Wooden Spoons

Published October 2012

How we tested

Wooden spoons are one of the most basic cooking tools—an enterprising caveman probably fashioned the first, snapping a twig from a nearby sapling to prod a hunk of meat over an open fire. Simple yet indispensable, wooden spoons stir, scrape and scoop. Since our previous favorite recently changed manufacturers, we set out to test the new version against four additional wooden spoons, each widely available.

The spoons ranged from $1.85 to $11.49, in bamboo, beech, or acacia wood, and all measured between 12 and 13¾ inches. We used them to make vegetable curry, toasting spices and stirring chunks of potatoes and cauliflower; we also left spoons simmering 10 minutes in the thick, pumpkin-hued sauce to see how well they resisted stains. To assess their dexterity and shape, we browned batches of beef cubes, then scraped the fond, assembled the beef stew, and stirred it in a deep Dutch oven.

A comfortable handle is essential; we preferred squared-off sides, which leave your hand less clenched than a traditional round handle, and give your thumb a place to rest securely on top for leverage. Height and width of the head was also important: Wide, squat designs were like stirring with a ping-pong paddle, with too much surface area to push through the soup and not enough handle to leverage against the weight.

Our winning brand excelled at every turn: Sturdy, with a well designed head that managed tasks both delicate and substantial, our winner beat out our old favorite, bumping it to second place; while they performed similarly, our winner had the most surface area in contact with the pan to scrape up fond efficiently, a smooth, comfortable finish, and the least amount of staining, looking almost new even after weeks of use.

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The Results


Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

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.


Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.


Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

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.

Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.


Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.


Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.


Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.