Cook Unparalleled Pasta with These Gadgets

Who needs takeout from an Italian restaurant? Now you can make the perfect pasta at home.

This week is all about one of our favorite foods—pasta! Our online cooking school class, Pasta Classics, will walk you through three quintessential pasta dishes: pasta with Bolognese sauce, baked manicotti, and pasta with pesto alla trapanese. You’ll learn pasta basics and core techniques that every cook should know. We’ve also gathered all the pots, utensils, and gadgets that make cooking and serving pasta easier and neater.

This server’s small perforations drained water without losing pasta; its long teeth grabbed and held long strands with ease (their slightly wide placement meant smaller pasta sometimes slipped out, but this was a minor issue). Its long handle with comfortable silicone grip kept hands a safe distance from hot water, and the gently angled head was just right for easy control.  More on this test

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.  More on this test

The Ferrari of the pasta machine world, this model was a little more expensive than the others, but it sure was a pleasure to handle. It sported both the widest and the narrowest thickness settings in our lineup; we barely had to roll dough out to fit it through the machine, and we could effortlessly dial the machine down to produce gossamer-thin sheets. Its laser-sharp noodle attachment produced perfect fettuccine and angel hair every time.  More on this test

Our former winner, which is made from stainless steel, again worked seamlessly from start to finish. Its comfortable handles opened wide, allowing us to easily load cloves. It produced a uniform mince, handled unpeeled cloves well, and quickly rinsed clean. Two minor issues: We pinched our fingers between the handles a couple of times, and garlic sometimes squished up and around the plunger if we minced multiple cloves at once. But overall we loved this sleek, easy-to-use press.  More on this test

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.  More on this test

"There's a reason we have 20 or 30 of these in this kitchen," said a tester; others agreed, calling it "Old Faithful." They found it notably sharp, with "great maneuverability." In sum: "This is exactly what a knife is supposed to be." Update: November 2013 Since our story appeared, the price of our winning Victorinox Swiss Army 8" Chef's Knife with Fibrox Handle has risen from $27.21 to about $39.95. We always report the price we paid for products when we bought them for testing; however, product prices are subject to change.  More on this test

Distinct from citrus presses that use small holes, this model features a star-like arrangement of large draining slots, which direct the juice in a steady stream with no splattering or overflowing. Its large, rounded handles were easy to squeeze for testers of all sizes, which helped this press quickly extract far more juice than any other model. Its roomy bowl could also accommodate up to medium-size oranges (but not large ones).   More on this test

With a powerful, quiet motor; responsive pulsing action; sharp blades; and a simple, pared-down-to-basics design, our old favorite aced every test, surprising us time and again by outshining pricier, more feature-filled competitors. It was one of the few models that didn’t leak at its maximum stated liquid capacity. It’s also easy to clean and store, because it comes with just a chopping blade and two disks for shredding and slicing. Additional blade options are available à la carte. NOTE: Cuisinart has announced a recall of the older riveted S-blade of our winning food processor, which was included in models sold from 1996 through December 2015. Cuisinart will replace the blade free of charge, and the new blade will fit old machines. Anyone with this older blade should contact Cuisinart at https://recall.cuisinart.com (or call 1-877-339-2534).  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

This pot was lauded for being "nice and heavy," with "easy-to-grip" handles that "didn't get too hot" (although we still needed potholders). The aluminum core runs up the side of the pot—other pots have aluminum cores only in the bottom, if anywhere—which ensures more even heating than most of us will ever need.  More on this test