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Biscuit Cutters

Published April 2016

How we tested

Crafty home cooks punch out biscuits with old aluminum cans, overturned glasses, and even Mason jar rings. But using a makeshift cutter with rounded edges can compress the sides of dough, leading to misshapen biscuits. We prefer to use biscuit cutters, round cutting tools with sharp edges that make even cuts and thus produce tall, symmetrical biscuits. We tried eight sets, priced from $8.99 to $56.08, all containing between four and 11 different-size rings. We used the cutters on a buttery biscuits dough, a wetter cream biscuits dough, and an elastic pierogi dough.

Though we tried every cutter in each set, most biscuit recipes call for a 2-, 2 1/2-, or 3-inch biscuit cutter. Oddly, none of the sets in our lineup hit these sizes on the mark when we measured them ourselves, but as long as they came close (within ⅛ inch), we didn’t dock them points. One smaller set missed the 3-inch mark by 1/4 inch, making pierogi that were far too small and overstuffed—a definite problem.

Sticking wasn’t an issue; all the cutters easily relinquished the doughs, especially when we dipped the ring in flour before cutting (as we usually call for in our recipes). Cutting integrity was a bigger concern, especially when working with elastic, stretchy pierogi dough and wet cream biscuits. Flimsier cutters made from thin, malleable metal or plastic easily warped under the pressure of our hands, making lopsided, misshapen biscuits and pierogi. Two sets with handles initially seemed like they’d give us a sturdier grip, but the handles forced testers to grip the cutter with a closed fist, limiting our range of motion and leaving us struggling to turn the cutter in the dough. Double-sided cutters were also out: Their sharp edges pushed painfully into our fingers as we used them. We preferred single-sided sets made from thicker metal or strong plastic, which allowed us to apply sturdy, even pressure for perfectly round biscuits.

Durability proved a high hurdle for some cutters. After just three rounds in the dishwasher, one set’s handles broke off. Another set that was made from tin rusted. Our favorite sets were made from stainless steel or tough, durable plastic. In the end, we returned to our old standby, the Ateco 5357 11-Piece Plain Round Cutter Set ($14.95), which is made from tough stainless steel and didn’t warp or rust. This set comes with 11 sizes (a bit of overkill, perhaps) nested in a handy storage case and produced biscuits that were tall, even, and perfectly round.

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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*