Tools for Stylish Spreads at Home

When entertaining, is there anything more crowd-pleasing than a grazing board?

My good friend and ATK cast member Elle Simone Scott recently published a new cookbook, Boards. It goes well beyond cheese and crackers (though we all love cheese and crackers). And because she’s a food stylist, each of her boards is as beautiful as it is delicious. Next time you’re hosting brunch, try a granola parfait board decked out with fresh fruit and a variety of granolas. For your next dinner party, skip the plated entrées and serve a tapas board centered around a Spanish tortilla, olives, and tinned fish. I saw a sneak peak of photo shoots from Boards when in the office this year, and I’m so excited for this book. I think you will be too!

—Carolyn Grillo, Senior Editor, ATK Reviews

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.

  More on this test

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.

  More on this test

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.

  More on this test

The newly updated model of our former favorite now has a much-improved brake and a rounder bowl shape. It worked easily—with just one hand—and was the most effective of our lineup at removing water from a variety of greens, with good clearance under the basket to collect runoff. Its lid is simple to pull apart (and click back together) for easy cleaning and drying, and it's dishwasher-safe. Our only quibble: A central stem protrudes from the lid into the middle of the basket by 2 inches, which slightly bruised baby spinach we'd heaped in, although the greens pressed against the outer walls as soon as we started spinning.

  More on this test

Our longtime inexpensive favorite remains a pleasure to use. With a sharp, gently curved blade, it effortlessly dispatched every task we set before it, mincing garlic precisely and breaking down chicken and dense butternut squash with authority. Its light weight and rounded spine made it easy to wield for long periods, and its textured plastic handle was comfortable to grip for hands of all sizes.

  More on this test

This knife ran a very close race with our winner. It had a very sharp, gently curved blade that tackled every task well, and its rounded spine was easy to choke up on when we used a pinch grip. It’s a little heavier than our winner, but some testers actually preferred that extra weight, finding it “solid” and “authoritative” in their hands. And it’s just as inexpensive. One small quibble? The handle is made from a somewhat slick plastic that sometimes felt slippery when wet or greasy.

  More on this test

This perfect, pricey pot bested the competition again. It was substantial enough to hold and distribute heat evenly without being unbearably heavy. The light-colored interior combined with low, straight sides gave us good visibility and made it easy to monitor browning and thermometer position. The broad cooking surface saved us time since we could cook more food at once. The lid was smooth and easy to clean. This pot is expensive, but it was exceptionally resistant to damage.

  More on this test

Coming in a variety of useful sizes that nest for compact storage, our winning set performed ably on almost every test. Its wide, shallow bowls were easy to hold, fill, empty, and clean. They can be used in the microwave and the oven. While the bowls in this set were the only ones to break when dropped, the heaviness of the glass with which they’re made makes it unlikely that they’ll easily fly off the counter.

  More on this test