25 of Our Editors Pick Their Top Tools

Cook’s Illustrated is celebrating its 25th anniversary! We’re marking the occasion by revisiting some of our revolutionary recipe development, revealing taste tests, and of course, rigorous equipment tests.


ver the years, we’ve tested thousands of products and have equipped our kitchens with the winners. This week, we asked 25 of our test cooks and editors to tell us what piece of winning kitchen equipment they can’t live without. From the smallest gadgets to our largest appliances, these products have made us better, more efficient cooks. We’re also commemorating our anniversary with a new cookbook, Cook’s Illustrated Revolutionary Recipes. It contains 180 of our most groundbreaking recipes—now with gorgeous full-color photography—along with practical tips, tricks, and original essays. Now here’s to another 25 years of test kitchen discoveries.

“This is my entertaining pot for stews and braises, my soup pot, my pasta cooker, and my deep fryer. It's even my bread baker. Yes, this pot costs a pretty penny, but it will last a lifetime. I fully expect my children to inherit this kitchen workhorse. And don't worry girls, we own two. That's how much your mother and I love this pot.” - Jack Bishop, Chief Creative Officer   More on this test

“I use a Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler every single day. It's effective, and easy to use, and the bright color means that it's always easy to find in my tool drawer. KR peelers last a long time, but when they finally bite the dust, they're inexpensive to replace.” - Andrea Geary, Deputy Food Editor, Cook’s Illustrated   More on this test

“Every time I used to cook rice on the stovetop, it would never turn out right. The rice would either be undercooked or overcooked or completely stuck to the bottom of the pot. This rice cooker changed my life in the kitchen. Whether I'm cooking white rice, brown rice or quinoa (and whether I'm steaming broccoli or beets or green beans), everything turns out perfectly. Sometimes, when no one's looking, I give it a little hug. Thank you, rice cooker, for your consistent results!” - Kristina DeMichele, Senior Editor, Cook’s Illustrated   More on this test

“I would say, although very simple, the tool I use most is a pair of tongs. They become an extension of my arm and do everything from help me lift hot foods in and out of a hot pan to holding something sturdy on a cutting board as I slice it.” - Ashley Moore, Senior Editor, Cook’s Country  More on this test

“I love that they're the kind of tool that would make as big a difference in a college kid's kitchen as it would in a professional's. I love that they never topple over, no matter how much you load them up with steaming pasta, and that they sit high enough that there's no "backwash" from water from a clogged drain.” -Amanda Agee, Executive Editor, Cook’s Illustrated   More on this test

"Some people call this a fish spatula, but it's good for so much more than that. The thin metal edge slides easily foods— even fragile things like pancakes or cookies— and it's strong to support heavy items. It's not an exaggeration to say that I use mine every day. -Lindsey Chandler, Art Director, Books  More on this test

“I adore our winning tortilla warmer. It will keep tortillas hot and soft for hours. I especially love it because you can toast up all your tortillas first and then finish preparing the rest of your meal while they sit, and they'll still be nice and warm and ready whenever you are.” -Hannah Crowley, Executive Editor, Tastings & Testings   More on this test

“I love this spatula so much, I bought two copies of it. Because its sturdy steel core is coated with a seamless piece of silicone, there are no cracks or grooves to catch food and or water. The blade has the perfect amount of strength and flexibility, and the handle is comfortable. It's a simple, perfectly designed tool.” -Kate Shannon, Senior Editor, Tastings & Testings  More on this test

“This carbon steel pan is the workhorse of my kitchen--it's slick like nonstick, hearty like cast iron, and does everything a traditional skillet can do--plus, it builds up seasoning and gets better every time you use it. Over time I've watched it transform from solid silver, to splotchy brown, and now a rich, dark black--it's my little kitchen pet!” -Lauren Savoie, Senior Editor, Tastings & Testings   More on this test

“A lot of cooks in the test kitchen use side towels to grab the handles of hot pots or remove baking pans from the oven, but for me, I feel much more secure using oven mitts, they are comfortable, easy to grab with, encase my whole hand and they are super fun! They always attract a lot of attention.” -Annie Petito, Associate, Cook’s Illustrated   More on this test

“Paella pans: not just for paella! Our winner is the one piece of cookware I'd take with me to a desert island. You can use it on the stovetop, in the oven, or on the grill. Its large size and superior heat retention make it great for for recipes where you want a lot of surface area for browning-- fried rice or pan-roasted asparagus, for example. You can treat it as sort of a flat-top griddle, to make pancakes or burgers or quesadillas. You can roast meats or vegetables in it, with room to spare. I've even used mine to fry chicken. And it's gorgeous to boot. (Just season it well and treat it nicely afterwards!)” -Miye Bromberg, Associate Editor, Tastings & Testings   More on this test

“As someone who doesn't always keep their chef's knife super sharp (sigh...I'm trying to get better!) this knife saves my tomatoes, sandwiches, and a lot of frustration. And it's $23! That's a bargain, if I do say so myself.” -Riddley Gemperlein-Schrim, Assistant Editor, Tastings & Testings  More on this test

"A good cast iron pan can't be beat. It's perfect for frying eggs, roasting chicken, searing steak, charring Brussels spouts or greens, and so many other things. If you take care of it, a cast iron pan will last forever. And even if you accidentally let it get rusty or lose its seasoning, don't despair. You can bring it make it good as new again with a little TLC." -Liz Bomze, Senior Editor, Cook's Illustrated   More on this test

"I used to think a mini offset spatula was only intended to frost cakes. But then one night I found how perfect it was for flipping seared scallops and my kitchen life changed forever. Now I call on this delightful tool to turn omelets, loosen cakes from pans, AND frost them. Just taking it out of the drawer makes me happy." -Anne Bartholomew, Senior Product Manager   More on this test