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Syrup/Honey Dispensers

Published May 2017

How we tested

Maple syrup and honey can make for sticky fingers, tables, and counters—and if you add kids to the mix, that list can easily grow to include furniture, pets, and houseguests. Maple syrup dispensers promise to neaten up the task of pouring the sticky stuff. Typically designed as a small pitcher with a covered spout operated by a lever, a syrup dispenser should be easy to fill and clean and should pour a controlled amount without undue dripping. We bought five dispensers, priced from roughly $8.00 to roughly $40.00, with capacities of 6 to 19 ounces and made from glass or plastic. Four were pitcher-style; the fifth dispensed from the bottom of the container. We put each one through its paces with warm, cold, and room-temperature syrup, pouring it over both real pancakes and pancake-size circles drawn on paper to assess how easy it would be to control the output and hit a precise target. We enlisted both right- and left-handed testers of varying strengths and sizes to find the dispenser that worked best for the most people.

Testing was an eye-opener. A few dispensers gushed and splashed beyond our paper patterns, and one drowned our pancakes under a tsunami of syrup. “If I had children and this was our syrup dispenser, we would not be having pancakes,” one tester declared. A few models had closures that were too loose—they never fully cut off the flow—or designs that forced the flow of syrup back over the lid, making a mess. The best models had comfortable handles, closed fully after dispensing, and had just the right amount of tension in the trigger to let us pour as much or as little as we wanted without hand strain. But two models gave us perfect control, whether we wanted a trickle or a hefty pour, with almost no dripping.

Of the two models that topped our performance tests, one—the bottom-flowing dispenser—may have been a dream to operate, but it was a nightmare to fill: When you remove the top of this hollow glass ball-shaped vessel, it also removes an attached stem that plugs the bottom hole, leaving it open at both ends. So you must balance the vessel upright while pressing the bottom hole flat to a surface as you pour in order to keep syrup in. Once it’s full, you keep the dispenser in that position while screwing on a springy lid that tries to pop up and whose large, curved handle bumps into your other hand each time you twist. Not fun. Another strike: This model can’t go in the dishwasher, unlike the rest of the lineup.

That led us to our winner, whose simple design, pouring control, and overall ease of use won the day. The American Metalcraft Beehive Syrup Dispenser holds 6 ounces of syrup or honey and deploys a flat metal sliding cover that closes snugly over the spout, letting you dispense only the syrup you need, exactly where you want it. Its metal top screws off easily to make refilling and cleaning straightforward and simple, and it emerged from our dishwashing tests intact. Its only downside: The manufacturer says the glass container should not be microwaved, so we had to heat syrup in a separate container. But the dispenser’s ribbed surface stayed cool as we screwed the lid onto the warm pitcher. (As an alternative, we could put the filled dispenser in a bowl of hot water to gently warm the contents.) Best of all, it was the cheapest model in our lineup. Next time we serve pancakes, we’ll be pouring syrup from our new winner.

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.