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Nonstick Whisks

Published October 2020

How we tested

Nonstick whisks are designed to keep delicate cookware scratch-free. In the test kitchen, we often use them when we’re whisking and blending recipes such as pan sauces or roux in a nonstick-coated skillet or enameled Dutch oven. They’re built like traditional wire whisks, but each loop is coated in silicone to be gentler on pans. 

The trouble is, badly designed nonstick whisks can feel sluggish—the antithesis of an agile, whippy whisk. We tested eight models, priced from about $7.50 to about $20.00, to find one that blends efficiently; won’t scratch pans; feels natural; and doesn’t cause fatigue, especially when we’re whisking for extended periods. Since we use them over heat, we wanted designs that kept our hands cooler. And because they do hard work, we wanted durable whisks that hold their shape and are easy to clean. Most of the whisks in our lineup were traditionally shaped, but two were innovative. One switched with a twist of a knob at the end of its handle from a flat whisk to a balloon whisk, and another’s spherical head resembles a silicone cage with five wide scraping blades on a long handle. 

We put them all through a series of tests, starting with roux. We used each whisk to blend flour into melted butter, and then we gradually added broth while whisking constantly for several minutes to prevent lumps from forming in the roux as it thickened. We did this in both a shallow nonstick skillet and a deeper enameled cast-iron Dutch oven to see how the whisks performed on two different cooking surfaces and at two different angles of approach. Some whisks weren’t able to prevent or break up doughy clumps, while others kept the mixtures smooth by quickly breaking up any lumps that did form. While we didn’t want floppy whisks that couldn’t push food, we also didn’t want stiff whisks that struggled to get into pan corners and couldn’t flex and flatten as needed to optimize contact with the roux mixture; moderately flexible whisks performed best. But there was more to the equation.

Longer Whisks Keep Hands Cool

As we worked over the hot pans, we came to appreciate longer whisks; the total lengths of the models in our lineup ranged from 10 inches to 12.5 inches. The shortest of these, at just 10 inches long, resulted in intolerably hot hands, even when we held it by the tip of its handle. But we were surprised when we compared that whisk to our front-runner, which kept our hands cooler but was just ½ inch longer. After taking a closer look, we saw that the wire loops of the 10-inch-long whisk were a full ¾ inch shorter than those of the front-runner, so we needed to hold it at a lower angle to engage with food, leaving our hands too close to the heat. Handle design was also a key factor when assessing comfort. The handles of our less-preferred whisks were thin, hard cylinders of steel, many with hanging loops that poked us in the palm when we switched our grip. The handles of our two highest-rated whisks were wider, rounder, and made of softer rubber or plastic with no hanging loops, allowing us to assume a variety of grips without discomfort. We continued testing the whisks by blending and reducing teriyaki sauce in a nonstick skillet, using the fond from seared steak, and by emulsifying vinaigrette in a metal bowl. In each case, the whisks behaved similarly to how they had when we used them to make the roux. 

Good Whisk = Less Effort 

It was our next test that revealed radical differences in how efficiently each whisk whipped food. Efficiency counts because it’s your hands and arms providing the power. We whipped ½ cup of cold heavy cream into stiff peaks—and then kept whipping it into butter, which not only fatigued our hands but also strained the wire loops as the butter solidified. One of the slowest models put us through more than 4 minutes of tiring work to get stiff peaks and an extra 4 minutes of misery to make butter. By contrast, the fastest model took just over 1 minute to whip the cream and just 1½ minutes more to turn it into butter. This was a full minute faster than its nearest rival at each stage, and using it felt nearly effortless in comparison. During this test, a loop detached from the handle of one whisk as it worked the firm butter, springing permanently out of place. But our front-runners stayed bouncy and intact. By the end of this test we had sore arms as well as some answers.

Look at the Tip of a Whisk 

A major key to whisking efficiency lies in the number of wire loops and how those loops are arranged. Our highest-rated whisks had eight loops, while the least effective had just four. Even more intriguing was how the loops at the tips of the whisks were arranged. Whisks with loops of varying lengths and more space between the tallest and shortest loops at the tip worked significantly better than whisks whose wires were closer in length and nearly touched at the tip. This measurement aligned well with our data on the whisks’ speed and performance: the more distance between the loops at the tip of a whisk, the better. Combined with a high number of moderately bendy loops, as we’d noted while making roux, this arrangement not only put more wires in contact with food but also incorporated more air with each stroke. What’s more, this tip arrangement helped whisks whip well even in an almost vertical position, meaning we didn’t have to hold the whisk at a low angle to engage with food, which helped keep our hands cooler. Two things, wire thickness and whisk weight, didn’t matter as much as we’d thought. We didn’t find big differences in loop thickness; we thought thinner might be better, but the loops of our top whisk were actually slightly thicker than most of the others. The whisks’ weights ranged from 1.5 to 3.5 ounces; our favorite was one of the heaviest at 3 ounces, but it felt sturdy and balanced in our hands. 

Nonstick Whisks Should Be Gentle to Pans and Durable 

To be sure that the whisks hadn’t damaged the pans we were using despite their silicone coatings, we checked the pans after each cooking test. We also firmly scraped each whisk’s loops 20 times across the cooking surfaces of brand-new nonstick skillets and then checked for scratches. None of the pans were damaged. To test the durability of the whisks themselves, we dropped them each three times onto the counter from a height of 12 inches and ran them through the dishwasher in addition to hand-washing them after each use. Most were easy to clean and didn’t trap water or food, with one exception: the dual-purpose flat-and-balloon whisk, whose multipart handle held water. Unfortunately, the knob at the end of this whisk’s handle, which both holds the whisk together and can be turned to switch it from flat to balloon style, arrived partially broken and often fell off, so the handle constantly separated and loops fell out of place unless we held the handle and loops together. (A second copy that we ordered from a different retailer arrived fully broken.) We put this whisk through all the tests anyway, but it wasn’t a strong performer even without its fatal fragility. Finally, since we often use silicone-coated whisks on the stovetop, we were interested to note that their manufacturer-provided maximum temperature ratings ranged from 450 to 600 degrees Fahrenheit (this is because not all silicone is identical; it can have different compositions and properties). However, none of the whisks’ silicone loops melted in hot pans during normal use. 

The Best Nonstick Whisk: OXO Good Grips 11” Silicone Balloon Whisk

In the end, we found a nonstick whisk that met all our requirements—and then surpassed them. The OXO Good Grips 11” Silicone Balloon Whisk was the most efficient and comfortable whisk we tested, easily outpacing all the other whisks in our lineup. Its eight moderately flexible, silicone-coated loops were set at widely varying lengths, providing many points of engagement with any ingredients we wanted to blend, at any angle we needed, without scratching bowls or cookware. It was comfortable to hold no matter how long we were whisking; its grippy, rubbery handle with a rounded, neutral shape let us shift our grasp as needed—without a hanging loop poking our palms. At just under 11 inches long, it kept our hands and forearms far enough from steaming sauces and roux as we whisked, without sacrificing leverage or a sense of control. It was tough and durable, and it cleaned up nicely whether we washed it by hand or in the dishwasher. If you have nonstick cookware and only want one whisk, the new winner by OXO is a great choice. 


  • Test eight models, priced from about $7.50 to about $20.00
  • Make roux and whisk in broth, checking for lumps, in 12-inch nonstick skillet; repeat in cast-iron enameled Dutch oven
  • Cook Steak Teriyaki in 12-inch nonstick skillet, whisking and reducing sauce
  • Blend vinaigrette in medium metal bowl
  • Whip ½ cup heavy cream to stiff peaks in large metal bowl, timing the test
  • Continue whipping cream until it becomes butter, timing the test
  • Scrape whisks firmly on cooking surfaces of new nonstick skillets 20 times each and check skillets for scratches
  • Drop whisks three times onto counter from height of 12 inches
  • Clean whisks in dishwasher
  • Hand-wash whisks after each test

Rating Criteria 

Performance: We evaluated the appearance and texture of food we whisked with each model, noting the amount of time it took us to finish tasks. After each test, we examined the pans and bowls we used, looking for surface damage. 

Ease of Use: We observed how easy and comfortable it was to use the whisk for extended periods, paying close attention to handle and head design and how well a whisk’s length protected our hands from heat.

Cleanup/Durability: We evaluated whether food or water got trapped at the base of the whisk where the loops met the handles and whether the whisk was easy to clean or became damaged during testing.

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.