brand, 25-year manufacturer’s warranty

Cons: Doesn’t have a matching serveware set, handles are thinner and may be harder to grasp for some

When it comes to everyday flatware, you’ll want something that’s durable, dishwasher-safe, and relatively affordable, with a timeless design — the Olivia & Oliver flatware set checks all those boxes and comes recommended by one of our experts. “I really like Olivia & Oliver for high-quality flatware that you can use for years,” said Whitmore. 

The set comes in three different finishes to suit your decor: silver, gold, or matte black. I particularly like the mirrored silver finish, which combined with the elegantly tapered handles and curvy design provides a timeless look that works well for tablescape designs both rustic and modern. It’s durable enough for everyday use and doesn’t require any polishing. It also comes with a 25-year manufacturer’s warranty. Many buyers mentioned it looks and feels well-made, has a moderate weight, and doesn’t spot after washing. 

The set doesn’t come with matching serveware, so if you want a cohesive look throughout your tablescape, you may want to look elsewhere. A few customer reviews also mentioned the handles feel a tad small in bigger hands.

The best high-end flatware

Laguiole flatware

Each piece in the Laguiole 24-piece stainless steel flatware set is assembled by hand, affixed with a Napoleonic bee, and modeled after the high-quality knives made famous in the French town of Laguiole. 

Pros: Unique and timeless design, handcrafted, durable, reputable brand, can purchase matching serveware separately

Cons: Doesn’t come with salad forks or a serveware set, hand-wash only

Handcrafted in Thiers, France, the Laguiole 24-piece flatware set is durable, visually appealing, and will last you for years to come. The utensils are phthalate-, BPA-, and latex-free, and made with resin handles and a polished finish for a one-of-a-kind look. You can choose from ivory or black handles to fit your aesthetic. 

The set serves six people, and is designed after the high-quality knives that have been produced in the French town of Laguiole since the 19th century. Each piece is debossed with “Laguiole Inox France” and finished with Laguiole’s Napoleonic bee trademark at the top of the handle. (The Napoleonic imperial symbol was granted by Emperor Napoleon I in recognition of the local soldiers’ courage.) The utensils arrive in an elegant, hinged-lid box made from pine, which features brass hardware; it’s a conversation piece that will also bring a sophisticated look to your dinner table. 

This set doesn’t come with salad forks, but you can purchase serveware like ladles, meat forks, carving sets, and cheese knives in the same style to create an elegant, cohesive look.

The best flatware on a budget

JA Henckels

The J.A. Henckels International Lani 65-Piece Flatware Set comes with everything you need for 12 people; it’s made with durable 18/10 stainless steel for everyday use, and each piece is only about $1.50. 

Pros: Made from 18/10 stainless steel, comes with all essential pieces for 12 people, dishwasher-safe, reputable brand, comes with serveware, limited lifetime warranty

Cons: Some consumer reviews mentioned the handles are too slender

Founded in 1731, J.A. Henckels is one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of kitchen flatware, knives, and cookware. The set is complete with everything you could possibly need for dinner for up to 12 people.

The pieces are made from durable materials and feature simple slender handles with a curve for an eye-catching and timeless look. The forged 18/10 stainless steel knife blades provide easy, precise cutting. Many customer reviews stated that the utensils are heavy and well-made,  making this set is a great buy if you want quality on a budget. Plus, the pieces are protected with a limited lifetime warranty. 

However, like with our best overall pick, some buyers mentioned the slender handles are difficult for those with larger hands to hold.

The best open stock flatware

oneida

The Oneida Chef’s Table Everyday Flatware is affordable, reliable, and features open stock pieces so you can buy exactly what you need; no more, no less.

Pros: Open stock allows you to buy exactly the number and type of pieces you need, simple design, dishwasher-safe, reputable brand, limited lifetime warranty

Cons: Made from less durable 18/0 stainless steel

There are many circumstances where you’d opt for open stock flatware, which allows you to pick and buy only the individual utensils you need. Open stock is a great option if you’re living alone and just need kitchen staples for one person, if you’re a college student looking for a few basics, if you need to replace a few lost or broken utensils, or if you’re looking to outfit a rental property with inexpensive, easily replaceable pieces. 

Chef’s Table is a reputable product line from trusted flatware manufacturer Oneida that offers individual pieces and replacements. The utensil design is simple and will fit seamlessly with virtually any flatware you already own. With its affordable price point, you can stock your kitchen with what you need at a fraction of the price of most box sets.

The utensils in the collection are made from 18/0 stainless steel, meaning there is no nickel in the stainless steel. Nickel’s presence usually helps prevents rust and corrosion. However, reviewers haven’t reported any issues with rust, and many mentioned they like the shape and durability of the pieces.

The best flatware for special occasions

Mikasa flatware

The Mikasa 65-Piece Regent Bead Flatware Set features an elegant design with 24-karat beaded gold accents and every utensil you’ll need for service for 12.

Pros: Timeless design, made from durable 18/10 stainless steel, comes with serveware, reputable brand

Cons: Hand-wash only

Not only is the Mikasa Regent Bead Flatware Set made of durable materials, it also features 24-karat beaded gold accents that have more of a traditional feel and will elevate your tablescape. The dual silver and gold coloring blends well with any table setting or showpiece dinnerware, and comes with matching serveware to make your next occasion truly special.

The serveware set includes solid and slotted serving spoons, a meat fork, a butter knife, and a sugar spoon, so you can keep a sophisticated and cohesive look throughout your tablescape.

Mikasa offers many sets in stainless steel with gold accents, so you can also mix and match this set with others for added visual appeal that still has a cohesive design. 

How to shop for flatware

How to shop for flatware

While we’ve outlined top picks above that hopefully make shopping for flatware effortless, here is some guidance from experts about what to look for when you’re on the hunt for flatware, along with what we considered when choosing our top picks. 

Narrow down your options before shopping

With so many options out there, it helps to start by deciding how many pieces you need and what your budget is. You should expect to pay upwards of $300 to outfit your home with a high-quality set with many pieces, but you can go as low as $30 if you’re selective about the number and type of utensils you need.

No matter your budget, Whitmore recommends looking for products that contain the core five utensils used most often. “When shopping for flatware, you want to be sure each set comes with a dinner knife, dinner fork, salad fork, dinner spoon, and teaspoon; this will cover everything you’ll need,” said Whitmore. “I prefer to plan for large gatherings, so I like to buy sets of at least eight but often 10 or 12. It’s never a bad idea to have extra because items like spoons are used more often (for cereal, coffee, etc).”

Next, decide if you want to buy individual pieces (also known as open stock), pieces by the place setting, or a box set that typically comes with service for four, six, eight, or 12 people. Here is some more information about each type:

Open stock: Buying individual pieces, also known as open stock, is great if you’re missing only a couple of utensils, if you’re a college student, or if you live alone and only need a few pieces. It’s also a great option if you’re looking for a temporary or easily replaceable flatware, like if you need to stock a rental property you own or if you have extra mouths to feed for a special occasion. However, many open stock items aren’t the most durable, so they may not last as long, especially if you’re using them every day.

By the place setting: If you buy flatware by the place setting, each box usually comes with five pieces: a dinner fork, salad fork, a dessert spoon, a soup spoon, and a dinner knife. This is a great option if you want to choose the number of place settings to suit your household (since box sets usually come in set quantities), if you want to replace missing or damaged flatware, or would like a few extra place settings for backup when hosting guests. A quality product typically runs between $30 to $50 per setting. 

Box sets: You’ll get more bang for your buck if you invest in a box set. A box set comes in services from four to up to 12 people (some retailers even have service for up to 16 people), and features the same five pieces found in individual place settings. A box set with service for four typically has 20 total pieces, a set for service for eight typically has 40 pieces, and so on. The sets for service for 12 or more also usually come with a “hostess set” — extra serveware like solid and slotted serving spoons, a meat fork, and soup ladle that match the design of the flatware. A box set is especially useful if you have a family of at least four people or often host dinner for a large number of guests. 

Select a reputable company

Regardless of whether you opt for open stock or box sets, experts said you’ll get the best results by selecting products from a known brand. “When shopping for flatware, always buy from a reputable flatware company,” said Jefferson Mack, flatware and metal product designer with mackmetal.com. “You want to make sure you can buy replacements 10 years down the road.” These companies are also usually forthcoming about materials and manufacturing methods, offer longer warranties, and have robust customer service. All the picks in our guide are vetted by experts, come with at least a 25-year warranty, or are produced by a well-known flatware brand that has been in business for at least 50 years. 

Shop in person, if you can

To get a good feel for flatware, it’s best if you can check out sets in person to see if the pieces are comfortable to hold and fit your aesthetic. “I have found that many modern patterns can have huge dinner forks and spoons,” said Marian Parsons, artist and founder of Mustard Seed Interiors. “If possible, see a complete place setting in person to make sure the size feels right to you.” If you do decide to shop online, make sure you buy from a reputable retailer that has a robust return policy, since you won’t be able to evaluate the comfort and weight of your flatware until you try it out.

Different types of flatware metals

How to shop for flatware

Flatware comes in a variety of materials including stainless steel, sterling silver, and metals combined with other materials like resin, wood, and plastic. 

Stainless steel

For everyday use, look for stainless steel flatware. Stainless steel flatware is primarily made from chromium and nickel, which are both durable and resistant to corrosion. When shopping for stainless steel flatware, you’ll notice a number like 18/10, 18/8, or 18/0, which represents the percentage of chromium (the first number) and nickel (the second number) in the metal. 

Many experts recommend opting for 18/10 stainless steel since the nickel content boosts durability and adds a soft, silver-like luster to flatware. It’s also what makes flatware more expensive. 

This number isn’t everything, however, said Mack; most reputable manufacturers sell flatware that is durable and rust-resistant, regardless of the type of stainless steel used. If you are looking for something durable at a great value, 18/0 is still a good option; you just won’t get the high-polish finish and superior rust-resistance nickel provides.

Stamped vs. forged stainless steel

You may also notice the product description mention whether the flatware is stamped or forged. Stamped stainless is cut out like a cookie cutter from a big piece of stainless steel, while forged flatware is made from a heated block of steel that’s pounded into shape. Because of the heating process, forged flatware is much more durable than stamped. If the product description doesn’t include if it’s stamped or forged, compare the knife blade to the handle. If they’re similar in thickness and if it’s lightweight, it’s most likely stamped, which won’t hold up as well as forged for everyday use.

Sterling silver

Sterling silver is also durable, but is more expensive than stainless steel and requires polishing since it can tarnish, developing a dark-colored coat when exposed to gases in the air for a long time. We think stainless steel is the best bet for most people, but if you’re a collector or like a vintage aesthetic, you may opt for sterling silver. With the right care, a sterling silver set can last you for years, increase in value, and become a family heirloom you can pass down from generation to generation. 

“I think there are far too many beautiful sets of silver flatware sitting in a box or drawer unused,” Parsons said. “If silver is stored properly or used daily, it requires very little polishing.”

How to set a table

How to set a table

If you’re setting the table for a formal dinner with the family using your new flatware, knowing where to place everything will elevate the dining experience. We’ve outlined a full step-by-step guide to setting the table here, but these are the basics:

The general rule while dining is to start with flatware on the outside and work your way in with each course. The flatware for the first course (or salad course) sits farthest away from the plate while the flatware for the main course is closest to the plate. To set the table, first place the flatware for the main course on either side of the dinner plate — the dinner fork sits to the left while the dinner knife sits to the right with the blade facing towards the plate. 

Next, place the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork and the salad knife (if you have one) to the right of the dinner knife. Then, place the teaspoon to the right of the salad knife followed by a soup spoon. If you’re having a dessert course, place the dessert spoon horizontally above the dinner plate with the handle pointing to the right.

How to care for stainless steel flatware

How to take care of flatware

The best way to care for flatware is to hand-wash and dry it. “If a flatware set isn’t dishwasher-safe, it’s because of the high temperature of the water mixed with the dishwasher detergent,” Mack said. “The dishwasher has an electric heating element at the bottom that heats up to almost boiling. That, along with dishwasher detergent, which is a high-temperature caustic detergent (stronger than dish detergent), gets rid of food and debris without having to scrub. The high temperature and detergent will get rid of the natural patina of the flatware and will discolor it.”

Handwashing isn’t realistic for many people, though. You can do a few things to make sure your flatware stays in the best shape possible even if you’re using the dishwasher. Oneida, a flatware brand, offers a few tips on loading your flatware in a dishwasher:

  • Load forks and spoons with the handles down and tines and bowls up.
  • Place knives in a separate basket with the sharp side down to avoid potential scratching
  • Remove flatware after the last rinse cycle and hand dry, since hot air can cause corrosion over time. 
  • If your flatware has any discolorations from hard water, use and follow the instructions on a high-quality stainless polish.

According to Oneida, you shouldn’t soak flatware in water for long periods of time, and avoid prolonged contact with tea, coffee, eggs, mayo, vinegar, and salt, since acids and proteins in these foods can erode the flatware. Avoid using heavy-duty cleaners, especially ones with citrus-scented additives, and don’t pour detergent directly onto the flatware. Following these steps can help prolong the life of your flatware.

Check out our other buying guides to complete your table setting

diningtablecb2
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The 6 best meat spatulas of 2021 for flipping burgers, frying fish, and barbecuing

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Meat spatulas are generally more durable and have a wide turner than standard spatulas.
  • Some of our picks are perfect for an outdoor grill while others are handy choppers for ground meat.

Whether you’re flipping burgers on your patio or grilling chicken on your kitchen pan, a quality meat spatula is your helpful sidekick to ensure expertly prepared foods. Meat spatulas are typically wider than the standard kitchen spatulas for easier flipping. They’re also often made from stainless steel and other hardy materials that ensure they can withstand hot stovetops and grills.

Keep in mind that when preparing meat, you should always refrigerate or freeze raw meat immediately after purchase and defrost any frozen meats before cooking. Always thoroughly wash your hands and all utensils before and after handling raw meat, too.

Whether you’re looking for a stainless steel spatula for easy flipping or a quality turner for your charcoal grill, we rounded up top options.

Here are the best meat spatulas of 2021

The best stainless steel meat spatula

Anmarko Stainless Steel Meat Spatula
This spatula’s long turner makes for easy flipping.

For a classic, stainless-steel turner, the Anmarko Stainless Steel Meat Spatula is your best bet.

Why we love it: Long shovel-like design, heavy-duty construction, easy grip

If you want to be a line cook-level flipping pro next time you’re grilling up burgers, the Anmarko Stainless Steel Meat Spatula is a professional and dynamic option. It’s similar to the tools used by hibachi chefs and can even double as a pancake flipper, too.

The stainless steel spatula is made from non-reactive and hygienic materials, so it’s safe to use when cooking raw meat. Though it’s not dishwasher safe, it’s easy to clean with dish soap and warm water. And, the sleek wooden handle is comfortable to hold when grilling or pressing.

The best meat spatula set

To Encounter Silicone & Stainless Steel Spatula Set
These versatile tools can withstand high heat, making them great for high-powered grills.

For days when you’re grilling up burgers, hot dogs, and kebabs all at once, the To Encounter Silicone & Stainless Steel Spatula Set will come in handy.

Why we love it: Mixture of silicone and stainless steel tools, rust-resistant, easy to clean

If you frequently grill steaks, sausage links, and patties, you know that meat doesn’t fall into the one-size-fits-all category. For a six-piece set that’s functional for all different types of meat, To Encounter’s Silicone & Stainless Steel Spatula Set is versatile and heat- and rust-resistant. 

The set includes a fish spatula, a slotted turner, an eight-inch icing spatula, silicone large and slotted turners, and a silicone spoon spatula. It can withstand up to 580-degree heat, so it’s safe to use even on high-powered grills. What’s more, all of the tools are manufactured with a second coat of polish, so they’re all dishwasher safe.

The best fish spatula

YK GDYorkKitchen Stainless Steel Slotted Turner (Set of 2)
The set includes a silicone brush and a bonus oven mitt.

The YK GDYorkKitchen two-piece slotted spatula set is just right for flipping fish fillets and easily draining oil.

Why we love it: Easy to clean, BPA-free, nonslip handle

The YK GDYorkKitchen Stainless Steel Slotted Turner two-piece set is great for turning, flipping, frying, and grilling alike. The slotted design allows grease to drain while its second coat of polishing makes them effortless to clean. The angled turner coupled with the high-range stainless steel material makes it especially perfect for frying and flipping fish. Made from BPA-free stainless steel, these spatulas are durable enough to last years. The nonslip handles make them easy to grip and the loop at the handle’s end makes them simple to hang and store. 

The best meat spatula for barbecuing

Jokari Pro Grade 6 in 1 Lighted Grill Tool
This all-in-one option even features a bottle opener and flashlight.

Whether you’re a beginner barbecuer or graduate griller, the Jokari Pro Grade 6-in-1 Lighted Grill Tool can handle it all and even features a built-in flashlight.

Why we love it: Ergonomic design, light-up functionality, multi-tool product

The Jokari Pro Grade 6-in-1 Lighted Grill Tool proves you don’t need an array of utensils cluttering up your counter or grilling table. You can flip, toss, grab, turn, cut, and then serve your meat with this versatile all-in-one tool. It that even includes a bottle opener.

The built-in LED flashlight is convenient for evening barbecues or if you lose power and have to manually set up your cooking station. Because of its multi-purpose design, it’s also a good option to pack for camping trips.

The best silicone meat spatula

di Oro Chef Series Standard Spatula
This spatula is heat-resistant up to 600 degrees.

For a meat spatula that is more forgiving and won’t leave any scratches, opt for the di Oro Chef Series Standard Spatula

Why we love it: Easy to use, heat-resistant, BPA-free, won’t scratch surfaces

If you’re worried about scratching up your pots and pans, silicone meat spatulas are a good option. The di Oro Chef Series Standard Spatula is more forgiving but can still easily flip your turkey burgers, lamb chops, and filets.

It’s made from a heavy-duty stainless steel core bonded to 600-degree heat-resistant silicone. It’s nonstick, scratch-resistant, and will last for years. It’s also dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

The best handheld meat chopper

Zulay Kitchen Premium Heat Resistant Meat Chopper
This meat chopper also works for mashing avocados and more.

Easily break up raw meat without ever needing to touch it with the Zulay Kitchen Premium Heat-Resistant Meat Chopper.

Why we love it: Easily breaks up meat, variety of color options, nonslip handle

Zulay Kitchen’s Premium Heat-Resistant Meat Chopper is the no-brainer kitchen tool that you didn’t know you needed. Its four-bladed design will effectively separate meat — including frozen grounds — without trapping food particles in the crevices. This is an effective way to break up ground meat or shape patties without ever having to touch raw meat. 

It comes in nine fun colors and has an easy-to-use handle apt for blending, chopping, mixing, mashing, and smashing your meat products. It’s even great to use for mashing avocados for guacamole or tomatoes for homemade pasta sauce. 

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The 4 best KitchenAid stand mixers we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • KitchenAid is a brand synonymous with stand mixers and has been making them for more than 100 years.
  • Its stand mixers are great for tasks that take a lot of effort to do by hand, like whipping and creaming.
  • The Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt Head Stand Mixer is the best stand mixer because it balances power and size.

A stand mixer is the crowning jewel of a kitchen, and KitchenAid’s stand mixers have been the standard for over a century. They make efficient work of tasks that typically take a lot of time or effort to do by hand, like whipping egg whites to soft or stiff peaks, turning cream into whipped cream, churning out big batches of cookies, and kneading tough, heavy bread doughs.

I’ve used a KitchenAid stand mixer daily – sometimes all day – while working in professional kitchens for more than a decade. I have years of experience with each stand mixer in this guide: I’ve broken them, repaired them, purchased them for my own personal use, and am intimately aware of each model’s advantages and limitations.

But I didn’t just rely on my previous experiences. I researched eight models and put four top-selling KitchenAid stand mixers through a standard set of tests for this guide. I used a King Arthur recipe for bagels, a stiff dough with a 10-minute mixing time; I prepared Compost Cookies (kitchen-sink cookies with five cups of mix-ins including chocolate chips, potato chips, and pretzels) from New York City’s Milk Bar; and put each mixer through additional tests to evaluate its capacity, mixing capability, and ease of use. You can read more about how I tested KitchenAid stand mixers in our methodology here, along with how to shop for a KitchenAid and what to make with it.

Here are the best KitchenAid stand mixers in 2021

The best overall

best stand mixer overall 2021 kitchenaid

This popular model balances power, capacity, and size for a mixer that is perfectly designed for most home bakers; plus it comes in more than 45 fun colors.

Pros: Easily accomplishes common cooking tasks, lots of customization options, work bowl has a handle

Cons: Too underpowered if you regularly make a lot of stiff or wet doughs

The Artisan Series 5 Quart model strikes a great balance of power, size, and design. During testing, it quickly became my favorite mixer to use. Tilt-head stand mixers have a smaller base than bowl-lift stand mixers so the bowls tend to be narrower and can feel cramped. You often have to stop the mixer and tilt the head back whenever you want to scrape down the mixing bowl. This wasn’t the case with the Artisan mixer; the large bowl of the felt open enough that I could scrape the sides without adjusting the head. The bowl also has a sturdy handle for easy lifting, and provided plenty of room for pouring in ingredients — particularly helpful when adding more than five cups of mix-ins for Compost Cookies. 

While it shook a bit when I made bagel dough, it was never overly noisy and I didn’t feel like I had to babysit it for fear of it walking off the counter. That said, I don’t think I would make multiple batches of bagels in a row to avoid overheating the mixer’s lower-powered motor. 

This model also offers customization, allowing you to choose from almost 50 color options, engrave your stand mixer or switch out the standard bowl for a patterned ceramic or glass mixing bowl.

Since initial testing, we’ve continued to use this model at least once a week. It’s worked its way through pierogi dough and filling, multiple babkas, and many batches of holiday cookies, and still functions as well (and looks as good) as it did when I first received it. We’ll continue to use this model regularly and report on its long-term durability.

Best budget

Best KitchenAid stand mixer Classic Plus

The least expensive model made by KitchenAid, the Classic Plus has all the quality components of more expensive mixers but it’s compact, efficient, and powerful enough to accomplish most tasks for casual bakers. 

Pros: Relatively inexpensive, spacious but still maneuverable, can handle most common tasks and occasional tough doughs 

Cons: Work bowl doesn’t have a handle, relatively low-powered motor, not ideal for heavy use

If you’re an occasional baker or just starting to dip your toes into cooking, the KitchenAid Classic Plus 4.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer is a great model to get started with. It’s made with the same metal parts as more expensive KitchenAid stand mixers, has a strong motor, and a relatively roomy work bowl. While on the smaller side, it still easily accommodates single batches of common recipes. 

An earlier version of the KitchenAid Classic Plus was, in fact, my first mixer. I used it heavily for about five years until it gave out on me while kneading dough for hand-pulled noodles (a notoriously tricky dough, and one known to tax stand mixers). This issue first highlighted to me how most stand mixers break and the importance of choosing a model built for your typical usage. 

I tested a new version of this mixer for this guide, and while it happily worked through cookies, egg whites, and even hefty bagel dough without issue, it’s possible that with too much heavy use, like making many batches of bagel or pizza dough back-to-back, the mixer can overheat or — in the case of my old mixer — wear down its gears. While the issue is repairable, it requires seeing a KitchenAid repair specialist, which can be expensive, so you’re better off purchasing a stand mixer with a wattage that meets your needs from the get-go. 

Best for bread

Best KitchenAid stand mixer Pro Line Series 7-Quart Bowl Lift Stand Mixer

The KitchenAid Pro Line Series 7-Quart Bowl Lift Stand Mixer is the largest, most powerful KitchenAid mixer you can buy without venturing into commercial models, which makes it perfect for avid bakers. 

Pros: Largest capacity of any residential model, bowl-lift design provides stability when mixing, wide mixing bowl for adding ingredients, powerful motor that can handle all kinds of doughs, work bowl has a handle

Cons: Heavy, takes up a lot of space, only comes in a few colors

Stiff or heavy doughs like bagel dough, pizza dough, and some noodle doughs require a large amount of power to knead properly, which can be taxing on many stand mixers. The 7-Quart Pro-Line model has a 970 watt motor for powerful and thorough kneading without overheating the mixer. The wider bowl-lift design also provides more stability during mixing, so the mixer doesn’t “walk” or shake as much during use. 

This is the model I primarily used during a decade of work in professional kitchens. The machine is reliable, nimble, easy to use, and remarkably quiet for such a large mixer. It can handle everything from whipping two egg whites to mixing triple batches of cake batter. KitchenAid claims the 7-quart size can make up to 14 dozen cookies in a single batch, and while I haven’t ventured to test the limits of that claim (I love cookies, but I don’t need 14 dozen), it made double batches of compost cookies and bagels with plenty of room to spare. 

The wide bowl is easy to remove from the mixer, has a large comfortable handle, and provides lots of space for adding ingredients during mixing. Avid bakers and especially those who make bread will appreciate its reliability — these mixers saw heavy daily use when I worked with them in professional kitchens and rarely needed repairs. If you take care of this mixer, it’s likely to last you decades. 

That said, it’s a hefty machine and not the sort of mixer you want to lug around, so it’s best for those with ample counter space to devote to its large footprint.

Read our full review

Best for small spaces

Best KitchenAid stand mixer Artisan Mini

The smallest of KitchenAid stand mixers, this model is the perfect size and strength for occasional bakers, new cooks, and those with petite kitchens.

Pros: Perfectly sized for small kitchens, easy to maneuver, makes single batches of most recipes well, ideal for occasional bakers, a good size for kids, work bowl has a handle

Cons: Too small for double batches, shakes a lot when running at high speed

When I moved into a 600 square foot apartment, every inch felt precious. Since counter space was limited, I needed a mixer light enough that I wouldn’t mind hauling it out from a cabinet every time I wanted to bake. The KitchenAid Artisan Mini 3.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer hit all these marks for me. 

Measuring just over 11 inches wide, the Mini is about 25% smaller than our best overall pick. While this may not seem like a drastic difference, the Mini is much more maneuverable, and I love that it fits easily under my cabinets or on a shelf. Less surface area also means less to clean, and the Mini’s work bowl doesn’t hog space in my sink or dishwasher.

Despite being more petite, the Mini is perfectly capable of whipping up a single batch of cookies or biscuits. I’ve made muffins, pasta dough, bread dough, pizza dough, cake, frosting, and more cookies than I can count in the Mini with no issues or changes to the mixing times called for in the recipes.

When I put my Mini through strenuous tests for this guide, it showed some of its limitations. The work bowl was just able to fit all the mix-ins for compost cookies, but it started to overflow a bit when I turned on the mixer. Bagel dough also came together fine, but the mixer shook and “walked” around the counter during the long kneading time, enough so that I felt like I had to keep an eye on it for the whole 10 minutes it was mixing. 

That said, if space is your primary concern or you’re an occasional baker, the Mini is a great option for an unobtrusive machine that can do just about anything a full-size mixer can do.

What else we considered

What else we considered, KitchenAid Stand Mixers

We also researched other KitchenAid models for this guide that we ultimately didn’t end up testing. Here are the products that didn’t make the cut and why: 

  • KitchenAid Classic Series 4.5 Quart Tilt Head Stand Mixer ($279.99): Previously our best budget pick, the Classic is identical in both function and design to our new affordable pick, the Classic Plus. We confirmed this with KitchenAid, who said the only difference is that the Classic Plus is available in a silver color. There used to be a slight difference between the Classic and the Classic Plus with the former having 250 watts, a slightly less powerful motor than the Classic Plus’ 275 watts. However, both models are now being made with 275 watts and are priced the same. Both are great options, and since KitchenAids have been in short supply, buy whichever you can get your hands on. We’ve seen some retailers still selling the 250-watt version of the Classic, so be sure to check the specs before you buy. 
  • KitchenAid NSF Certified Commercial Series 8-Qt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer ($699.99): Unless you’re running a bakery, you don’t need a mixer this large or this powerful. That said, if you are operating a bakery or food business, this is the only KitchenAid mixer that is certified by NSF International for commercial use. It has a two-year warranty (double the time of their other mixers) and a strong, durable motor for heavy use. However, home bakers are unlikely to need these extra features, which are designed to withstand hours of heavy use each day. 

Our testing methodology

While I drew from my own experience as a food editor working in professional kitchens and using these mixers over many years, I also put each model through a standard set of tests to see how they’d compare to each other. Here’s how I evaluated KitchenAid stand mixers:

Size, capacity, and ease of use: I weighed and measured all the stand mixers, including comparing the stated versus functional capacity (the capacity when measured from the bottom of the work bowl to the top of the mixing attachment) of each work bowl. I carried the mixers around and noted how comfortable they were to move and handle.

Power: We consulted the company to learn the power of each motor in watts. Residential stand mixers range from 250 to 970 watts, and mixers with higher wattage motors can mix heavy, wet doughs more readily. 

Whipping: I whipped two egg whites to stiff peaks in each mixer, which tests the mixers’ control during gradual ramping up of speed. It also tested the larger mixers’ ability to function well even with a very small volume of ingredients. 

Creaming: I used each stand mixer to make Milk Bar compost cookies, which have more than 5 cups of mix-ins. Not only did this test the functional capacity of the mixers, but also their ability to operate on different speeds — high speed for creaming butter and sugar, and low speed for incorporating delicate mix-ins like chips and pretzels without breaking them. 

Kneading: Each mixer was used to make a batch of King Arthur bagels; a stiff dough with a long, 10 minute mixing time. I made a note if any of the mixers shook or walked, struggled, or made excessive noise during this tough task. 

Durability: The true test of a stand mixer is how it performs over time. While I included information from my own experience working with these models over nearly a decade, I’ll continue to use the stand mixers in this guide and report back on any durability issues.

What we’re testing next

Our picks encompass most of KitchenAid’s offerings, but there are two models we’re interested in testing that we weren’t able to include this time around: 

  • KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Series 5 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer ($419.99): Previously our best KitchenAid for making bread, this model was out of stock at the time of this testing. I’m of the mindset that if you’re going to upgrade from our best overall pick (which is also 5 quarts), it should also offer an increase in capacity. However, this model may be a good fit for those who prepare a lot of heavy, wet doughs but either don’t make large batches or are prioritizing cost. 
  • KitchenAid Pro 600 Series 6 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer ($499.99): This model offers a slight jump up in capacity from the 5-quart professional model and was also unavailable at the time of testing. It offers 15 colors; the most colors of any of KitchenAid’s bowl-lift models. We’d like to see if the slight increase in capacity justifies the big jump in price.

FAQs

What is the warranty on KitchenAid stand mixers?

Almost all of KitchenAid’s stand mixers come with a limited one year warranty, though you can purchase an extended service plan for another three years of coverage. 

What do I do if my KitchenAid stand mixer breaks?

When a KitchenAid stand mixer stops working, it can usually be repaired. The machines are designed so that inexpensive gears fail before the core part of the mixer; oftentimes a repair is as simple as replacing a gear. If your stand mixer is still within warranty, you should contact KitchenAid for a replacement. However, in my experience, don’t expect much from KitchenAid customer service if you’re out of warranty. While plenty of KitchenAid repair videos exist online, you’ll get the best results from a paid repair from the KitchenAid factory or by visiting a reputable appliance repair service. Keep in mind that you can void your remaining warranty if you attempt to repair your stand mixer on your own.

Will my KitchenAid stand mixer last a lifetime?

With proper care, it’s possible! Keep in mind that technology changes, so it’s never a guarantee that a small appliance like a KitchenAid stand mixer will be forever compatible with modern home wiring or safety specifications. (Your grandma’s toaster or microwave may still work, but it might not necessarily be safe.) While your stand mixer might not become a family heirloom, you should get many years of use out of it. 

How do I use my KitchenAid stand mixer?

I’d start with a solid recipe for something you like to eat often, like cookies or bread. Once you know what you want to make, a well-written recipe should guide you through when to add ingredients, what speed to use, and even when to scrape down the bowl. Recipes from cookbooks or food magazines are usually well-tested and thoroughly written. Some good cookbooks to start with include “Pastry Love,” “Black Girl Baking“, “Bravetart,” “Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book“, “The New Way to Cake,” and “The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.” It’s also good to keep best practices in mind: avoid overloading the mixer or adding too many ingredients at once, and turn up the speed slowly to avoid kitchen messes. Only operate your stand mixer on a stable countertop or table, and don’t leave it unattended while it’s running. 

Can I use an electric hand mixer instead of a stand mixer?

Electric hand mixers are best used for light batters or frostings where you want to incorporate a lot of air, and it doesn’t take a lot of mixing to bring the ingredients together. While the electric mixer is spinning the whisks, you’re still responsible for moving the mixer around the bowl. This is much less efficient than a stand mixer where the whisk is rotating, but also moving in a circular motion around the work bowl. Electric hand mixers also aren’t very good for heavy doughs or recipes with a lot of varying textures since these tend to get caught in the smaller tines of the beaters. While an electric hand mixer is an efficient way to whip up a batch of brownies or frosting, stand mixers are much more versatile.

How to choose a KitchenAid stand mixer

How to choose, KitchenAid Stand Mixer

KitchenAid makes an overwhelming number of models. Here are some considerations to help you narrow down your selection.

Wattage: The higher the wattage of the motor, the more powerful the mixer will be. Mixers with higher wattage — like the 970 watt motor on the KitchenAid Pro — glide through tough doughs and don’t easily overheat. If you bake at least once a week or you regularly make a lot of heavy, wet doughs like pizza or bread dough, then you’ll benefit from a larger, more expensive model with a high wattage motor built for power and durability. However, if you’re the kind of person who breaks out the stand mixer once a year to make holiday cookies, you don’t need the Cadillac of KitchenAids. Occasional bakers will be perfectly well off with 250 or 275-watt models, like the Artisan Mini or the Classic Plus. Lower wattage models can also handle the occasional tough task like kneading bagel dough a few times a year. Be mindful that tough kitchen tasks can be hard on the gears of smaller machines, so give your machine time to cool down between uses if you’re making a hard dough in a lower wattage model. 

Capacity: The advertised capacity of a KitchenAid mixer is not its actual capacity. The advertised or stated capacity refers to how much the work bowl can hold when completely full. Not only would you have a big mess on your hands if you tried to use a mixer at full capacity, but it also wouldn’t operate effectively since the ingredients would actually cover the mixing attachment. Instead, the functional capacity is measured from the bottom of the bowl to the top of the mixing attachment and it’s usually about 1 to 1.5 quarts less than the stated capacity. One quart is about the size of a large deli container, so if you have a recipe that regularly makes enough dough to fill four or five of those, opt for a mixer with a larger stated capacity of 6 or 7 quarts. It’s also a good idea to buy a mixer with a larger capacity if you make a lot of bread since the mixer needs a fair amount of clearance to knead the dough effectively.  

Maneuverability and storage: The bigger the capacity and more powerful the mixer, the heavier and larger the mixer will be. The largest KitchenAid mixers in our guide can weigh almost 30 pounds. Unless you’re comfortable regularly lifting an appliance of that size, you’ll either need to consider a small mixer or have dedicated counter space. Larger mixers will take up about half the width of a standard size counter and may not fit readily under your cabinet overhang. If space is at a premium, consider a smaller, less expensive mixer.

Colors and customization: For some people, the most important factor in choosing a KitchenAid is the color. If a fun color is your priority, opt for a mixer from KitchenAid’s Artisan series. Our best mixer for small spaces and best overall pick are both Artisan mixers and are available in up to 47 different colors. Our best overall pick also offers further customization with interchangeable decorative work bowls in various patterns and materials. The Classic and Pro Line series offer a much more limited color choice — just red and a handful of neutrals.

Why buy a KitchenAid stand mixer

While there are a number of other stand mixer brands out there — including Breville, Sunbeam, Oster, and Bosch — none are as ubiquitous or revered as the KitchenAid stand mixer. Some people consider purchasing a KitchenAid stand mixer to be a life milestone, and according to The Knot, a KitchenAid stand mixer was the most-wished-for product on wedding registries in 2019. Julia Child’s KitchenAid mixer even lives in the Smithsonian Museum. But what makes KitchenAid stand mixers so special?

KitchenAid stand mixers have been around for more than a century. According to KitchenAid, the brand got its name in 1919 when an executive’s wife called the first home model stand mixer “the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had.” The name stuck and KitchenAid has been synonymous with stand mixers ever since. While there are a number of great stand mixers from other brands out there, KitchenAid still stands out in a number of ways.

Durability: I’ve tried almost every brand of stand mixer out there in my seven years reviewing kitchen products, and KitchenAid mixers are the only ones that use an almost all-metal construction. Other brands cut costs by using plastic in part of the design: either in the body of the mixer, on knobs and dials, in the mixing attachments, or even in the gears. Mixers made with a lot of plastic are usually lighter and less expensive, but much less durable. KitchenAid mixers can last for decades because of their strong metal parts. While this stronger construction comes at a premium — KitchenAid mixers are among the most expensive out there — their durability makes them a great investment. Even the most affordable KitchenAid mixer shares this same hearty construction and powerful motor and will last for decades with proper care. There is also a robust network of authorized KitchenAid repair technicians who can repair your stand mixer if something does break.

Stability: The all-metal design makes KitchenAid mixers much heavier than most other brands. While they can be a pain to lug around, the added heft produces an important benefit: more stability when mixing. Lighter machines can shake or “walk” off countertops. The heaviness of KitchenAid mixers helps them stay put. 

A mixer for everybody: Many brands that make stand mixers only produce one or two models. KitchenAid makes almost a dozen models with different capacities, power, and price points. This allows you to choose a model that meets your needs and excels at the tasks you perform most.

Attachments: KitchenAid is the only brand that has produced a robust lineup of attachments that extend the versatility of its stand mixers. These attachments can turn your KitchenAid into a food processor, meat grinder, ice cream maker, spiralizer, pasta machine, and more — eliminating the need to buy separate appliances that are often larger and more expensive. 

Colors: It’s undeniable that one of the major selling points of a KitchenAid mixer is the sheer number of colors available to choose from. KitchenAid offers its mixers in 47 different colors — no other brand even comes close to that much customization. While choosing an appliance based on color may seem silly to some consumers, the ability to pick out a color that matches your personality or decor is one of the reasons people feel such an affinity to KitchenAid mixers.

Glossary

KitchenAid Glossary

Tilt head: A common mixer design where the work bowl twists onto the base of the mixer. The head of the machine tilts forward for operation and lifts back so you can attach a paddle, whisk, or dough hook; add ingredients to the work bowl; or use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. These machines have a lever that allows you to lock the head in place so it doesn’t accidentally lift during mixing or moving. This style is common in smaller capacity mixers and is contrasted to a bowl-lift design.

Bowl lift: A mixer design where the work bowl sits on a Y-shaped arm extending from the body of the mixer. A lever allows you to raise and lower the bowl. A raised position brings the bowl closer to the mixer head for operation, while a lowered position allows you to more easily add ingredients or add/remove the paddle, whisk, or dough hook. This design allows for more stability during mixing but comes at the cost of a larger footprint. 

Hub: A circular port at the front of the mixer head where you place KitchenAid branded attachments such as the meat grinder, pasta cutter, or spiralizer. When not in use, the hub is usually covered by a silver medallion with the KitchenAid logo. 

Paddle: A flat, open mixing attachment included with every KitchenAid stand mixer. The paddle is used for mixing ingredients together when you don’t want too much air incorporated, such as when creaming butter and sugar, mixing cookie dough, and combining some batters. Think of it as the stand mixer equivalent of a wooden spoon. 

Whisk: A balloon-shaped wire whisk mixing attachment included with every KitchenAid stand mixer. The whisk attachment is used when you do want to incorporate a lot of air into the ingredients you’re mixing, like when whipping cream, making meringue or frosting, or mixing cake batter. It’s used in similar ways to a hand whisk.

Dough hook: A corkscrew-shaped mixing attachment included with every KitchenAid stand mixer. The dough hook is used for kneading bread dough. Typically you’ll mix the dough with another attachment such as the paddle, and then use the dough hook to form the dough into a ball and knead it. The corkscrew shape pushes the dough against the sides of the work bowl in an action that approximates kneading by hand. 

Attachment: Can refer to the paddle, whisk, and dough hook that come with the mixer, but also used to describe the various accessories you can purchase to extend the versatility of your stand mixer such as the ice cream maker, food processor, or meat grinder.

What to make in your KitchenAid stand mixer

What to make with KitchenAid Stand Mixer

We’ve put together a number of how-tos for making the most out of your KitchenAid stand mixer. KitchenAid makes more than two dozen different attachments that expand the versatility of your machine and let you make everything from zoodles to sausage to ice cream and more. Most of the attachments operate from the “hub” of the mixer — the portion underneath the metal disk on the top front of the machine. Since all KitchenAid mixers have this hub, almost all the attachments are compatible with every KitchenAid model in our guide. If you’re interested in KitchenAid attachments, we reviewed them all here

Here are some of our favorite things to make with our KitchenAid mixers and attachments:

Fresh pasta: This is one of those tasks that shows the true versatility of a KitchenAid stand mixer. You use the stand mixer and work bowl to make the dough, and then the KitchenAid pasta sheeter or pasta extruder to form the pasta shapes. Read more about how to make pasta in your stand mixer

Bagels: Chewy bread like bagels are one of the hardest and most arduous tasks to do by hand, which means they’re the perfect recipes to outsource to your stand mixer. While writing this guide, I used this recipe by King Arthur and it churned out perfectly springy bagels that reminded me of home in New Jersey.

Sausage: KitchenAid makes several attachments that allow you to grind your own meat for homemade sausage. Read more about how to grind meat and make sausage with a KitchenAid stand mixer.

Pizza dough: This type of dough is really wet and sticky, but a stand mixer excels at pulling it all together. Here’s a recipe I really love for pizza dough made in a stand mixer. 

Ice cream: KitchenAid makes a special bowl that fits on all stand mixers except the Artisan Mini that makes homemade ice cream. Read more about how to make ice cream in your Kitchenaid stand mixer

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