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Squeeze Bottles

Published April 2020

How we tested

Once seen mostly in restaurant kitchens and at hot dog stands, squeeze bottles have become increasingly common in home kitchens as well. They’re handy for storing and dispensing oil, vinegar, and other condiments and sauces. We like them in particular because they offer a precise, controlled pour. By squeezing the flexible plastic sides of the bottle, you can easily modulate the volume of food that comes out through the narrow spout—a welcome development for anyone who’s ever tried to measure an exact tablespoon of olive oil from the bottle and ended up with a whole counter doused in it. We wanted to know which squeeze bottle was best for home cooks, so we bought five widely available models priced from about $1.00 to about $6.00 per bottle. While these bottles come in many sizes, we decided to focus on bottles with a capacity of 16 ounces, the most common and practical size available, using each to store and pour different volumes of water, simple syrup, oil, and ketchup and to make, store, and pour Make-Ahead Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette.

Wide Mouths Make for Easier Filling

All the bottles did a good job of holding and dispensing their contents; none of these bottles will ruin your day unless you neglect to screw the top on tightly before use. But a few features made certain models a little easier to use than others. When it came to filling them, we much preferred bottles with wider mouths (the bigger openings below the lid you use to fill the bottles) that measured about 2 inches in diameter. Bottles with narrower mouths required us to aim more carefully as we poured freehand into the bottle from a larger vessel; when we used a funnel, it sat slightly less securely in these narrower mouths, tipping to one side more readily than in the wider ones. Bottles with wide mouths were also easier to clean, providing plenty of clearance for us to insert our favorite bottle brush so that we could scrub out any sticky ketchup or pieces of shallot and herb from the vinaigrette. 

Bottle Circumference Matters Slightly; Flexibility and Material Matter More

In general, bottles with narrow mouths had narrow bodies as well, with most measuring about 8 inches around. These narrower bottles were slightly easier for testers with smaller hands to grip securely, but even larger bottles with circumferences of about 9 inches were manageable for most hands. 

The flexibility and type of plastic used to make the bottles were more important than their circumference. Stiffer bottles were harder to squeeze, requiring a little more muscle to dispense their contents. The stiffest model was made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is typically more rigid than the low-density polyethylene (LDPE) used to make the other bottles. The HDPE model didn’t stand up to repeated use quite as well as the more flexible LDPE ones: Because it was so inelastic, it bent out of shape slightly when we squeezed it 100 times, although it was still usable. We preferred the bottles made from the thinner, more flexible LDPE, which took a bit less effort to squeeze and rebounded from repeated use more readily. Regardless of flexibility, all the bottles were capable of dispensing their contents neatly and precisely; each allowed us to slowly squeeze out oil while making vinaigrette and could be used to write legible words with ketchup (a critical test for those who like their birthday messages delivered on hot dogs instead of layer cakes).

Simple Bottle Tops Were Best

Finally, we looked at the bottle tops. We were intrigued by models that came with caps that covered the spouts. But while these caps were great for keeping out any dust, crumbs, and bugs that might have gotten into the bottles, they were frustrating in other ways. One model had a tiny cap that was easy to lose, disappearing into the dish drying rack for a few days before turning up again. Another model solved this problem by attaching the cap to the bottle top with a hinge, but this created a new problem: We had to orient the bottle in a specific position to keep the cap out of the way of what we were dispensing. Caps of both styles were also somewhat finicky to clean. 

The bottle top on the model with the hinged cap was especially finicky to reattach and clean, as it had two separate parts—a collar that went around the neck of the bottle, and a small conical tip (with the hinged cap) that had to be fitted into the collar before screwing the whole thing into place. In general, most of us preferred simple, one-piece bottle tops with no caps or extra parts that required special cleaning or that could be lost; we’re willing to deal with the occasional crumb or bit of dust that might make its way into the bottle.

The Best Squeeze Bottle: The Tablecraft Widemouth Squeeze Bottle

Our favorite squeeze bottle is the Tablecraft Widemouth Squeeze Bottle, which sells for about $9.50 for six bottles, or about $1.50 per bottle. Its wide mouth makes it easy to fill and clean, and its very flexible plastic body is durable yet easy to squeeze; it comes with a simple, one-piece bottle top. If you really want a cap to protect the contents of the bottle and don’t mind the finicky cleaning it will require, Tablecraft offers sets of special “tethered” caps that fit onto the bottle spouts, about $8.00 for 12, providing plenty of extras in case you accidentally lose one. We found them easy to attach and thought they did a good job of sealing off the bottles securely.


Methodology

  • Test five 16-ounce plastic squeeze bottles priced from about $1 to about $6 per bottle
  • Store and dispense different volumes of water
  • Store and dispense different volumes of simple syrup
  • Store and dispense different volumes of ketchup
  • Store and dispense different volumes of oil
  • Use to make, store, and dispense Make-Ahead Sherry-Shallot Vinaigrette 
  • Squeeze each bottle 100 times
  • Wash according to manufacturers’ instructions 10 times

Rating Criteria

Ease of Use: We evaluated how easy each bottle was to fill and squeeze and, where applicable, how easy it was to attach the cap.

Ease of Cleanup: We evaluated how easy each bottle was to clean.

Durability: We evaluated how well the bottles stood up to repeated use.

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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*