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Splatter Screens

Published August 2015
Update: May 2016
When we discovered that our winning splatter screen had been discontinued, we found two other models, from HIC and Lodge, to test alongside the runner-up screen from Progressive Prepworks. We subjected the new screens to the same tests and scoring system used in the below testing. Both of the new screens performed better than the Progressive screen, and the HIC Stainless Steel Splatter Screen is our new favorite.

How we tested

Splatter screens promise to help contain grease during stovetop cooking. Our current winning model, from Amco Houseworks, blocks larger, potentially painful (and messy) flying drops of oil but still lets through a fine mist. Could we find a better option?

To find out, we assembled seven models, priced from $7 to $21.55. We used them while searing chicken thighs and browning bacon, ranking each on how easy it was to use, how well it contained splatter, how it affected the food, and how it cleaned up. We tried the screens on small, medium, and large skillets and saucepans, as well as Dutch ovens, to check compatibility.

Models made from silicone and perforated metal blocked our view of the food, so bacon went quickly from brown to black. The silicone models were too dense, too; they blocked oil but trapped steam, so when we lifted them, condensation dripped back into the oil and the two exploded with a dangerous vigor. And because the steam couldn’t escape, the food also browned more slowly.

The trapped steam problem exposed the catch-22 of splatter screens: Steam and oil rise off the pan together, so no splatter screen can contain all the oil but still release the steam. Therefore, nothing kept our stovetop completely clean, but fine mesh worked best; it allowed steam to escape and let us see the food.

With the three fine-mesh screens, it came down to how evenly they sat on the pans. Two sat crookedly and allowed extra grease to escape; the best model was our old favorite. It released steam, tidied up easily, and while it won’t keep your stovetop and counters completely clean, it will minimize splatter and block larger drops of flying oil.

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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*