The Organized Cook's Favorite Tools
At Cook’s Illustrated, we believe that an organized kitchen is a happy kitchen. After all, you don’t want to get stuck rummaging for a missing ingredient or an essential tool while you’re in the middle of making dinner. This week’s buying guide highlights our favorite equipment for keeping a tidy, organized kitchen, such as the prep bowls our test cooks use on a daily basis and knife-storage options that have aced our rigorous tests. Once you add these essentials to your kitchen, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without them.
But organization doesn’t end with equipment. In our book Kitchen Hacks, you’ll find dozens of surprising tricks for making your kitchen more functional. The book also includes tips for cleaning, prepping food, entertaining guests, and much more. No kitchen should be without this handy guide.
Simple and clever, the Recipe Rock is a small, heavy plastic “rock” with a strong magnet inside. A metal ball pins up to 10 sheets of paper upright on its curved front, keeping recipe printouts (or note cards) in place for easy viewing as you cook. With a 2-inch-wide base, it’s tiny enough to tuck between a cutting board and a backsplash, not to mention easy to store.
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.
This handsome bamboo knife strip provided 1.25 inches of clearance between knife handles and the wall—the most in our lineup. It had medium-strength magnets that held knives with just the right amount of pull, and it was relatively durable, sustaining only a few tiny scratches after extensive use. Finally, it was by far the easiest strip to install. One minor quibble: It has a half-inch of unmagnetized space on either end.
Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.
This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.
Simple snap-down lid sealed easily throughout testing. Though it allowed a few drops of water during its first submersion test, after dishwashing, seal was perfect. Flat, rectangular shape encourages quick cooling or heating and stacks easily, with lid attaching to bottom. *Since our testing, the company has changed its name from Snapware Mods (but that's all that's changed).
A neat, tight, reliable seal, good capacity, and solid performance in every test made this container a standout. We didn’t perform the “drop” test on this or any other glass container because of the certainty of breakage, and it was heavier than the lightweight all-plastic containers, but if you are concerned about microwaving food in plastic storage containers, this is the one to choose. Downsides: The lid is washable only on the top rack, and the container has a deep tall shape, which is less preferable than a shallower, flatter shape for quick freezing and heating.
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.