This small, inexpensive plastic beaker has bold, clearly marked lines and numbers that can be read from above; a single wide mouth made it a breeze to fill, and a tiny spout ensured a clean pour every time. In addition to the ounce lines you'll need for making cocktails, the beaker also has volume lines for tablespoons, fractions of a cup, and milliliters, so you can use it to measure liquids in the kitchen as well. Better still, the lines are positioned in such a way that no one set of measurements obscures another, making each set equally easy to read and use. More on this test
This lightweight plastic cup has a secondary set of measurements located on a U-shaped strip of plastic set diagonally in the cup so that is can be read from above. The drawback is that the strip of plastic introduces an additional surface that has to be scraped clean with a spatula when measuring items such as buttermilk or oil. Many testers were willing to make that trade-off. It has two tiny arrows for the ⅓- and ⅔-cup measurement markings, and we would have preferred lines at every increment. It also stained slightly.
This classic model was accurate and had bold, easy-to-read measurement lines that clearly corresponded to specific numbers. The handle, though small, was smooth and wide enough to be comfortable. We also liked that the glass resisted staining and was durable. Our one criticism: Using the cup properly requires crouching down and looking at the lines at eye level, which was uncomfortable for some.
Our winning spoons had a simple design that allowed for a continuous, bump-free sweep, with a ball-chain connector (similar to what military dog tags hang on) that was easy to open and close. This set's metal construction felt remarkably sturdy, and ingredients didn't cling to the stainless steel. And while the 1-tablespoon measure did not fit into all spice jars, it was a minor inconvenience for an otherwise easy-to-use set.
Our kid testers liked our longtime favorite peeler for all the same reasons we love it. The sharp blade peeled each type of produce with ease; a kid tester described it as “a miracle.” The handle is flat and wide with rounded edges, and children found it easy and comfortable to hold. Due to the sharpness of the blade and how quickly it moves around food, we think this model is best for older kids who have prior cooking experience. As one 11-year-old tester said, “I am totally comfortable using it, but I have a lot of knife experience.”
Distinct from citrus presses that use small holes, this model features a star-like arrangement of large draining slots, which direct the juice in a steady stream with no splattering or overflowing. Its large, rounded handles were easy to squeeze for testers of all sizes, which helped this press quickly extract far more juice than any other model. Its roomy bowl could also accommodate up to medium-size oranges (but not large ones).
With closely spaced, moderately tense coils, this strainer filtered out all but the fewest, tiniest bits of lime pulp, mint, and ice. Long wings allowed it to sit securely on the small and large halves of the shaker, and a tab on the head made it easy to grip while pouring.
Testers liked this model’s rubbery handle, though its thumb indent wasn’t particularly useful. It did a very good job of zesting all the citrus, and there was plenty of leverage for its sharp channel knife, giving us excellent control. But while the ribbons of citrus it created were long and pith-free, they were narrow, and their edges were a bit ragged and less pretty.
The longest model in our lineup, this double-headed muddler stood tall in vessels of all sizes. With a moderate weight and a large, smooth head, this model quickly and efficiently muddled everything under it, making great drinks. Testers liked that it also had a second, smaller head, which was handy for maneuvering in narrow vessels or for making a second drink without having to wash the muddler. Made of unvarnished wood with indentations cut into it, this model was particularly easy to grip, even when wet. And although the wood stained slightly after its overnight cocktail bath, the muddler was otherwise quite durable.
This squat but surprisingly roomy cobbler shaker was leakproof and easy to use: Simply twist on a strainer and snap on a domed top, which doubles as a 1- and 2-ounce jigger. (The silicone top faded a bit after 10 washes but sealed just fine.) While the thin metal cup got cold during use, its carafe-like shape made it fairly comfortable for testers of all hand sizes to grip. The cup’s wide mouth allowed for effortless filling, muddling, and cleaning; a reamer attachment was a nice frill.
With a little practice, this large Boston shaker was simple and comfortable to handle. The wide mouth and medium height of the sturdy, tempered mixing glass made for quick filling, stirring, muddling, and cleaning. And the glass itself sat low in the larger cup, making it especially easy to form and maintain a long-lasting seal. Our only gripe? The thin metal cup got fairly cold during use.
With a hard plastic frame and lid enclosing a silicone ice cube tray, this model was easy to transport to the freezer without spilling and made excellent ice cubes that were clean and straight-edged. The frame and lid also helped reduce freezer and coffee odors; while the silicone tray did smell slightly after a week, the problem was less pronounced than in several other models. Relatively compact, it’ll fit in most freezers.
This clear ice maker made the prettiest ice cubes: sparkling, perfectly cube-shaped, and completely transparent. Its insulated plastic frame makes it easy to transport to the freezer and helps protect the silicone tray inside against freezer and coffee odors somewhat. But it’s pricey and it requires a large chunk of freezer space. Plus, it can be a bit tricky to pry the silicone ice tray out of its insulated frame; we often needed to chisel four “unclear” cubes off the bottom of the tray before we were able to get the clear ice out.
The two ice sphere molds in this set were a little finicky to fill, requiring us to pour water through a relatively small hole in the molds’ top hemispheres. But their hard plastic shells were compact and stackable, so they were easy to transport and fit into small niches in the freezer. While the silicone hemispheres that form the ice do pick up some freezer and coffee odor, they make for particularly easy ice removal: Just push on the silicone bottom and the sphere pops right out. As with the other sphere molds, you won’t get perfectly round ice—the spheres look a little like cute ringed planets with small bumps on top.