Mini Prep Bowls

Published September 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

These bowls should aid—not hinder—efficiency.

Overview:

To speed the cooking process, we almost always measure out ingredients like ground spices, chopped herbs, and minced garlic and place them at the ready in “mini prep” bowls. These should be stable, easy to scrape out, and clean up free of stains and odors. We tested six sets in 6-ounce and 2-ounce sizes in a variety of materials (silicone, melamine, bamboo, and glass).

To speed the cooking process, we almost always measure out ingredients like ground spices, chopped herbs, and minced garlic and place them at the ready in “mini prep” bowls. These should be stable, easy to scrape out, and clean up free of stains and odors. We tested six sets in 6-ounce and 2-ounce sizes in a variety of materials (silicone, melamine, bamboo, and glass).

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  • Product Tested

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Highly Recommended - Winner

    Pyrex 6-ounce Dessert Dishes, Set of 4

    Thick, heavy glass kept these spacious, sturdy bowls from tipping and fluted sides added extra grip. Basil and ground pepper were easily removed, and turmeric didn’t stain or leave any residual odor. Even larger spatulas could fit inside the basin to scrape out tomato paste. Microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

    $6.99 ($1.75 per cup)

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  • Recommended

    Martha Stewart Collection Multi-Color Prep Bowls, Set of 6

    These bowls were sturdy and strong, even when a tester knocked one to the floor by accident. Passing every test with flying colors, the bowls would have rated higher but for one problem: Melamine, a type of plastic, cannot be microwaved. Dishwasher safe only on the top rack.

    $9.99 ($1.67 per bowl)

  • Recommended

    Arc International by Blockhouse Glass Prep Bowls, Set of 6

    These prep bowls had a shallow basin and the rounded base was a little less stable than on other models. However, the glass cleaned up extremely well, without stains or lasting smells. Microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

    $11.50 ($1.92 per bowl)

  • Not Recommended

    Pinch Bowls by Le Creuset, Set of 4

    Static electricity was a problem for these silicone bowls: Ground pepper and basil clung to the sides. Turmeric did not leave a stain, but its smell lingered even after multiple washes. Although these bowls were thicker than another silicone brand tested, scraping out ingredients was challenging due to the collapsible sides. Microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

    $9.95 ($2.49 per bowl)

  • Not Recommended

    Mini Silicone Pinch Bowls by Norpro, Set of 4

    The bright color of these flexible prep bowls couldn’t distract from their poor performance. The soft, springy silicone material was full of static electricity, which caused ground pepper to stick to the sides. Removal of tomato paste was extremely difficult with no leverage between the sides and the spatula. Microwave- and dishwasher-safe.

    $6.95 ($1.74 per bowl)

  • Not Recommended

    Totally Bamboo 2-inch Mini Bowls, Set of 4

    These extremely light bowls were more decorative than functional. One gentle accidental bump sent pepper flying across the counter. Turmeric stained the inside of the bowl bright yellow, and after three vigorous washes its pungent smell still remained. Two additional flaws: The bowls can’t go in the microwave or the dishwasher.

    $18 ($4.50 per bowl)

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