Published November 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
A ricer is a must-have tool for perfectly smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes.
For smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes, a potato ricer is the best tool. Potato ricers look and work just like giant garlic presses: You put the cooked potatoes in a hopper and squeeze the handles to force the spuds through a perforated disk. The best ricers produce a uniform texture that is not lumpy, overworked, or gummy. Several years ago, we crowned the RSVP International Potato Ricer ($13.95) our winner because of its efficient design; interchangeable fine and coarse disks; sturdy, ergonomic handles; and a pot hook to hold the ricer steady. To test it against new competition, we gathered five more brands, ranging in price from $10 to $30, and headed for the kitchen.
Every ricer got the job done; the difference was in how easy or difficult it was for the cook. Some ricers required a considerable amount of brute force, but others pressed the potatoes effortlessly. After taking a closer look, we found a few key design differences that explained why.
The number of perforations was one of the biggest factors. While all ricers had holes similar in size, having more holes on the bottom of the hopper made the job much easier, because more food could travel through, rather than being pushed back. Perforations on the sides as well as the bottom of the hopper didn’t help; instead, they usually squirted spuds out of the bowl, making a mess. The plunger’s angle of approach was also important: Most plungers hit the potatoes lopsided—making some spuds spurt up and out of the hopper—only leveling out and pressing fully and evenly when they were halfway down the hopper. Only two models sported different designs that resulted in more efficient ricing. One had a rectangular plunger that remained level with its rectangular hopper throughout the process, while a round model angled its rim to match the angle of the descending plunger. Both kept potatoes neatly under the plunger during the entire process, for more efficient ricing and easier squeezing.
Finally, some models were much easier and more intuitive to dismantle, clean, and reassemble than others. A few took real force to pull apart and the instruction manual to put back together, and one trapped dishwater in its numerous nooks and crannies. Our winner was the easiest to use and the most efficient when it comes to making fluffy mashed potatoes.