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Pie Servers

Published October 2018

How we tested

Baking a pie is one thing. Serving it is another. You can use a knife, but a pie server, essentially a pointed spatula, is specifically designed to cut, remove, and transport pie slices and should produce picturesque, intact pieces.

When we last tested pie servers, we named the OXO SteeL Pie Server ($9.99) as our top pick, owing to its comfortable handle and broad serrated blade. But with new models on the market, we decided to retest, selecting six options priced from $6.95 to $35.95, including our old winner.

We used the servers to slice single- and double-crust pies—both homemade and store-bought varieties, since these crusts can differ—as well as homemade cookie-crust pies. We also chose a variety of fillings to see how each tool handled different textures: smooth custard with an airy whipped cream topping; chunky fruit; and dense pecans. At the conclusion of testing, we had nearly 300 slices of pie and one clear winner. We found that three factors were most important: cutting ability, slice removal, and comfort.

A Pie Server That Can Slice Cleanly

The first job of a pie server is to cut through the filling and crust (or crusts). Here, blade material and design were key. One model with smooth, dull steel edges couldn't easily slice into thicker crusts or the firm, nutty top of a pecan pie. Another model with a nylon blade struggled with the initial crust-piercing; the blade bowed outward instead of driving straight down through the pie. The best pie servers had rigid stainless-steel blades with serrated edges. Though the steel models had different styles of serrations—from pointy teeth to larger scallops—all were able to effortlessly bite into the crust. However, one downside to the stainless-steel models was that they all left our favorite pie plate, which is nonstick, somewhat scratched. The nylon model was gentler.

The Right Design for Removing Slices

But cutting slices was only half the equation. Next we had to remove them—and it wasn't always easy. Two of the servers' blades, at 5 and 7 inches, respectively, were too long to deftly navigate a standard 9-inch pie plate. They couldn't fit neatly underneath a single slice, sometimes leaving crust stranded in the bottom of the pie plate. One of these long models was also too narrow and had trouble during transport; slices felt unsteady on the slender 1⅞-inch-wide blade. Our top performers were shorter (approximately 4 to 4½ inches long) and wider (2½ to 3 inches across at the base); they were easier to maneuver under pies and held slices more securely.

An offset handle, which tilts up and away from the blade at an angle, was also crucial. The one model with a straight handle couldn't get under the pie as cleanly and often left some crust behind. The remaining five models had offset handles, which allowed us to more easily maneuver their blades down and under pie slices for tidy removal.

A Rounded, Rubbery Grip Was Most Comfortable

Handles varied in shape and material, both of which had a big impact on comfort. One model had a thin, flat metal handle, and the hard edges pressed uncomfortably against our palms during use. The other servers had oval handles, and of these, testers liked the more bulbous options; they were easier to hold than narrower ones. Of the handle materials in our lineup, we preferred soft, rubbery grips best. This was a key feature of our top-rated pie server; testers praised its “really comfortable” handle, which had small ridges for extra grip.

The Best Pie Server

After slicing nearly 40 pies, we once again named the OXO SteeL Pie Server ($9.99) our winner. Its relatively short, wide blade perfectly cut, removed, and transported slices. It had serrations on both sides, so it worked for both right-handed and left-handed testers. Finally, this server's round, rubbery offset handle allowed us to neatly maneuver under pie and provided a comfortable, secure grip, making it easy to slice all types of pie. However, if you're using a nonstick pie plate and are concerned about scratching it, you might want to consider the OXO Good Grips Nylon Flexible Pie Server ($6.95). Its nylon blade sometimes struggled to cut through thick crusts, but it wasn't as harsh on our pie plate and its flexibility made it easy to remove intact, attractive slices.

Methodology

We tested six pie servers priced from $6.95 to $35.95. We used them to slice three homemade pies each (North Carolina Lemon Pie, Classic Apple Pie with Foolproof Pie Dough for Double-Crust Pie, and chocolate pudding pie with graham cracker crust) and three store-bought pies (pumpkin, pecan, and apple). We washed each server in the dishwasher 10 times and measured the blade dimensions in-house. Prices were paid online, scores were averaged, and pie servers appear below in order of preference.

Rating Criteria

Cutting Ability: We evaluated how well the servers cut through a variety of crusts and fillings. Servers that cleanly sliced through multiple types of pie with minimal effort rated highest.

Removal and Transport: We evaluated how easy it was to lift and transport pie and to produce aesthetically pleasing slices. We preferred servers that neatly slid under slices and lifted the entire piece, keeping it intact and steady during transport.

Comfort: We rated servers on how comfortable they were to use. Highest marks went to those that were easy and intuitive to use and hold, with a comfortable handle.

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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*