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Salad Dressing Shakers

From Two Modern Stews

How we tested

At home, many of us use a lidded jar to mix and emulsify vinaigrette—often with messy results because the seal isn’t good. But the kitchenware market abounds with funny-looking salad dressing shakers and mixers that promise to emulsify, dispense, and store vinaigrette more easily than that repurposed jar. To find out whether these gadgets were worth buying, we pitted seven BPA-free plastic dressing shakers and mixers, priced from about $10 to $16, against a 2-cup Ball jar with its lid. We wanted to see how well they emulsified, contained, and poured two dressings with different ingredients and volumes (our Make-Ahead and Foolproof Vinaigrettes); whether or not they stained or retained odors; how easy they were to fill and clean; and how durable they were.

Most of the gadgets were a waste of money: too large or too small and marred by design flaws that impaired performance. And although it’s unlikely that you’ll ever use the shakers’ volume lines alone to make your dressing, it’s worth noting that more than half of the containers’ measurements were inaccurate. While some of the shakers and mixers made emulsions just as quickly and as stably as the Ball jar and were just as durable and as easy to fill and clean, almost none of them were better—except one.

Our favorite shaker has a short, wide, 1 1/2-cup canister that makes it a breeze to fill, clean, and whisk sticky ingredients by hand if necessary. It made large- and small-scale emulsions that were comparable in quality to those made by the Ball jar, and in about the same amount of time. The shaker has one significant advantage over the jar: It’s much tidier, featuring a pour spout that dispensed dressing without a drip and sealing tightly so that no dressing flew out while shaking. If you make salad dressing regularly, the OXO Good Grips Salad Dressing Shaker, $14.99, is a good investment.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*