The Apple Enthusiast’s Wish List
Whether you’re planning a pick-your-own excursion or just stocking up at a local market, there are many sweet ways to use peak-season apples. But while perfectly baked pie and strudel are real treats, prepping apples for baking can be less than enjoyable—unless you have the right tools. In this week’s buying guide you’ll find tried and tested gadgets such as the processor that peels, cores, and slices more quickly than the speediest test cook. We’ve also selected other equipment that will help you make the most of apple season, including the best pie plate, our favorite cutting board, and the cast-iron skillet that produces perfect apple pancakes and crisps.
A quality cast-iron skillet is good for more than just apple desserts; you can use this versatile pan to make everything from pizza and sandwiches to eggs and breakfast sausage. In our book Cook It in Cast Iron, the editors of America’s Test Kitchen share foolproof cast-iron skillet recipes for all your favorite dishes along with tips and tricks, including how to season, clean, and maintain your skillet.
This corer’s large handle, sharp teeth, and wide two-part barrel allowed testers to push through even large, crunchy apples with ease. The corer’s sturdy hinge stayed securely in the closed position until we were ready and then released cores quickly and easily.
BUY FOR $10
Adheres to any smooth countertop, accepts large apples, peels completely, and slices neatly. If you make more than one pie a year, this is worth every penny.
BUY FOR $25
Don’t be fooled by its featherweight design and cheap price tag. This Y-shaped peeler easily tackled every task, thanks to a razor-sharp blade and a ridged guide, which ensured a smooth ride with minimal surface drag.
BUY FOR $8
This golden-hued metal plate baked crusts beautifully without overbrowning; even bottom crusts emerged crisp and flaky. Additionally, we liked this plate’s nonfluted lip, which allowed for maximum crust-crimping flexibility. One minor drawback: The metal surface is susceptible to cuts and nicks, but we found that this didn’t affect its performance.
This simple device made cuts effortlessly with stunningly precise results. Its hat-shaped guard protects well; cleanup and storage is a breeze, thanks to its compact vertical caddy. Even with just four cuts, all this adds up to a slicer that we’ll use every day.
BUY FOR $50
Simple, intuitive, inexpensive, and stable, the winner of our previous test easily spiralized apples, beets, potatoes, and zucchini with relatively little waste. Better yet, the Paderno Tri-Blade was able to turn almost all of the produce into even, consistent noodles and ribbons. It was one of the only machines capable of spiralizing butternut squash into long, regular strands—although the stress of this endeavor caused the handle to crack on its last round of testing.
BUY FOR $24
With ample cooking surface for sautéing eight chicken pieces without crowding, a steady, even heat for excellent browning; low, flaring sides for good evaporation; and good balance, this pan offers everything we want in a 12-inch skillet. Since our initial review was published, All-Clad has introduced a number of useful improvements to this pan. A more steeply angled handle offers testers better leverage, and a higher amount of aluminum in the core makes the pan induction-compatible, though also faster to heat (requiring a little more vigilance from the cook.) And finally, a new, tight-fitting, slightly convex lid adds value to an already excellent pan.
BUY FOR $120
Roomy, knife-friendly, and exceptionally durable, this teak slab was worth every penny. It resisted warping and cracking, showed only minor scratches, never seemed “thirsty,” and—despite its heft—was easy to lift and clean, thanks to handholds on each end.
BUY FOR $100
This razor-sharp knife with “Precision Edge Technology—PEtec” was comfortable and well proportioned. A recent redesign gave it a narrower blade angle of 14 degrees (previously 19 degrees) on each side and a new plastic handle that feels like hard, smooth wood.
Traditional Cast Iron - Highly Recommended
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.
BUY FOR $26
This inexpensive, lightweight food mill proved the top choice of every cook who tried it. Despite a relatively small capacity, good spring force enabled it to puree foods quickly and efficiently while allowing just a few tomato and berry seeds to pass through. Its handles were comfortable, and it was easy to lift and crank (a narrow crossbar made it a tad tricky to take apart). Best of all, long, notched legs allowed the mill to feel comparatively stable while sitting high and secure above the food.
All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.