Operating this microwave felt remarkably nice; the intuitive controls and “soft-close” door are very easy to use and the buttons and dial operate smoothly and distinctly, giving the user reassuring feedback.The large vertical door handle is simple and painless to grab. Setting power levels and adding or subtracting time are very simple. It melted both butter and chocolate smoothly, with less fuss than other models. The brushed metal surface shows no fingerprints. We appreciated that the bottom of the door is higher above the countertop than other microwaves in our lineup, with nearly 1¼-inch clearance, so it can swing open over a potholder or other low item; we found this a thoughtful design touch. It lacks a timer, which most microwaves have.
The most current Instant Pot multicooker is a great, easy-to-use appliance. Its flat-bottomed interior pot allows for even searing. Stay-cool handles mean you can easily move the pot, even when it’s hot. The streamlined interface was easy to navigate. A “favorites” feature lets you save go-to recipes. It has a pressure-release switch that keeps your hand away from the hot steam when you vent the machine, and a diffuser on the vent makes the steam disperse slightly more gently. We liked that we could disable the “keep warm” function so that the food wouldn’t keep cooking once it was done. You can also program a timer to alert you after 5 or 10 minutes of natural pressure release, which saves you a trip back to the machine between cooking stages. A few quibbles: The baking function uses steam, so it’s excellent for cheesecake but not much else. The machine doesn’t have a fan to circulate the water and isn’t as accurate as a good sous vide machine, so it’s not capable of true sous vide cooking. It also couldn’t slow-cook large cuts of meat well. But none of these issues was a deal breaker for us. The pressure-cooking, rice, sautéing, yogurt, and steaming functions were all excellent and are reason enough to get a multicooker.
At nearly half the price of our favorite multicooker, this inexpensive model produced excellent pressure- and slow-cooked food but had a busier, less intuitive control panel. Instead of a digital screen, the button-heavy panel was inundated with presets, making it tougher to navigate. It made excellent white rice and pressure- and slow-cooked beef stew and baked beans, though, yielding tender meat and beans within our recipe times. This multicooker’s nonstick cooking pot was easy to clean, but browning beef took longer. It reduced liquid efficiently and sautéed well, and we liked that it had a manual start button. Overall, this more budget-friendly model produced great results.
Our winning air fryer was the first model we’ve tested that delivers on its promise to offer an extra-large capacity. Though it’s only a foot tall, this drawer-style model was large enough to fit four chicken cutlets or two 15-ounce bags of frozen french fries, cooking everything to crispy, golden perfection. We were even able to cook a whole 4-pound chicken in it. A quick 2-minute preheat ensured that the interior was hot when we added food. The wide drawer-style basket was easy to remove and insert—and our hands were safeguarded from the heating element—and its sturdy handle allowed us to shake its contents for easy redistribution. Intuitive digital controls (including a simple knob to set the time and temperature) were brightly lit and easy to operate. This fryer is a great option for a family of four or anyone who is looking for more cooking space without adding much bulk. Our one gripe is that the basket liner occasionally fell out when we inverted the basket. We solved this by using tongs to remove food or being more careful when pouring.
This model has the same spacious interior, convenient preheating cycle, and stellar cooking ability as its predecessor. But for a bit more money, it includes a few bells and whistles that we particularly appreciated. It’s quieter than most of the other models in the lineup, and its viewing window allowed us to monitor cooking progress without losing heat. The only smells we detected were from the food we were cooking, and we found the control panel even easier to use than that of our winner. And the basket liner rarely came loose when we inverted it, another improvement over the winner. In sum, it performs well and is well worth paying a bit extra.
While this air fryer’s digital controls weren’t quite as intuitive as those of our favorite models, it was still easy to set the time and temperature once we got the hang of the multiple buttons. It cooked foods quickly, and its display was bright, large, and easy to read. Its drawer and automatic shutoff were a boon to safety, and its nonstick interior was easy to clean. Its small capacity wouldn’t work for a crowd, but it cooked our recipes for two and small batches of frozen fries without issue.
This model made juicy and tender chicken, turkey, pork, and chili, and caramelized onions were evenly cooked. Testers liked its bright, intuitive control panel, with tactile buttons and beeps that alert you to changes. Cool-to-the-touch handles were a bonus.
This model costs a third of what our favorite Le Creuset Dutch oven does and performs almost as well. With a very similar design—low, straight sides and a broad, off-white cooking surface—it allowed us to easily move food, sear in fewer batches, and monitor browning.
This pricey pot is still the one to beat. It was the most durable and user-friendly with comfortable handles and lower, straight sides that made it easy to move, load, and unload. Its broad, lightly-colored cooking surface allowed us to cook more food faster and monitor browning. It’s heavy, as a Dutch oven should be, but a bit lighter than some of the others we tested.
Although the grid pattern on this rack is slightly larger than on the other two models, it’s reinforced with an extra support bar that runs perpendicular to the three main bars. It had a touch more wiggle room in the baking sheets, but it kept pace with the other racks during recipe and durability testing.
Everything prepared in this sturdy, warp-resistant sheet cooked appropriately and evenly. Best of all, our new favorite is a few bucks cheaper than our old winner.
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.
This affordable pan had it all: thick, solid construction; a smooth interior with no handle rivets to bump the spatula or trap food; an ergonomically angled handle; and sides flared just right for easy access but high enough to contain splashes. Steaks formed a deeply crisp crust, tarte Tatin caramelized beautifully and released neatly, and fried eggs just slipped around in the pan.
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.
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.
This dish had looped handles that were easy to grab, whether we were rotating the dish halfway through baking or removing it from the oven. We also thought it had the best capacity in the lineup at 14.25 cups—neither too generous nor too restrictive. Our winner accommodated all foods with ease and felt secure to grip even when full of hot, heavy food. More on this test