A durable, reusable shopping tote is versatile for groceries, library books, and retail returns, among other errands. Whether stored on your passenger seat or inside your trunk, it’s an easy carrier for your items and will save time otherwise spent unloading too many plastic bags.
Of course, reusable bags have the added benefit of being sustainable. Most are made of nylon or canvas and come in all shapes and sizes. Though they look similar on the surface, there are subtle differences that make some perform better (and last longer) than others. Some, like our top pick, come with their own storage solutions, and others are sturdier than the competition.
Here are the best reusable shopping tote bags of 2021
Pros: Comes with multiple bags, storage pouch, clip for shopping cart, water-resistant material
Cons: Limited designs
The BagPodz Reusable Bag and Storage System comes in a set of five or 10 sustainable, machine-washable nylon shopping bags. They’re ideal for transporting groceries and are especially unique for their compact pouch that holds the bags when you aren’t using them.
Aside from their smart storage, there’s a clip on one end of the pouch that attaches to a shopping cart so you don’t have to juggle bags in the middle of the produce aisle. Each bag holds up to 50 pounds yet can easily be stored in your purse or glove compartment. BagPodz’s material is water-resistant, too, so you won’t have to worry about leaks in the event of a spill.
The best reusable canvas bag
The Baggu Duck Bag is a sturdy canvas tote suitable for a variety of lifestyles and purposes.
Pros: Durable, machine washable, multiple handles
Cons: Not as large as some picks
For a reusable, practical, and multipurpose shopping bag, the Baggu Duck Bag is our favorite canvas tote. You could easily take it from the office to the grocery store because it snaps shut, has an interior zipper pocket, and two sets of straps: top handles and shoulder straps.
Despite the deep compartment, its restrictive shape makes it better for smaller runs than your big weekly shopping haul. It will last you a while, too, as the machine-washable, artfully-worn fabrics are thicker and more durable than some of its nylon counterparts.
The Colony Co. Reusable Grocery Bag is made of waxed material that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. It’s also vegan, so it’s free of beeswax and leather. Though not machine washable, the 16-ounce bag is an all-in-one carrier for cereal boxes and baked bread alike.
The brand also sells reusable produce bags, which would make a nice addition to any sustainable shopping routine.
Cons: Fabric is a little shiny, not as sturdy as other picks
If you’re not looking to splurge, Easy Fold Bag’s Reusable Grocery Bags are a great option. The set comes with three ripstop nylon bags that fold easily. They’re machine-washable, too, so it’s a practical option for your essential items.
They’re also extremely functional and come in three colors for less than $10. They aren’t as sturdy as some of the pricier options, but if you’re looking to reduce waste on a budget, the bags’ reinforced stitching should last you a good while.
Pros: Made with 80% post-consumer recycled material, aluminum covered thermal insulation, can hold up to 30 pounds, flexible fabric sides for odd-shaped items
Cons: May be bulky to carry
For days when you’re hopping from the grocery store to the library to the post office, it’s important for your perishables to remain cool and fresh. The Veno Bag ensures just that with its aluminum-covered thermal insulation, ideal for avoiding unnecessary pit stops home before heading out for other errands.
A novelty feature of this tote is its recyclable fabric sides which allow for simple storage of irregularly-shaped items. Though the box style may make it inconvenient for carrying, the added bonus of temperature regulation doesn’t make it a dealbreaker.
Pros: Holds up to 50 pounds, machine washable, folds into a small square
Cons: Short handles, shapeless
The Baggu Large Reusable Shopping Bag comes in a host of cute colors and patterns, is durable and flexible, and is made of 100% ripstop nylon. Despite its large capacity, it folds down to a neat 7-by-7-inch square for easy storage.
The material is both thin and strong, too, allowing for hassle-free carrying. And, when you’ve unpacked your goodies, just throw it in your washing machine before its next use.
Measuring cups are a must for baking and cooking to ensure ingredients are precisely added.
Bellemain‘s set is our favorite for dry ingredients, while Pyrex’s set is the most accurate for wet ingredients.
A good set of measuring cups allows for hassle-free baking of your favorite chocolate chip cookies and lemon blueberry muffins alike. We rounded up the best ones with careful attention to both dry and wet ingredients:
For dry ingredients: Cheap plastic sets and flimsy metal ones never last very long – either the handle snaps off or it bends under the least amount of pressure. We recommend you invest in a good sturdy pair of stainless steel measuring cups or thick plastic ones, though the latter won’t last as long.
For wet ingredients: Look for a sturdy set of glass measuring cups. Plastic measuring cups for wet ingredients always seem to get stained, and the plastic can absorb and transmit unwanted flavors to your ingredients. You should also check for metric measurements, comfortable handles, clear marking, and a good spout for pouring the wet ingredients.
Cons: No markings on the insides of the cups, no warranty
The Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set is made of stainless steel, and thanks to each cup’s flat bottom, they won’t tip over. Each cup is made with dishwasher-safe stainless steel and I haven’t had any issues with bending or pieces snapping off. I also like how the pieces can be stacked inside each other for easy storage.
All cups include both metric and imperial measurements, which are clearly noted on the handles. While there aren’t markings on the inside of the cups, the six-piece set does cover all the standard measurements: 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, and 1 cup.
The edges aren’t terribly sharp, which is useful for folks without dishwashers (or who just prefer to hand wash their cups). And thanks to the wide handle, you won’t have these measurers slipping out of your hand. — Lulu Chang, Former Freelance Writer
Though Bellemain doesn’t offer a structured limited lifetime warranty plan, you can contact the company via its online form.
Pros: Durable glass design, doesn’t absorb odors, clear metric and imperial measurements, easy to clean, good spout for pouring liquid ingredients, two-year warranty
When it comes to measuring wet ingredients, there’s only one brand that comes to mind: Pyrex. The company has been making glass measuring cups for wet ingredients for 90 years, and it’s still the top brand among bakers and chefs. The Pyrex 4-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set is ideal for any recipe with its 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-cup measurers.
Although these measuring cups are made of glass, they are very sturdy and shouldn’t break easily. The glass is also nonporous, so it doesn’t absorb odors or flavors the way plastic inevitably does, and these cups won’t warp or melt in the presence of hot ingredients.
Pyrex guarantees that you can pop its measuring cups in the oven, microwave, fridge, freezer, or dishwasher without any problems, so you can get a lot of use out of this set. The company also offers a two-year warranty in case of any defects or problems.
More importantly, though, Pyrex’s measuring cups offer accurate measurements and clear markings in cups, ounces, quarts, and milliliters. The spout pours well without dripping and the handle is comfortable to hold, too.
If you don’t want to pay more than $20 for a set of measuring cups, the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Measuring Cups with Magnetic Snaps are your best bet. These durable cups come with excellent grippy handles and clearly etched measurement markings. And, you don’t have to worry about bent or broken handles either, thanks to its thick steel construction.
The handles have magnets inside and, though not terribly strong, they stick together when you stack them (and have enough force to hold the cups in place in your cupboard).
The set comes with 1/4-cup, 1/3-cup, 1/2-cup, and 1-cup measurements, and the only complaint we have with the set is the lack of metric measurements. But, most people won’t need to measure in milliliters, anyway. There’s also a matching set of teaspoons if you want your baking gear to match.
With the OXO Better Guarantee, the brand has you covered with a limited lifetime warranty in case your cups become less sturdy or damaged.
Pros: BPA-free plastic, half measurement lines, comes with a scraper, clear measurement markings, affordable, limited lifetime warranty
Cons: Plastic isn’t as durable, no milliliter markings
The OXO Good Grips Plastic Measuring Cups snap together for easy storage in your cupboard and make it easy to measure dry ingredients for any recipe with clear markings for half and full measurements.
OXO includes a scraper with the cups to level off ingredients as you bake. The measurement of each cup is engraved in the handle and colorful measurements are stamped on the sides. Those marks typically wear off over time, so it’s good that OXO made indelible markings on the handle, too.
The inside of each cup also has a half-measure line for when you need to cut a recipe in half. Like some of our other picks, these cups don’t have milliliter markings but most US buyers won’t need these. And, though the cups are made of plastic, they are BPA-free and relatively sturdy.
And, like our best magnetic set, the OXO Better Guarantee applies to the brand’s plastic set as well.
Pros: Shovel-like shape makes for easy scooping, great grip (for right-handed folks), accurate
Cons: The rubber grip isn’t totally sealed to the handle, which could allow for some buildup; no warranty
Most measuring cups are indistinguishable when it comes to their design, but that’s not the case with the Norpro Grip-Ez Stainless Steel Measuring Cups. Considerably narrower than the other cups you might find, and more closely resembling a large spoon than a cup, I’ve grown particularly fond of this set as it’s extremely useful for scooping dry ingredients.
They perform well in terms of accuracy of measurement, and the “Grip-Ez” aspect of the product’s name comes into play with the rubber coating on the handles, which makes grabbing the cups comfortable. There’s also a small indentation in the handle that allows your pointer finger to rest comfortably as you’re scooping. Be warned though, it’s designed for right-handed folks, and lefties may find the notch a bit less user-friendly.
The Norpro comes in a set of five, so you’ll get 1/8 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup in your collection. Better still, the 1-cup measure actually features markings on the inside of the cup. Because the rubber grip isn’t completely sealed to the handle, ingredient buildup is possible. Another downside is the product’s lack of warranty coverage, but its two-part steel construction makes it break-resistant.
Check out our other kitchen guides for baking gear
Many people like comfort foods, especially during the winter months. Unfortunately, most are time-consuming to prepare and cook. As a result, it’s easy to turn to greasy takeout instead.
But if you’d prefer homemade comfort foods, a slow cooker is the answer for a busy household. This simple kitchen appliance allows you to combine the ingredients in the morning before work, set the cooking time and temperature, and return hours later to a great-tasting, complete meal.
Slow cookers are available in different sizes, with the capacity measured in quarts, usually ranging from one to 10 quarts. Although, sizes of four to six quarts are the most common.
Most slow cookers allow you to cook at low, medium, or high-temperature settings for several hours, and many automatically switch to a warm setting after the cooking time has expired so food won’t overcook. Some advanced slow cookers will even allow you to set an exact cooking temperature and start-time, while others double as pressure cookers. Here are our top picks to fit all your slow cooking needs.
Pros: Locking lid with gasket, programmable timer, large capacity, stainless steel finish, and modern appearance
Cons: Might cook too hot on low setting
Sometimes, a product is so synonymous with a product category that its brand name becomes a preferred term used in everyday language.
It’s understandable, as Crock-Pot slow cookers were first on the market and have dominated for a long time. The company continues to offer excellent quality slow cookers, including the Crock-Pot Programmable Cook-and-Carry.
You can set cooking times from 30 minutes to 20 hours and leave your worries behind. Just set the timer for your desired cooking time before you head out. The Crock-Pot will cook your dinner, and then automatically switch itself over to the “Warm” setting once the time is up.
The 6-quart capacity is great for larger families and will fit a six-pound roast inside, several pieces of meat along with vegetables, or a whole chicken — and you’ll still have room for carrots and potatoes.
We also like its long timer, modern appearance, handles, and locking lid. That locking lid with a sealing gasket is another fine feature, which prevents spills when traveling with the cooker to a picnic, potluck, or tailgate party.
The Crock-Pot does have the tendency to run too hot on the “Low” setting. Note that both the “Low” and “High” settings of a Crock-Pot reach the same maximum temperature of roughly 210 degrees. It just takes longer to reach the maximum temperature on low. — Michelle Ullman and Kyle Schurman
Pros: Gorgeous, 4-quarts is a good size, decent price, ceramic insert is sturdy, easy to use
Cons: Pricier than some slow cookers
The 4-Quart All-Clad Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert is the perfect size for cooking meals for a small family or a pork butt for pulled pork. All-Clad is famous for its beautiful high-end stainless steel appliances and cooking utensils, and this slow cooker lives up to the brand’s lofty reputation.
Not only does it look gorgeous on any countertop, but it also works extremely well. The slow cooker is very easy to operate with just a few buttons and no complicated settings. It has a 26-hour programmable timer and warm, low, and high-temperature settings so your food is cooked to perfection.
The removable black ceramic insert and glass lid are easy to hand wash or pop right in the dishwasher. The lid’s handle is made from silicone, so it never gets hot to the touch. You may also leave this slow cooker cooking all day without fear of burning the house down, and will come back to a delicious meal.
I use this slow cooker regularly to make beans, stews, and pulled pork for the meat-eaters in my life. I toss the ingredients in, set the temperature, and let it do its thing while I’m at work or out on the weekends. It makes meals super easy to prepare with minimal effort.
The ceramic insert can break if you handle it too roughly, but if you treat it the way you treat other ceramics like coffee mugs and plates, it won’t — just be careful and don’t smash it against anything.
All-Clad guarantees the slow cooker for two years, so contact the company if you run into problems. — Malarie Gokey
Pros: Offers strong pressure cooker and slow cooker functions, eight different slow cooker pre-set modes, excellent build quality, six quarts of capacity works well for many people, large LCD screen is easy to read
Cons: Extremely high price versus other slow cookers, may be too complex for some people
The Fast Slow Pro 6-Quart slow cooker from Breville carries a high price compared to other slow cookers, which means it won’t work for some people. But it justifies the big price tag by offering a multitude of features to cook big meals however you need.
The Breville cooker works as both a pressure cooker and a traditional slow cooker, so you can make just about anything with it. And, by performing the work of multiple appliances, it saves on storage space in the kitchen cabinet.
The Fast Slow Pro makes slow cooking easy with eight different pre-set programmable cooking modes. There’s also a custom time and temperature setting and using the various settings is easy because of the large, clear LCD screen on the side of the unit.
This is a good option for those looking for a multi-use appliance, as it will likely prove too complex for basic cooking needs.
Pros: Small slow cooker is perfect for cooking appetizers for a party, small unit works great in kitchens where storage space is limited, has padded lid and latch strap for transportation, nice size for meals for one or two people
Cons: Will be too small for some families, doesn’t always cook food evenly
Slow cookers often seem like they’re all about cooking big meals for a busy family. But slow cookers don’t discriminate against people cooking for just one or two. The Proctor Silex 1.5-Quart Slow Cooker is a mini slow cooker that’s great for preparing small meals.
This very simple slow cooker includes three temperature settings that are controlled by a knob. The smaller capacity also means a smaller size, which takes up less space in your kitchen than a more traditional slow cooker. This particular cooker is also ideal for an RV, on a large boat, or in other settings with limited storage space.
In addition to meals for one or two, it’s also great for cooking appetizers, dips, sauces, or snacks, and is small enough to carry to a friend’s house. The rubber seal on the lid and the latch strap also helps to prevent spills.
However, it’s worth noting that the Proctor Silex 1.5-Quart slow cooker doesn’t cook as evenly as some larger slow cookers.
Safety considerations for slow cookers
Some people are understandably nervous about using a slow cooker, as this appliance is designed to run while no one is home. Others may have a sentimental attachment to the slow cooker grandma used but feel unsure if it’s safe enough by today’s standards.
Before using any slow cooker, read through this list of guidelines and safety measures from NBC News to ensure your unit is safe to use.
Clean the base: Keep the portion of the slow cooker with the heating element clean. If a previous recipe has spilled onto the heating element, you need to wipe off the old food and clean it to keep it from burning when cooking the next meal.
Electrical cord: Inspect the slow cooker’s power cord carefully. Make sure it hasn’t been melted or frayed. Old slow cookers may have fabric insulation around the electrical cord, which is no longer considered safe.
Overcooking: Even on the high setting, slow cookers only reach temperatures of about 250 degrees, so you don’t really have the same concerns about overcooking and burning the food as you might when leaving food unattended in an oven, where temperatures of 350 degrees to 450 degrees are more common.
Test the temperature: An older slow cooker may no longer be able to reach a high enough temperature to safely cook raw foods. Test it by filling the slow cooker with room temperature water at least two-thirds of the way. “Cook” the water on the low setting for eight hours and then use a thermometer to ensure the water has reached at least a 185-degree temperature.
Check out our guides to the best Crock-Pots, Instant Pots, and pressure cookers
We’ve also selected efficient and high-quality electric, manual, and portable can openers.
Can openers are an essential part of every kitchen. Yet, from your dollar store find to high-end options at department stores, there are a lot of terrible can openers on the market. Fortunately, with a little bit of research, you can find a device that is durable, sanitary, and simple to use.
Cons: Leaves sharp edges, manual can opener might not be ideal for those with limited mobility
The Made in USA Can Opener features a skip-proof feed wheel, is gear driven, and is made from carbon steel. The gears, wheel, and cutter are all zinc plated and heat treated.
It works like a traditional manual can opener: Press the cutting blade on the top of the can along the lip, hold the thick handle pads, and turn the crank until you have almost completed a rotation. Use a butter knife to flip the lid up. Empty the contents, then press the lid down into the can.
This method of opening cans isn’t ideal for those with limited mobility, but we have an electric option that might suit their needs better.
Pros: Easy to use, leaves smooth edges, works for cans of all sizes, strong magnet
Cons: Requires electricity, might have trouble with thick-rimmed cans
For those who want or need a can opener that requires little effort, an electric one is a good option. This one from Hamilton Beach operates with just the press of a button.
To operate, you just press the large ergonomic lever until the can has made a complete rotation. The magnet holds the can in place as it cuts along the sides instead of the top, so the lid won’t fall into the food. The cut leaves smooth edges, and the blade of the opener, which can collect harmful microbes if you don’t wash your cans, doesn’t make contact with the food, either.
The best ergonomic can opener
When you have to open several cans to cook a meal, the OXO SteeL Can Opener‘s large ergonomic knob means you won’t tire out.
Pros: Feels comfortable in your hands, long track record
Cons: Hard to clean, the handle may slide
What sets the OXO SteeL Can Opener apart from the other models on this list is the large, soft turning knob. The large-size makes it more ergonomic than other manual can openers, and the grips are helpful if you’re operating the opener with wet hands too.
The opener is made of sleek stainless steel. The blade is sharp and makes cutting easy to manage, and there is also a handy built-in bottle cap opener.
Unlike the Hamilton Beach or Made In USA models though, this can opener is not intuitive to use and would require reading the manual.
To use this opener, you should place the tool on top of the can with the two half circles lined up with the can’s rim. Once you twist the knob, the opener will grip the lid and cut. You will feel less resistance after a full circle. You should stop at this point and remove the top using the mini-pliers push button. If you try to do more than one revolution, you may get slivers or burrs of metal in your food.
The best compact can opener
If you’re preparing for stuff to hit the fan or just want an easy way to open cans while backpacking, the P-38 Can Opener and P-51 Can Opener are inexpensive and lightweight options.
Pros: 75-year track record, compact, inexpensive
Cons: Works slowly, requires a little elbow grease, leaves sharp edges
Though it is not an official US Army-issued item, the P-38 and P-51 can openers have been used by our armed forces since they were first introduced in 1942. Nicknamed the “John Wayne” and manufactured by the US Shelby Co. in the United States, these can openers get their name for how long they are. The P-38 is 38 millimeters long and the P-51 is 51 millimeters (or about 2 inches), and both are popular among survivalists and veterans.
These durable slabs of steel fit on a keychain. There are many websites devoted to celebrating this can opener, and the list of uses is virtually endless. US Shelby advertises the P-38’s ability to clean fingernails, clean grooves, open cans, open seams, screw drive, and cut items.
For can opening, you rotate the cutting edge 90 degrees from the stowed position. You then hold the can opener with the blade directed downward and rotate the can with your other hand as you cut the lid off.
The P-38 takes about twice as long to open cans as their cranking counterparts, and there appears to be a little bit of a learning curve and a need for elbow grease. Yet, once you get the hang of using this can opener you’ll appreciate its simple but useful design.
How should I clean my can opener?
Keeping your can opener clean and free of rust is imperative as a dirty or rusty opener can create unsafe food conditions. We recommend wiping your can opener down with a cloth and hot water or vinegar to clean it. It is best practice to clean your can opener immediately after using it.
What should I look for in a can opener?
With so many options out there, it can be hard to pick a can opener that is both easy to use and good quality. First, we recommend assessing your kitchen counter space. If your counters are cramped, your best bet will be a manual can opener that can fit nicely into a utensil drawer. If you have more space and prefer a more hands off approach, an electric can opener is a great option. Many can openers have multiple functions, such as being able to open jars and other items, so it can also be helpful to think about what you would like to use your can opener for before purchasing.
When using manual openers, a good grip ensures that you can open cans quickly and efficiently. The handle grips on your can opener should always be comfortable to use, even if you have to open several cans at once. So when looking to purchase a new can opener, make sure that the handle grips feel comfortable in your hands.
The workhorse kitchen faucet is often taken for granted – until it breaks. Just think of how frequently you and other household members use it to wash your hands, get a drink, scrub vegetables, rinse dishes, wet sponges, and more. Ideally, you want one that stands up to everyday use.
As a residential contractor, I’ve been replacing and installing different types of faucets for years. From large commercial kitchen models to simple bathroom faucets, I know the mechanical red flags to avoid (like plastic ball valves that leak) and unreliable brands to stay away from.
Using this knowledge – and after reviewing each option’s installation and design specs – I visited several appliance showrooms and hardware stores in my area to analyze my top choices. Once I got a hands-on feel for each model’s functionality and mechanics, I landed on these options as my top picks for the best kitchen faucets.
Even if you don’t end up going with one of our picks, there are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for a new kitchen faucet. For a short explainer of things to consider, read here.
Here are our top picks for the best kitchen faucets in 2021
Pros: Stylish, lifetime warranty on parts and finishes, design reduces valve wear and tear.
Cons: Electronics only have a five-year warranty, batteries need to be replaced every 2 years.
The Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet doesn’t just pack a ton of features into a single faucet, it also looks good while doing it. From the sprayer wand to the integrated LED temperature indicator, it all comes together to make a nice, solid faucet.
What really sets the Delta Leland apart from competitors is the functional design of its pull-down spray-head. It’s got a nice ergonomic tulip-shape that is easy to get a grip on, and its magnetic locking system connects it to the spout nice and tight.
The spray head itself has a rocker-style switch for toggling between settings — standard and sprayer — without having to hold a button down the whole time. A separate button controls the Spray Shield setting, which is one of those things that sounds like a gimmicky feature but is actually pretty useful. Basically, the Spray Shield focuses the water into a thin, extra powerful stream to blast off stuck-on food, while also creating a cone of water around the area to prevent splashing.
I was really surprised by the flexibility of the connector hose. Usually, these are stiff and rubbery, but even with a braided nylon covering, the Delta hose didn’t affect my control at all. The 22″ hose, plus the 15.4″ faucet height make it great for tasks like filling up a big pot of water on the counter, instead of having to place it in the sink.
The Touch2O technology is the main feature of the Delta Leland Faucet, and it really shines here. This allows you to turn on the water by touching anywhere on the spout or handle. I can control the water with my elbow through the entire process of rinsing off the meat, breading it, tossing it in the pan, and then washing my hands.
A handy LED display on the base of the Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet tells you the current temperature, transitioning from blue to red as it moves from cold to hot. Keep in mind though; this LED only turns on when the water is running. This means that you’ll have to be a little more self-aware when using the touch feature, and confirm via the LED that the temperature is what you think it is.
The drawback of any touch-activated faucet is the need for a power source, and this model requires four AAAA batteries — or you could use the included AC adapter if you have an outlet in your sink cabinet. If you have a garbage disposal you probably do.
In my personal experience replacing faucets — and several plumbers that I spoke with agree — single handle faucets like this are eventually going to wear out and begin to leak. It’s inevitable. Which is why touch activation is a great way to extend the lifespan of your faucet.
That being said, if you don’t think you need the touch activation, Delta does make the same faucet in a standard style for a bit cheaper. That model still includes everything else, the Spray Shield, etc.
Even with the solenoid needed to power the sensor, installation of the Delta Leland Pull-Down Touch2O Kitchen Faucet is pretty straightforward if you have a couple of adjustable pliers on hand and an Allen key. Delta did a nice job with the instruction manual, and also has some helpful videos that supplement it nicely.
Pros: Good price, nice appearance, three-way spray setting, and easy installation
Cons: Zinc alloy is less durable, brushed nickel requires more maintenance than stainless steel
Typically, lower-priced faucets look nice on the surface but skimp on components behind the scenes. The WEWE Single Handle Faucet delivers on both fronts, with braided supply lines for durability, an ABS plastic aerator (think of the tough plastic used to make Lego bricks), and ceramic disk valves.
With no rubber caps to wear down over time, this faucet’s ceramic valves prevent leaks more effectively than ball valves and are pretty much mandatory for a quality faucet. (Though they are susceptible to cracking if you apply too much pressure to them, so keep that in mind.)
In addition to the standard stream and sprayer settings, the WEWE Faucet also lets you pause the water with a button on the spray head, which I really appreciate. You do have to continuously hold down the button while pausing, but it’s still a useful feature for preventing over-spraying while moving back and forth between the sink and countertop, for example.
All of its components are solid metal, which gives the WEWE Faucet a nice solid feel to it. This faucet definitely doesn’t have a flimsy or “cheap” feel you might expect from a budget option.
That being said, the zinc alloy and nickel finish are probably the reason for its low price. Cheaper than stainless steel, and not as resistant to water spots, brushed nickel will need a little more maintenance to stay clean. A soft cloth and soapy water should do the trick, just remember to stay away from any abrasive cleaning pads that can scratch the finish, as well as any cleaners that contain ammonia.
The WEWE Faucet has a high-arc (15.7-inches tall) neck that swivels 360 degrees. The spout hangs 8.5 inches above and reaches 8.5 inches across the top of the sink. The sprayer head hose is 71 inches in total length, and 23 inches when pulled out of the faucet.
Just like the higher-priced options on this list, installation is simple and should be doable for anyone willing to crawl under their sink and spend 30 minutes down there. You’re not getting the “quick-connect” technology that pricier models have, so you’ll be tightening the supply lines the old-fashioned way (with your fingers and a couple of wrenches).
Cons: Expensive, motion sensors may need to be re-calibrated routinely
Marrying form with function, this faucet model offers convenient, hands-free operation with just the wave of your hand; the Wave Sensor (on top) and Ready Sensor (in front) initiate and stop water flow when either one detects motion.
By adjusting the control box under the sink, you’re also able to control the default temperature of the water when the sensors activate the faucet. The Moen factory setting is lukewarm, but if you’d rather have it be warmer for rinsing dishes, or colder for drinking water, it couldn’t be easier to adjust.
And if you ever feel like disabling one or both of the sensors, that’s simple too. Just hold your hand in front of the sensor for 5 seconds and it will stop registering until it’s activated again. While they’re disabled you also can use the lever handle to turn the water on and off manually, as well as adjust the water pressure and temperature.
The Moen Arbor MotionSense Faucet has a 100-degree-rotating high-arc spout (15.5 inches) — great for filling and cleaning large pots. The spout with a pull-down spray head offers three functions: an aerated stream, a strong “PowerClean” spray for heavy-duty cleaning, and a pause that temporarily stops the water flow (1.5 gallons per minute maximum). The spray head’s hose is 68 inches in total length and retracts smoothly to dock into place.
When it comes to installation, don’t let the intimidating control box fool you, Moen’s are among the easiest faucets to install. Their “Duralock Quick-Connect” installation system makes it easy to attach the hoses and lines to the control box, and their one-way connections basically make them impossible to install incorrectly.
Pros: Available in multiple finishes, easy to clean, quick installation
Cons: A little pricey, plastic components can make it feel “cheaper”
The Moen Brantford Single-Handle Pull-Out Sprayer Kitchen Faucet shouldn’t be confused with the pull-down Moen Arbor MotionSense that we profiled above, but you could consider it as the baby brother. If you have a small sink or you don’t have a lot of vertical clearance, this faucet may be the right fit.
What I love about pull-out style faucets is that without all that extra spout length — the Moen Brantford Single-Handle Pull-Out Sprayer Kitchen Faucet is only 12.9 inches high — you gain a lot of maneuverability. By pulling it “out” instead of down, you avoid wasting any hose length on the bend of the faucet spout, giving you more range of motion.
The 68-inch hose itself is especially flexible, and can be easily maneuvered around any sink. This faucet does technically have a plastic spray head, but its stainless steel finish and easy installation make it a great faucet option.
The Moen Brantford Pull-Out Faucet spout swivels 360 degrees and has several functions in common with the Moen Arbor MotionSense, including an aerated stream, and a strong “PowerClean” spray for heavy-duty cleaning.
The installation of the Moen Pull-Out Faucet also uses Duralock Quick Connect hoses, allowing the water lines to be connected without a lot of twisting and turning. To make things even easier, this faucet also includes a cool little installation tool that basically acts as sort of a basin wrench, which makes tightening those mounting nuts a lot easier (especially if you don’t have much space between the wall and your sink basin).
The Kohler Sous Pro-Style Faucet has a magnetic docking arm that the spray head firmly attaches to when not in use. Unlike other commercial-style faucets, the docking arm swivels out of the way when you’re working.
Something I’ve come to notice about these commercial-style faucets is that sometimes their height makes them look out of place in some kitchens. That’s not the case with the Kohler. Its 22-inch vertical is still short enough to look great on most counters. I’ve even seen this on a kitchen island — usually a no-no for taller faucets — and it looked great.
The spring-loaded design of the pull-down spray head has the perfect amount of tension to it. Not so tight that it restricts movement, but solid enough to have a feeling of control while you’re using it. The downside of any spring-type tension mechanism is that debris can become lodged in the gaps of the spring. What’s great about the Kohler Sous Pro-Style is that the entire spring is simple to remove and you can just spray the whole thing off on the sink.
In addition to the standard stream setting, the faucet also features “Sweep Spray” technology, turning the stream into a linear broom-style pattern. This is great for “sweeping” away food from dishes, instead of just blasting it around with a standard sprayer. This setting is also excellent for cleaning out the sink itself.
If you are installing this faucet to a stainless steel sink, you will need to add a small 1/2-inch plywood support piece under the counter. It’s nothing crazy, but it’s an extra step that most other faucets don’t have.
What to consider when shopping for a kitchen faucet
Choosing a kitchen faucet may seem like a mundane task, but it’s actually important. You want the right kind to fit your needs and your kitchen’s decor, and you don’t want to simply opt for the cheapest model. So before you shop for a new kitchen faucet, think about where (the existing space, pre-existing hardware) and how you plan to use it. Consider each model’s specs:
Valve Control: This is the mechanism that turns your faucet on and off, and adjusts the temperature of the water. Single-handle designs use one lever to control both temperature and flow, while double-handles have two (each handle controlling either the hot or cold water supply). Touch and motion-activated designs are convenient in a lot of ways, but they are dependent on a power source for their sensor. Note: Double handle styles are less common and are generally bought for their aesthetics over practicality — which is why we don’t have any featured here. That said, I definitely value their durability: dual handles tend to be sturdier, and less easily yanked on than single handles.
Spout style: Choose from revolving or stationary, regular (steady stream) or two-mode (regular and spray), low arc (3 to 8 inches above the top of the sink), or high arc (also known as gooseneck, which is more than 8 inches above the top of the sink) models.
Spray head: The sprayer can be separate from and next to the faucet, or at the end of the spout. The latter type is either pull-down (often on taller faucets) or pull-out (which sometimes includes much of the spout itself).
Finish: Whatever material comprises the faucet’s finish (chrome, stainless steel, bronze, copper, brass, nickel, etc.) affects its appearance, cleanability, resistance to spotting and rusting, and price.
Arc and spout height and reach: Do you have ample clearance for a high-arc faucet or a cozier kitchen better suited to a low-arc model? Will you need to maneuver pots and pans under the faucet in order to wash them? Do you care how far the spout reaches across or extends over the sink?
Flow rate: Do you want adjustable water pressure? Do you need just a stream (for filling pots or washing vegetables) or also a spray (to add oomph to scrubbing sticky or burnt-on food off of dishes)?
Installation requirements: How many holes does your sink have for fitting a faucet? Some sinks have only one hole, and faucets requiring more than one hole can’t be used (unless you plan to drill more holes … which may be inconvenient, costly, or structurally impossible). If your sink does have extra holes that the faucet doesn’t need, you can cover them with an escutcheon or deck plate or use them to fit accessories like a side sprayer or soap dispenser. It’s also worth checking to make sure you have enough clearance between the faucet and the wall behind – to ensure your handle can rotate as far as it needs to.
No matter which kitchen faucet you pick, choose a model that helps save water. A faucet aerator efficiently reduces the flow rate while still maintaining water pressure, thus conserving water and saving you money. Also, fix (or replace if necessary) the faucet when you notice any leaking. According to the Alliance for Water Efficiency, “A faucet leaking 60 drops per minute will waste 192 gallons (726.8 liters) per month … 2,304 gallons (8.7 m3) per year.” To calculate your household’s potential water waste from a leaky kitchen faucet, visit the U.S. Geological Survey’s Drip Calculator.
Steam cooking is a healthy, fast, and gentle way to prepare a variety of foods.
The design and functionality of bamboo steamers, used for over 5,000 years, have stood the test of time.
We found a range of bamboo steamers in various sizes and constructions to best suit your needs.
Steam cooking is, in and of itself, virtuous. A method that requires no fat, minimal time, and allows the purity of the ingredients’ flavors to shine through while retaining maximal nutrients, this thousands-years-old technique works by enveloping your ingredients in a cloud of vapor and gently bringing it up to temperature in what is, essentially, a moist oven. This results in a faster cooking time without loss of tenderness. And even better, it’s a hands-off method since peeking leads to loss of steam.
Steaming food is easy enough with any pot and vented basket, but if your goal is pillowy mantou buns, juicy stuffed bao, tender dumplings in semi-translucent wrappers, flavorful whole fish, and tender-crisp vegetables in batches big enough to feed the family, a traditional Asian bamboo steamer is an affordable investment you’ll want to make.
While purists and microwave steamers prefer all-bamboo construction, there is also a case to be made for bamboo steamers reinforced with stainless steel. The standard size for bamboo steamers is 10 inches, but smaller and larger ones are available. You’ll need a large pot, deep pan, or preferably a wok to insert your bamboo steamer into unless you also buy a steamer ring. For more info on bamboo steamers, jump to the bottom of this guide.
What we like: Steel reinforcements for fragile points, handcrafted, won’t warp or split over time
If you’re looking for a solid set of steamers that merges contemporary improvements with traditional craftsmanship, this triple-decker made of local-to-producer Moso bamboo will do the trick. Not only do its stainless steel bands look sharp, but they also provide function, sealing off the fragile top and bottom rims to keep them from splitting or scorching, respectively. They also support the form of the steamers so that they hold their uniform shape and nest perfectly and retain heat.
While bamboo steamer purists prefer versions without reinforcing metal due to the potential transfer of a metallic taste to the food, it’s of note that commercial dim sum restaurants often opt for models like this without any worry about negative impact on the quality of their dishes. Additionally, the Hcooker brand has been hand-making bamboo steamers since 1097 — so it’s pretty safe to assume they know what they’re doing. Plus, rare availability in marginally different sizes (7.1, 8.3, 9.4, and 10.6 inches at 1.5- to 1.7-inch depth) make it easy to find the right fit for your existing cookware.
What we like: Easy for beginners, includes extras like chopsticks and liners
Novices itching to get started on their steaming adventure right away will find everything they need in this value-priced kit, which also makes this an ideal gift set for the foodies in your life. A generous 50-count of steamer liners means not having to think about placing another order before you clear 25 double-stacked meals. The set even comes with two sets of chopsticks and a sauce dish.
The versatile three-inch depth also gives you more wiggle room for things like buns and vegetables. In fact, it’s as much as twice as accommodating as other competitive models, which allows for more room for experimentation as you figure out what you’ll be cooking most in your bamboo steamer. Plus, its even, uniform slats are easy to keep clean.
Although we’re recommending this in the standard 10-inch size, this is also our top choice for the 12-inch for those who are ready to take on bigger batches.
What we like: Everything in the kit sustainably made, environmentally friendly, reusable, comes with included extras
Bamboo steamers are already highly sustainable cooking tools, but this set kicks it up a notch admirably. Not only is this handmade, open-weave, two-tier basket made of ethically sourced bamboo, its bonus accessories are also earth-conscious. The four reusable cotton liners are unbleached and eco-friendly, and the dumpling press and spoon are made of wheat straw, a non-toxic plasticine material that degrades at a similar rate to paper when disposed of. Everything in the kit is BPA-free, and the steamer itself is free of glue, chemicals, and odor. Two sets of chopsticks complete the kit and get you dumpling-ready, from “make” to “ate.”
What we like: Easy to use, includes plenty of liners, anti-warp basket bodies, steamer ring adapter lets you use existing cookware
For those short on storage space or who may not have big cooking vessels, a steamer ring is a must-have. This set’s greatest value — notwithstanding the inclusion of 50 paper liners — is in the inclusion of a stainless steel adapter designed to fit seven to 10.5-inch pots. This rim handily holds your bamboo steamer tower well up above your cookware and the water bubbling merrily within, eliminating any risk of scorching the baskets and stinking up your food, as well as preventing the metal bands from scratching up any nonstick finish.
Like the Hcooker steamer above, stainless steel bands help protect these handmade steamer baskets from warping. The key difference is that the placement of them does not protect against layer separation at its vulnerable edges as the Hcooker version does. However, their exclusively external placement lowers the risk of any metallic flavor leaching in.
What we like: Wide slats held together with bamboo thread, reinforced lid, efficient cooking
This handmade tower takes basic, traditional techniques and improves upon them from top to bottom. For the former, a tight weave and cross-dome reinforcement seals in even more of that powerful steam; for the latter, hand-tied slats in the base of each basket allow more steam to pass through than more contemporary smooth cut strips.
Best of all, because there are no metal components, you can use it in your microwave as well as on the stove. With a 2.5-inch depth, the capacity is more than generous for either use. Two pairs of chopsticks, a sauce dish, and 10 liners round out this steamer set, an accessory that’s extra important with hand-tied racks. Because they’re fastened with bamboo lashings, there’s more of an opportunity for food to get caught in them, so don’t be shy about using these liners up before switching to a (literally) greener option like cabbage or lettuce leaves.
What we like: Sleek design, classic elements with a modern twist, form and function
Unique and distinctive, bamboo steamers are already often a conversation starter when brought to the table. However, this set ups the ante with its bold and modern take on the classic construction. In this design, traditional features get a premium, updated facelift, resulting in a handsome bamboo steamer that goes from kitchen stove to tabletop without missing a beat.
Its vertical slat façade is a departure from the double-tied or single strips, and sturdier, too, with less likelihood of splintering since they’re not thin and shaved down. They’re held together securely with stainless steel supports that wrap fully around the delicate top and bottom rims of the baskets. These serve double duty as reinforcement for the weakest points of bamboo steamers, increasing the longevity of your purchase. It comes with equally long-lasting, reusable silicone liners cut into a mesh design fine enough for you to even steam rice in.
What we like: Better made than its oversized counterpart, dim sum cart-sized, ideal for smaller households
Whether your goal is to set more small steamers with a bigger variety of food merrily vaping away a la dim sum restaurant or simply to feed fewer folks, cute six-inch steamers may be the right call for you. This is surprisingly more solid than the 12-inch big-batch version by this manufacturer, as that one is held together with glue and this is kept intact more durably with bamboo twine.
The lid is also well supported since it’s woven twice and tightly. Flat, uniform bamboo slats keep the cook surface smooth and even, which is important when you don’t have a lot of interior space to work with since you don’t want your food toppling over, especially when smaller dim sum specialties are often saucy and steamed in a shallow bowl within the bamboo steamer.
What we like: Just right for dinner for two, 100% bamboo, handmade
Six inches can feel too small and 10 is the dimension needed to make a family meal. Those are the most common sizes, but one size clearly doesn’t fit all. The two inches you gain or lose can make a difference in terms of eyeballing an appropriate batch size, proper packing density of ingredients, and storage when all is said and done. This basic set fits perfectly in the middle, a happy medium. It’s also held together with bamboo twine, as opposed to copper wire or metal bands, making it microwave-safe.
It comes with two breathable, reusable cotton cloths to use as liners, with a weave fine enough to allow you to use one tier to cook rice without losing a grain.
The best wood steamer
For a visual profile more luxurious than bamboo but just as carefully handcrafted, try this Chinese cedar design from Hcooker.
What we like: Remains true to its heritage with regionally specific material and construction technique, available in nine sizes
This riff off our best overall pick (also by Hcooker, whose makers boast over a thousand years of expertise in steam cooker manufacture) is a bold choice for its use of fragrant Cryptomeria fortunei, a cedar-type derivative of the cypress family. Handmade in 81 steps, same as its bamboo counterparts, this version has a lovely rich, darker color not naturally found in bamboo. Because they’re created to preserve this natural hue, you may luck out and get a two-tone batch for even more visual interest.
However the inside base is still bamboo, which is unfailingly the best platform for steam cooking, as is the lid, which is reinforced with a double-deck weave. Other practical details include a stainless-capped edge that protects the top only and helps with flush stacking; a deeper capacity than their standard model, which does not have the metal trim; and nine available diameters in up to three-tier bundles.
About bamboo steamers
What is a bamboo steamer?
If you’ve ever been to a Chinese dim sum restaurant, you’ll know exactly what we’re referring to: those straw-colored round baskets, darkened with varying levels of absorbed moisture stacked precariously one atop the other in carts filled with hot water. Most of all, you’ll need no convincing as to why this kitchen tool has enjoyed over 5,000 years of popularity without much evolution. To this day, they’re made with skinned bamboo that’s softened into pliability then shaped into a circle and held permanently in place with bamboo nails or lashings. The bases are slatted to allow steam to rise and cook the food, the containers nestling into each other until you reach the top level — however high you choose to make it — where a dome-shaped, tightly woven lid seals the vapor in.
Why you should use a bamboo steamer
Although fast-cooking metal steamers are commonly available, many Asian cooks still choose the old-fashioned models due to their ability to absorb moisture — which reduces the problem of condensation dripping down and making your dish soggy — and to avoid imparting any metallic taste or overcooking due to higher heat retention. And while rice cookers also provide a steam function, the ability to stack bamboo steamers and effortlessly batch cook also keep folks loyal to the old ways, even if these baskets don’t last as long. However, they’re environmentally friendly, highly sustainable, and inexpensive, reducing the footprint of their replacement on the earth and your wallet.
How to use a bamboo steamer
To use a bamboo steamer, you don’t need much: just something to line it with and cookware large enough to accommodate it and a couple of inches of water with enough clearance that boiling bubbles won’t touch the base. Any wide, deep pan or pot will do, but a wok is best if you have one—the curve of its bowl will hug the steamer and keep the bottom from scorching, as is more likely in a pot of pan due to the base’s prolonged direct contact with it. As for linings, you can buy specially made perforated liners cut to typical bamboo steamer sizes; parchment, wax, or baking paper; or cabbage, lettuce, lotus, banana, or pandan leaves, the latter three of which may also impart their flavors.
What to consider when buying a bamboo steamer
When purchasing, be sure to choose BPA-free high-quality bamboo and look for wider slats for better steam flow and hand-woven lids, which often boast a tighter weave for better steam entrapment. You’ll also want to veer toward models joined with bamboo wick or stainless steel strips, and not glue, which may melt, or copper, which can corrode. All of our picks fit these construction criteria.
As for size, two tiers in a 10-inch diameter is typical and will serve the needs of most households for many years with proper care. That means allowing your steamer to properly air out for at least two days before storing it, and avoiding contact with strong odors it may absorb, such as dish soap or a scorched base.
We also recommend other blenders that have powerful motors, rival professional models, and more.
A blender seems like a simple kitchen tool, and for the most part, it is. Blenders give you a variety of settings to help you achieve the consistency you need for a particular recipe. And even if you don’t use it specifically for cooking, a blender is essential when you want to whip up, say, kale smoothies or homemade vanilla milkshakes.
Although blenders all seem to perform the same tasks, a good blender has a powerful motor, and can handle blending everything from frozen drinks and smoothies to fruits and vegetables. A blender is a great investment if you enjoy having smoothies frequently, make a lot of dips and sauces, or if you simply would like some help prepping and chopping ingredients while cooking. We tested several blenders and recommend the following options due to their power, affordability, and versatility in blending several kinds of foods.
True to its name, the Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender automatically senses the correct speed for the ingredients you’re blending and can be used for smoothies, dips, and milkshakes.
Pros: 1100-watt motor that automatically senses ingredients and adjusts for best results, four preset functions, 10 adjustable speeds, easy to clean, features durable stainless steel blades, comes with a Blend-N-Go jar for added convenience
Cons: Lid that goes with smoothie cup is slightly awkward to use
The Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender has four preset functions, 10 adjustable speeds, and a 1100-watt motor that automatically senses the thickness of your ingredients.
I put the Calphalon Auto-Speed through its paces, and it’s held up well to daily use, resulting in thick, silky smoothies. It do much more than make smoothies, however, which makes it a great multi-purpose tool to have on your kitchen counter. The pulse feature allows for food prep and chopping — and makes great salsa. There are also four preset functions for dips, milkshakes, frozen drinks, and smoothies as well as adjustable speeds for more hands-on control.
I especially like the addition of the reverse pulse button which helps pull the ingredients further down into the blade if necessary to prevent any jams, resulting in a smooth blend. The 6-point stainless steel blades are durable and easy to clean thanks to the way they’re angled.
Presets and speeds are controlled by a dial on the front that’s clearly labeled, and you can start, pause, pulse and reverse pulse at the push of a button. The easy to read digital interface shows you how long you’ve been blending, or counts down to the finish if you choose to use one of the presets.
Each part of the blender that attaches to the base is also dishwasher safe for further convenience. I’ve cleaned each of these parts in our own dishwasher multiple times with no issue.
When blending, you can either use the 2-Liter pitcher for larger quantities, or the convenient 25-ounce Blend-N-Go Jar for single-serving-sized smoothies and drinks. While I liked using the Blend-N-Go Jar, I did find the drinking lid that comes with it slightly awkward to use. It prevented any spills, but the attached cap was sometimes more of a nuisance than anything else. — Kylie Joyner
Pros: Sturdy, affordable, makes good smoothies, decent motor, five speeds
Cons: Not as powerful as others
Although you certainly can spend hundreds of dollars on a blender, you don’t have to if you only want an occasional smoothie, soup, or blended dessert. I’ve owned the KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender for several years, and it’s still going strong.
The Die Cast Metal Base is sturdy, so it doesn’t shake as it blends, which is something that a lot of cheap blenders tend to do. Although it’s not as powerful as many of the blenders in our guide, the KitchenAid has a perfectly capable motor that helps the stainless steel blades blend just about anything with little effort.
KitchenAid’s Intelli-Speed Motor Control tech ensures that ingredients are blended equally. The 56-ounce BPA-Free pitcher is easy to clean, as is the two-piece lid. Years of use haven’t harmed the sturdy plastic pitcher or the lid, which still fits snugly. — Malarie Gokey
The best high-powered blender
The Ninja Professional Blender delivers plenty of power to crush ice and blend a variety of ingredients to create perfect smoothies every time.
Pros: Perfect option for creating smoothies at home, good price point, offers many different kinds of blending options, works to crush ice, blends many kinds of foods successfully
Cons: Unit’s lid can be difficult to clean, blades are sharp when you take blender apart for cleaning
If you’re looking to create great-tasting smoothies at home, you’ll want a blender with plenty of power to ensure the ingredients are well mixed and delivered at the desired texture. The Ninja Professional Blender has the features needed to pulverize ice and create the highest quality smoothies possible.
It boasts 1,100 watts of power with three speeds, a pulse setting, and a single-serve function. Ninja also includes two 16-ounce to-go cups so you can take your breakfast smoothie with you. The blender’s 72-ounce pitcher is a good size and it has a form-fitting lid and a nice big handle.
Guides Editor Les Shu has seen the Ninja in action. The multiple sharp blades that run up the core of the blender cup, while befitting of the Ninja name, look both frightening and ridiculous. When it’s running, the blender is jet-engine loud. But it did a terrific job cutting through ice and fresh pineapple for piña coladas.
Indeed, the Ninja blender does a great job with all kinds of blending needs, including crushing and pureeing for smoothies. It’s the perfect choice for people who don’t want to invest in our top pick but still need a powerful blender.
As for downsides, the Ninja blender is difficult to take apart and clean, in large part because of the sharpness of the blades. The lid also has some crevasses that are tough to clean properly. But otherwise, this is a great pick. — Kyle Schurman
We know this is a lot to spend on a blender, or anything, really. But if you want the most consistent consistency, and you use your blender on a daily basis, it’s easily justified. When you go to a smoothie shop, you’re probably paying well over $5 per drink, and if you do so even two or three times a week, that adds up (I’m a writer, so I’ll let you do your own math).
The Vitamix 750 is a professional-grade, 1440-watt blender built to last the better part of a decade, and Vitamix’s 7-year warranty is enough to attest to that. Sure, you may have some 20-year-old anvil of a thing living on your counter that still works, more or less, but I’ll bet your smoothies turn out to be laden with large, blade-neglected chunks of your chosen fruits. I’ll also bet it’s not the prettiest thing in your kitchen, either.
The Vitamix 750 has 10 speeds as well as four automatic settings for smoothies, hot soups, frozen desserts, and purées. These settings allow you to walk away from the blender while the automatic drive on the blender assesses the power and speed needed to acquire the proper consistency of your desired dish.
For those who use their blender only every so often but still demand perfection, the Vitamix 5200 is of comparable quality, just with a less technical interface and no automatic drive for setting your blender to smoothie mode and walking away. — Owen Burke
Cons: Expensive, not as easy to manually operate as a Vitamix if you’re getting technical
Breville’s Super Q Blender is a great blender on its own, but when you add the VacQ attachment to it, it becomes a vacuum blender and removes all air from your concoctions.
An 1800-watt motor that drives steel blade tips at 186 miles per hour; it’s a remarkable feat of technology for blending (and nearly juicing) just about anything you can get your hands on. The Super Q also has five programmed presets for easy use.
Insider Reviews editorial director Ellen Hoffman and I set up shop at Insider Reviews Headquarters (otherwise known as our office kitchen) where we stuffed the Breville Super Q with every fruit and vegetable we could get our hands on. We ended up with a host of perfectly consistent, sometimes strange-tasting concoctions (through no fault of Breville).
Two things impressed me about this blender in comparison with the Vitamix. First, the Super Q is unbelievably quiet. We were able to carry on with a conversation at normal volume while the motor was whirring away somewhere between a whisper and a barely vocal growl. This is, far and away, the quietest, albeit most powerful blender I’ve ever put to use.
What really makes the Super Q a solid buy, however, is the Vac Q, which, unfortunately, comes separately. That’s my only gripe with this machine so far. A small-handled vacuum about the size of a coffee mug that you place over the top of the pitcher or smoothie cup, the Vac Q pulls as much air out of the container as would seem possible. This process creates such a tight seal on the lid that it’s almost impossible to open without using the depressurizing cap, which reduces oxidation and bubbles.
In short: It makes your juice taste better and last longer. The more foam and froth in juice, or anything you’re blending, the more nutrients you lose. Sure, there are many reasons we drink juice, but most of us are taking nutrition into account, too. — Owen Burke
Pros: Powerful, blends ice and harder foods, two travel cups and lids
Cons: Only one speed
The Breville Boss To Go Sport is a perfectly sized blender for on-the-go smoothies in the morning or smaller blending jobs. But don’t let its compact form-factor fool you: This is a powerful 1000-watt blender that can pulverize ice and hard fruits.
Besides the powerful motor, the Boss To Go Sport uses what Breville calls a Kinetix blade. The unique curved design of the four blades helps to create smoother foods — great for silky smoothies and shakes, not so much if you like chunky guacamole. And it does things fast, which is great if you’re short on time in the morning.
The blender comes with two travel cups and lids, one 23-ounce and one 15-ounce. There’s only one speed, however. But like all Breville products, the Boss to Go Sport looks industrial-sleek.
The Boss To Go Sport is pricey, but like many Breville products, we believe it’s a good investment and it’s backed by great customer service. You can purchase personal blenders at half the price (or more) of the Boss to Go Sport, like those from NutriBullet. However, in our experience, NutriBullets are notorious for leaking and their motors tend to blow out too easily. — Les Shu
What to look for in a blender
Here’s what we look for in a great blender:
Power: The motor is the most important part of any blender, and the higher the wattage, the better the performance. Always get a blender with a motor that’s more than 500 watts. If you want to make frozen drinks, you may need one with 1,000 watts of power.
Blades: Some blenders have blades made for solid objects like ice, while others are better equipped for blending softer foods. Stainless steel blades are best.
Size and materials: We look for durable, wide blender jars with tight-fitting lids.
Types of blenders
There are a few different types of blenders, each with its own unique features: conventional, multi-function, personal, and immersion.
Conventional: A conventional blender is the most common type for use in your home kitchen; it can perform a variety of functions from making soup to blending smoothies.
Multi-function: Multi-function, professional-style blenders have powerful motors and are often used in restaurants. F
Personal: These small appliances make single servings and may run from a battery for portability.
A good, reliable set of knives is essential to any kitchen.
We consulted metallurgists, chefs, and butcher Pat LaFrieda to find the best knife sets out there.
The Wusthof set is our top pick because it comes with every knife you need for most kitchen tasks, plus a honing steel and a pair of shears.
Whether you’re prepping go-to recipes in your home kitchen or working on the line at the latest Michelin-starred restaurant, having good knives is essential. But you don’t need many: between a chef’s knife and a paring knife, you can chop, slice, dice, cube, mince, brunoise, chiffonade, julienne, and more. Beyond those two, you’ll probably want a bread knife, and depending on how much meat and poultry you cook, you may consider a boning or utility knife as well. Tracking down the perfect kitchen knives individually can be a time-consuming and expensive task, which is why purchasing them as a set is often a practical choice.
I’ve done stints in restaurants and raw bars, served as a galley cook aboard a private yacht, and filleted and shucked more seafood while working on fishing boats than I can recount. For this guide, I tested eleven knife sets, focusing on balance between the blades and handles, quality of construction, and edge retention.
While sharpness was a given (any knife that wasn’t sharp out of the package was immediately disqualified), we chose to test edge retention by slicing tomatoes before running knives on a glass cutting board 200 times in order to dull them. After dulling, we tried slicing tomatoes again to determine which edges held up best. We also consulted a professor of metallurgy to provide insight into the pros and cons of different alloys, and to break down our contenders’ hardness ratings.
Below are the knife sets that passed our tests exceptionally well. You can learn more about our methodology here, and if you’re still unsure as to whether a pre-assembled knife kit will suit your needs, check out our list of the pros and cons of buying your knives piecemeal.
Pros: Great weight and balance, impressive edge retention
Cons: Wood block is on the larger side, bread knife could be longer
Wusthof’s Classic Ikon seven-piece knife set comes with a three-and-a-half-inch paring knife, a six-inch utility (or boning) knife, an eight-inch bread knife, an eight-inch chef’s knife, a nine-inch honing steel, a pair of “come-apart” kitchen shears, and a 15-slot solid walnut block for countertop storage.
This is the set for those who are building out a kitchen from absolute scratch and have a bit of money to do so. It covers just about every cutlery need, and should you decide to buy another knife for a highly-specific task, there’s plenty of room in that 15-slot block for extra additions.
These knives are all forged (not stamped out) from high-carbon steel, which is fairly easy to sharpen, but also holds an edge far longer than the X50CrMoV15 steel found in many of the more affordable options we’ve tested.
The handles are POM (polyoxymethylene), which has a smooth, satin finish. They’re on the small side, but every-so-slightly ergonomically shaped, making them comfortable to grip.
Some people may take issue with the serrated (or bread) knife, which, at eight inches, is a bit small. A 10 or 11-inch blade is preferable, especially when it comes to slicing a large peasant loaf, although a knife of that size won’t easily fit in a storage block. Take Wusthof’s serrated knife for what it is, or use it to slice meats and smaller breads and invest in a larger bread knife to store elsewhere in your kitchen.
These knives come with a limited lifetime warranty, which protects only against manufacturing defects. We’ve used these knives for nearly a year, and they’ve held up through many mishaps. We’re confident they can handle most anything your kitchen might throw at them.
Pros: Resilient, good edge retention, easy to sharpen, comfortable handles
Cons: Not very well-balanced
Victorinox’s four-piece Fibrox Pro knife set comes with a four-inch paring knife, a six-inch utility (or boning) knife, an eight-inch chef’s knife, and an eight-inch serrated (or bread) knife. These are, arguably, the only knives you will ever need, and Victorinox’s versions are among the more resilient ones we’ve tested.
The knives in the Fibrox Pro set are made of the very same high-carbon steel as many affordable to mid-range knives (X50CrMoV15), but Victorinox cuts some corners with a stamped blade (rather than an individually constructed one), a molded plastic handle, and no real flair. However, those are precisely the correct corners to cut; if you’re on a budget, you definitely want to purchase a set of knives whose blade construction was the primary focus. Fancy handles are great, but not when they’re attached to insufficient blades.
If you’re looking to keep costs to a minimum, if your kitchen is fairly minimalist, if you share a cooking space, or if you’re looking to furnish a second home or rental, this is the knife set to purchase (and then never worry about). Even with heavy use, you’ll be able to bring them back up to snuff in short order, and butchers like Pat LaFrieda and commercial kitchens all over the world stock a smattering of Victorinox’s chef’s knives, which is a testament to the brand’s quality.
Could you stand to add a few knives to your quiver after buying this pared-down set? Maybe, but you can still prepare just about anything with these four basic tools, and if you’re trying to stick to a budget, less is more. You could find a 17-piece set for about the same price if you wanted to, but we’ve tried a handful of them over the years, and considering how little goes into each knife in such a set, you’d find yourself replacing them sooner than you would like.
The best knife set upgrade
F.N. Sharp knives feature 67-layer Japanese Damascus steel and riveted epoxy and fiberglass handles, which we find fit most hands best.
Pros: High-quality steel, great edge retention, exceptionally comfortable handles
Cons: A little difficult to sharpen yourself (but that’s what the sharpening service is for)
A three-and-a-half-inch paring knife, a six-inch Santoku (or Santoku Bocho, which translates to “three uses”: chopping, mincing, and dicing), and an eight-inch chef’s knife make up this elegant, if pared-down, triage of knives. If your needs would be better suited by a six-piece set, which also includes a bread knife, a boning knife, and a utility knife, that’s also available for $660.
Apart from looking unbelievably cool thanks to the VG-10 steel patterned into the blade, these knives are the most balanced and solidly built of any we’ve tried. We also like that three “sharpenings” are included with the purchase of every set, which should get you through a year to a year-and-a-half of constant use.
We put “sharpenings” in quotations because what the brand actually does — and this is pretty ingenious, we must say — is send you a replacement set of freshly sharpened knives in a box with a prepaid packaging slip into which you’ll put your used, dulled knives for return. After the first three sharpenings, though, the cost is on you and it’s admittedly steep: $60 for the three-knife set, $90 for the six-knife set, and $50 for a steak knife set. For comparison, most local services will charge you $2-$3 per inch of blade.
Cons: Very sharp for the type of steel, might need sharpening (service) sooner than others
Knifey’s Essential Three-Knife set comes with a three-inch paring knife, an eight-inch chef’s knife, and an eight-inch serrated (or bread) knife, which is precisely everything most people will ever need in the way of kitchen cutlery, though the brand does offer a five-piece set as well as a single chef’s knife.
Made with what has basically become the standard steel alloy (X50CrMoV15) within the $100-$200 market, Knifey’s cutlery includes supremely comfortable G10 fiberglass handles, which offer heft and balance. The chef’s and paring knives have a respectable 17-degree cutting angle, and we found that the blades fell right through vegetables similarly to the way the Wusthof Classic Ikon knives did, even before and after chopping on a glass cutting board 200 times.
A lot of people will find Knifey’s service irresistibly convenient, and considering the price (starting at about $140 per year with two annual sharpenings), it’s not an unreasonable expenditure. Likewise, if you want to do your own sharpening, you can pay the one-time annual subscription fee, receive the knives, and keep them.
Knifey’s service works similarly, if not exactly like F.N. Sharp’s above: receive your knives, run them through their paces until they’re dull, and then let the brand know it’s time. They’ll rush a set of freshly sharpened knives over, then you place your dull knives in the empty box, slap on a prepaid shipping label, and carry on with your newly sharpened knives.
Too many people neglect their knives, which only makes chopping and slicing more arduous — not to mention more treacherous. If you tend to let your knives get dull, Knifey’s service could save you trouble, and maybe even a trip to the emergency room.
I’ve been using knives regularly — as most of us have — for the better part of my life, and on and off professionally. I relied on my own experience along with the unbiased and uninformed opinions of five others during testing.
Ahead of testing, I got in touch with butcher and New York City meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda as well as Mike Tarkanian, a research affiliate and a senior lecturer at MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE), to find out what their requisites are for great knives. Here’s what we settled on taking into consideration:
Edge retention: Our knife-testing process involved slicing a few fresh tomatoes, taking note of the ease with which the chef knife from each set handled the task. After we had sufficient data, we took each chef’s knife to a glass cutting board and ran it over the surface 200 times. Some knives held their edge, others not so much. We looked at the edges after running the knives and noted if there were any visible changes.
We then returned to the tomatoes, cutting a few more and seeing how much resistance we felt compared with the performance of the knives straight out of the packaging. Knives that held their edges passed on to further rounds of consideration.
Alloy, and the HRC (hardness rating): We consulted several experts in the field, but the most informative source we encountered was Michael J Tarkanian , a professor of metallurgy at MIT. With his help, we were able to cut through the marketing and the scientific terminology behind different alloys and what allows a knife to retain an edge.
We looked for a hardness rating of around 60 HRC, which offers great edge retention while still allowing for an edge of around 15 degrees (though up to 20 degrees, which is duller than 15, was still considered sufficient).
Ergonomics: For a knife to work well, you have to be able to hold it comfortably in your hand. We asked an array of people to pick up knives and decide which ones were the easiest to grip; across the board, they went for the ones with heavier, rounded, almost bulbous handles.
Balance between the handle and the blade is also key. Pricier knives almost always offer better balance because that extra cost goes into using denser and often more desirable materials.
A well-balanced knife with a good blade will cut through vegetables with minimal pressure, like our top pick from Wusthof. A not-so-well-balanced knife will take a little force to get started.
What else we tested and recommend
We tested 11 knife sets in total; here are a few of the others that we also recommend:
Made-In: These are good knives and made of the same material as most of the ones we tested (X50CrMoV15). But the handles are a little small and somewhat awkwardly-shaped. Still, you won’t get a bad set of knives from Made-In. We wish the brand still offered three- and five-piece sets, though, because we think the six-piece is overkill for most.
Material Trio of Knives: These are very well-balanced knives and we love how sharp they are out of the box. The magnetic block is a little unwieldy, and we found that these blades dulled more than others during testing, but that may be due to their exceptional 13-degree edges. The $35 Good Shears are a worthy addition, too.
Potluck Knife Set: Also punched out of the same alloy as most knives we tested, these are about as affordable as a decent set of knives gets. The blades outweigh the handles, but they held up in testing and if you’re on a really tight budget, Potluck is a good choice.
J.A. Henckels (Zwilling) Classic 7-Piece: We enjoyed using these knives almost as much as we did the Wusthof Classic Ikon set, but the handles were a little awkward to hold, and the blades didn’t retain their edges quite as well.
What we look forward to testing
Here are some knife sets we’re currently considering for future updates:
Shun 2-Pc Chef’s Set: Shun is a favorite of some of the world’s top chefs, and this is one of their more economical sets. While we’d hoped to test them sooner, many of Shun’s knives have been out of stock due to Covid-19 complications.
Shun 2-Pc Classic Set: A step up from Shun’s Chef’s Set, we’re preparing to test the brand’s Classic Set as a possible investment pick for minimalists.
Misen Essential Knife Set: Missen offers an attractive three-piece package with a sharpening service at a competitive price, and we’ll consider it for several categories next time around.
MAC Professional Series 3-Piece Set: Mac is another chef favorite, and this one is lauded as a workhorse by Eric Ripert, co-owner and executive chef of the thrice-Michelin-starred New York City fixture Le Bernardin. It’s a little on the pricey side, but we’re curious to see how it stacks up to our investment pick.
Why you may want to put your knife set together piecemeal
Depending on your budget, you may want to consider other options besides a knife set. Any time you’re buying a set of something, the brand and/or manufacturer often adds in fillers (i.e. less than useful pieces) and cuts corners, and the case is no different with knives.
A lot of chefs we spoke with recommend keeping only one, two, or maybe three knives in a kitchen: a chef’s knife for most tasks, a paring knife for smaller jobs like peeling fruit or scoring dough, and a bread knife. You might also consider forgoing a knife block for a magnetic bar, which takes up far less space when stuck to the side of your fridge or mounted on a wall. Over time, you may want to add something like a utility or boning knife, but the truth is most kitchens will rarely find much use for one. If you do need one, you know who you are, and you probably carve a lot of poultry and/or meat.
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.
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.
Practically speaking, the steel is a rectangular 14 inches by 16 inches, which makes it versatile for pizzas that are large or aren’t perfectly round. The slick, seasoned surface cleaned up easier than other stones, and while this is a minor attribute, 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.
The best pizza stone for bread
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 14-inch by 16-inch 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.
The best pizza stone for the grill
This round cast-iron stone has handles for easy maneuvering and is perfectly sized and shaped for making pizza on both charcoal and gas grills.
Pros: Good thermal conductivity for well-browned pizzas, cleans up easily, doesn’t show stains, circular shape fits well on round grill, handles make moving easy
Cons: Difficult to slide a pizza onto its circular shape
While you can make pizza directly on your grill’s grates (in fact, this is the method Janjigian recommends if you’re interested in grilled pizza), a stone makes the process less daunting and potentially less messy.
The Lodge 15 Inch Seasoned Cast Iron Pizza Pan is well-suited to cooking on the grill; it offers a happy medium between steel and cordierite in how quickly it heats up and how fast it transfers heat to your pizza. In testing, the Lodge pan was ready to go after about a half-hour of preheating on my gas grill, and it cooked a beautifully baked pie with good spotting on the top and excellent browning on the bottom. The built-in handles made it easy to transfer the stone in and out of the grill, and it cleans up easily with just a sponge and some water.
Grilling was also the only situation where I found the circular stone to have an advantage over rectangular stones; you can read more about circular versus rectangular stones here. While the rectangular stones fit fine on my gas grill, some didn’t fit at all on my small kettle charcoal grill. The round stone fit nicely in both the gas and charcoal grill and left plenty of room for air circulation.
The stone isn’t just for grilling though; it made excellent pizza in my oven, but I found its circular shape was less forgiving than rectangular stones. If I was off-center by just a bit when sliding the pizza off the peel, the dough hung off the edge and made a mess in my oven. This stone is a great option if you’re dabbling in the world of grilled pizza, but most other users will get better benefits from one of our other rectangular picks.
What else we tested
Pizza stones are relatively simple pieces of equipment; usually just slabs of stone or metal with little difference between models. All of the products we tested made great pizza, and top choices came down to minor differences like size, shape, handles, and feet.
What else we recommend and why:
Honey-Can-Do 14×16 Cordierite Pizza Stone ($49.99): Previously sold as the Old Stone Oven pizza stone, this model has changed a bit now that it’s sold by Honey-Can-Do. Reviewers report that the new stone doesn’t have feet like the old stone, and that the corners are sharper. I tested the new stone and found it made great pizza on par with the Solido 14×16 Cordierite Pizza Stone in our lineup. However, it had no distinguishing features to earn it a space on our top picks. Furthermore, it seems as though there’s still confusion among retailers about the old stone versus the new stone, with listings on Amazon and Walmart showing photos of the old stone, but sending buyers the new stone instead. These issues are made more frustrating by fluctuating stock and significant price mark-ups from third party retailers. We’ll revisit whether this stone makes the top picks when the company clears up the confusion.
Our testing 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, adjusting 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.
What we’re testing next
We plan to continually test new pizza stones and add them to this guide. Here are some products on our radar:
Nerd Chef Steel Stone, Standard ($84.99): Slightly less expensive than our top pick, the Original Baking Steel, this steel pizza stone is also made of conductive steel. The shape and thickness are similar to our top pick, but the Nerd Chef model has two finger-sized holes for moving and storing the steel.
Love This Kitchen Ultimate 16-inch Round Pizza Stone ($44.97): 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 ($24.99): This set comes with four 7.5 inch tiles that you can either use individually or put together to make one large stone. The smaller and customizable shape might be a good option for those with smaller home ovens that can’t fit a large 14 inch by 16-inch pizza stone.
What to look for in a pizza stone
Here are some considerations to think about when looking for a pizza stone:
Shape: One might think that since pizza is round, a pizza stone should be too. But we actually think you’ll get much better pizza out of a rectangular stone. “With a round stone, if you miss that target by a little, [the pizza] is going to hang off the edge,” said Janjigian. “You don’t have to aim perfectly with a rectangular stone.” Rectangular stones are often larger, so they also hold more heat, which can make a pizza with better browning. Finally, rectangular stones are more versatile. “I want the real estate for things that aren’t perfectly round,” said Janjigian, who also uses a pizza stone to bake bread. The only time we see a round stone having an advantage is for grilling since larger rectangular stones sometimes don’t fit, especially on circular grills. For almost all uses, rectangular is the way to go.
Size: “I want my stone to be as big as my oven rack, minus some space for airflow,” says 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 says 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 says. A heavier stone will hold a lot of heat, and make a well-browned pizza. Pizza stones usually weigh about nine pounds, but most of our top picks are 13 to 16 pounds because they’re thicker or made with heavier material like steel or cast iron.
Material: We looked at stones made from steel, cordierite (a heat-resistant mineral), and cast iron, all of which have different thermal properties, and thus, different uses. Of these, steel absorbs and transfers heat the fastest, which makes it ideal for pizza in the home oven. If you’re serious about good home pizza, we recommend opting for a pizza steel. Cordierite stones make decent pizza but have less thermal mass than steel, so the crust tends to be paler and less developed. However, cordierite is a great choice if you plan on using your stone to bake bread since other materials tend to burn loaves. If you hate the idea of a unitasker and have a robust baking repertoire, a cordierite stone will absolutely do the trick. Finally, cast iron offers a happy medium between steel and cordierite in terms of heat conductivity. However, we have yet to find a rectangular cast iron stone, only circular pans, which are trickier to use. We think circular cast iron pizza stones are a good option if you’re interested in grilled pizza, especially if you have a round grill.
Price: Pizza stones are basically just slabs of material so be wary of any stone priced significantly more or less than competitors made from the same material. Expect to pay about $40 to $60 for a cordierite or cast iron stone and $70 to $90 for a steel one. You won’t get a significant increase in performance from something priced higher.
Why do I need a pizza stone?
A pizza stone can help you make restaurant-quality pizza at home. Many pizza joints use commercial or wood-fired ovens that can reach 900+ F, creating the well-browned crust you expect from a restaurant pie. Home ovens don’t get that hot, so pizza made in a pan or sheet tray usually comes out doughy and pale. A pizza stone recreates some of the restaurant experience by providing a super hot surface to cook the pizza, resulting in better browning and bubbling.
Can I use a pizza stone in a countertop oven or toaster oven?
The stones we tested are too big for most toaster ovens, and most toaster ovens don’t reach the temperatures needed to churn out good pizza (many max out at 450 F). Some circular stones may fit in large countertop smart ovens like the June Oven.
Do I need to preheat my pizza stone?
Absolutely. You’ll only get the benefits of using a pizza stone or steel if you preheat it. You should preheat most stones and steels for one to two hours, enough time for the stone to get as hot as the air around it. If you don’t, the results won’t be much different than what you get from using a pizza pan or baking sheet.
Why does my stone look discolored or dirty, even after cleaning it?
The discoloration is totally normal and, 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. 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. 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. Those leftover marks might be unsightly, but they won’t impact performance.
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.
Why did my stone crack?
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.
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 says 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 says. 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.
Let your stone cool: 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.
Use soap and water sparingly: Use a spatula and a dry cloth to scrape any burnt bits off the pizza stone; this should be enough for most messes. With all materials, be reserved with soap, which can strip the seasoning off of steel and cast iron and impart a bad flavor onto pizza made with porous cordierite stones. If you use water to clean a cordierite stone, let it dry for at least 48 hours before you use it again.
If you buy fresh juiceregularly, it might be time 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 pulp 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.
We’d also like to note that, 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” said. “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, Cassety said fresh juice is still an excellent way to add more nutrients to your diet, and based on our testing, the juicers below all perform at the top level.
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.
Aside from its relatively gentle pace, the only thing that leaves this juicer wanting is a 10-year motor warranty and a 2-year parts warranty — you’ll get better coverage from Kuvings and Omega.
In the end, the HP’s ease of use, simple clean-up, and compact size make it a clear winner for us. After all, if your juicer is compact enough to live on your countertop instead of a cabinet you’ll notice — and therefore use — it all the more often.
The best multi-use juicer
The Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer produces rich, velvety juice, and goes beyond the usual call of duty to act as a citrus juicer and ice cream maker with the help of attachments.
Pros: Versatile, 10-year warranty on all parts, BPA-free plastic, extra-wide feeding spout
Cons: Heavy, some attachments sold separately, cleanup can be time consuming
The Kuvings Whole Slow Juicer is a sound investment if you like the idea of an appliance that can do quadruple duty. Not only is it an excellent slow juicer in its own right, it’s designed to accommodate three attachments: smoothie and frozen dessert makers (both included) and a citrus juicer (sold separately).
To use the citrus juicer attachment, you palm halves of citrus over a reamer that’s turned by the machine’s motor. It’s simple and gets the job done, and while we think the price of the attachment is higher than it needs to be, it’s still far more affordable than purchasing a separate appliance.
During our testing, we used the smoothie strainer to make a berry and banana smoothie that was texturally consistent, foam-free, and silkier than anything we’ve pulled from a blender. The blank strainer for frozen desserts was more difficult to master: we were successful with banana gelato, but not much else. It seems that a particular level of frozenness (and practice) is required to churn out sorbets, gelatos, and ice creams as effortlessly as this YouTuber.
As far as its main duty goes, the Whole Slow Juicer’s 3.2-inch-wide feeding spout can accommodate larger pieces of fruit than our top pick, and at 60 RPM it’s a bit faster, too. The extra speed may come at the expense of maximum juicing; compared to the Hurom HP, the Kuvings squeezed less liquid out of our fruits and vegetables, and its wetter pulp suggested that there was some good stuff left behind in the discard pile.
That being said, the Whole Slow Juicer produced the richest, most velvety juice we tried during our taste tests, with and without the detachable external strainer that helps catch any residual pulp.
There is one design quirk we should note, though: the chute makes an awkward turn towards the auger, which means harder fruits and vegetables like carrots and beets get hung up, while softer ones like grapes leave a significant amount of mush in the bend. We had to reverse the auger more times for the Kuvings than for any other juicer, and while we were able to send most of that aforementioned mush back through, it was an extra, messy step.
That turn in the chute also made for more complicated cleanup work, but that’s only nominal when it comes to juicers. Plus, any additional time spent was mostly offset by the Kuvings’ self-cleaning internal strainer, whose basket is lined with pulp-sweeping brushes. Like everything we tested, its parts withstood the dishwasher.
Small flaws considered, if you want a juicer that does it all, this is the only one we know of that can make smoothies, frozen desserts (with some trial and error), and citrus juice. It’s also BPA-free and includes a 10-year warranty on all parts, which tops all of the other product warranties on our list.
The best self-feeding juicer
Hurom’s H-AI Slow Juicer has a small footprint, is easy to clean, and because it’s self-feeding, does a lot of the work for you.
Pros: Easy to use and clean, space-saving, self-feeding hopper is a time-saver, BPA-free plastic, 10-year warranty on motor
Cons: Only a two-year warranty on parts, some produce gets stuck in self-feeding hopper (though only peaches and pears, in our experience)
A self-feeding juicer like Hurom’s H-AI Slow Juicer can make juicing a good deal easier, and because it takes up so little space, it’s not unreasonable to leave it out and ready for use.
There’s a bit of debate as to whether or not the self-feeding hopper works well, but in our experience over the past two years we’ve only had two problems: once with peaches, and another time with pears.
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.
Like the Hurom HP, this juicer comes with a 10-year warranty on the motor and a two-year warranty on the parts. We wish Hurom would extend the full warranty to parts, but that’s about the only shortcoming we can point to in all of the time we’ve been using it.
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.
What else we recommend
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 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 else we considered
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.
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.