Kitchen Rulers

Published March 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.

Do you really need a special kitchen ruler, or will any old ruler do just fine?

Overview:

Cutting and shaping pieces of food into a uniform size ensures even cooking and professional-looking results. We often specify exact measurements in our recipes—and we employ rulers as a guide. Traditionally, we’ve used an ordinary steel ruler to guide us. But do rulers specifically designed for the kitchen have anything more to offer? We picked up two regular 18-inch steel rulers from an office-supply store and compared them with two specialty rulers: the wooden Fox Run Magnetic Kitchen Ruler ($1.49), which doubles as an oven rack push-puller, and the Mercer Two-Sided Culinary Tool ($11.45). We sliced cookie dough and chopped vegetables, using the rulers to achieve precise results.

A good ruler must be accurate and have a straight edge. The Fox Run wooden ruler failed on both counts. The markings on two different copies didn’t line up, making us wonder which of the two was more accurate, and both copies were warped. While we were impressed by the Mercer culinary measuring tool, which is printed with a wealth of information,… read more

Cutting and shaping pieces of food into a uniform size ensures even cooking and professional-looking results. We often specify exact measurements in our recipes—and we employ rulers as a guide. Traditionally, we’ve used an ordinary steel ruler to guide us. But do rulers specifically designed for the kitchen have anything more to offer? We picked up two regular 18-inch steel rulers from an office-supply store and compared them with two specialty rulers: the wooden Fox Run Magnetic Kitchen Ruler ($1.49), which doubles as an oven rack push-puller, and the Mercer Two-Sided Culinary Tool ($11.45). We sliced cookie dough and chopped vegetables, using the rulers to achieve precise results.

A good ruler must be accurate and have a straight edge. The Fox Run wooden ruler failed on both counts. The markings on two different copies didn’t line up, making us wonder which of the two was more accurate, and both copies were warped. While we were impressed by the Mercer culinary measuring tool, which is printed with a wealth of information, from common conversions to food storage temperatures, at 5 inches by 12¼ inches it was just too bulky for everyday use. In the end, the basic office-supply-store Empire 18-inch Stainless Steel Ruler ($8.49), without cork backing or large, easy-to-read markings, was the best tool by any measure.

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  • Product Tested

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended

    Mercer Two-Sided Culinary Tool

    This ruler is an excellent tool for culinary students and cooking enthusiasts, with formulas for converting weights and temperatures as well as calculating yield percentages. But its bulky shape means that it’s more awkward to use than a traditional ruler, and the average home cook may find some information provided—the proper sizes for classic knife cuts, say, and a list of the Mother Sauces—more than they need to know.

    $11.45

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  • Not Recommended

    Westcott Stainless Steel Ruler with Hang-Up Hole, Cork Back, 18 inches long

    This single-sided ruler is similar to our winner, with a few key differences. It boasts a cork back that keeps it from slipping on a cutting board, but it came loose during our testing, plus cork is harder to keep clean than plain steel. The first inch—one of the most useful measurements for kitchen use—is divided into 32nds, which is unnecessary in the kitchen and gave us eyestrain.

    $5.79

  • Not Recommended

    Fox Run Magnetic Kitchen Ruler

    This wooden ruler has a magnet so it can hang on the refrigerator, and it has two notches so it can be used to push and pull hot oven racks. However, two different copies of this ruler were warped, and their markings didn’t line up, making us wonder which of the two was more accurate. Relative to such fatal flaws, the fact that the wood picked up odors was but a minor annoyance.

    $1.49

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