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.
The price is right on this model, which made pretty toast without any fuss. We loved its glass window to monitor browning. A “reheat” button lets you warm up cooled toast or add a bit more browning. Its profile is compact, and the exterior stays cool. On the medium setting, toast was too light, but once we pushed the dial higher, it came out reliably golden and uniform on both sides; the highest setting made great “dark” toast. One thing to note: this model occasionally threw toast onto the counter or floor.
This thermometer wasn't quite as good as the Mk4 or the OXO model, but it gave them a real run for their money. It was fast and accurate and had a large handle that kept us safely away from the heat; the handle was slightly slicker and less roomy than we'd like but better than those of most models we tested. The big, clear display rotates two ways, and the long probe worked great at various angles. It turned on automatically when we opened the probe and turned off when we closed it. It also automatically wakes up with a touch if you leave the probe open. Its backlight turns on with a vigorous shake. Its one button operates a hold feature and min/max functions; we found the latter unnecessary, but the former is quite useful. The button wasn't perfectly responsive, and loading three functions on one button was a bit confusing, but overall the design was pleasantly minimalist, and you can ignore the functions you don't need.
With a medium-length tube for easy maneuvering and a rotating dial that allows precise control of fan speed, this smoke infuser was especially easy to use. It has a removable smoking chamber and filter, making cleanup a breeze and maintaining high-quality smoke. It's the heaviest model we tested, so it stays put on the counter.
These sleek, sharp knives sliced effortlessly through even the toughest steaks, and their good-looking contoured rosewood handles were secure and comfortable to hold. Though the blades dulled slightly after many cuts, sharpening easily brought them back to life.
Our previous winner turned in another gold medal performance: “Every slice is perfect,” said one tester. It was comfortable and sharp, with a long, tall blade that was “just flexible enough so you feel like it’s doing what you tell it to.”
Our favorite blender capably turned out smooth margaritas and smoothies and creamy salad dressing. Like those of the other models in our lineup, its narrow cup opening was difficult to fill, but we appreciated that it came with a small silicone funnel to help. We also liked that this blender was easy to turn on and off with one click of a button. It withstood being placed in a duffel bag and dropped five times onto concrete. It did begin to leak on the 45th smoothie, but that was a lot to ask of a machine likely intended for simpler tasks, such as making one smoothie a day or a few batches of frozen drinks at the beach.
This extremely sturdy, warp-resistant baking sheet turned out evenly cooked and browned chicken, cauliflower, and focaccia. Its lightweight, compact size made it easy to maneuver into and out of the oven. Its size is ideal for preparing recipes that serve two and for kitchen tasks that require only a small amount of space, such as toasting a handful of nuts or a few tablespoons of sesame seeds.
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.
Although it shifted around a bit in the our favorite small rimmed baking sheet, this affordable rack was strong and sturdy. It easily fit 12 cookies (a half-batch of many cookie recipes). Testers felt comfortable maneuvering the rack when it was loaded with 1¼ pounds of pork spareribs. The rack is also dishwasher-safe, which made cleanup easy.
Our winning herb keeper, slim and rectangular, made it easy to add and remove herbs, thanks in large part to its adjustable height—we could lower the top half for easy access and raise it to accommodate tall cilantro stems without any cramming or bending. We also liked this herb keeper's vented lid, which prevented condensation from building up, and its dividers, which helped it stay tidy. Besides being easy to use, this model kept cilantro and thyme fresh the longest.
This mat—the gold standard in many restaurant kitchens—produced beautifully browned food and made it truly easy to remove baked goods and roasted foods. But it proved its value with a couple of simple details: It fit perfectly in our favorite baking sheet, stayed put thanks to its heavier weight, and was dishwasher-safe, reducing the buildup of residual oils and odors.
This model had a slightly smaller range of thickness settings, and we needed to use both hands in order to adjust them, slowing down the pasta-making process somewhat. But it made beautiful, precisely cut fettuccine and angel hair every time. And it came with a handy plate that helped guide the sheets of pasta through the machine.
This folded metal pan produced tall, picture-perfect pound cake and sandwich bread with crisp corners. Like all folded pans, it lacked handles and had crevices in the corners that trapped food. We had to clean it very carefully. The corrugated pattern on the metal didn't affect the appearance of the baked goods. It still scratched slightly.
This electric deep-fryer made food that was almost always perfect, and in the same time and number of batches as our Dutch oven. Its large basket held lots of food and made it easy to lower and lift that food during use; its high walls and lid contained messes nicely. And while we didn't love cleaning its many parts, a built-in filter and handy oil storage container made the process a bit easier than with other models. One caveat: Like the other fryers, its temperature range maxes out around 374 degrees, so it can't quite fry quick-cooking, high-heat foods such as tempura as nicely as a Dutch oven can.