Holiday Breakfast at Home

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? For many of us, it’s a leisurely breakfast with family before the day’s festivities begin.

To keep things low-stress yet festive, we rely on a few key pieces of equipment. Our favorite broiler-safe baking dish is perfect for big batches of make-ahead breakfast strata or French toast casserole. A tart pan with a removable bottom, such as our winner, ensures that savory breakfast tarts are easy to slide onto a serving platter. Whatever we’re serving, coffee is a must. Our best buy coffee maker brews hotter and faster than many other models, resulting in a smooth and flavorful coffee that the insulated carafe keeps hot. We can’t think of a better way to begin celebrating with family and friends.

Our favorite potholders are fashioned as pockets with a sheet of silicone on one side, a panel of cotton fabric on the back, and soft cotton lining in between. The silicone layer offered excellent protection from the heat. Our hands never became too hot during kitchen tests and we were able to hold a 350-degree cast-iron skillet comfortably for 23 seconds. They were also flexible, which allowed testers to feel like they had control when maneuvering hot pans. Although both the silicone and cotton fabric remained stained after our durability tests, it didn't shrink or warp. We liked that it is machine-washable.  More on this test

With an ergonomic Santoprene rubber handle and a balanced, lightweight feel, this whisk was like an extension of a hand. It whipped cream and egg whites quickly, thanks to 10 wires that were thin enough to move through the liquid quickly but thick enough to push through heavy mixtures and blend pan sauces to smoothness.  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

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

Simple to use and SCAA-certified, this brewer produced coffee that was “rich” and “full-flavored.” The thermal carafe is sturdy, double-lined with stainless steel, and kept coffee very hot for up to 3 hours. With a wide opening that we can fit our hand inside, it’s also much easier than most carafes to scrub clean, but there’s no brew-through lid; you must remove the brew basket and screw on a separate lid to keep the coffee hot.   More on this test