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12.5-Inch Pan Lids

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2014

How we tested

Our top-rated nonstick skillet, the 12.5-inch T-fal Professional Non-Stick Fry Pan, has always had one drawback: no lid. When tackling any recipe that calls for a cover, such as fried eggs, pan-roasted root vegetables, or skillet lasagna, we had a problem. But most universal pan lids are too small to fit the 12.5-inch diameter of the T-fal. That left us with no choice but to go shopping for 12.5-inch lids.

We found six models made from a variety of materials (aluminum, stainless steel, tempered glass) and priced from $10.80 to $32.16. Three were disqualified out of the gate: the Homichef 12.5 Inch Stainless Flat Lid, the Cuisinox Elite Tempered Glass Lid, and the Swiss Diamond 12.5" Tempered Glass Lid. Despite the proper measurement, they didn’t fit our skillet. Instead, their thin lips rested on the skillet’s top edge—and slipped right off. That left three contenders that had a secure fit on the T-fal. An all-aluminum lid with a recessed center closed off almost an inch of space inside, which was all right for fried eggs but not skillet lasagna. The lid merely rested on top of the lasagna, leaving noodles around the perimeter exposed so that they dried out. Worse, its weight pressed on the food, causing our lasagna to scorch on the bottom. The other two lids, both made from stainless steel, performed better because they were slightly domed. In the end, our top pick fit snugly and trapped steam reliably, ensuring flawless cooking. The only drawback is the price: It costs almost as much as the T-fal nonstick skillet we bought it to fit. But as a bonus, this lid fits two of our favorite cast-iron and traditional pans.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

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.

$248.64*
Recommended

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.

$141.90*

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.

$67.99*
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.

$49.93*
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.

$129.95*

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.

$99.95*

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.

$24.99*

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.

$35.88*