Make Springtime Entertaining a Breeze

When I have guests over, I want to enjoy time with them—not get stuck in the kitchen.

The official first day of spring is fast approaching (just four days, but who’s counting?)! That means that I’ll be spending more time with friends and family outdoors eating delicious food and drinks. This week, I gathered all the tools I use to make entertaining feel effortless. Our favorite cheese plane is simple to use—pull the blade across a cheese wedge, and voilà, a perfectly uniform slice of cheese. When friends bring a bottle of white wine or rosé, I pop it immediately into our top-rated wine cooler. It keeps wine cold for hours. At your next gathering, you’ll be able to truly enjoy the time (and spectacular food) with the people you love.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

These precut parchment sheets, which come in a large plastic zipper-lock bag, are the only ones in our lineup that are stored completely flat. They're also sized just right to slide easily into a standard rimmed baking sheet, although we did have to use two overlapping sheets when rolling jelly roll cakes into coils. Their superior convenience made them the runaway favorite. Don't let the purchase price distract you: The per-sheet cost falls squarely in the middle of our lineup.

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The shorter version of our favorite 12-inch tongs, this model easily picked up foods of all shapes and sizes—from dainty blueberries to a hefty jar of salsa—and was extremely comfortable to operate. The uncoated, scalloped stainless-steel tips allowed us a precise grip, making it especially easy to lift and arrange thinly sliced fruit, and the tongs' locking mechanism was smooth and intuitive.

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This wheel did it all—it was comfortable to hold and allowed for a powerful grip. Its streamlined design didn’t trap food, and it still looked brand new after 10 rounds in the dishwasher. Its blade was sharp and visible for precise, straight cuts. The blade was tall, too, at 4 inches, so it rolled right over stacked toppings and towering crusts with ease.

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With four removable freezable ice packs buffered by a 1/2-inch-thick zone of air, this wine cooler did a superb job of keeping wine cold, taking a whopping 7 hours to allow the wine’s temperature to rise 10 degrees. And it maintained the wine’s temperature within a single degree for an average of 5 hours. One minor caveat: The inserts must be completely frozen before they can be used, or the cooler won’t be as effective.

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Our previous favorite still excelled with power; precision; and a compact, streamlined design that takes up less space than most food processors, despite having one of the largest capacities, all at a moderate price. Its smooth, simple bowl and blade design are easy to handle, monitor during use, and clean. Its unusual feed tube placement allows for increased bowl visibility. It comes with just three blades for chopping, shredding, and slicing that can all be stored inside the bowl, with no accessories box to deal with. However, since we last tested it, the chopping blade was redesigned and leaves slightly bigger gaps between it and the bottom and side of the bowl, so it couldn’t effectively incorporate egg yolks into single-batch mayonnaise. We didn’t discover any other adverse effects from these slightly bigger gaps, which were still narrower than those of lower-ranked models. It did chop mirepoix uniformly and was one of only two models to give us perfectly green-colored yogurt in our dye test. Although it lacks a mini bowl for very small jobs, a double batch of mayonnaise worked well.

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Our old favorite wins again: Its smooth, medium-hard, reversible teak surface provided plenty of room to work, was a pleasure to cut on, and required the least maintenance. It was light enough to lift comfortably (especially since it had finger grips on the sides) but heavy enough to be stable for most tasks, though a few users noted that it wobbled occasionally. It picked up some knife scars but was otherwise highly durable, resisting cracking, warping, and staining, thanks to naturally oily resins that helped condition the board. And it's a stunner: Sleek, elegant, and richly colored, it was, as one tester noted, “less like a Toyota and more like a Corvette.” One caveat: Because teak contains microscopic bits of silica, it can wear down blades faster than other types of wood. But in our opinion, this fact doesn't detract from this board's stellar performance.

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Made of teak, this bar board is naturally slightly oily, so it required less maintenance than the other wood or bamboo boards we tested, and it stained somewhat less extensively. It was big enough to accommodate all the foods we cut on it though still highly portable. And it’s reversible, with a juice groove on one side that helped contain messes when we cut a lemon into wedges. It was the heaviest bar board we tested, so it stayed put on the counter pretty well, though rubbery grips would have provided some extra security. Finally, it’s quite handsome, making a beautiful small platter for serving cheese or charcuterie.

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This reversible plastic bar board was the largest we tested, allowing us to cut all manner of small foods with room to spare. It sat securely on the counter, thanks to its rubbery grips and moderate weight. And it was easy to clean in the dishwasher. A juice groove on one side of the board was great for containing small volumes of liquid. It’s not the prettiest board, but in a pinch, it could still be used to serve cheese or snacks.

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This insulated stainless-steel tumbler stood out with its slim shape and smooth but grippy surface. But its appeal didn’t stop there. The tumbler’s airtight lid was so solid that even when knocked over and thrown in a backpack, nary a drop of liquid escaped—an impressive feat. The only downside to the lid was that the vacuum seal made it somewhat difficult to remove, but it was a small price to pay for keeping every precious sip of wine in the tumbler. Testers also liked the lid slider that covers the sipping port; it opened smoothly and evenly. When tasked with keeping wine chilled, the tumbler succeeded for an impressive 4 hours and 30 minutes.

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