Enjoy a Leisurely Holiday Breakfast

We can’t think of a better way to begin celebrating with family and friends.

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? One of mine is a leisurely breakfast with family before the day’s festivities begin. First, I brew a big pot of coffee. Our Best Buy coffee maker brews hotter and faster than many other models, resulting in a smooth and flavorful coffee that the insulated carafe keeps hot. Our winning double-burner griddle quickly cooks enough bacon or French toast to feed the whole family. To ensure preholiday breakfast perfection at your house, you’ll need The Best of America’s Test Kitchen 2021. In it you’ll find satisfying breakfast recipes such as Chocolate Brioche Buns and Crumpets. We can’t think of a better way to begin celebrating with family and friends.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

With an ergonomic Santoprene rubber handle and a balanced, lightweight feel, this whisk was like an extension of a hand. It whipped cream and egg whites quickly, thanks to 10 wires that were thin enough to move through the liquid quickly but thick enough to push through heavy mixtures and blend pan sauces to smoothness.

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This dispenser’s spring-loaded spout cover worked like a charm. Pushing the lever let us open it any amount from a sliver to fully open, so we could pour neatly and precisely while controlling the flow. Releasing the lever let it slide smoothly and shut completely for no-drip handling. It was easy to fill and clean, too. One quibble: The glass jar isn’t microwave-safe, so we had to heat syrup in a separate vessel and then transfer it. On the plus side, the ridged glass jar stayed comfortable to hold as we replaced the lid, even when the syrup was fairly hot.

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This griddle heated quickly and evenly, consistently searing burgers and speedily cooking dish after dish with ease. Its 1-inch-tall sides kept grease safely contained, and its large cooking surface easily fit eight pancakes at a time. We also liked its upright, sturdy handles, which allowed for effortless maneuvering. Its nonstick coating didn't scratch in our durability tests and always rinsed clean with minimal scrubbing. 

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This nonstick hard-anodized aluminum griddle cooked food nicely, though it couldn't sear burgers quite as well as cast-iron or carbon-steel models. It was durable and easy to clean, and its 1-inch-high walls contained most grease spatters. While it was slightly heavier than most aluminum models, it was still reasonably easy to lift, thanks to large upright handles. And it had plenty of room to cook on, though it would have had more were it not for an inch-wide grease trough that encircled its cooking surface. Pancakes and eggs sometimes overflowed into that trough, becoming misshapen.

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Featuring a six-point dial for customizing waffle doneness, this waffle maker quickly and consistently turned out two perfect waffles at a time, each with a crisp, evenly browned exterior and custardy interior. With indicator lights on both sides of the waffle maker and a loud audible alert, it was easy to tell when each waffle was done. Weighing nearly 10 pounds and measuring over 20 inches tall with the lid up, this model was by far the biggest and heaviest of those tested—but that extra bulk ensured stability and durability. Two minor flaws: the lack of a removable drip tray and the shortness of the handle, on which hot condensation tended to accumulate. 

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This surprisingly quiet centrifugal juicer whipped through fruits and vegetables with ease on high and low speeds, and its 3-inch-wide feed chute accommodated large apple quarters or multiple carrots at a time. It was easy to assemble and its smooth surfaces (with fewer nooks and crannies than other models) proved easy to clean. Its stiff cleaning brush made a clean sweep of pulpy bits in the fine-mesh strainer basket. All parts except the food pusher are top-rack dishwasher-safe.

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With all-over tiny perforations that don’t allow small foods to escape, our longtime favorite colander has a draining performance that remains unmatched. Its 1 1/8 inches of ground clearance was enough to keep nearly all the drained pasta from getting hit with backwash. The model cleans up nicely in the dishwasher, and its handles are slim but still substantial enough to grip easily.

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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.

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The cooking surface was slick, both when new and after extensive use, and food never stuck. It’s one of the lightest models we tested, so it was easy to lift and maneuver, but it was also sturdy and resisted denting. All of our testers liked its wide, comfortable handle. Like every other model, its surface became scratched when we used a knife as if to cut a frittata, but it otherwise held up well.

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In every test, this coffee maker came out on top: It brewed hotter and faster than most other models, resulting in a smooth brew that tasters rated the most flavorful. Its thermal carafe kept brewed coffee hot for more than an hour, and pouring was tidy, with a responsive lever that stopped and started the stream of coffee promptly. All of its parts were accessible and easy to clean, and the machine turned on with the push of a button and automatically turned off when it finished brewing. It had a smaller capacity than the other coffee makers we tested, but it could still brew enough to make about six 8-ounce cups of coffee. It wasn’t programmable and was the most expensive model in our lineup; however, this was the only brewer in our lineup certified by the Specialty Coffee Association home brewer program as meeting all the standards for good coffee.

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