The 5 best hard-anodized cookware sets in 2021

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  • A carefully selected cookware set can be the finishing touch on a new kitchen or refresh an old one.
  • Hard-anodized cookware has the high heat conductivity of aluminum with a safe nonstick surface.
  • The best hard-anodized cookware set on for value and durability is the GreenPan Valencia Pro 11-Piece Set.

Buying a cookware set can be overwhelming because of the sheer volume of brands, materials, and types of included pieces. While stainless steel, copper, and traditional nonstick are the most popular options for cookware sets and each have their benefits, another lesser-known cookware material can offer some of the best value: hard-anodized aluminum. According to Fran Groesbeck, managing director at the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association, hard-anodized cookware is known for its strength, durability, and even heating.

Raw aluminum is inexpensive and offers excellent conductivity for cooking, but it’s prone to discoloration and scratching. Hard-anodized aluminum has undergone a chemical process to oxidize the cooking surface of the pan so it’s more durable, nonstick, and doesn’t discolor the food. While hard-anodized cookware is plenty nonstick in its own right, many hard-anodized pieces have additional nonstick coatings. For more information on the technical aspects of the material, see our FAQs.

While durability, cooking, and ease of use and cleaning were top of mind when making our selections, we also looked for sets with useful pieces and no superfluous items. The most important pieces in any cookware set are a stockpot or Dutch oven, a 12-inch skillet, and a 4-quart saucepan, all with lids (it’s worth noting that cookware manufacturer’s consider lids as separate “pieces” when listing the number of pieces in a set). We used this blueprint to narrow down the choices in this guide. If you’re looking for a specific piece, consider purchasing individual items, as a large cookware set is likely to have more than you need.

We think hard-anodized cookware sets are a great option for folks who want to outfit their kitchen on a budget, and are looking for a set that is easy to cook with, care for, and maintain. Below we’ve outlined our top picks for hard-anodized sets.

Here are the best hard-anodized cookware sets in 2021

The best hard-anodized cookware set overall

A set of eleven pans against a white background, the GreenPan Valencia Pro set

The GreenPan Valencia Pro set is our top pick because it features 11 basic cookware pieces that have safe ceramic nonstick coatings and are oven-safe to 600 degrees Fahrenheit, all for about $200.

Pros: Oven-safe to 600 degrees F, metal utensil safe, durable ceramic nonstick coating, lots of useful pieces, both PTFE- and PFOA-free

Cons: No 12-inch skillet (though sauté pan can be used in its place)

With seven pans and four lids, the Valencia Pro has everything you need to switch between stovetop and oven cooking. The hard-anodized bodies and stainless steel handles are durable, scratch resistant, and oven-safe up to 600 degrees F. The glass lids allow you to see what you’re cooking without releasing steam or heat (but keep in mind that the lids are only oven-safe to 425 degrees F). The casserole dish is just a Dutch oven by another name. 

GreenPan uses a ceramic nonstick coating derived from sand particles, which is as durable and effective as traditional coatings, but free from PTFE, PFOA, and lead. The Valencia Pro set is also dishwasher and metal utensil safe for easier clean up and better durability.

Best hard-anodized cookware set on a budget

Best Budget Hard Anodized Cookware_Rachel Ray_Amazon

The Rachael Ray Cucina set features dishwasher safe and durable cookware basics, making it an ideal set for starting fresh in the kitchen on a budget.

Pros: Dishwasher safe, comes in three different cookware colors, large variety of pot and pan types

Cons: Only oven-safe to 400 degrees F, no large frying pan, saucepans are a bit on the small side

The Rachael Ray Cucina Hard-Anodized Set offers valuable basics in materials known for durability. The hard-anodized aluminum exterior is scratch-resistant, and the tempered glass lids are bordered by a stainless steel rim. The nonstick interior is PFOA free, but not metal utensil safe. 

Instead of a third saucepan or skillet, the set includes a 3-quart sauté pan as a piece with more volume and versatility. The serving utensils (a slotted spoon and spatula) are a great addition for a starter cookware set. You can choose from three colors for the serving utensils and the silicone grips that wrap around stainless steel handles.

Best high-end hard-anodized cookware set

Best High End Hard Anodized Cookware_Williams Sonoma_Williams Sonoma

The Thermo-Clad cookware set features details that make cooking easier, from the heat-encapsulating stainless steel lids to the metal utensil safe nonstick coating.

Pros: Induction compatible, heat-sealing lids, includes a large stockpot 

Cons: Fewer pieces than less expensive sets, no large skillet

Instead of glass, this set features stainless steel lids with double wall insulation to keep food warm. While this means you can’t see the food while it’s cooking, it’s useful for making items ahead of time and keeping food warm for serving. The entire set is oven-safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Thermo-Clad line features a tri-ply stainless steel base, designed to limit hot spots by covering the bottom of the pan edge to edge. The nonstick coating is metal utensil safe, though the brand recommends avoiding abrasive cleaners like steel wool. The unique item in this set is the 6-quart “essential pan,” which is nearly identical in design to a traditional saucier. With a wide base and high, rounded sides, this pan is great for one pot meals.

Best space-saving hard-anodized cookware set

Best Space Saving Hard Anodized Cookware of 2021_Calphalon_Target

The Calphalon Stackable Set includes every necessary piece to start a cookware collection and it all stacks neatly for easy storage in small kitchens.

Pros: Stacks compactly for storage, lids fit on multiple pieces

Cons: No large skillet, only oven-safe to 400 degrees F, not safe for metal utensils

This set is organized by diameter, so that all 8-inch wide pieces fit in a stack that can nest within the 10-inch wide stack. Interlocking plates on the pans’ outside edges stabilize the stacks. Because of the common diameters, the lids are interchangeable among pieces. 

Silicone grips keep the handles cool to the touch, but limit the oven-safe temperature to 400 degrees F. The nonstick interior is also not safe for metal utensils. The highlight of this set is a stackable Dutch oven, giving you the versatility of the piece without taking up too much space.

Best hard-anodized cookware set for induction

Best Induction Hard Anodized Cookware_Ninja Foodi lifestyle_Best Buy

The Ninja Foodi NeverStick cookware set works on all range types, including induction, and is constructed for maximum durability and heat retention with heavy-gauge aluminum and a stainless steel base.

Pros: Proprietary nonstick coating, metal utensil safe, induction compatible

Cons: No large skillet (though sauté pan can perform similar functions)

Ninja’s NeverStick technology is based on heating the particles used in the nonstick coating to higher temperatures than other brands do for their coatings. This promises a more durable nonstick surface that isn’t prone to chipping or flaking and is metal utensil safe. 

The NeverStick line is available in a hard-anodized set that comes with 10 pieces and can be used on all range types, including induction. Though it lacks a large skillet, it comes with a generously-sized stockpot for making soups, stews, and one pot meals. The pieces are also safe to 500 degrees F for easy transition from stovetop to oven.

Our methodology

Best overall hard anodized cookware set 2021 methodology

We identified the best hard-anodized cookware sets through research, an interview with Fran Groesbeck, managing director at the Cookware Manufacturer’s Association, and our own extensive experience with cookware. We developed baseline criteria, such as necessary pieces and safety requirements, and evaluated sets based on these elements and other factors like value for price. We plan on testing these sets in the future and updating this guide accordingly. 

FAQs

Best Induction Hard Anodized Cookware_Ninja Foodi lifestyle_Best Buy_1

What is hard-anodized aluminum?

Aluminum is a common material used in bakeware and cookware because it’s lightweight and has great heat conductivity. The main issue with aluminum is that it will oxidize when exposed to acidic food, leaving dark marks on the surface that can transfer to light colored foods. To prevent this, most modern aluminum pans are coated in a ceramic layer or “anodized,” an electrochemical process that uses controlled oxidation to create a protective layer. 

The unique element of this process is that the anodized layer isn’t applied to the surface, but created out of the molecules within the metal. Therefore, the anodized protective layer cannot chip or peel off. It can wear down, but if cared for properly, it lasts longer than applied coatings. “Hard-anodized aluminum is naturally stick resistant, and it is resistant to scratches and food odors,” said Groesbeck.


What utensils are safe to use on hard-anodized cookware?

The hard-anodized layer isn’t a coating, so a hard-anodized pan can be used with any material utensil. However, nonstick coatings are often applied to hard-anodized cookware, so we recommend checking the information provided by the manufacturer before using metal utensils. Single or double layer nonstick coatings can be scratched by metal utensils.


Can hard-anodized cookware be used on induction stovetops? 

This depends on the set and will be listed in the manufacturer’s description of the product. Cookware must have magnetic properties to work on induction stovetops, and aluminum is a non-magnetic metal, Groesbeck said. Therefore, a magnetic plate must be applied to the base of aluminum cookware in order to be induction safe. This is why not every hard-anodized aluminum set is induction compatible.


Can hard-anodized cookware go in the oven?

While you should always consult the manufacturer’s instructions, most hard-anodized cookware is oven-safe to some degree. The exact oven-safe temperature will be listed by the manufacturer on the packaging. The lids may have a different oven-safe temperature depending on the material.


Is hard-anodized cookware dishwasher safe?

Consult the manufacturer’s instructions on using the dishwasher or hand-washing your cookware. If the cookware has a nonstick coating, it is always recommended to use non-abrasive cleaners and avoid steel wool or other harsh sponges.

PFOA and PTFE

The acronyms PFOA and PTFE are everywhere in cookware descriptions. Here’s what you need to know about each:

PTFE stands for polytetrafluoroethylene, and is more commonly known by its brand name: Teflon. There have been concerns over the health effects of PTFE and PFOA, and while studies have been mostly inconclusive, PFOA was isolated as the more dangerous chemical. 

PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid, was used in the production of PTFE since Teflon was invented in the 1970s. In the manufacturing process, most of the PFOA burns off and only trace elements remain in the cookware. These elements are then only released if the cookware is overheated to temperatures of 570 degrees F. However, since 2010, the EPA has put programs and regulations in place to phase out the use of PFOAs in American manufacturing. The majority of cookware made in the United States since 2015 is PFOA-free, and so are all of our top picks. 

International standards are not the same as American ones, so PFOA may still be used in products from other countries. 

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I took 11 MasterClass cooking classes from celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Dominique Ansel – here’s why they’re worth a subscription

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masterclass cooking classes dominique ansel strawberry tart
  • MasterClass is an e-learning platform that provides classes taught by celebrities and experts.
  • It offers classes from famous chefs like Gordon Ramsay, Dominique Ansel, and Gabriella Camara.
  • I took 11 MasterClass cooking courses and made everything from Beef Wellington to huevos rancheros.

If you don’t have experience making complete meals day after day, it can feel overwhelming to search for a reliable recipe, complete multiple tasks at once, or roast everything long enough without burning or overcooking your dinner.

A MasterClass subscription gives you access to over 17 cooking courses from celebrity chefs, including Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, and Alice Waters.

What is MasterClass?

For $180 a year, or $15 each month, MasterClass gives you unlimited access to online courses from celebrities and world-renowned experts. It can be a pricey investment, but each course includes multiple lessons via episodes – sometimes as many as 36 videos – as well as a full-color PDF workbook featuring recipes and tips.

Additionally, there’s a community forum for each class where you can post questions, get extra info, and potentially interact with the instructor.

Also included in your membership is access to classes in film & TV, music & entertainment, writing, business, design, sports, and more.

For a full rundown of MasterClass, read our review here.

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All of the courses we recommend produced mouthwatering meals in our tests and can be followed easily in your home without special equipment or ingredients.

Here are the 11 best culinary arts and cooking classes you can take at home with MasterClass:

“Modern Italian Cooking” with Massimo Bottura

Massimo Bottura

“Modern Italian Cooking” with Massimo Bottura packs a lot of information and skills into this 14-lesson course that takes basic ingredients and turns them into a gourmet dish.

The class is taught by the chef patron of Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin-star establishment widely considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world. Most recently, Bottura has gained additional notoriety during the pandemic with his free Kitchen Quarantine series on Instagram.

In this four-hour course, Bottura covers his modern twist on classic Italian dishes, incorporating causes that are important to him such as reducing food waste. He also invites members of Il Tortellante, a fresh pasta workshop for disadvantaged kids, to help make tortellini.

So far, I’ve made two dishes from the course. First was the Sogliola al Cartoccio, or Mediterranean-style sole. Due to grocery shortages during the pandemic, I had to substitute some ingredients, but the finished product was beautiful, delicious, and healthy. Plus, it was relatively easy to make and didn’t take long.

masterclass cooking classes massimo bottura meditteranean sole

The other dish I made is less of a dish and more of a new habit. Bottura talks about a “Broth of Everything,” a vegetarian broth he makes using vegetable scraps. I started doing this using a gallon bag stored in my freezer. Once it was full, I dehydrated it overnight in the oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit. The next morning, I put all of the dehydrated, aromatic scraps in a stockpot along with some herbs and simmered it for six hours. The resulting broth is like liquid gold, and yes the name suggests, I use it in everything.

‘French Pastry Fundamentals’ with Dominique Ansel

dominique ansel

If you’ve ever wondered how to make the mouth-watering treats available at your favorite pastry shops, “French Pastry Fundamentals” with Dominique Ansel is a good place to start.

In his 17-lesson class that runs about three-and-a-half hours, Ansel, the inventor of the cronut and winner of several James Beard Awards, walks you through the steps of how to make mini madeleines, fruit tarts, a chocolate cake, bonbons, and croissants. He also delves into how you can use your new skills to make your own inventions. The class is supported by a 59-page, full-color workbook and an active discussion forum, where you can get help. While I was testing the class, Ansel hosted a live lesson which was really fun and informative.

I chose to tackle the four-lesson recipe for Ansel’s strawberry tart. Though you can complete the whole process in a full day of baking, I decided to do it over the course of a weekend.

masterclass cooking classes dominique ansel strawberry tart

I’d never made anything like this strawberry tart before and was a bit intimidated, but Ansel did an excellent job of putting me at ease. The only ingredient I couldn’t find was NH pectin, and I didn’t like the prices online so I used apple pectin instead, even though he says not to. The glaze didn’t come out as beautiful as it could have been, but the resulting tart was still visually-appealing and absolutely delicious. When I shared a picture of it with my local foodie group, I got several requests for the recipe.

‘Cooking I’ with Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay Cooking Class

Even if you’re just starting to find your way around the kitchen, “Cooking I” with Gordon Ramsay has a lot to offer with a balanced collection of lessons ranging from kitchen layout to making his famous Beef Wellington.

masterclass cooking classes gordon ramsay red wine poached egg mushrooms asparagus

With Ramsay’s history of laying into chefs and restauranteurs who don’t live up to his standards on his various TV shows, I expected brusque advice and harsh instructions going into Cooking I, the first of his two MasterClass courses. However, this ended up being far from the truth – Ramsay exhibits the gentleness you see on the cooking competition for children, “MasterChef Junior.”

In the 20-lesson class, Ramsay gives a little history of how he got to where he is today. He covers the basics, including kitchen layout, knife skills, making pasta, and scrambling eggs before delving into fancier dishes.

masterclass cooking classes gordon ramsay beef wellington

I decided to take a crack at the Wellington, which took me about four hours. My favorite part of the process was learning how to make crêpes. The first couple I made were horrible, but by the fourth and fifth, I felt like an old pro. The Wellington looked amazing and tasted darn good – definitely restaurant-quality. In fact, I’d previously ordered a beef Wellington at an English restaurant and it didn’t compare to the flavor and quality of my effort. I plan on making this for special occasions in the future.

‘Mexican Cooking’ with Gabriela Camara

Gabriella Camara MasterClass

I absolutely loved the flavors of the huevos rancheros recipe Gabriella Camara shares in her Mexican Cooking MasterClass. It also encouraged me to make salsa verde for the first time, which was easy and delicious.

masterclass cooking classes gabriella camara huevos rancheros

Her course is rather short compared to others – only 13 lessons and less than three-and-a-half hours of content. Also, the skills you learn don’t really translate to other cuisines.

Still, if you’re interested in learning how to make authentic Mexican dishes, including tortillas, this course is worth your time and money.

‘Cooking Techniques I: Vegetables, Pasta, and Eggs’ with Thomas Keller

Thomas Keller MasterClass

There’s a lot to like about the first of Thomas Keller’s three MasterClass courses. First of all, it provides more material than any other culinary class: 36 lessons, nearly 7 hours of video, a 119-page full-color workbook, and an active discussion forum.

masterclass cooking classes thomas keller omelette

Keller’s emphasis on “tools of refinement” can be a bit much for beginning cooks, though I now find myself regularly putting in the extra effort to make his omelet recipe.

‘Cooking Techniques II: Meats, Stocks, and Sauces’ with Thomas Keller

thomas keller

“Cooking Techniques II: Meats, Stocks, and Sauces” with Thomas Keller is designed for the hardcore carnivore, with all you need to know to make inspired dishes using beef, poultry, lamb, and other meats.

Keller is best known for The French Laundry, a three-Michelin-star restaurant in Yountville, California (and arguably the best in the world). This is the second of Keller’s three MasterClass courses, and it offers an overwhelming amount of content.

He explains different cuts of beef, pork, poultry, and lamb and what they are used for as well as how to wet- and dry- age. He touches on the different ways of cooking meat, including pan-roasting, frying, oven-roasting, braising, and grilling. In the process, he offers recipes that are accessible yet refined.

masterclass cooking classes thomas keller chicken arugula salad

My favorite recipe was the Chicken Paillard with Arugula Salad and Sauce Vierge. I had an easy time making it, and everyone in the family enjoyed it. I was struck by how well the chicken and Vierge complemented each other. My teenager said it was his new favorite chicken dish and my wife was impressed by the presentation, so it’s now in our regular rotation.

‘Mixology’ with Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana

MasterClass

This mixology course focuses on making top-notch alcoholic beverages using readily available ingredients and equipment. There’s four and a half hours of content and a beautiful 53-page PDF giving recipes and more details about the drinks.

As a teetotaler, I was bummed that Marrero and Chetiyawardana didn’t provide many alcohol-free substitutes. Still, if you want to up your cocktail skills, this class is for you.

‘Texas-Style BBQ’ with Aaron Franklin

Aaron Franklin MasterClass

This is another course that will only appeal to a limited audience: those who have smokers and want to up their game.

From picking the right wood and maintaining the fire to choosing the right smoker design, Franklin dives into the details of what you need for a good smoke. He also shows you how to trim and season your meat.

masterclass cooking classes aaron franklin smoked pork

I don’t have a smoker, but I tried the pork butt recipe in my oven following all of the same steps and the results were outstanding nonetheless. This class would be ideal for anyone who is just getting into smoking meat.

‘Cooking’ with Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck MasterClass

In his cooking class, the celebrity chef walks you through his philosophy on cooking and business, how to train your palate, kitchen essentials, and even cocktails in addition to several inspired recipes. I liked that the skills you learn in the course can be used in a variety of contexts.

However, I relied heavily on the closed captioning due to Puck’s heavy Austrian accent. Also, I made his Béchamel sauce, an easy enough recipe, but found it lacked much depth of flavor.

‘The Art of Home Cooking’ with Alice Waters

Alice Waters Cooking Class

“The Art of Home Cooking” with Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California offers outstanding tips for making restaurant-quality dishes using ingredients and equipment most home cooks should already have.

Rather than go through countless recipes, Waters provides 17 lessons and nearly four hours of instruction on how to stock your pantry, outfit your kitchen, and get creative with the ingredients you have.

She also explores a few of her favorite home recipes, including tips on how to sub ingredients in and out. You can easily revisit the highlights in the 77-page full-color PDF workbook you receive with the class.

masterclass cooking classes alice waters oat pancaktes

I made her oat pancakes, which were easy and healthy. As recommended by Waters, I topped the creation with a strawberry and pear compote. If I say so myself, the results were worthy of a restaurant in California. I enjoyed the depth of flavor (though it did not play too well with my kindergartener).

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What to know before taking a cooking course on MasterClass

In my hours of watching and testing the cooking courses, I picked up a few tips that might enhance your experience.

1. Watch the whole lesson before attempting to make a dish.

You don’t necessarily have to watch the previous lessons (though it often helps). However, you do need a good idea of the whole process before getting started on a recipe. I found it helped to bring my laptop to the kitchen with me, and I’d reference the workbook and the video – making frequent use of the pause button – while preparing meals.

2. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time.

All of the chefs are encouraging, but several stress the importance of practice. If anyone could quickly and easily produce restaurant-quality meals, these chefs would be out of a job. They break down the steps so you can easily learn them, but it may take a few tries before you can master Beef Wellington or perfect a fruit tart.

3. Feel free to use substitutions.

Fresh ingredients are also a must. Yet, the instructors understand that substitutions often need to be made based on where you live and make recommendations accordingly.

Some chefs suggest you turn to local sources for your ingredients when possible, such as a nearby farmers’ market. Or, you might consider signing up for a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, which is a subscription-based service that provides you with weekly boxes of fresh local farm products. In addition to the environmental and economic benefits, CSAs can help you minimize your time in grocery stores.

How we evaluated the culinary arts courses

woman cooking at home

The $180 price is very expensive for online courses, even if they are taught by award-winning chefs around the world. That’s why we tested and reviewed MasterClass with a more critical eye.

I spent hours and hours in front of the screen watching and following all of the culinary arts courses offered on MasterClass. I spent even more time in the kitchen trying my hand at following the tips and skills taught in the classes.

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we evaluate them:

Generalizability: Will what you learn in the course be helpful when you make other cuisines? Will it help you create your own dishes? For instance, learning precise knife skills is helpful when prepping any meal. However, learning to debone one specific species of fish that isn’t even available in your area might not be that useful.

Accessibility: Due to the current pandemic, I had a hard time procuring various ingredients – the stores in my area can be hit or miss. A good MasterClass course or chef will teach you how to cook with easy-to-find ingredients or offer suitable substitutes. Also, you shouldn’t need specialized equipment. If a class required devices that have limited applications, such as a grain mill or a tortilla press, it lost points in our evaluation.

Meal Quality: If you’re taking the time to learn how to cook from the best chefs in the world, you’d expect the resulting meals to be restaurant-quality. Based on the assessments from my wife, two sons, and myself, I used four criteria to assess dish quality: taste, appearance, likelihood to make again, and if the dish was good enough to serve in a nice restaurant.

Enjoyability: Does the instructor make it fun to make the dishes? Does it take a long time to prep and cook the meals? I looked at both of these questions when assessing how enjoyable a course was.

Quantity: How many lessons are there? How many minutes of video are there? How much info is in the PDF workbook that comes with the course? Are the discussion forums active? These factors all played a role in determining whether a course provided enough bang for your buck.

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The best Amazon Prime Day 2021 early deals on robot vacuums, cordless vacuums, and upright vacuums

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

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prime day 2021 best corded cordless robot vacuum deals
Cordless vacuums from brands like Shark and Hoover always go on sale during Prime Day.

Amazon Prime Day 2021 is happening from June 21 through June 22 and if you’re in the market for a vacuum, it’s a good idea to hold out until then to buy a new one. Every year, the sales event features significant deals on robot vacuums, upright vacuums, cordless stick vacuums, and handheld vacuums.

There’s already a great deal on our pick for the best robot vacuum overall, the Roborock S6. It’s currently at an all-time low price of $380, down from the usual price we see of $600.

Amazon has also confirmed that there will be discounts on robot vacuums from Shark and Bissell.

In 2020, brands like iRobot, Shark, and Hoover offered discounts of up to $200. We also saw discounts of up to $150 off a couple of Dyson cordless models.

If you haven’t figured out what vacuum you need yet, check our guides to the best vacuum cleaners, robot vacuums, cordless vacuums, and budget vacuum cleaners to help narrow down your search. Each of them has been recently updated with our latest fully tested picks and guidance on how to shop for the best vacuum for your needs.

To shop Prime Day deals, you’ll need to be a member. Sign up for a free 30-day trial to gain access to all of the deals and many other perks.

Retailers like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy will also have competing vacuum deals that are comparable if not better than Amazon’s deals. Walmart’s Deals for Days event runs from June 20 through June 23, while Target’s Deal Days event runs from June 20 through June 22. We’ll be covering these competing sales on Prime Day as well. And no, you don’t need a special membership for these retailers’ deals – just for Amazon Prime.

The best early Prime deals on vacuums that you can shop right now

S6 Robot Vacuum (medium, Preferred: Amazon)S6 Robot Vacuum (medium, Preferred: Walmart)

What vacuum deals to expect during Amazon Prime Day

There will be deals on all kinds of vacuums, whether you’re looking for a traditional upright vacuum, lightweight cordless vacuum, or time-saving robot vacuum.

We’re expecting vacuum deals from most major vacuum brands, including iRobot, Shark, Hoover, Dyson, Eufy, and Bissell. Amazon already confirmed there will be deals on the Shark and Bissell brands. Amazon has released some deals a couple of weeks early, which we’ve shared above.

What vacuum deals we saw last year

Though they’re not currently on sale, these are actual vacuums that were discounted last year. The same or similar models may be on sale during Prime Day 2021.

How we vet deals on vacuums on Amazon Prime Day

We see deals on vacuums all year long, but the discounts are the most significant on Prime Day and Cyber Weekend. We use historical price data to compare how the newest deals compare to those of past years. We’ll recommend the deal if the new deal is the same or better than in previous years.

In addition, we like to recommend deals on the best products from our buying guides. At their normal price, they already provide great value and top performance. We want to help you get even more value out of these high-quality products by highlighting any applicable Prime Day deals.

For vacuums specifically, we also take into account whether the deal includes additional attachments or bundled offerings that aren’t ordinarily included.

Learn more about how we vet deals and terms like “MSRP” and “street price” you might see in our deals roundups.

The best deals on corded upright vacuums

Corded upright vacuums are good for large homes and long cleaning sessions where you don’t want to worry about battery life. They tend to be powerful and have large dustbins to collect lots of dust and particles. They’re also more affordable than cordless and robot vacuums. Shark, Bissell, and Hoover often discount their corded upright vacuums on Prime Day.

The best deals on cordless vacuums

Cordless vacuums are very convenient and usually lighter and more compact than corded vacuums. The downside is you might need to charge them often depending on the size of your space. Dyson cordless vacuums are notoriously expensive, but a few models are usually on sale during Prime Day. You’ll also see deals on cordless vacuums that are already pretty affordable, like those from Tineco and Hoover.

The best deals on robot vacuums

Robot vacuums, after some initial set-up, are mostly hands-off and do all the cleaning work for you. Keep in mind they can’t climb stairs (yet) so they’re best for one-story homes. We’ll be on the lookout for deals from iRobot, Eufy, Roborock, Ecovacs, Moosoo, and more.

You can read more about the different types of vacuums and their pros and cons in these buying guides:

Other Prime Day FAQs

What is Amazon Prime Day?

Prime Day is Amazon’s annual sales event, featuring millions of deals across all categories from fashion to tech. During the event, prices drop to all-time lows, often beating out prices we see over Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

When is Amazon Prime Day?

Prime Day starts at midnight PDT on June 21 and ends at 11:59 pm PDT on June 22. Some deals are only available on one of the two days, while others are available during the entire event.

Do I need to be a Prime Member?

Yes, deals are exclusive to Prime members. If you’re already a Prime member, there’s nothing additional you need to do. If you’re not a member, you can sign up for a 30-day trial to access Prime Day. You can activate your trial now in time to shop for Prime Day deals.

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The 3 best espresso tampers we tested in 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are the best espresso tampers in 2021

Our testing methodology

Tamper methodology

Preparation

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

Pulling shots

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

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

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

Tasting

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

Analyzing the puck

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

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

The best tamper overall

Decent Espresso Tamper

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

Pros: Almost entirely foolproof, large, comfortable grip

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

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

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

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

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

The best 2-in-1 leveler and tamper

Best 2 in 1 tamper

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best budget tamper

Best budget tamper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else we tested and recommend

What else we tested tampers

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

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

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

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

How to use a tamper

How to use a tamper

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

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

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

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

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

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

Espresso levelers (or distributors) vs. tampers

Why you want a leveler

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

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

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

Glossary of espresso terms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tamp: To pack and concentrate

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

See more great coffee buying guides

woman making coffee at home

The best espresso machines


The best French Presses


The best stovetop espresso makers


The best coffee grinders

Read the original article on Business Insider

This is the best espresso machine you can buy for under $500 – I’ve used mine for 3 years without a hitch

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

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  • You don’t have to spend four figures to produce quality espresso in your own kitchen.
  • Gaggia’s new Classic Pro is our overall pick for the best espresso machine.
  • It’s an excellent choice if you want to learn how to use and dial an espresso machine, without any training wheels.
  • See more: The best espresso machines

The $449 Classic Pro Espresso Machine from Gaggia is an update of the brand’s original consumer-priced espresso machine without many changes, but that’s only because they weren’t necessary.

We’ve been using this machine for almost three years with minimal maintenance and without a hitch. If you’re really looking to learn how to make quality espresso at home, pair this with a good burr grinder and you are on your way to mastering how to dial in a shot and get the most out of your fresh grounds.

This is the machine for those who really care about the craft of making espresso.

Gaggia is a classic name in home espresso, and there’s a reason why the Italian brand has stood the test of time: these machines make great coffee.

The latest Classic Pro has the same brew head and portafilter as the previous version – which Gaggia also places in commercial espresso makers – along with the three-way solenoid valve that purges any residual steam or water after you stop the machine. That keeps pressure and temperature consistent and helps keep your coffee from getting burnt by any stored steam or water in the chamber. Modifications are slight but appreciated: a frame that allows you to see how much water is left in the reservoir, a small silicone grip on the purge valve and the frother, and a simple on/off switch and light setup.

Along with an updated boiler that’s better secured inside the machine so that it stays steady and a little quieter, this all adds up to one hardy espresso maker that offers you a good bit of control over how your shot turns out. You won’t be able to regulate temperature or pressure in the way you can with a $5,000 machine like the La Marzocco Linea Mini, but this is your transition from an automatic to a manual transmission; it’s time for some real, unfettered fun.

Below, I’ll walk you through every aspect of the Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine.

The design of the Gaggia Classic Pro

gaggia1
Simple, understated, and (mostly) steel, this is how any home espresso machine should look on your counter.

This machine looks like it belongs on your grandfather’s kitchen countertop, and he may well have a Gaggia; the brand has been making professional-quality espresso machines for the home since they introduced the Gaggia Baby in 1977.

Wrapped in brushed stainless steel, the Classic Pro has a timeless look. It’s not much larger than a pod machine and costs only a tad more. But it doesn’t come with a built-in burr grinder, which, when bought separately, can be pricey and equally cumbersome. In fact, if you plan on buying any espresso machine of this size, take the amount of counter space you’ve set aside and double it to accommodate a grinder.

The one thing I don’t like about the design is that the wrapped stainless steel frame has some sharp, exposed edges, and if you’re ever bleary-eyed and having trouble fitting your portafilter into the brew head early (or late) in the day, you might slip and lose a small chunk of your knuckle. Still, you’ll learn to dodge them as I have.

The specs

gaggia
There’s not too much to this machine, but that’s part of why we like it. Fewer parts mean fewer pieces to break and or lose.

This machine is almost foolproof. There are only three two-way switches and a dial to turn the frother on and off. 

The Classic Pro has a respectable 1450 watts of power and 15 bars of pressure (equivalent to the Breville Barista Pro, our favorite two-in-one espresso machine in our full guide), and a three-way solenoid valve that prevents pressure from building up in the group head, making things a lot cleaner. Without the latter, taking the portafilter out too soon can result in a scalding spray of soppy espresso grounds. You can tell that the solenoid is working when, after finishing pulling a shot (that is, turning off the middle switch), you see a little water running from the purge valve to the left of the group head.

The steam wand is not particularly special, but that’s a good thing. Switch off the group head valve, switch on the steam valve, wait for the light to turn on, blow out any excess water in the chamber (preferably over the drain reservoir in the machine), and you’re ready to go. Turning the valve one way engages it and increases the pressure, and going in reverse eases and shuts it off. We’ve found that the more complicated a frother, the less likely we are to use it, and while there are all sorts of fancy ones out there, good pressure from a powerful machine is all you really need.

There’s also a warming plate on top (more or less standard), a full-sized 58mm portafilter with pressurized and non-pressurized baskets (the latter for pre-ground espresso or pods), and a stainless steel drip tray with an easy-to-remove reservoir for collecting overflow and spillage.

Essentially you’ve got everything you need and nothing you don’t.

The set-up and brewing processes

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A bit of dialing goes a long way, but with a little patience, you’ll eventually arrive at a rich, frothy goodness no pod machine could ever replicate.

The Gaggia Classic Pro comes more or less set up for you. Make sure to clean out the water reservoir with soap before inserting it into place in the base of the machine.

Before you begin prepping your shot, turn the power switch on. This gets the machine ready, but if you put the portafilter in during this stage, it’ll warm that up, too. Espresso can turn sour when it’s made cold, and if the scalding water from the boiler hits a cold portafilter, it can do funky things to your brew.

Next, you want to insert the portafilter basket that corresponds with the type of coffee you’ll use (pre-ground and/or ESE pod, or freshly ground). Just make sure you use the little plastic riser piece if you’re going to use one of the pressurized baskets.

Once your portafilter is ready to go, grind your coffee (if you’re grinding your own) and load up the basket. Remember, grind size and tamping are two key components. A good rule of thumb is to get your grounds somewhere between the texture of flour and table salt, but what works with one roast may not work with the next, so be prepared for some experimentation. Give it a good bit of tamping pressure, but, more importantly, distribute your grounds evenly throughout the basket.

Between about 25 and 35 seconds of brew time should do the trick, but while 35 seconds might nearly incinerate one type of coffee, it could be just right for another. Play around with dialing in your machine. This should be part of the fun, after all.

Lock your portafilter into the brew head and, if the light beneath the brew switch is on, that means the machine is primed and ready. Flip it, and delight in the caramel-colored tonic that runs in two perfectly even streams into your demitasse. If the stream is but a slow drip, your grind size (for that particular bean, remember) is either too fine, or you’ve tamped it with too much force. (Pro tip: use a small measuring cup or a demitasse with measurements on it to learn how much of an extraction you like.) You want a steady, even-colored trickle.

And, again, remember to have some fun and play around. Talk to any good barista and you’ll be appalled at how much coffee they dump out just to get their machines and beans right in the morning. Two-time UK Cup Tasting Champion (also 8th in the World Cup Tasting Championship in 2013) barista master Jason Gonzalez once told me that he often spends up to half an hour dialing shots every morning at his Burlington, VT espresso shop Onyx Tonics.

The frothing process

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Yes, and there’s an extremely high-powered frother that’s remarkably easy to clean.

My favorite thing about the Gaggia Classic Pro, especially compared with similar machines, is that the steaming wand is manually adjustable (using the knob, right of center in the image above). This feature is especially handy for frothing various sorts of milk, which all have their own consistencies and boiling points.

Plus, it’s quiet. On some machines, like the Breville Barista Express, the steam is either on or off, and “on” produces a high-pitched screech. 

 

Potential cons

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There’s a lot to be said for having a high-powered frother at the ready, both for your morning cup, and dazzling guests after dinner.

For one, you don’t want to have the brew and steam switches on at the same time, which is just part of the responsibility of owning a professional-grade espresso machine. You’ll get used to it, and the budding barista within you will be all the better for it.

The only limitation of the steam wand, which is still my favorite out of any frother-equipped machine I’ve tested, is that it’s not gimballed, like on the Breville Barista Express. You’re confined to working with specific angles, and purging it of excess water requires either awkwardly placing a glass underneath or twisting it around so that it spills into the drip reservoir. All in all, not a big deal.

The only true issue I have with the Gaggia Classic Pro, and the original line before it, is that the stainless steel housing has unfinished corners, leaving hazardously jagged edges. I’ve been using the new Pro for a few months now, and twice I’ve missed locking in the portafilter and jammed my thumb right into one of those corners, taking a nice little bite of my knuckle. Be a little more careful than I am (not difficult) and you’ll be fine. 

Lastly, the latest version of this machine comes with an undersized plastic tamp, which feels a little cheap on the brand’s behalf given they have previously included a nice stainless steel one. Do yourself a favor and spring for a proper 58mm tamper that fits this portafilter and makes tamping even, and easier.

The bottom line

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Look, it takes a while to get this right. Maybe start with cheap coffee so you don’t tear through a whole bag of precious coffee when you’re still learning. But most importantly: Have fun.

The Gaggia Classic Pro is a temperamental machine in comparison with something like the Breville Barista Express, but if you want to learn how to use a real espresso machine, and you either already have a good burr grinder or don’t want an all-in-one maker, this is a compact but powerful machine that will serve you well.

Pros: Powerful, commercial-grade, compact, not terribly expensive

Cons: Misuse can cost you (i.e., it’s not foolproof) but the new Pro model is slightly more user-friendly than the original, sharp edges on corners can cut your hands, no longer comes with 58mm stainless steel tamper

 

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The 4 best knife sharpeners in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Sharp knives make cooking easier and safer. To keep your knives in good shape, you need a great knife sharpener.
  • The Chef’s Choice Trizor XV is our top pick because of its versatility and three distinct sharpening stages.

While a sharp knife can be dangerous if you’re not careful, a dull knife can actually do more harm. Dull knives cut poorly, causing you to apply extra force in the process, which increases the chance of injury. Additionally, dull knives tear up your food, rather than creating beautiful slices. Sharp knives have a longer lifespan, too, which is especially important for an expensive knife set.

The best knife sharpeners are easy to use and give you that desirable sharp edge. Because knife sharpeners exist in a variety of configurations, finding just the right type to best suit your needs requires a bit of research. If you’re a beginner knife honer, jump to the end of this guide for an in-depth explainer on how knife sharpeners work and a look at the different styles you may want to consider. If you already know what you’re after, dive right into our top picks.

Here are the best knife sharpeners in 2021

The best electric knife sharpener

best knife sharpener - Chef's Choice Trizor XV

The Chef’s Choice Trizor XV knife sharpener is extremely easy to use and works with a variety of kitchen knife blades, making it a versatile option.

Pros: Triple beveled knives should need fewer sharpenings, three sharpening guide slots, easy to use, motor runs smoothly, excellent sharpening results

Cons: Doesn’t work well with smaller knives, don’t work with serrated knives

The Chef’s Choice Trizor XV is our top pick for the best electric knife sharpener for its exceptional ease of use.

Most electric knife sharpeners offer easy-to-use features, but the Trizor XV truly simplifies things with its three sharpening guides, starting with coarse before moving to fine and polishing. It also features a strong motor, which allows it to run smoothly during sharpening with no catches on the blade.

The Chef’s Choice sharpener creates a triple bevel on the blade, which allows it to work with both Asian and European/American knives. The bevels are at roughly 25 degrees, 20 degrees, and 15 degrees. This triple bevel design increases the length of time required between sharpenings.

Overall, we think it’s the best knife sharpener for most people with its multiple settings, clear instructions, and decent price.

The best pull-through knife sharpener

best knife sharpener - Chefs Choice ProntoPro 4643

If you’re looking to save some money on a knife sharpener, the Chef’s Choice ProntoPro 4643 provides outstanding results at a low price.

Pros: Reasonable price point, excellent results versus other manual knife sharpeners, three guide slots for different types of knives, fits in a drawer, suitable for serrated knives

Cons: Not quite as versatile as some more expensive electric options

The Chef’s Choice ProntoPro 4643 is one of our favorite knife sharpeners on the market, providing outstanding results at a low price point. This manual pull-through knife sharpener offers a lot of the same features as our top pick, the electric Chef’s Choice Trizor XV, but does so at a far lower price point.

The design of the ProntoPro 4643 is a little different from most manual knife sharpeners because it has a curved handle with a soft grip. You can hold this handle firmly to achieve the best results. Additionally, the ProntoPro 4643 is only about nine inches in length, meaning it’ll fit easily in a drawer.

You can control the angle of the knife blade at either 15 degrees or 20 degrees, making it work well for both American/European and Asian knives. In fact, the manual sharpener uses different guide slots for each type of knife, as well as a third guide slot for serrated knives, making it one of the few picks on our list suitable for serrated blades.

The best knife sharpening kit

best knife sharpener - Edge Pro Apex 4

The Edge Pro Apex 4 sharpens all knives at precise blade angles for some of the best and sharpest results you’ll see.

Pros: Excellent sharpening kit, allows for precise multiple knife blade angles, includes multiple grit stones for fine polishing, all parts fit in a carrying case for easy portability, works with multiple blade widths

Cons: Expensive, requires practice to use well, doesn’t work well with thin-bladed knives

The Edge Pro Apex 4 gives you the ability to fine-tune your knives. The kit uses a guide system along with different sharpening stones to help you draw the blade at the right angle. It does require some know-how and practice to achieve the desired results.

Additionally, this completely portable kit fits inside a carrying case, allowing for easy transportation for camping or hunting. The kit can handle blade sizes ranging from small knives to machetes, however, the system doesn’t work as well with very thin-bladed knives, such as a fillet knife.

The kit ships with five water stones, ranging from 120 to 1,000 grit, allowing for coarse to fine sharpening. It also contains 2,000 and 3,000 grit polish tapes for honing. The stones fit tightly into the kit’s design, ensuring no slippage as you use the kit’s angle guide to draw the knife blade across the stones.

Using the Edge Pro Apex 4 involves a learning curve, but the time invested pays off with incredibly sharp blades. The kit ships with a DVD, providing detailed instructions on how to use it. Once you have mastered this tool, its results are impressive.

This kit costs quite a bit more than most knife sharpeners, but it gives your knives more longevity by removing less metal from the blades during the sharpening process.

The best knife sharpening whetstone

best knife sharpener - Smith's TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System

For those who want complete control over the sharpening process, the Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System makes it easy to use a sharpening stone.

Pros: Offers full control over the sharpening process, three different grit stones included, stones mounted on triangular block are convenient to access, easy to use for beginners

Cons: Takes longer to sharpen knives than an electric sharpener, longevity of the plastic frame is questionable

If you’re frustrated with the performance of electric knife sharpeners – or if you’re just a bit of a control freak like me – the Smith’s TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening System allows you to manually sharpen your knives. The system ships with three high-quality sharpening stones and the included bracket holds the stones in place so you can work efficiently and safely.

The rotating triangle block on which the manufacturer has mounted the three different sharpening stones makes it convenient to just twist a knob and find the exact stone grit you wish to use.

Some people may be a bit intimidated by using a sharpening stone, rather than an electric sharpener, and it does take some practice to ensure you’re holding your knife at the right angle and applying proper pressure. But with some time, you’ll find that using a whetstone is one of the best ways to have precise control over how your blade is sharpened.

How knife sharpeners work

Several different gadgets and kits exist that will help you sharpen a knife. Some use electrical power, while others use a manual stroke. We’ll break down the different types of knife sharpeners in the next segment. If you need more information, we have further discussed knife care in a video.

As far as sharpening a knife blade goes, all types of sharpeners follow the same type of process. You’ll rub the metal blade of the knife against some sort of an abrasive surface that removes some of the metal to create a thin edge.

Knife sharpeners need to be able to create an exact angle on the knife’s edge. American and European knife blades use a 20-degree angle out of the factory, while Asian knife blades use a 17-degree angle. Hence, many people prefer a knife sharpening machine to a simple manual stone because the machine helps guide you to maintain the proper angle on the blade.

If the blade is only slightly dull, using a steel rod, called knife honing steel, can give the edge a quick touch up by realigning the edge, as shown by Cook’s Illustrated. Technically, using this method means you’re actually honing the knife, rather than sharpening it. For a dull blade, though, a knife sharpener provides the best method of obtaining a sharp edge again.

Types of knife sharpeners

  • Electric machine: An electric knife sharpener offers the most convenient sharpening tool design. You’ll pull the knife blade through the guide slot on the machine, and a motor applies the sharpening agent (usually a sharpening stone) to the metal blade. Many electric sharpeners will offer multiple guide slots that run from coarse to fine sharpening or that handle different blade angles.
  • Pull-through machine: A pull-through sharpener, also called a manual sharpener, works best with kitchen knives. You’ll pull the knife blade through the sharpener, which includes guide slots with the sharpening agent inside. Some pull-through sharpeners allow you to adjust the angle of the blade, which helps with different types of knives. Some provide multiple guide slots, ranging from coarse to fine sharpening.
  • Sharpening kit: Sharpening kits appear at the top end of the market for knife sharpeners, as they have multiple parts to ensure a proper result. The kit allows you to set the sharpening angle you want to use while working from course to fine sharpening. Using a sharpening kit properly requires some time invested in learning to use the kit. However, for those who demand a perfect blade, the sharpening kit achieves the desired result with full manual control. They’re great for both sharpening and honing.
  • Stone: With a sharpening stone, or whetstone, you drag the blade of the knife across the rough surface of the stone. Sharpening stones consist of a number of types of material, such as diamond stones, oil stones (also called Arkansas stones), water stones (or aluminum oxide stones), and ceramic stones. Yes, the diamond stone actually contains tiny fragments of diamonds, but it’s a little heavy to wear as an earring. The trick with a sharpening stone becomes applying the right amount of pressure and sharpening at the proper angle because using a sharpening stone requires a completely manual process with no guide slots. However, stones can sharpen many tools, including scissors and chisels.

One final item to mention: Serrated knife blades won’t work with all types of knife sharpeners. If you’re using a pull-through or electric knife sharpener, it needs to have a serrated setting or the blade will lose the serration during sharpening.

Check out our other great knife buying guides

best knife sets 4x3
Read the original article on Business Insider

All the Memorial Day appliance sales still going on now, including Wayfair, Macy’s, and The Home Depot

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

GE kitchen banner
  • Memorial Day is here and we’re seeing incredible deals on kitchen appliances.
  • Appliances rarely see great discounts during the year, but you can often find some great drops for this holiday.
  • We’ve listed the best ones below – you can also find a round-up of the best Memorial Day sales here.

Memorial Day is here! Before you get started barbecuing or lounging in the sun, consider taking advantage of some of this season’s rare deals. Large appliances, like refrigerators and washing machines in particular, rarely see discounts, but this week is an exception – it’s when we see some of the best appliance deals of the year.

Below, we’ve listed the best appliance sales happening from retailers across the web. If you’re looking to shop for a mattress or some meat for the grill instead, check out our round-up of all the best Memorial Day sales here.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best Memorial Day appliance sales going on right now

  • Abt: Save across the site or get 10% off via online rebate on LG Appliance packages of 3, 4, or more pieces.
  • Best Buy: Save with special offers during Best Buy’s Memorial Day Appliance sale.
  • The Home Depot: Save on select appliances through June 9.
  • Houzz: Save up to 75% off select home goods, including living room and kitchen furniture, through June 6.
  • LG: Save on appliances and tech.
  • Lowe’s: Save on appliances including refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers during the Memorial Day Values sale.
  • Macy’s: Get up to 60% off small appliances with promo code MEMDAY.
  • Overstock: Get up to 70% off select kitchen appliances.
  • Samsung: Get up to 25% off home appliances.
  • Sur La Table: Save up to 50% on select grilling products and other kitchen gear during Memorial Day weekend. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $75.
  • Sears: Get up to 35% off select appliances plus 10% off select purchases of $599 or more through June 5.
  • Walmart: For a limited time, save on vacuums, refrigerators, and kitchen appliances.
  • Wayfair: Get a $100 Wayfair gift card when you buy two GE appliances.

When is Memorial Day 2021?

Memorial Day lands on May 31 this year.

Many sales are live, for appliances and other products.

What should I buy during Memorial Day 2021?

In celebration of the warmer weather, retailer sales typically focus on deals for hanging out at home, especially outside. Appliances, mattresses, outdoor furniture, outdoor gear, TVs, and grilling accessories are some of the best items to shop for during the week – though other products are definitely discounted as well.

If you’re figuring out what to prioritize in your cart, appliances should be up there. Outside of Memorial Day, Black Friday, and President’s Day, we don’t often see appliance price drops.

Are Memorial Day appliance deals worth it?

In short: yes. Appliance deals are few and far between all other times of the year; more often than not we don’t see deals on them unless it’s a major holiday. Many of the sales above also feature savings over $100.

When do Memorial Day appliance sales end?

It depends on the store. Some retailers are cutting off the deals after May 31 while others are carrying on through the first week of June.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best Memorial Day grill sales ending soon – including deals from The Home Depot, Butcherbox, and Omaha Steaks

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

home depot gas grills
  • Grilling deals are pretty rare, but Memorial Day is a great time of year to find some.
  • We’ve rounded up the best grill and grill accessories sales going on below.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Memorial Day is here, and as the unofficial start of summer, it’s the perfect time to fire up the grill, throw on some burgers, steaks, and hot dogs, and enjoy a nice barbecue with your friends and family. It’s also the best time to find grilling deals.

If you’re wondering what grills to be looking for, read our guides to the best gas grills and the best charcoal grills.

Below you’ll find the best sales on grilling equipment from around the web this Memorial Day weekend. We’ve also outlined everything you can expect from Memorial Day grill sales in the FAQ section. If you’re looking for more deals, check out our coverage on spring deals and Memorial Day mattress deals, plus all our deals coverage here.

Keep reading to learn about the best deals on grills or find more Memorial Day sales here

The best deals on grills we like

Genesis II E-315 3 burner Liquid Propane Grill (medium)Signature 21-Inch Kamado Grill & Smoker (medium)Griller’s Meal Pack (medium)Thermapen Mk4 (medium)Searing Grill (medium)
The best deals on grills and grilling equipment

  • Ace Hardware: Save on select grills.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond: Select savings for Beyond+ members, save up to 25% on select BBQ tools.
  • BBQ GuysSave on select grills and grilling accessories.
  • The Home Depot: Savings of up to 40% on select grills.
  • Lowe’s: Save up to $150 on select pellet grills.
  • Walmart: Select grills and grilling accessories on sale. 
  • Sur La Table: Save up to 50% on select grilling products and other kitchen gear during Memorial Day weekend. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $75.
  • Target: Save on select grills and accessories
  • Traeger: Free grill cover and pellets with select grill purchases.
  • ThermoWorks: Save with new deals added regularly.
  • Wayfair: Save hundreds of dollars on grills, smokers, and outdoor cooking appliances. 
  • Overstock: Save up to 20% on select grills and outdoor cooking accessories.

The best deals on meat and seafood for grilling

  • Butcherbox: Get a free BBQ Bundle for new and canceled customers through May 31.
  • Chicago Steak Company: Get free shipping plus 12 free 4-ounce burgers with orders over $99 with promo code FREEGIFTS.
  • Cooks Venture: Get $20 off your first order with promo code TRYCV.
  • Omaha Steaks: Get 50% off summer grilling favorites.
  • Thrive Market: Get a free gift worth up to $25 with your order.

FAQs

When do Memorial Day grills sales start?

Grill discounts start appearing steadily between January and Memorial Day, as retailers attempt to empty their inventory of old models before new grill models launch in the late spring. 

What grills are typically discounted on Memorial Day?

The best grill discounts will vary by retailer, but you can bet that most retailers like The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and Target will be offering discounts on major brands like Weber, Dyna-Glo, Nexgrill, and more.

When is the best time to buy a grill?

We typically see major sales on grills around Memorial Day (the start of grilling season) and Labor Day (when grill season winds down). You can also find solid deals throughout the colder months as stores attempt to empty their inventory in anticipation of new model launches in the spring. We recommend jumping on good grill deals before the summer months really get underway and stock is in high demand. 

What grill should I buy?

The best grill for you depends on how often you grill, how many people you cook for, and what you typically make. We think most people will get the most out of a gas grill because they’re versatile, easy to use, and easy to clean. You can find our top gas grill picks in our buying guide

If you like to make barbecue or other foods that are cooked low and slow, a charcoal grill may be a better bet. They take more time to get up and running each time you want to cook, but impart a rich, smoky flavor on the food and you never have to worry about running out of propane in the middle of cooking. You can read more about our picks for best charcoal grill here.

The next step up from a charcoal grill would be a smoker. We recommend looking into smokers only if you cook barbecue very regularly and have already tested the limits of a charcoal grill. Read more about the best smokers here.

Finally, there are specialty grills like salamander grills, pizza ovens, flat-top grills, hibachi-style grills, and more. You may want to consider these types of grills if you find that a standard gas or charcoal grill isn’t meeting your needs for the type of cooking you’re doing.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best Memorial Day weekend appliance sales including Samsung, LG, and Best Buy

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

GE kitchen banner
  • Memorial Day weekend is underway and we’re incredible deals on kitchen appliances.
  • Appliances rarely see great discounts during the year, but you can often find some great drops for this holiday.
  • We’ve listed the best ones below – you can also find a round-up of the best Memorial Day sales here.

Memorial Day weekend starts tomorrow! Before you get started barbecuing or lounging in the sun, consider taking advantage of some of this season’s rare deals. Large appliances, like refrigerators and washing machines in particular, rarely see discounts, but this week is an exception – it’s when we see some of the best appliance deals of the year.

Below, we’ve listed the best appliance sales happening from retailers across the web. If you’re looking to shop for a mattress or some meat for the grill instead, check out our round-up of all the best Memorial Day sales here.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best Memorial Day appliance sales going on right now

  • Abt: Save across the site or get 10% off via online rebate on LG Appliance packages of 3, 4, or more pieces.
  • Best Buy: Save with special offers during Best Buy’s Memorial Day Appliance sale.
  • The Home Depot: Save on select appliances through June 9.
  • Houzz: Save up to 75% off select home goods, including living room and kitchen furniture, through June 6.
  • LG: Save on appliances and tech.
  • Lowe’s: Save on appliances including refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers during the Memorial Day Values sale.
  • Macy’s: Get up to 60% off small appliances with promo code MEMDAY.
  • Overstock: Get up to 70% off select kitchen appliances.
  • Samsung: Get up to 25% off home appliances.
  • Sur La Table: Save up to 50% on select grilling products and other kitchen gear during Memorial Day weekend. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $75.
  • Sears: Get up to 35% off select appliances plus 10% off select purchases of $599 or more through June 5.
  • Walmart: For a limited time, save on vacuums, refrigerators, and kitchen appliances.
  • Wayfair: Get a $100 Wayfair gift card when you buy two GE appliances.

When is Memorial Day 2021?

Memorial Day lands on May 31 this year.

Many sales are live, for appliances and other products.

What should I buy during Memorial Day 2021?

In celebration of the warmer weather, retailer sales typically focus on deals for hanging out at home, especially outside. Appliances, mattresses, outdoor furniture, outdoor gear, TVs, and grilling accessories are some of the best items to shop for during the week – though other products are definitely discounted as well.

If you’re figuring out what to prioritize in your cart, appliances should be up there. Outside of Memorial Day, Black Friday, and President’s Day, we don’t often see appliance price drops.

Are Memorial Day appliance deals worth it?

In short: yes. Appliance deals are few and far between all other times of the year; more often than not we don’t see deals on them unless it’s a major holiday. Many of the sales above also feature savings over $100.

When do Memorial Day appliance sales end?

It depends on the store. Some retailers are cutting off the deals after May 31 while others are carrying on through the first week of June.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The best Memorial Day grilling deals including grills, meat, and grilling accessories

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

home depot gas grills
  • Grilling deals are pretty rare, but Memorial Day is a great time of year to find some.
  • We’ve rounded up the best grill and grill accessories sales going on below.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Memorial Day Weekend is here, and as the unofficial start of summer, it’s the perfect time to fire up the grill, throw on some burgers, steaks, and hot dogs, and enjoy a nice barbecue with your friends and family. It’s also the best time to find grilling deals.

If you’re wondering what grills to be looking for, read our guides to the best gas grills and the best charcoal grills.

Below you’ll find the best sales on grilling equipment from around the web this Memorial Day weekend. We’ve also outlined everything you can expect from Memorial Day grill sales in the FAQ section. If you’re looking for more deals, check out our coverage on spring deals and Memorial Day mattress deals, plus all our deals coverage here.

Keep reading to learn about the best deals on grills or find more Memorial Day sales here

The best deals on grills we like

Genesis II E-315 3 burner Liquid Propane Grill (medium)Signature 21-Inch Kamado Grill & Smoker (medium)Griller’s Meal Pack (medium)Thermapen Mk4 (medium)Searing Grill (medium)
The best deals on grills and grilling equipment

  • Ace Hardware: Save on select grills.
  • Bed Bath & Beyond: Select savings for Beyond+ members, save up to 25% on select BBQ tools.
  • BBQ GuysSave on select grills and grilling accessories.
  • The Home Depot: Savings of up to 40% on select grills.
  • Lowe’s: Save up to $150 on select pellet grills.
  • Walmart: Select grills and grilling accessories on sale. 
  • Sur La Table: Save up to 50% on select grilling products and other kitchen gear during Memorial Day weekend. Plus, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $75.
  • Target: Save on select grills and accessories
  • Traeger: Free grill cover and pellets with select grill purchases.
  • ThermoWorks: Save with new deals added regularly.
  • Wayfair: Save hundreds of dollars on grills, smokers, and outdoor cooking appliances. 
  • Overstock: Save up to 20% on select grills and outdoor cooking accessories.

The best deals on meat and seafood for grilling

  • Butcherbox: Get a free BBQ Bundle for new and canceled customers through May 31.
  • Chicago Steak Company: Get free shipping plus 12 free 4-ounce burgers with orders over $99 with promo code FREEGIFTS.
  • Cooks Venture: Get $20 off your first order with promo code TRYCV.
  • Omaha Steaks: Get 50% off summer grilling favorites.
  • Thrive Market: Get a free gift worth up to $25 with your order.

FAQs

When do Memorial Day grills sales start?

Grill discounts start appearing steadily between January and Memorial Day, as retailers attempt to empty their inventory of old models before new grill models launch in the late spring. 

What grills are typically discounted on Memorial Day?

The best grill discounts will vary by retailer, but you can bet that most retailers like The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and Target will be offering discounts on major brands like Weber, Dyna-Glo, Nexgrill, and more.

When is the best time to buy a grill?

We typically see major sales on grills around Memorial Day (the start of grilling season) and Labor Day (when grill season winds down). You can also find solid deals throughout the colder months as stores attempt to empty their inventory in anticipation of new model launches in the spring. We recommend jumping on good grill deals before the summer months really get underway and stock is in high demand. 

What grill should I buy?

The best grill for you depends on how often you grill, how many people you cook for, and what you typically make. We think most people will get the most out of a gas grill because they’re versatile, easy to use, and easy to clean. You can find our top gas grill picks in our buying guide

If you like to make barbecue or other foods that are cooked low and slow, a charcoal grill may be a better bet. They take more time to get up and running each time you want to cook, but impart a rich, smoky flavor on the food and you never have to worry about running out of propane in the middle of cooking. You can read more about our picks for best charcoal grill here.

The next step up from a charcoal grill would be a smoker. We recommend looking into smokers only if you cook barbecue very regularly and have already tested the limits of a charcoal grill. Read more about the best smokers here.

Finally, there are specialty grills like salamander grills, pizza ovens, flat-top grills, hibachi-style grills, and more. You may want to consider these types of grills if you find that a standard gas or charcoal grill isn’t meeting your needs for the type of cooking you’re doing.

Read the original article on Business Insider