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Pizza Cutters

Published April 2015

How we tested

When our winning pizza wheel, by Mario Batali, was discontinued, we promoted the runner-up, a classic 4-inch wheel from OXO. But recently, we noticed that options for cutting pizza have bubbled up faster than mozzarella in a 900-degree wood-fired oven. We saw five main categories: the classic wheel attached to a handle as well as four other styles—wheels that you grip directly by the plastic case housing the blade, scissor-style cutters, pie server–shaped cutters with sharp sides, and long straight blades.

Our goal: a pizza cutter that made precise, even slices in a range of pizza styles and was comfortable, safe, and easy to clean. Could any beat the classic wheel?

We started with a broad field—15 cutters in the five different styles, priced from $9.99 to $37.95—and an easy test: thin-crust cheese pizzas, with a minimal layer of cheese and sauce and a 1/2-inch-thick crust. Then we chose the six best cutters—two handled wheels, one hand wheel, one scissor-style, one sharp-sided pie server, and one long straight blade—and pitted these six finalists against one another in a second series of tests. We sliced up more thin-crust pizza; huge rectangular slabs of Sicilian pizza with 1-inch-thick crusts; and classic Chicago-style deep-dish with sheets of cheese, thick sauce, and towering 2-inch crusts. We also tried each on a combo of heavy, wet toppings—sausage, spinach, mushrooms, and onions—and on pepperoni pizzas, because pepperoni tends to cling to the cheese and strip it off if not severed tidily.

The two oddballs worked surprisingly well—the pie server–shaped cutter and the scissors were both sharp and easy to use. But the pie server didn’t have a good place to brace a second hand when we needed more force, so we docked points. Testers were surprised by how much they liked the scissors, which sliced through even deep-dish pizza and heavy, wet toppings with ease (we tried our regular kitchen shears on different styles of pizza, too, but their blades were too short and gummed up easily). But there was a problem with both the scissors and the pie-server cutter: Testers had to make a series of shorter cuts instead of one long continuous slice, which was harder and turned out wonky slices. These shorter, uneven cuts also meant that these models wouldn’t work for evenly slicing pastry dough, which we sometimes use pizza wheels for.

Next, we looked at the straight blade cutter. At just longer than a foot, it was the best of the long blades and had a nice grippy handle. But while it was the sharpest of the straight blades we tried, it was still far too dull. To get through the crust, testers had to rock it back and forth again and again, battering the toppings, cheese, sauce, and crust into a messy pulp.

The hand wheel was disappointing, too. Its circular blade was housed inside a small plastic case that you hold onto while cutting. It worked well with thin-crust pizza, but when we tried it on bulkier toppings and doughy crust, its wheel swept food inside the case and testers had to disassemble it to clean it out, a dicey task with a wet, soapy blade.

But a bit more cleanup might be worthwhile if it worked better; we figured that a hand wheel might be more powerful because your hands are directly over the wheel, so you apply your force right onto it instead of first squeezing a handle. But testers reported the opposite—they felt weaker when using the hand wheels. To understand why, we spoke to Jack Dennerlein, professor of ergonomics and safety at Northeastern and Harvard Universities. He said that when our palms were draped over the case, we couldn’t wrap our fingers around it in a strong way as we could with a handle. “The muscles that flex fingers to hold a handle are bigger, hence stronger,” Dennerlein said. “So the traditional handled cutter is much stronger.”

He also brought up another point about the hand wheels—visibility. A rolling pizza cutter requires two actions: creation of a downward force and movement across the pizza. To do the latter efficiently, you have to see where you’re going, and each hand wheel’s blade was hidden by its hood or by the user’s hand.

All four of the other styles had flaws, so we turned back to the classic handled wheels. We evaluated the two best classic wheels on thicker crusts and heavy toppings and found one to be impossible to clean—it had a fixed case that covered half its blade and trapped toppings but didn’t come apart to clean—a recipe for gross buildup.

The best pizza cutter was sharp, with a tall, visible 4-inch wheel that cruised through toppings and crust with ease. It was heavier than most, at just over 10 ounces, and this extra heft gave it nice momentum for easier cutting. It also had a comfortable, grippy handle that testers could fold their fingers around for maximum power. Its open design didn’t trap food and it emerged from 10 rounds in the dishwasher looking and working like new. Our old favorite came out on top again. It was versatile enough to slice pastry dough and precisely portioned every pizza we threw its way. Apparently you can reinvent the wheel—but for pizza, don’t bother.

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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*