Top Gadgets for Cooking with Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are the ace in the home cook's arsenal. They add a ton of flavor to everything from sauces to stews—and just about every dish is improved by a simple herb garnish.

Whether the herbs are the heart of the dish or just the finishing touch, our favorite tools will help you make the most of them. We find snipping herbs, such as rosemary and chives, to be an efficient alternative to chopping. That’s where our top-rated kitchen shears come in handy. To expand your herb knowledge, check out our online cooking school course All About Fresh Herbs. You’ll learn how to identify several common varieties of herbs, as well as how to wash, dry, measure, and chop them. With our recommended tools and herb-prepping tips, you’ll be a certified herb expert in no time.

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

Superior blades gave our former favorite the edge yet again. With a razor-sharp 25-degree angle, the shears’ cutter blade sliced through every kind of food with equal ease. Deep, angular serrations on the anvil blade helped secure slippery foods. The blades’ length (the longest in the lineup) ensured smooth, continuous cutting; their overall narrowness made them easy to maneuver; and a medium level of tension between them provided just enough shearing force without taxing our hands. They’re ambidextrous, comfortable to hold, and can be taken apart for cleaning. Note: The Kershaw Taskmaster Shears and Shun Multi-Purpose Shears are produced at the same factory and are identical products with different branding; prices vary.  More on this test

"The Click and Grow system was self‑sustaining and simple to operate. It’s our top choice if you want to grow fresh herbs at home." -Lisa McManus, Executive Editor, Tastings & Testings

This attractive garden was remarkably hands-off and intuitive and required the least amount of ongoing effort. Healthy plants sprouted within a week, and the garden yielded abundant lettuce and basil over two months; several weeks later, tomato plants started producing fruit. The app was simple to use; it automatically set optimal light cycles when we scanned QR codes on the seed capsules. We didn't have to water it often; the tank is fully enclosed, and a simple float sinks if it needs watering—easy to judge at a glance.  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

“Feels fantastic when you pick it up: comfortable, light, ready.” “A dream” for cutting up chicken and dicing onion, with its “very slim, sharp tip” and an acutely tapered blade that made it feel especially light as well as slightly flexible. With a blade more curved than most of the Japanese knives, it assisted a rocking motion that effortlessly “pulverized parsley into dust.”   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

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