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Potato Mashers

How we tested

Do you look at your potato masher and think, “That is a great tool that does its one job really well?” If not, maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Traditional mashers have long, solid handles attached to either a wavy wire or a perforated disk, but we’ve seen a number of products with innovative designs such as a coil shape or a spring-loaded handle. Could any of these new products make mashing easier?

To find out, we rounded up 15 different mashers priced from $6.99 to $29.99—five wavy, five perforated, and five innovative—and started with an elimination round to weed out any that were unacceptably flawed. We used each product to mash 2 pounds of boiled Yukon Gold potatoes (the type of potato we use most often in our recipes) in a large saucepan, counting the number of passes it took to get rid of lumps and rating each masher on comfort and durability. Products that bent or warped, were painful to hold, or took more than 50 passes to mash the potatoes (the best took around 30) were immediately out. This included most of the innovative products—their uncomfortable handles and inefficient mashing plates made for slow and painful mashing.

That left us with nine mashers, which we tested by mashing starchier russets, softer sweet potatoes, and more Yukon Golds in 2- and 4-quart saucepans and an 8-quart Dutch oven.

We also had different testers (men and women, lefties and righties) try each masher on a measured amount of boiled potatoes. In total, we muscled through almost 150 pounds of potatoes.

We immediately noticed that mashers with perforated mashing plates (which are round or oval) made smoother potatoes and took less effort than wave-style products. The larger gaps in wavy mashers often left lumps of untouched potato, and these mashers’ blocky footprints made it difficult to navigate the circular edges of pans, especially in smaller saucepans. Testers preferred perforated mashing plates with lots of small holes—our two favorite mashers had 50 or more—which made a smoother, more even mash. Wave-shaped mashers also occasionally bent or warped during tougher mashing, while the solid plate on most perforated mashers stayed rigid.

The size of the mashing plate was also a point of contention. The plates on the mashers ranged from 7.6 square inches to 14.6 square inches; our favorites fell solidly in the middle. Mashers with plates that were too large struggled to maneuver in smaller 2-quart saucepans, while petite products took almost twice as many passes to mash the same amount of potatoes. The ideal was a plate with an area of about 10 square inches (about the size of a baseball), which speedily navigated pans of all sizes.

Testers also zeroed in on the size, shape, and material of the handles. Larger-handed testers had trouble holding handles that were 4 inches or shorter; thin, short, or metal handles were uncomfortable and slippery. Lefties and righties of all sizes preferred handles around 5 or 6 inches long with a slight curve and a secure plastic grip.

Finally, we washed all the mashers by hand after each test and ran them through the dishwasher 10 times to simulate months of washing. Lower-ranked products trapped potato in hard-to-reach spots or emerged from the dishwasher warped and scratched. Our favorite products were easy to clean by hand and still looked as good as new after multiple runs through the dishwasher.

Our favorite product was the Zyliss Stainless Steel Potato Masher ($12.99), a traditional perforated masher that has a long, curved plastic handle and a sturdy, circular plate; it was maneuverable, comfortable, and efficient.

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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*