A 12-inch nonstick skillet is the most versatile, and this is our overall favorite model. 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.
This no-frills Super Benriner model is a cult favorite among restaurant cooks and home cooks alike, and for good reason: Its razor-sharp blades can handle even the toughest produce, and it can be set in a seemingly infinite range of thicknesses, effortlessly churning out paper-thin or chunky slices and julienne. (There are no fixed thickness settings, but most testers saw this as a positive trait, since it allowed them to customize the thickness so broadly.) It’s big enough to handle larger produce but still relatively compact for easy storage. And though it has only a simple rubber bumper, it rarely budges, thanks again to its sharp blade, which requires so little effort to slice food that the mandoline never fights back. Its simple plank shape allows you to use it vertically or to hook it over a bowl. Just don’t expect much from its hand guard, which is pretty much useless.
This mandoline was the most user-friendly of the bunch; it’s a cinch to set up and use, thanks to a clearly marked, accurate dial that allows you to adjust slice thickness in both 1/16-inch and 1-millimeter increments. Rubber-coated kickstands and a relatively heavy weight keep this mandoline superstable on the counter. And its innovative spring-loaded food pusher did a great job of protecting our hands and advancing all foods through the slicer, though our arms got tired from maintaining pressure on the pusher during long jobs. While its blades are not quite as sharp as some, it was capable of making nice, even slices in a wide range of thicknesses on all but the most fibrous produce; it can also make crinkle and waffle cuts and two widths of julienne (though you can’t vary the julienne’s thickness). It’s not cheap, and it’s a bit bulky to store, but it’s otherwise a fantastic option.
This paddle-style mandoline was supersimple and supereasy to use; a dowel on the back of the platform allows you to adjust the thickness, though the settings themselves are abstractly numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4, with no correspondence to millimeter or inch measurements. Its ceramic blade was reasonably sharp, making nice, even slices with all but the toughest produce. Lightweight and lacking any kind of a backstop, it slides around a bit on the counter if you use it standing up, though we also used it over a bowl with success. Because it’s so small, it can’t handle larger produce, but it’s exceptionally easy to store. Our two quibbles? Its hand guard is useless, and it’s not very versatile: It’s not able to slice foods thickly, so you can’t rely on this tool for potato gratin or eggplant parm, and it has no julienne blades. But if you just want an inexpensive tool that makes beautiful paper-thin vegetable slices for salad, this is a great option.
Inexpensive, effective, agile, and easy to use, this longtime favorite Y peeler has held up well in our test kitchen; we have used this model for more than a decade. Light as a feather, it did not fatigue our hands. The dual blade is carbon steel, like high-end chef’s knives, and it stayed sharp. Slim and flexible, the blades glided smoothly whether we were peeling carrots or rock-hard butternut squash, while their angle peeled just deeply enough to avoid wasting food. Nearly an inch of space between the blade and peeler body prevented peels from jamming and gave us excellent visibility as we worked. Note: Carbon steel may rust if left wet, so wash and dry the blade promptly; an occasional wipe with mineral oil will keep it in top shape.
Testers liked that this straight peeler was light and comfortable. “It felt safe and effective, easy and smooth,” one noted. Peels were nicely thin; it picked up almost no traces of pith from a lemon. Its stainless-steel blade resists rust, and its design works well for righties and lefties, including the potato-eye remover, which safely scooped downward from the tip of the peeler. One quibble: The portion of the head holding the blade curves down past the blade, so we couldn’t get the blade itself flush with a chocolate bar’s surface to produce wide curls (you could still make skinny curls using the thin edge of a chocolate bar). The head is also a bit thick, slightly blocking our view, but for those who love a straight peeler, it’s a good choice.
The lightest knife we tested, this nakiri was a true pleasure to use and seemed nearly weightless in our hands. With a thin, relatively tall, medium-length blade, it was capable of both coarser work (chopping greens or delicata squash) and fine, precise cuts (making carrot brunoise, mincing parsley). Its oval-profile handle felt great in our hands, and the magnolia wood used to make it helped us keep our grip on it, even when it got wet.
Our longtime inexpensive favorite remains a pleasure to use. With a sharp, gently curved blade, it effortlessly dispatched every task we set before it, mincing garlic precisely and breaking down chicken and dense butternut squash with authority. Its light weight and rounded spine made it easy to wield for long periods, and its textured plastic handle was comfortable to grip for hands of all sizes.
The blade on this paring knife is identical to that of our original winner; it’s just as sharp, thin, and nimble as ever, and it’s capable of making ultraprecise slices and incisions. Its plastic handle is easy to grip and accommodates large and small hands easily. In addition, the handle doesn’t add too much weight to the knife overall, allowing for agile, effortless use.
Our favorite cutting board impressed testers with its rock-solid stability and excellent durability. Thanks to its moderate weight and four small but capable rubberized grips, it never budged on the counter. At about ½ inch thick, it didn’t flex during use or warp; while it did scar somewhat over the course of testing, the damage was comparable to that seen on the other boards. And any stains and odors cleared up after a wash or two. Our one quibble: It was a little heavy for some testers, making it a touch harder to maneuver and clean by hand.
Weighing just over 3 pounds, the new version of our previous winner is the lightest board in our lineup, making it especially easy to lift and maneuver. Happily, its rubbery sides still allow it to sit relatively securely on the counter, though it did slip occasionally. And most testers appreciated the trench built into one side, too. Two small problems kept it from the top of the rankings: Because the board is so thin, with relatively tall rubbery strips embedded in the sides, the middle of the board never made contact with the counter, so it bounced a bit as we chopped, cleaved, or pounded. And the board became concave every time we put it under hot water, though it never warped permanently.
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.
Our old favorite fits a good amount of food, and we love its new telescoping handle: When the handle is extended to the full 4 inches, it's easy to grip to move the steamer in and out of the pot. The handle can also collapse to 2.5 inches when the steamer is in the pot or for compact storage. Our only quibbles? The metal leaves are a bit finicky to clean and bent a little during testing, though the unit remained perfectly functional throughout.
The newly updated model of our former favorite now has a much-improved brake and a rounder bowl shape. It worked easily—with just one hand—and was the most effective of our lineup at removing water from a variety of greens, with good clearance under the basket to collect runoff. Its lid is simple to pull apart (and click back together) for easy cleaning and drying, and it's dishwasher-safe. Our only quibble: A central stem protrudes from the lid into the middle of the basket by 2 inches, which slightly bruised baby spinach we'd heaped in, although the greens pressed against the outer walls as soon as we started spinning.
Our longtime favorite aced every task we gave it. Featuring a midsize head with plenty of sturdy yet flexible wire loops, it provided both coverage and agility, whipping cream and scraping up fond for pan sauce with equal aplomb. It was the perfect length for keeping our hands splash-free and away from the heat. Best of all, it remains the easiest whisk to use for long periods without fatiguing, thanks to its lightweight, long, grippy, well-cushioned handle.