Get Out of Your Side Dish Rut

If you’re stuck in a side dish rut, we have a thousand ways to get you out of it. No, really. Our new cookbook contains 1,001 recipes that are perfect for tonight and every night.

Throughout our new cookbook, The Side Dish Bible, special icons indicate which recipes are Fast (30 minutes or less), Make Ahead (can be made at least 4 hours in advance), and/or Vegan. The book also contains a special “Equip Your Kitchen” section with detailed information on the test kitchen’s favorite tools, from peelers and potato ricers to salad spinners and steamer baskets. With our favorite equipment in hand and our comprehensive new cookbook, you may never find yourself in side dish rut again.

Built like a cocktail shaker, this container was just the right size, easily emulsifying both small and large volumes of dressing. The wide mouth of the canister facilitates filling, whisking, and cleaning; the top screws on easily, creating a tight seal. Best of all, its pour spout dispenses vinaigrette with a nice even flow. And after we put it through 10 dishwasher cycles and disassembled and reassembled it 50 times, the shaker was still as good as new.   More on this test

Our old favorite fits a good amount of food, and we love its new telescoping handle: When the handle is extended to the full 4 inches, it's easy to grip to move the steamer in and out of the pot. The handle can also collapse to 2.5 inches when the steamer is in the pot or for compact storage. Our only quibbles? The metal leaves are a bit finicky to clean and bent a little during testing, though the unit remained perfectly functional throughout.  More on this test

This pan came slick and stayed that way—we stopped both fried egg tests after 50 eggs. It cooked and released food perfectly, thanks to its darker finish and excellent nonstick coating. Its gently flared sides and lightweight design made it easy to load, unload, and move. Its grippy stay-cool handle was flawless and its cooking surface vast. It showed some light knife marks but otherwise emerged from testing unscathed.  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

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

With a roomy, medium-depth basket of very fine, tight, stiff mesh, this strainer removed lots of bran from whole-wheat flour and produced silky purees. A long, wide hook allowed it to sit securely on a variety of cookware, and while its rounded steel handle was a bit less comfortable than some, it was still easy to hold. This strainer’s sturdy construction makes it worth its high price: It looked as good as new even after serious abuse.  More on this test

This sturdy flip-top salt box held plenty of salt and provided easy access to it, accommodating most testers’ hands. While somewhat vulnerable to humidity, this box was great at shielding salt from messes. It was a breeze to fill and clean and could be opened with one hand; a small handle made it convenient to lift for on-the-fly seasoning.  More on this test

This fairly thin, lightweight plastic model—a smaller version of our Best Buy full-size cutting board—was easy to hold and lift but was also stable on the counter thanks to its grippy rubber sides. It’s dishwasher-safe, and while it got a bit scratched by the end of testing, it was otherwise intact, resisting warping, cracking, or staining and retaining no odors. Testers liked cutting on its textured plastic surface and appreciated that one of its sides had a small trench for collecting juices from roasts or wet foods.   More on this test

With diamond abrasives and a spring-loaded chamber that precisely and gently guided the blade, this sharpener “purred” with perfection, consistently producing edges that were sharper than on brand-new knives from edge to tip. “I’m cutting this paper into confetti,” said one tester. It was the only sharpener to quickly remove nicks in the blade; in 10 minutes, a severely damaged knife looked and cut like a brand-new blade. A big perk: It can convert a 20-degree edge to a sharper 15 degrees.  More on this test