Which pair offers the best precision and comfort?
Last Updated Jan. 24, 2022. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 21: Simple and Elegant Dinner
We surveyed the market to find a few promising pairs of new tongs and tested them against our current winner. We still think the OXO Good Grips 12-inch Tongs are the best tongs available.
Tongs look simple: two arms connected by a hinge. Pinch ’em together, pick something up. But this kitchen utensil is surprisingly complex.
When we previously tested tongs, the OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs were our favorite; they gripped foods well and were comfortable to hold. But with new models on the market, we decided to retest. We included tongs that were 10 to 12 inches long and had a variety of pincer designs, from scalloped to straight-edged.
Tongs have many uses, so we tested them in a variety of ways, including handling and frying delicate tortillas to make taco shells, rotating and transferring a roast, stirring and portioning angel hair pasta, and dredging and frying chicken-fried steaks. We also examined each model’s ability to grip and transfer ramekins and to precisely grasp a toothpick. To test durability, we washed each product 15 times and pushed each off the counter three times. Finally, we asked people with different builds and hand sizes to use and evaluate each pair of tongs.
We noticed big differences in tension during testing; some tongs were so stiff that they were downright painful to use for extended periods of time. So we took our tongs to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Michael Tarkanian, senior lecturer in the Materials Science and Engineering department, used a tool called a uniaxial tensile tester to determine how much force was needed to close each pair of tongs.
Comfortable tongs needed between 0.44 and 0.57 pounds of force to close. The more taxing models took between 0.70 and 0.84 pounds of force, which was fine for one or two quick closures but became uncomfortable during prolonged use. “My hand and wrist are killing me,” complained one tester while using the highest-tension model.
Even if the tongs were comfortable to squeeze shut, they had to actually do their job: securely hold food without tearing or shredding it. This is where the shape and material of the pincers came into play. Some models had concave, scalloped pincers, while others had rectangular pincers with straight sides and blunt edges.
Scalloped edges won, hands down. They were more precise and held everything from slippery pasta to bulky beef roasts; tongs with oar-like blades offered no grip whatsoever. One such model dropped a steak mid-dredge, and most straight-sided tongs struggled with the heavy beef roast, as the flat tong heads slid up the sides of the roast instead of gripping it. One tester, describing a nonscalloped model, said that it was like trying to use two baseball bats to grasp food.
We tested tongs that had uncoated stainless...
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Valerie is an assistant editor for ATK Reviews. In addition to cooking, she loves skiing, traveling, and spending time outdoors.