Elegant but not flashy,” this “all-around good set” was popular with all testers. The handles have a brushed satin finish, while the utensils’ heads are shiny. The tines of the forks (especially the dinner fork) are long, and the bowls of the spoons are elongated, giving the set a sleek look. Although it was one of the heaviest sets in our lineup, the utensils were well-balanced and the gently curved handles felt secure in our hands.
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The wide, teardrop-shaped handles have a small but useful design feature: a channel that helped testers form an easy, comfortable grip. The dinner fork is quite large, and the utensils were the heaviest in our lineup. The teaspoon, however, was relatively small. A few people found the set a little tiring to use, but most liked the substantial weight. The utensils are fairly well-balanced, and testers were impressed that the knives “cut right through” steak. It’s made from 18/0 stainless steel, which may not hold up as well over time as sets made from 18/10 stainless steel.
The salad fork and teaspoon are a bit smaller than those of our other top scorers, and the overall weight of the set is a bit lighter. The utensils were comfortable to handle, though testers noted that the exaggerated curve on the dinner spoon’s handle made that utensil feel a little unbalanced and top-heavy. We had one real criticism about the knife: It has no serrations, so we struggled to slice steak with it, though it works fine for spreading butter on toast or slicing softer dense foods. A number of matching serving utensils are available.
Featuring a six-point dial for customizing waffle doneness, this waffle maker quickly and consistently turned out two perfect waffles at a time, each with a crisp, evenly browned exterior and custardy interior. With indicator lights on both sides of the waffle maker and a loud audible alert, it was easy to tell when each waffle was done. Weighing nearly 10 pounds and measuring over 20 inches tall with the lid up, this model was by far the biggest and heaviest of those tested—but that extra bulk ensured stability and durability. Two minor flaws: the lack of a removable drip tray and the shortness of the handle, on which hot condensation tended to accumulate.
Our top-ranked braiser had several features that contributed to a solid performance in test after test: a light interior that made it easy to monitor browning; a moderately thick bottom that helped ensure good heat retention and even browning; a generous cooking surface that fit every recipe from whole chicken to meatballs to pork ragu without crowding; and large, comfortable looped handles and a stainless-steel lid knob that gave us a secure grip, especially important when the pan was heavy and full of hot food. While pricey, this versatile braiser made great food, was easy to use, and looked good enough to double as a serving dish.
This pan performed just as well as our favorite braiser but had smaller handles that were tough to grasp. Because of its thicker cooking surface, it took a bit longer to heat up and to brown chicken thighs. This braiser had the largest cooking surface area, which ensured proper liquid reduction and a rich, flavorful ragu. It was easy to clean and withstood being whacked with a spoon and having its lid slammed down repeatedly. This pan delivered excellent results at a bargain price.
This perfect, pricey pot bested the competition again. It was substantial enough to hold and distribute heat evenly without being unbearably heavy. The light-colored interior combined with low, straight sides gave us good visibility and made it easy to monitor browning and thermometer position. The broad cooking surface saved us time since we could cook more food at once. The lid was smooth and easy to clean. This pot is expensive, but it was exceptionally resistant to damage.
With an exceptionally broad cooking surface and low, straight sides, this 7-quart pot had the same advantageous shape as the Le Creuset. It was heavier but not prohibitively so. The looped handles were comfortable to hold, though slightly smaller than ideal. The rim and lid chipped cosmetically when we repeatedly slammed the lid onto the pot, so it's slightly less durable than our winner.
Though their rims are slightly thicker than those on the cups of our winning set, these cups were still nice to drink from. They had the second-widest bases in our lineup, so each cup sat sturdily on all surfaces. Testers were able to securely hold the cups, thanks to the attractive water-like ripple pattern on the cups’ exteriors. When dropped repeatedly, these cups retained a similar amount of dings as the other cups in our lineup. Lastly, they are stackable for easy storage.
Our favorite set of plastic cups has everything we were looking for, including thin rims that make the cups very pleasant to drink from. The textured exterior allowed us to grip the cups securely. After these cups were used, washed repeatedly, and deliberately dropped onto concrete, they retained only minor nicks and dents. A bonus: This is the least expensive set (per cup) in our lineup.
We chose this beautiful, solidly made French steel-lined pan as our top pick for its roomy cooking surface and open, flared sides with rounded interior corners, all ideal in a classic skillet. It cooked responsively and well, giving us “perfect results” with caramel, nicely browned chicken with pan sauce, and bubbly mac and cheese. In our infrared tests, it heated exceptionally evenly across its surface. We found it a bit heavy to handle, like all the steel-lined copper pans in the lineup.
Spacious, comparatively lightweight, and responsive, with remarkably even heating and excellent browning, this pan was a pleasure to cook in. It is five-ply, with a 1-millimeter core of copper, sandwiched first by layers of aluminum and then layers of stainless steel (a strip of the outer layers of aluminum and steel just above the base of the pan is cut away to display the copper core). Unlike most copper skillets, it’s induction compatible because the outermost layer of steel is ferromagnetic. It was the top performer in our infrared test of the evenness of its heat across its cooking surface. Minor quibbles: We sometimes sloshed ingredients over its extra-flared sides, but we appreciated that the open shape aided evaporation, helping food brown rather than steam. The helper handle became hot on the stovetop, but the stainless-steel main handle did not. Its cooking performance slightly outpaces its tri-ply sibling, the All-Clad D3 Stainless 12" Fry Pan with Lid, but it costs roughly twice as much.
Our longtime favorite skillet still beats all newcomers, with a clean design that includes no unnecessary frills. We appreciate the wide cooking surface and low, flaring sides that encourage excellent browning and evaporation; a steel handle that stays cool on the stovetop and won't rotate in your hand; and an overall weight and balance that hit the sweet spot between sturdiness and maneuverable lightness. It resisted warping and withstood thermal shock and outright abuse with nary a scratch or dent. Its three layers of cladding, with aluminum sandwiched by steel, make for deep, uniform browning.
The cooking surface was slick, both when new and after extensive use, and food never stuck. It’s one of the lightest models we tested, so it was easy to lift and maneuver, but it was also sturdy and resisted denting. All of our testers liked its wide, comfortable handle. Like every other model, its surface became scratched when we used a knife as if to cut a frittata, but it otherwise held up well.
Silky-smooth from the get-go, this roomy pan didn’t let food stick and stayed impressively slick throughout testing. Its heavy weight helped it retain heat, so it seared food evenly and deeply. The pan’s bronze color became blotchy as we used it, but it will gradually gain a nice patina with lots of use.
While this skillet started out with a rougher surface than those of the artisan pans, its gently nubbly texture quickly gained seasoning, and by the end of testing it released food and cleaned up perfectly. At about 8 pounds, it’s heavy, but that weight helps with heat retention and browning. Its roomy surface and high sides make it a versatile performer—all at a great price for a pan that will last forever.
With an easy-to-use interface and multiple bread options (including a “Homemade” option, which lets you customize the kneading, rising, and baking times), this reliable machine impressed us with its picture-perfect loaves. Two kneading paddles ensured a well-integrated dough with an even-crumbed interior that, while light and tender, was also sturdy enough to cut without falling apart. We also liked the traditional, rectangular-shaped loaves the machine produced. The only area the machine struggled in was with crust shade, which often came out a bit lighter than the setting we selected (medium), though the bread still tasted delicious and was perfectly baked.
We were very impressed by this less expensive option, which made uniform loaves with an even, tight crumb. It was also incredibly easy to use, with a simple manual function panel and straightforward options. While the loaf shape was a bit taller than it was wide, which led to some large sandwiches, we were impressed with how consistently sized each loaf was, from basic white bread to wheat bread to the cherry-almond sweet bread, which emerged from the machine with a beautiful golden crust and evenly distributed mix-ins. The only quibble we had was that the power cord was a bit short, so sometimes we had difficulty getting it to reach an outlet.
Our previous favorite aced every test, whipping, creaming, and kneading quickly and thoroughly to give us fluffy whipped cream and meringue; light, tender cakes; and chewy, rustic breads. We did have a few design quibbles: We'd prefer a handled bowl (KitchenAid sells stainless-steel or glass bowls with handles separately). The tilt-head latch works fine, but it's slightly less convenient than buttons on other models, and we disliked that you could operate it with the head unlocked. A major plus: It fits all KitchenAid attachments, from meat grinder to ice cream maker (sold separately), so it could stand in for several other appliances.
This mixer performed exceptionally well. It was speedy, creaming butter and sugar and whipping meringue faster than any other model, and it muscled through dense cookie dough with ease. Its beater heads are the widest in the lineup, making for efficient mixing and zero clogging, and they’re silicone tipped, so they didn’t clang around in the bowl. This mixer is thoughtfully designed with several features that make mixing more efficient and convenient, including a timer, a light that shines into the mixing bowl, a pause button, a well-positioned display screen, and a plastic storage case that locks onto its base.
This mixer performed the same as our winner, just without the bells and whistles. It offered a wide range of speeds, from slow to lightning fast, allowing it to tackle both lighter and denser ingredients with ease. Its controls, which consisted of a simple on/off button and two buttons to select speeds, as well as a small display screen, were the most intuitive to operate in the lineup. It was also one of the fastest models, losing only to our winner when creaming butter and sugar and beating egg whites for meringue. While it doesn’t offer all the special features and conveniences of our winner, it is a fantastic option for home bakers.
This quiet, high-powered blender has simple, intuitive controls. As for its blending capability, it was top-notch. It was able to produce fine-textured foods without incorporating excess air, thanks to its narrow blender jar. The tamper accessory was helpful when blending thicker foods, and the blender’s 7-year warranty insured our investment. It’s tall, at 20.25 inches, so it can’t be stored on a counter beneath a standard 18-inch-tall cabinet, and its narrow jar made scraping out its contents a minor challenge.