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Roasting Racks

Published October 2015

How we tested

A good roasting rack securely holds a roast, elevating it so it doesn’t sit in fat while cooking. It should allow hot air to circulate around the meat—key for accurate cooking and a perfectly rendered exterior. We’ve often disliked the racks that come bundled with roasting pans; even our winning pan’s rack is slightly unstable. What’s more, many roasting pans don’t come with a rack in the first place, and racks occasionally go astray. For years, we’ve turned to a nearly $25 rack from All-Clad.

But new models have entered the market, with snazzy silicone shapes and intriguing designs. To compare, we tested the All-Clad against six new racks, priced from roughly $8.50 to nearly $26, by roasting 250 pounds of chicken, beef, and turkey and ranking the racks on stability, capacity, cleanup, design, and—most important—how the food turned out.

Some racks were too small. Plump turkeys bulged over their sides as if the birds were trying to squeeze into their high school jeans. Except for one rack, bigger was better, providing both capacity and stability. Small racks skittered around because they weren’t broad enough to brace themselves.

Side support was key, too; those with U- or V-shaped baskets cradled their fowl upright, while flat racks’ birds lurched drunkenly, like fleshy ships run aground. Also problematic: undersized or nonexistent handles. Loaded racks are heavy, and large handles made them easier to maneuver.

The silicone models were eye-catching but didn’t have handles. More pressing was that they didn’t raise the meat enough, so their food steamed on the bottom. In fact, half the models didn’t allow for proper air circulation, an issue which was further illustrated when we tried to roast vegetables below a chicken, as we sometimes do when we want a handy one-pan meal. Models without enough clearance turned out pasty potatoes that literally paled in comparison to the crispy, caramel-hued tubers produced by racks with open, raised bottoms. Loads of space wasn’t necessary—our winning model had just ½ inch of clearance, but its open slats ensured that hot air had full, even access to the meat.

In the end, no rack outperformed our previous winner. Meat cooked on it always emerged perfectly rendered, it securely fit everything we wedged into it (including a 22-pound behemoth of a bird), and it performed well with our winning roasting pan but also worked with a range of pan shapes and sizes. For optimal roasting, it’s still our top choice.

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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.