Happy Holidays from Our Family to Yours

As the year winds down, our team of eight full-time product testers has been reflecting on the items that have brought the most joy into our home kitchens this year.

Our team shares a love of both cheese and potatoes, so it’s no surprise that a cheese plane and a potato ricer (for the creamiest mashed potatoes!) are on the list. Hannah likes the “chic little” Click and Grow Smart Garden 9 because it’s super easy to grow herbs “even if you don’t have a green thumb.” Riddley and Lauren both love the KitchenAid Artisan Mini 3.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer, our favorite small stand mixer. Says Lauren, “This little guy gets everything I need done and—almost as important—it's so freakin' cute.” Read on for more of our team’s favorite items. And for all of our product reviews and recommendations, plus plenty of recipes to make with them, sign up for a multisite membership.

"I feel passionately about potatoes, especially around the holidays. I might be biased, because I mashed more than 75 pounds of potatoes over a couple of days when we tested potato mashers (yes, my hands still hurt), but I am #TeamRicer all the way. While we found a solid potato masher that will get the job done, a ricer makes the silkiest potatoes and requires only a fraction of the effort of a masher. Plus, it's superfun to use!" -LS  More on this test

"This is a great time of year to practice (or perfect!) your bread-baking skills. For one, you'll get an incredible sense of accomplishment each time you pull a loaf from the oven. Your whole house will get as warm and toasty as a bakery, which is a very nice bonus. Just make sure that you get a good baking stone first. It's the key to brioche, baguettes, and many of our other favorite bread recipes." -KS  More on this test

"I have a tendency to cook fairly complex meals on weeknights, and lately paella has been calling my name. This carbon-steel pan makes it easy to achieve the crispy browned rice (called socarrat) that's the hallmark of the best versions. If elaborate weeknight meals aren't for you, you might like the idea of a paella party. Just tell your friends to bring the cava and some good Spanish cheese to munch on as the paella cooks." -KS  More on this test

"I'm an equal-opportunity drinker: I believe that there's a time and place for every beverage, high and low. The holidays, though, are for wine. I might make a little milk punch or sip some bourbon after dinner, but wine is the only real option for the rich, leisurely family meals we eat between Christmas and New Year's. Over the holidays, many bottles will be opened and compared; as the cook, I get to keep any leftovers. But (of course) you can't drink wine without opening it. My very knowledgeable uncle prefers to use an older model of our favorite twist corkscrew, the Le Creuset Table Model Corkpull, but as a former bartender, I live and die by a waiter's corkscrew similar to our favorite, the Pulltap's Classic Evolution Corkscrew by Pulltex." -MB  More on this test

"Apparently I get sort of classical about my cooking during the holidays—maybe it's all the wine I'm drinking. This cheese soufflé will make at least one appearance on my table. Soufflés deserve a comeback! They're just as delicious and as stunning as you remember—and they're easier to make than you'd ever guess! You'll need a vessel that's big enough to make them in; this 64-ounce job does the trick. Any leftovers can be eaten directly from the dish while standing in front of the fridge." -MB  More on this test

"More classical indulgences: It's not trite if it's good. While I'm cooking the main course, my relatives are pressed into service shucking oysters. You can use a butter knife, but this oyster knife by R. Murphy makes the task a lot easier. An oyster served with a glass of Muscadet or Champagne? Perfection." -MB  More on this test

"There’s nothing I love more than a good meat and cheese platter (crackers and jam included, of course). So when we tested cheese planes and this one came out on top, I bought it right away. Aged gouda is on every cheese platter we make, and this cheese plane slices thin pieces consistently. The gouda just melts on my tongue." -CG  More on this test

"Strata is the perfect breakfast or brunch dish during the holidays because you can assemble it the night before and just slip it into the oven when you wake up—and it's absolutely delicious. This pan is perfect for strata (and a million other things) because it's table ready. I can bake and broil in it and then serve right out of it, with the ceramic base keeping the food warm by residual heat. Anything that pulls double (or triple) duty like that earns a spot in my kitchen." -HC  More on this test

"I absolutely fell in love with multicookers after testing them a few years ago. I just love the hands-off nature of cooking in them. Unlike when you're cooking on the stovetop, you can program the multicooker and walk away, and you don't have to worry about overcooking, overflowing, or controlling the temperature. The pot does the work for you (and quickly, might I add). Because they cook under pressure, multicookers get really hot, thus allowing them to cook things such as tough cuts of meat or dried beans way faster than your oven or stove. You also get great results because the pot is so tightly sealed when it cooks under pressure; the flavors get superconcentrated and the food stays nice and juicy." -HC  More on this test

"I live in Boston, where the winters are long gray affairs or long white affairs (either way, they’re long). Something that brings me joy in the colder months are fresh, green things. I love cooking with herbs, but growing them at home and snipping them fresh is just next-level. This chic little smart garden makes it supereasy even if you don't have a green thumb. It's immensely satisfying to cut aromatic fresh herbs to order (Bonus: No more finding brown bunches of unused cilantro at the back of your fridge!) and just having the garden on the counter all verdant and green brings me joy." -HC  More on this test

"This coffeemaker is a bit pricey, but you should taste the coffee. It’s engineered to bring out full, rounded flavor from your coffee beans and give you perfect drip coffee, every time. It’s like a tiny pour-over barista on your countertop. Here’s what you can’t see: Handbuilt in the Netherlands, its copper coils heat up the water almost instantly to the optimal temperature. Copper heats much faster than aluminum, which is what most coffee makers have inside." -LM  More on this test

"A sturdy rimmed baking sheet is almost infinitely useful, alone or in combination with a cooling rack. We use one for broiling and roasting fish, meats, and vegetables; browning oven fries; baking sheet cakes, pizzas, and slab pies; cooking a pound of bacon or hash browns for a crowd; and creating one-pan dinners. I have two and they’re in constant rotation in my kitchen." -LM  More on this test

"The grid pattern on this wire rack is key: It supports food and keeps small pieces from falling through. The rack itself fits neatly into our winning rimmed baking sheet, creating a broiling pan, a drip tray for decorating cookies, a holding zone for battered foods, before or after frying, and more. And since it’s the same size and shape as the baking sheet, you know It can cool the whole batch of cookies without letting any fall off." -LM  More on this test