Published May 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
They may be cheaper than nonstick cooking spray in the long run, but are they better?
The nonstick cooking sprays that abound in supermarkets might make refillable oil misters seem like a gadget without a cause. But they offer savings over the long term (9 cents per ounce to refill with canola oil versus 60 cents per ounce, the cost of PAM), and being able to choose the oil has its appeal. In our search for a mister with a fine, even spray that’s easy to use, fill, and clean, we tested five brands ranging from $10.30 to $18.89, pitting them against our favorite commercial spray, PAM Professional High Heat.
We filled each mister with canola oil to the specified level (all held between 2/3 and 3/4 cup) and started out by coating 12-inch skillets and muffin tins to see how long each mister could sustain a continuous spray. We also spritzed them on brown wrapping paper to study the splatter patterns.
The misters came in two types: standard and pump. The lone standard sprayer, which works with a simple downward push on a thimble-sized nozzle, was a bust. It sputtered out blobs of oil in sporadic bursts, and took 17 squirts and 34 seconds just to coat a skillet (PAM did the job in one second; our winning mister, in two). With the other four misters, you pump the cap (and an attached plunger) up and down several times to build up pressure before spraying. All the pump misters covered pans much better than the standard spray mister, but some sprayed unevenly, occasionally spitting out large droplets of oil.
Our winner consistently delivered a fine spray and thin, uniform layers. Inexpensive, comfortable to use, and simple to clean up, it’s also entirely dishwasher safe (unlike some of its rivals). Both the winner and the second-place model can be used for infusing oils with herbs and spices. We tested them with dried basil and both performed well, cleanly expelling flavored oil. PAM had the most powerful spray overall so we’ll still stock it in our kitchen, but our winning oil mister is an excellent, cost-effective, and refillable alternative.