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Rolling Pins for Kids

Published September 2019

How we tested

The test kitchen’s favorite rolling pin is a handle-free model that weighs 1 pound, 9 ounces and measures 19 inches long. We like it because it gives us a direct sense of a dough’s thickness and how hard we are pressing down, but it is designed for adults and could be cumbersome for some kids to use effectively. We wanted to find a rolling pin that would allow kids to adeptly and efficiently roll dough while helping them build confidence when baking. To narrow down our search, we looked at all the models available. Rolling pins come in two main styles: those with handles on each end to assist rolling and those without. There are also two styles of pins without handles: straight dowels or dowels with tapered ends. We purchased six rolling pins--four with handles, one straight dowel, and one tapered dowel--made of various materials, including wood, bamboo, and nonstick-coated steel, priced from $8.99 to $19.99. Two of the pins were designed specifically for children; the rest were designed for adults, but were lighter and smaller than our favorite full-size rolling pin

An Adult’s Take

Before asking a group of kid testers to test the pins in our lineup,  we had adult testers use the models to perform some basic tasks: roll disks of pie dough into 12-inch circles, roll disks of Easy Holiday Sugar Cookie dough between sheets of parchment paper, and roll out soft, stretchy pizza doughs. In each test, we evaluated how easy the pins were to use and how well they performed. 

During the pie dough test, it quickly became evident that the length of a pin’s rolling surface and the circumference of its barrel was key. The lengths of flat rolling surface of the pins in our lineup ranged from 5 inches to 13.3 inches. During the pie dough test, we found that the pins with less flat rolling surface were less effective than pins with more; we had to roll them over the dough more times to get the same results as when using a pin with more. Shorter pins tended to leave grooves in the dough because they were shorter than the dough was wide. Given that the bottom of a standard pie plate measures 7 inches across, the pins needed to have at least 6 inches of flat rolling surface to roll out a smooth, uncreased dough round. The circumferences of the pins we chose also varied, ranging from 4 inches to 7.5 inches around. The pins with wider barrels were generally more effective than those with skinnier barrels because they covered more dough with each roll. Our favorites measured at least 7 inches in circumference. 

The rolling surface and circumference weren’t the only important factors we looked at. We also wanted a rolling pin that was comfortable and easy to use. Some pins had such dinky handles or were so lightweight we wondered if kids could use them effectively. (More on that later.) We noticed that if pins weighed less than 6 ounces, we had to use more force to flatten a dough. The texture of the rolling surface mattered, too. The surface of one model, made from bamboo, was slippery and hard to control, especially when we used it to roll cookie dough between sheets of parchment. 

What the Kids Thought

Although we had our preferences among the pins in our lineup, it was time to see which models kids liked. We enlisted eight testers, ranging in age from 8 to 11, to use the pins to roll disks of pie dough into 12-inch circles. As they rolled, we watched how the pins performed and took notes on their experiences. 

We found that the two dowels gave the kids a good sense of the dough’s thickness while they were rolling and how hard they needed to press down, but we also noticed that they found them difficult to use, wanting to wrap their hands and fingers around the pins instead of using the palms of their hands to roll them. The tapered bamboo model was especially hard for them to control due to its smooth surface. Our young testers found models with handles much easier to use. They liked having a place to rest their hands and reported that it gave them more control while rolling. 

Of the four models with handles, kids especially liked the pins that rolled smoothly and that covered a large amount of dough with each push. Like us, they disliked having to go back over the dough several times. 

The Best Kids’ Rolling Pin: Mrs. Anderson’s Beechwood Rolling Pin 

Our kid testers gravitated toward two models that had handles, rolled smoothly over dough, and either had a long flat rolling surface or a wide circumference so they could roll more dough with fewer passes. Of the two, the Mrs. Anderson’s Beechwood Rolling Pin ($19.99) ultimately came out on top. With a flat rolling surface that measured 10 inches long and weighing 1 pound and 6.2 ounces, this pin enabled the kids to roll out dough quickly and easily. And even though it was only three ounces lighter than the test kitchen’s preferred model for adults, the winner’s handles and shorter rolling surface make is an excellent choice for children. 


Methodology

We tested six rolling pins, priced from $8.99 to $19.99. Four had handles, one was a straight dowel, and the other was a tapered dowel. To evaluate ease of use and performance, adult testers rolled out all-butter pie dough, Easy Holiday Sugar Cookies (between two sheets of parchment), and individual-size pizza dough. Eight children, ages 8 to 11, also used the pins to roll out pie dough. Information on materials was obtained from manufacturers. We measured and weighed the pins in house. Prices are what we paid online. Products appear below in order of preference.

RATING CRITERIA

Performance: We preferred rolling pins that rolled out dough quickly and efficiently. We docked points from models that required more time and effort to get smooth, even dough.

Ease of Use: We rated each rolling pin on how easy it was to hold and use. Rolling pins scored highest if they were comfortable to maneuver and control. 


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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*