This slim, lightweight machine heated water almost as fast as the biggest circulators and was the most accurate in our lineup. Though it doesn’t have a display and requires a smartphone to work, its app was intuitive and simple, and its enclosed electronics meant we didn’t have to worry about getting any part of the circulator wet.
A wifi-enabled update of our former winning circulator, this machine has many of the features we liked in the old model: a sturdy screw-in clamp that can be raised or lowered depending on the vessel height, an adjustable heating port that can be turned to prevent jostling, and easy-to-use, intuitive controls.
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.
This model costs a third of what our favorite Le Creuset Dutch oven does and performed almost as well. With a very similar design—low, straight sides and a broad, off-white cooking surface—it allowed us to easily move food, sear in fewer batches, and monitor browning. The trade-offs: The Cuisinart pot is 3 pounds heavier and has slightly smaller handles than the Le Creuset pot, and its rim chipped during abuse testing.
There’s a reason that food service professionals use these storage containers. They’re sturdy, spacious, and dead simple to use and clean, with no pointless bells or whistles. While they come in a range of sizes, the 6-quart size fit our 5-pound bag of flour with room to spare. Note that the lid is sold separately.
We recently learned of performance and longevity issues with our winning vacuum sealer, the Weston Professional Advantage Vacuum Sealer. In light of this, we've withdrawn our recommendation. We're retesting vacuum sealers now and will update our review as soon as possible. As an alternative, we recommend using a zipper-lock plastic bag. Add the food to the plastic bag (use a small amount of olive or vegetable oil for meats and fish), remove as much air as you can, and seal the bag until just 1 inch of the lock is still open. Once the bath is up to temperature, dunk the bag into the bath until all but the unsealed corner is submerged in water, and then complete the seal. Removing air gives the food direct contact with the heated water, so it cooks more quickly and evenly.
Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.
This ultraclingy wrap was the thickest in the lineup, making it strong, resilient, and nearly impossible to rip or puncture. At an unusual 15 inches wide, it was the only consumer-grade product that could cover our large cutting board with a single sheet, though it was great for smaller jobs as well. And we liked its durable dispenser, which came with both a serrated blade and a slide cutter. While the blade worked just fine, the slide cutter was a revelation: It takes just a second to attach and makes it a breeze to produce smooth, perfectly sized sheets.
This bag protected food from freezer burn and ice crystals for more than two months, and it stayed intact when filled with tomato sauce and dropped. But the band of thicker plastic under the double zipper was on the short side, making the bag a bit difficult to prop open and fill. And the side seams on the zipper enclosure itself were less sturdy than those of the product’s older version, tearing more easily and allowing some water to leak into and out of the bag.
With the thickest plastic in the lineup and a tight seal, this bag provided excellent protection. Frozen cookie dough and pork chops had virtually no ice crystals and were fresh-looking after two months. A side seam split when we dropped this bag (full of tomato sauce), and the bag let in a little moisture when we submerged it. (Order at webrestaurantstore.com.)
This thin, lightweight plastic model 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.
This inexpensive stand folds up smaller than a remote control yet expands to fit everything from an iPad mini to a notebook-size tablet. Its lightweight plastic body wasn’t completely sturdy, though pounding a pork cutlet right next to it didn’t rock our tablet out of the stand. Our winning combination was pairing this tablet stand with a plastic zipper-lock storage bag.