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Potato Ricers

Published November 2012

How we tested

For smooth and fluffy mashed potatoes, a potato ricer is the best tool. Potato ricers look and work just like giant garlic presses: You put the cooked potatoes in a hopper and squeeze the handles to force the spuds through a perforated disk. The best ricers produce a uniform texture that is not lumpy, overworked, or gummy. Several years ago, we crowned the RSVP International Potato Ricer ($13.95) our winner because of its efficient design; interchangeable fine and coarse disks; sturdy, ergonomic handles; and a pot hook to hold the ricer steady. To test it against new competition, we gathered five more brands, ranging in price from $10 to $30, and headed for the kitchen.

Every ricer got the job done; the difference was in how easy or difficult it was for the cook. Some ricers required a considerable amount of brute force, but others pressed the potatoes effortlessly. After taking a closer look, we found a few key design differences that explained why.

The number of perforations was one of the biggest factors. While all ricers had holes similar in size, having more holes on the bottom of the hopper made the job much easier, because more food could travel through, rather than being pushed back. Perforations on the sides as well as the bottom of the hopper didn’t help; instead, they usually squirted spuds out of the bowl, making a mess. The plunger’s angle of approach was also important: Most plungers hit the potatoes lopsided—making some spuds spurt up and out of the hopper—only leveling out and pressing fully and evenly when they were halfway down the hopper. Only two models sported different designs that resulted in more efficient ricing. One had a rectangular plunger that remained level with its rectangular hopper throughout the process, while a round model angled its rim to match the angle of the descending plunger. Both kept potatoes neatly under the plunger during the entire process, for more efficient ricing and easier squeezing.

Finally, some models were much easier and more intuitive to dismantle, clean, and reassemble than others. A few took real force to pull apart and the instruction manual to put back together, and one trapped dishwater in its numerous nooks and crannies. Our winner was the easiest to use and the most efficient when it comes to making fluffy mashed potatoes.

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.