This simple, small, sleek model aced every test: It was the most powerful of the lineup at 1,100 watts, making it the fastest to heat water, and it held whatever temperature we set with perfect accuracy, whether we were cooking for 12 minutes or 20 hours. Easy and quick to set and monitor via an extremely user-friendly app (that’s compatible with iOS and Android), it’s also simple to clip onto any size vessel for cooking (if desired, a strong magnet in the base lets you stand it in metal pots without clipping it). Because it has no display, it isn’t harmed when it’s dropped in the water, unlike other models. Its small, lightweight, and slim profile makes it a snap to store when you’re done cooking. (Note: The only difference between this model and the stainless-steel version—which costs about $50 more—is the trim on the outside of the device, so we recommend this less-expensive polycarbonate model.)
The simple, intuitive control panel; stellar performance; and moderate price of this midsize model made it ideal for most home cooks. The “gentle” setting and pulse mode both worked well when vacuum-sealing fragile foods like strawberries. The handle locked the lid firmly into place with a reassuring click. A digital screen that tracked the machine’s progress and built-in storage for a plastic roll were handy bonuses. Although the seal bar and gaskets are fairly high off the counter, two little tabs help keep the plastic bag in place while sealing.
Our longtime winner excelled, with uniform, steady heating and good visibility inside the saucepan to monitor browning. Its cup-shaped stay-cool handle was easy to grip, and a helper handle provided another grabbing point when the pan was full. Even after brutal whacking on concrete, this model emerged with only tiny dents inside and one slight dent on the bottom, and it still sat flat on the counter.
This model costs a third of what our favorite Le Creuset Dutch oven does and performed almost as well. With a very similar design—low, straight sides and a broad, off-white cooking surface—it allowed us to easily move food, sear in fewer batches, and monitor browning. The trade-offs: The Cuisinart pot is 3 pounds heavier and has slightly smaller handles than the Le Creuset pot, and its rim chipped during abuse testing.
There’s a reason that food service professionals use these storage containers. They’re sturdy, spacious, and dead simple to use and clean, with no pointless bells or whistles. While they come in a range of sizes, the 6-quart size fit our 5-pound bag of flour with room to spare. Note that the lid is sold separately.
This ultraclingy wrap was the thickest in the lineup, making it strong, resilient, and nearly impossible to rip or puncture. It's perfect for covering your sous vide pot during cooking. We liked its durable dispenser, which came with both a serrated blade and a slide cutter. While the blade worked just fine, the slide cutter was a revelation: It takes just a second to attach and makes it a breeze to produce smooth, perfectly sized sheets.
This bag protected food from freezer burn and ice crystals for more than two months, and it stayed intact when filled with tomato sauce and dropped. But the band of thicker plastic under the double zipper was on the short side, making the bag a bit difficult to prop open and fill. And the side seams on the zipper enclosure itself were less sturdy than those of the product’s older version, tearing more easily and allowing some water to leak into and out of the bag.
With the thickest plastic in the lineup and a tight seal, this bag provided excellent protection. Frozen cookie dough and pork chops had virtually no ice crystals and were fresh-looking after two months. A side seam split when we dropped this bag (full of tomato sauce), and the bag let in a little moisture when we submerged it. (Order at webrestaurantstore.com.)
This thin, lightweight plastic model was easy to hold and lift but was also stable on the counter thanks to its grippy rubber sides. It’s dishwasher-safe, and while it got a bit scratched by the end of testing, it was otherwise intact, resisting warping, cracking, or staining and retaining no odors. Testers liked cutting on its textured plastic surface and appreciated that one of its sides had a small trench for collecting juices from roasts or wet foods.
Classic shape provided "plenty of room" in steak and chicken tests, but small handle made pan feel heavy when lifted. Eggs stuck "considerably" and took "tons of scrubbing" to clean the first time around but barely stuck and cleaned up easily the second time. Corn bread was crusty, with perfect release.