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Flat Whisks

Published May 2016

How we tested

A flat (or roux) whisk has a unique shoehorn-like shape that allows it to get into the corners and sides of pans for more efficient stirring when making sauces and gravies.

We tested six models priced from $6.95 to $21.99, using them to make a béchamel sauce and a pan sauce for skillet-roasted chicken breast alongside the tools we’d ordinarily use for these dishes—a wooden spoon and our favorite all-purpose whisk, the OXO Good Grips 11” Balloon Whisk.

The best flat whisks excelled at their given tasks. All of the flat whisks took far less time than the wooden spoon to scrape the fond off the skillet for the pan sauce. And they really shone when making béchamel. While the fat balloon whisk struggled to reach and scrape the outer edges and sides of the saucepan, the flat whisk’s narrower, more two-dimensional profile made it easy to control, maneuver, and get into corners, thus keeping the béchamel from settling, scorching, or forming lumps.

But not all flat whisks are created equal, as rigidity, material, tine spacing, and comfort separated the best from the rest. We liked whisks that were stiff enough to scrape well but not so rigid that they made us press too hard against the cookware, tiring our hands. Tines coated with silicone (presumably designed for nonstick pans) were too flexible and slick, providing less resistance against fond or clumps of béchamel; plain metal tines were more efficient. We preferred whisks with regular, even spacing between tines; whisks with large gaps occasionally allowed big lumps of roux to slip through intact and offered poorer pan coverage overall. And while the handles on all the flat whisks were oddly short, taking us a little closer to the heat than we’d have liked, those on our favorite two whisks were wider, keeping our hands comfortable and cramp-free after a half-hour of continuous whisking.

Because its compact tine arrangement doesn’t incorporate air as efficiently as a balloon whisk, a flat whisk won’t replace your all-purpose whisk for, say, whipping egg whites for an omelet. But if you make a lot of sauces, we think a flat whisk deserves a place in your kitchen. Our winner, the OXO Good Grips Flat Whisk, has a small but cushiony handle and evenly spaced metal tines with just the right amount of give. It effortlessly produced pan sauces and béchamel. In addition, we found that it did a great job of scrambling eggs, and it could even be used to whip cream in a pinch, though it took a few minutes longer than our balloon whisk to do so. Best of all, at only $6.95, it was the cheapest of the whisks we tested.

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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*