Our Editors’ Favorite Reviews from 2020

What our Reviews editors enjoyed testing, photographing, or editing the most during the past year.

What is the best large plastic cutting board? Are braisers and robot mops worth their hefty price? In 2020, our Reviews team answered those questions and many others. This week we asked each team member to tell us what they enjoyed testing, photographing, or editing the most during the past year. Executive Editor Hannah Crowley loved our eco-friendly reviews: reusable straws, reusable produce bags, and reusable food wraps. Marissa Angelone, our art director, really enjoyed bringing our wooden spoon story to life. Chase Brightwell whipped up cup after cup of frothy hot chocolate while testing milk frothers at home. Read on to learn more about the stories that excited our team members the most.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

"This was one of my first full testings as part of the ATK Reviews team, and I really enjoyed it—and not only because I got to drink so much coffee and hot chocolate. There's no easier way to become an at-home barista than picking up a milk frother, and our winners and best buy option are fun to use and easy to clean. Our handheld winner makes a great stocking stuffer!" -Chase Brightwell, Assistant Editor, ATK Reviews

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This frother was the most convenient and versatile of the bunch. It created perfect foam for both lattes and cappuccinos using its interchangeable disk-shaped whisks. It features a temperature dial for selecting exact heat levels, which will surely please coffee perfectionists. There’s also an opening in the lid meant for cleanly adding hot chocolate mix while the milk whirls below, resulting in a full 3 cups of smooth cocoa. With its dishwasher-safe detachable stainless-steel pitcher, this model was easy to use and clean, and it held up well to our abuse testing.

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"For years, Lisa McManus (one of our team's executive editors) has been telling me how much she loves this little colander. After testing it and several other mini colanders, I understand why! It's just the right size for draining canned beans or rinsing a handful of berries for a snack, and the oval shape makes it easy to funnel the contents into a bowl or storage bag. It collapses for easy storage, but I find that it never stays in my kitchen cabinet for long. It's available in several cheerful colors. I especially like the yellow." -Kate Shannon, Deputy Editor, ATK Reviews

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"This is quite possibly my favorite hero shot I’ve done this year! I can still hear the spoons falling over like dominoes as I was styling them. Nevertheless, it was such a fun day in the photo studio! A wooden spoon is a quintessential piece of kitchen equipment that I always have in my utensil crock. I learned so much from Lisa’s story! Like if I should I wash them in the dishwasher . . . you’ll have to read to find out!" -Marissa Angelone, Art Director, ATK Reviews

"Again, I was surprised by this testing. Wooden spoons are one of the oldest cooking implements—archaeologists have dug up 3,000-year-old examples—so I didn't think there was going to be anything new to say, or much difference between spoons. As it turned out, the smallest design differences had a huge impact on the function, versatility, and comfort of each spoon. Plus I was "forced" to cook our Weeknight Bolognese Sauce with Tagliatelle and our Vegetable Curry during testing, which makes everything worthwhile." -Lisa McManus, Executive Editor, ATK Reviews

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"This all-in-one machine surprised me because I loved it. I went into this testing thinking that it would be a disappointment, like the earlier reviews we've done on this style of appliance. But it did everything well, from food processing to cooking a variety of dishes from risotto to sautéed broccoli rabe to beef stew to pizza dough, and it was full of delightful, convenient design elements that made it a pleasure to use. I didn't want to give it up when testing was over." -Lisa McManus, Executive Editor, ATK Reviews

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"You know when you’re eating at a diner and see the cooks performing egg MAGIC on a huge flat stovetop? Well that’s basically a flat-top grill. Who knew you could have it in your backyard too? This was such a fun story to work with Riddley on. I’m not a griller and these are so far out of my wheelhouse, but I’m so fascinated by them! You can cook SO much at one time on our winner. I’m dreaming of all the brunches . . . " -Marissa Angelone, Art Director, ATK Reviews

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"This combination trash/recycling bin is one of the first things I tested after we all started working remotely. The timing was perfect. We'd just started composting at home and were producing way less trash, so our old 13-gallon trash can felt massive. I set this up so that the larger container is for recycling and the little one is for trash. I love it. From the sturdy foot pedal to the quiet, slow-close lid, absolutely every element of this trash can has been thoughtfully designed. I also like that it blends in with the rest of my kitchen." -Kate Shannon, Deputy Editor, ATK Reviews

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"I was really excited to test these wraps, because reducing plastic wrap use is a great way to make your kitchen more environmentally friendly. I love that our winning set clings well, keeps food fresh, and holds up to extended use. These wraps are a true example of kitchen ingenuity and innovation; they highlight how equipment is always growing and changing to help us lead greener, more sustainable lives." -Chase Brightwell, Assistant Editor, ATK Reviews

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Using this bag was a cinch (pun intended): The combination of a smooth drawstring and a strong closure bead made filling and closing it simple and convenient. The bag also had the finest mesh among the synthetic options; it even held grits without leaking while still allowing us to view the contents. This bag had the largest capacity in the lineup, and it held strong when we tested its durability with a pineapple and dumbbells.

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This straw set came with two 8-inch-long and two 10.5-inch-long straws. Both were very comfortable to drink from, thanks to their 3-inch-long silicone tips. Because the silicone tips were detachable, both the straws and the tips were easy to clean. The 8-inch straw fit comfortably in a glass, a to-go cup, and a travel mug and came with an effective cleaning brush that had plentiful bristles and a grippy handle. These sturdy straws did not dent when we placed a weight on them for an hour and ably punched through the lid of a plastic to-go cup. The 10.5-inch-long straw is ideal for to-go cups and tumblers larger than 16 ounces. The downside is that this set did not come with a carrying case (OXO said it plans to release a set with one later this year); however, we felt that its performance, easy cleanup, and durability outweighed this drawback.

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"Living in New York, and later in Boston, I was spoiled by the widespread availability of excellent, affordable artisanal bread. I'm a really bad, lazy baker, but when I moved to Kentucky last year, I had to take matters into my own hands; my boyfriend and I go through at least a loaf a week. I quickly learned that using my workhorse Dutch oven to make bread wasn't a great option—over time, any fat leftover from stews or braises polymerizes in the high heat you need for bread, leaving ugly stains on one of my most expensive possessions. So I was thrilled to get the chance to test the Challenger Bread Pan, which was designed specifically for baking bread. Made from thick, dark cast iron, it makes beautiful, well-blistered loaves, and can accommodate round boules and oval-shaped batards equally well. It's also easier to use than a Dutch oven—the domed top has two sets of handles that make it particularly comfortable to lift so that you can stick in the unbaked dough without burning your forearms, as I've done countless other times with my Dutch oven. They'll have to pry the Challenger Bread Pan from my cold, dead hands—I'm not sending it back until someone insists." -Miye Bromberg, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

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"I fell in love with flat whisks when I tested them years ago and have been stubbornly advocating for them ever since—they're slim and low-profile, they don't incorporate air unnecessarily, and they get into the corners of a pan or measuring cup beautifully. They're also ideal for making gravy, one of the best substances on earth. I refused to even buy a balloon whisk, and although my teammate Kate actually gave me one last year, I've used it maybe once since (sorry, Kate). I take my flat whisk advocacy very seriously. But this year, I've been tempted to stray from my longtime love. Mini whisks—particularly our winner—are GREAT. They are the perfect tools for mixing small volumes of sauce, slurries, and vinaigrettes; making spice blends; or even just scrambling an egg or two. I use it for everything now, and get mad when it accidentally gets put away—that's how often I find myself needing it." -Miye Bromberg, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

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"I learned so much about woks from Grace Young (@stirfryguru) and Tane Chan, the owner of The Wok Shop in San Francisco. Both women were extremely generous with their time and knowledge, and helped me start my testing on a strong foundation. I fell in love with the winning carbon-steel wok, by Taylor and Ng, and the close second-place wok from The Wok Shop. I bought myself a wok right away and could not wait to use it at home. Since then, I've been stir-frying everything from main dishes to vegetables to fried rice, deep-frying chicken karaage and homemade potato chips, and even popping corn. What can't a wok do?" -Lisa McManus, Executive Editor, ATK Reviews

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