Utensil holders keep our kitchen tools organized and close at hand. What features make some models better than others?
Last Updated Nov. 28, 2023. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 22: Italian Bites
Our winner, the Williams Sonoma Ceramic Partitioned Utensil Holder, has been discontinued. We recommend the RSVP Oversized Tool Crock in its place.
Utensil crocks keep our most-used tools conveniently accessible and organized while we’re cooking. We’ve all tried to pull out a utensil only to have a few others come tumbling out in a tangled mess, or we’ve had a utensil crock, top-heavy from all its contents, wobble as we added or retrieved utensils. We wondered if there were utensil crocks on the market that could solve these problems.
We purchased both round or oval utensil crocks, including models in a variety of sizes and materials, including stoneware, stainless steel, plastic, and bamboo. In addition to varying in size and material, the models in our lineup sported a variety of special features. Some had rotating bases (similar to a lazy Susan) intended to help us locate utensils quickly. Another had a special section for storing knives. A few had silicone mats that provided a soft spot for utensils to land. Other crocks had dividers, and one had small grooves in the bottom meant to hold each utensil as it is added. We also included an expandable crock. With so many options in shape, price, material, and features, we were excited to see what combination of factors would make for the best utensil crock.
Our first test was to evaluate the capacity of each crock. We loaded 20 of our favorite utensils (see “The Test Kitchen’s Top Tools”) into each crock, adding them in the same order each time for consistency. We stopped adding utensils when we felt moderate resistance, which we defined as the inability to fit another utensil in the crock without pushing hard or excessive jostling to create more space. No surprise: We preferred crocks that held more items. Our favorites were spacious enough to accommodate at least 17 utensils. The smallest crock held just 10 utensils. We also formed a preference for a certain shape. Although oval crocks were slimmer (making for a smaller footprint near the stovetop), we found that their tapered ends were a tight fit for bulkier utensils. Round crocks with diameters of about 6 inches or more allowed us to store more utensils.
Of course, a large capacity is just one factor in a good crock. We also wanted a crock that allowed us to organize and easily access our utensils. A few features really helped.
We started by looking at the heights of the walls. The crocks in our lineup ranged in height from 5¼ to 9½ inches, and we found that higher walls were generally better able to keep utensils upright, meaning the utensils didn’t fall over one another and become tangled and harder to remove. However, small tools such as pastry brushes were harde...
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Sawyer is an assistant digital editor for ATK Reviews. She enjoys baking, collecting Prince records, and all things Toni Morrison.
Carolyn is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She's a French-trained professional baker.