Published July 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.

We rounded up equipment review winners and made a list of kitchen tools that every well-stocked kitchen should have.

list of products tested

12-Inch Slicing Knife

Ensures supremely thin, even slices of roast beef, turkey, and smoked salmon. Our winner has a tapered, razor-sharp blade that is long and wide enough to draw through a large roast in one stroke.

Pepper Mill

For fresh pepper flavor and aroma, rely on a pepper mill instead of preground pepper, which quickly loses its punch. Our favorite mill produces an abundance of perfectly ground pepper (in a wide range of grinds) with minimal effort.

Salad Spinner

We prefer the one-handed pump action of the OXO spinner to models with cords or levers.

Microplane Rasp Grater

Useful for foods with round or irregular shapes, which don’t grate as easily on a box grater—think Parmesan cheese, citrus, chocolate, and ginger. Our favorite is exceptionally sharp for quick, ultra-fine grating.

Mixing Bowl

Our mixing bowls are in constant rotation for everything from mixing pancake batter and making cookie dough to melting chocolate over a saucepan of hot water on the stove. Our top choice is a wide, heavy glass bowl with a thin, nonskid ring around the inside base to anchor it during mixing. It has a teardrop shape and a spout and handle for easy pouring, plus it’s microwave-safe. Buy two or more.

Wooden Spoon

We want our wooden spoons to be lightweight yet durable, with a comfortable handle, a broad bowl, and thin edges to stir and scrape effectively.

Slotted Spoon

Indispensable for scooping food out of pots of boiling water. Choose one with a deep bowl, plenty of holes, and a lightweight design.


Look for stainless steel (plastic stains and can melt on the stovetop) and make sure the handle is long enough to reach deep into pots—at least 9 inches. Our top choice has a drip-preventing pouring rim.

Fine-Mesh Strainer

Comes in handy for dusting a tart with powdered sugar or turning cooked raspberries into a seedless sauce. Also makes an excellent stand-in for a sifter. We prefer an ergonomic handle and deep bowl.

Can Opener

Our favorite is easy to attach and detach, has a comfortable handle and smooth turning motion, and cleverly uses a magnet for no-touch disposal of the can top.