Side Dish Success is Guaranteed with This Gear

An entrée is only as good as its side dish. (Can you even eat spaghetti without garlic bread? Or a burger without fries?)

This week we’re getting reacquainted with a part of the meal that’s overlooked far too often. Our new special edition, All-Time Best Side Dishes, contains 168 recipes for salads, grains, and vegetables that complement a variety of main courses. We’ve also collected some of our favorite tools to help you in the kitchen. Once you have these tools and our favorite recipes from over the years at your disposal, your side dishes might just steal the show.

With a handle made from grippy TPE (a plastic-rubber hybrid material) and tines that had good rigidity and spacing, the OXO flat whisk aced our sauce tests and was relatively comfortable to use for longer periods. While this whisk had one of the longer handles in our testing, an additional inch would have made it even more enjoyable to use.  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


By the end of testing, we’d found multiple santokus that we’d happily take home, most notably the Misono UX10 Santoku 7.0" (roughly $180). The price makes it an investment, but its lithe, agile frame and neutral handle feel great to hold, and its edge stayed bitingly sharp throughout testing." -Lisa McManus, Executive Editor, Tastings & Testings

Our favorite santoku wowed testers of all abilities, who raved that it felt “agile, sharp, and really good in hand.” “Solid but light,” it made “fine, level cuts” with “great precision and control.” This knife features an asymmetrical blade with a 70/30 bevel that the company hand-sharpens specifically for either right- or left-handers.   More on this test

This light, smooth bamboo spoon was broad enough to churn bulky stews, yet small enough to rotate a single chunk of beef without disturbing surrounding pieces. Its rectangular handle was comfortable to grip; its head had the most surface area in contact with the pan, so it excelled at scraping fond. Stain-resistant, it emerged after testing looking closest to new.  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.”  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

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

Our winning herb keeper, slim and rectangular, made it easy to add and remove herbs, thanks in large part to its adjustable height—we could lower the top half for easy access and raise it to accommodate tall cilantro stems without any cramming or bending. We also liked this herb keeper's vented lid, which prevented condensation from building up, and its dividers, which helped it stay tidy. Besides being easy to use, this model kept cilantro and thyme fresh the longest.  More on this test

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