The Best Springform Pan
Baking /

After spending 12 hours researching and testing six different springform pans, we think the best option for most bakers is the Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9-Inch Springform Pan (also see our guides to cake pans and bundt pans). It was the sturdiest pan we tested at such a reasonable price (around $15). Though no springform pan is entirely leakproof, the Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 9-Inch Springform Pan was closer to watertight than most others we tested. It has a nonstick coating that releases cakes and cheesecakes cleanly, and in our tests it didn’t overbake cakes the way many of its competitors did.  The Cuisinart 9-Inch Chef’s Classic Nonstick Pan is quite similar to the Farberware pan. It’s about the same shape and weight as the Farberware pan, and it also has a nonstick coating that released cleanly. This pan isn’t as highly rated on Amazon as the Farberware, and it sounds like some people have experienced more leaking than I did (which was none), but it’s the best alternative for the price (around $16).

The Best Bundt Pan
Baking /

After spending 11 hours researching and testing four bundt pans, we found a clear winner: the Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Original 10- to 15-Cup Bundt Pan (for other choices, also see our guides to cake pans and springform pans). It’s made of cast aluminum, so it’s thick and sturdy but not too heavy, and it has a nonstick coating that allows cakes to come out cleanly even from tight crevices. The shape of the Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Bundt Pan is beautifully defined, with ridges that are taller and sharper than on any other pan in our test group, and it will bake cakes to a perfectly even golden brown. Nordic Ware is the original maker of the bundt pan, and the company still holds the registered trademark on the name, so it stands to reason that it would be the standard bearer in quality. This bundt pan is a solidly made classic that performs head and shoulders above the competition. If you’re looking for a bundt pan that costs a little less, we recommend the Anolon Advanced Nonstick Bakeware 9.5” Fluted Mold. The ridges are relatively defined, the nonstick coating releases easily, and it was the only other pan we tested to bake cake to an even brown. The…

The Best Pie Plate
Baking /

After spending nearly 50 hours baking dozens of pies over the past three years, as well as talking with some of the best pie makers in the country, we’re confident that the inexpensive Baker’s Advantage Ceramic Pie Dish (about $20) is the best pie plate for most people. In our testing, it made some of the most evenly browned crusts, which never stuck to the bottom of the plate. Because the Baker’s Advantage Ceramic Pie Dish is a deep dish, it will hold a wider variety of recipes than shallower plates, and in our tests its gently ruffled lip was one of the easiest to use for forming beautiful fluting. It’s similar in shape and performance to our former favorite dish but close to half the price. And although it comes in only a few color options, its performance makes it the best buy for baking pies of all kinds. If you’re looking for a shallower, less expensive plate, we recommend the Pyrex Bakeware 9-Inch Pie Plate (about $8). Initially, we thought this plate would be our first choice, because glass plates are a favorite of many bakers since you can see the crust as it browns. However, Pyrex changed its glass formula from virtually shatterproof…

The Best Cake Pans
Baking /

We spent more than 30 hours researching and testing cake pans in three essential shapes–round, rectangular/square, and loaf–to come up with the best of each (also see our guides to bundt pans and springform pans). And in each test, pans from USA Pan came out on top, easily outclassing the competition in the nonstick department. Highly recommended by experts, bakeware from USA Pan features a combination of a corrugated texture with slight ridges and a nonstick coating. For simple single-layer cakes like a pineapple upside-down, or a beautiful, towering classic layer cake, we think the USA Pan Aluminized Steel 9×2 Inch Round Layer Cake Pan is the best choice for any baker. After working through two rounds of baking using eight different pans, we are giving the highest praise to the USA Pan for its truly nonstick corrugated bottom, even heat distribution, and durability. In our tests, even sticky sugar from cinnamon buns didn’t stick to the pan. And at a little under $13, it won’t break the bank, even if you buy two or three. A square or rectangular pan is one of the most basic essentials for a home baker. It’s indispensable for the simplest brownies, bar cookies, and single-layer sheet cakes. We…

The Best Measuring Spoons
Baking /

After about five hours and many hundreds of spoonfuls testing nine different sets of measuring spoons, we think the Prepworks by Progressive Magnetic Measuring Spoons are the best choice for most home cooks. The Prepworks by Progressive Magnetic Measuring Spoons are accurate, easy to use, and conveniently held together by magnets. The double-ended spoons mean you’re essentially getting two sets for the price of one, which means you can switch between wet and dry ingredients without having to pause to clean. Plus, the narrow ends fit easily into most spice jars. If the Prepworks spoons sell out, or if you plan to put your measuring spoons through a lot of heavy-duty tasks, the Cuisipro Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons are a sturdy stainless steel alternative. They’re heavy enough not to bend but not so heavy that using them feels awkward, and the measurements are stamped in so they won’t fade over time. Plus, the elongated spoons fit into most spice jars. Other spoons proved a little more accurate, but these should do the job for anything other than the most finicky baking recipes.

The Best 13-by-9 Casserole Dish
Baking /

If you need a basic 13-by-9 baking dish for making gratin, lasagna, or stuffing, or even for roasting vegetables and small cuts of meat, the HIC Porcelain Lasagna Pan represents the best possible value. Though it’s inexpensive, the HIC dish performed in our tests as well as those that cost more than twice as much. In fact, all the dishes—ranging from $10 to $180—functioned generally similarly, but this dish’s balance of features at such a great price set it apart as the clear winner. With its big handles and classic design, the HIC dish is a snap to take directly from oven to table, and the porcelain is broiler safe and easy to clean. Over the past three years, we’ve spent 41 hours researching casserole dishes and interviewing experts about dishes, including a ceramics engineer who has worked closely with nearly every major ceramics maker in the US. We learned that when it comes to choosing between porcelain or stoneware, the differences in oven use are pretty unnoticeable, and higher price doesn’t always indicate better quality. We considered 39 models before getting down to seven top-rated ones for testing. The results from those tests, as well as our experience using the HIC Porcelain Lasagna Pan over the past three…

The Best Cookie Sheet
Baking /

If you’re looking for a sturdy cookie sheet, the Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Sheet is the best one for baking all kinds of cookies. After spending more than 35 hours testing 13 sheet pans and cookie sheets over the past two years, making 23 batches of cookies, six pizzas, and several pounds of sweet potato fries and oven chips, we found that the Nordic Ware performed every task nearly perfectly—better than sheets twice the price—and without warping at high heat. This rimmed baking sheet also makes a great all-purpose pan for everything from roasting vegetables to preparing bones for stock. It’ll even serve as an impromptu pizza peel or as a tray for transporting pies in and out of the oven. We chose the Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Sheet as our top cookie sheet in our original 2013 review, and after two years of heavy use we’ve found it still performs well. Some aluminum sheet pans may perform on a par with it, but the Nordic Ware offers the best performance for the price that we’ve found. It’s been one of the hardest-working pans in this tester’s home kitchen for two years, and despite some minor discoloration it’s as good as it was on the first…

The Best Holiday Cookie Baking Equipment and Gear
Baking /

We spent 200 hours researching and tested 20 types of essential cookie-related items to find the best gear to make holiday baking fun and stress-free. In compiling this guide, we sought advice from renowned bakers such as Alice Medrich, author of books like Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies and, most recently, Flavor Flours; Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of Rose’s Christmas Cookies and The Baking Bible, among others; Matt Lewis, cookbook author and co-owner of New York’s popular Baked; and Gail Dosik, cookie-decorating expert and former owner of New York’s One Tough Cookie. And I myself am a former professional baker, which means I’ve spent many hours scooping cookies, and many more hours piping decorations. I know what’s practical, I know what’s essential, and I know what just won’t work. —Marguerite Preston

The Best Mixing Bowls
Baking /

We scooped 200 balls of cookie dough, cracked more than 60 eggs, sifted almost 4 pounds of flour, and tossed four boxes of cereal in a dozen mixing bowl sets to discover that the Tramontina ProLine 3-Piece Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls set is the best for most people. These bowls are deep enough to contain splatters from a hand mixer yet wide enough for comfortable whisking, folding, mixing, and tossing. If you want a durable glass set, the Pyrex Smart Essentials 8-Piece Mixing Bowl Set (four bowls with fitted lids) is great for simple baking projects and serving. The Tramontina ProLine stainless steel bowls are the best choice for most home cooks because they’re sturdy, deep, and packaged in a set of three practical sizes: 3, 5, and 8 quarts. The wide rims and brushed stainless steel surface let you securely manage these bowls with one hand while mixing and pouring. Costco is the only official retailer of these bowls, but you don’t have to be a Costco member to buy them online (if you’re not a member, you just have to pay a $1 surcharge). And even with shipping and the surcharge, this set is still affordable at around $30. If you want a glass…

The Best Whisk
Baking /

After more than 10 hours of combing through whisks of all shapes and sizes, and whipping or stirring our way through bowl after bowl of cream, custard, béchamel, and egg whites, we think the OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk is the best whisk for most people. It’s a great all-purpose whisk, equally efficient at whipping cream or stirring a pot of sauce. It’s flexible but sturdy, and its cushy, rubbery handle was the most comfortable we tried. The springy, plentiful wires of the OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk give it plenty of whipping power, and the bulbous, grippy handle fits more comfortably in your hand than any straight, metal handle. The whisk is narrow enough to scrape the corners of a pot when you’re making a sauce, but still wide enough to quickly aerate a bowl of cream. It’s also dishwasher safe, and well-constructed overall. But it does have one weakness: The handle isn’t heatproof, and will melt if you rest it on the edge of a hot pot for too long. If you plan to use your whisk mostly over heat, you might want to get our runner-up. The 12-inch Winco whisk is just as springy and efficient at whipping as our top…