This quiet, high-powered blender has simple, intuitive controls. As for its blending capability, it was top-notch. It was able to produce fine-textured foods without incorporating excess air, thanks to its narrow blender jar. The tamper accessory was helpful when blending thicker foods, and the blender’s 7-year warranty insured our investment. It’s tall, at 20.25 inches, so it can’t be stored on a counter beneath a standard 18-inch-tall cabinet, and its narrow jar made scraping out its contents a minor challenge.
With a medium-length tube for easy maneuvering and a rotating dial that allows precise control of fan speed, this smoke infuser was especially easy to use. It has a removable smoking chamber and filter, making cleanup a breeze and maintaining high-quality smoke. It's the heaviest model we tested, so it stays put on the counter.
Our favorite blender capably turned out smooth margaritas and smoothies and creamy salad dressing. Like those of the other models in our lineup, its narrow cup opening was difficult to fill, but we appreciated that it came with a small silicone funnel to help. We also liked that this blender was easy to turn on and off with one click of a button. It withstood being placed in a duffel bag and dropped five times onto concrete. It did begin to leak on the 45th smoothie, but that was a lot to ask of a machine likely intended for simpler tasks, such as making one smoothie a day or a few batches of frozen drinks at the beach.
This mat—the gold standard in many restaurant kitchens—produced beautifully browned food and made it truly easy to remove baked goods and roasted foods. But it proved its value with a couple of simple details: It fit perfectly in our favorite baking sheet, stayed put thanks to its heavier weight, and was dishwasher-safe, reducing the buildup of residual oils and odors.
Our previous winner turned in another gold medal performance: “Every slice is perfect,” said one tester. It was comfortable and sharp, with a long, tall blade that was “just flexible enough so you feel like it’s doing what you tell it to.”
This model had a slightly smaller range of thickness settings, and we needed to use both hands in order to adjust them, slowing down the pasta-making process somewhat. But it made beautiful, precisely cut fettuccine and angel hair every time. And it came with a handy plate that helped guide the sheets of pasta through the machine.
Everything prepared in this sturdy, warp-resistant sheet cooked appropriately and evenly. Best of all, our new favorite is a few bucks cheaper than our old winner.
Although the grid pattern on this rack is slightly larger than on the other two models, it’s reinforced with an extra support bar that runs perpendicular to the three main bars. It had a touch more wiggle room in the baking sheets, but it kept pace with the other racks during recipe and durability testing.
Our winning mill was easy to load, and thanks to its clearly marked grind settings, “you know exactly what you’re getting,” said one tester. The easy-to-read settings allowed us to quickly and seamlessly change grind sizes, and the pepper output was great, too: We saw clear differences between the pepper ground using the fine, medium, and coarse settings. The mill was easy to operate, and the clear body was a nice bonus when filling because it helped us to avoid overflow.
This pan was a strong performer in all tests, though its corrugated-looking bottom ridges were controversial: They left marks that some testers found unappealing on baked goods, but the ridges helped minimize scratches. The pan’s nonstick coating released flawlessly. (Note: USA Pan is also the maker of our top-rated Goldtouch pan, though the two have different nonstick finishes.)
This sturdy light-toned pan with a corrugated bottom browned consistently and produced level, tall cake layers, though they weren’t quite as tall as those baked in our winner (and were slightly less attractive when we used baking spray). Pan pizza browned well but not as deeply as it did in darker pans.
This tray-style pan has wide, flat handles that make moving it in and out of the oven a breeze, rendering it an excellent choice. But while the cakes that it turned out were nicely shaped, with well-defined ridges, they were slightly squatter and broader than those from the Nordic Ware Platinum Anniversary Bundtlette Pan.