The Best Microwave

There is no perfect microwave oven, but after two hands-on trials, 75 hours of research, and years of ownership by several Wirecutter editors, we’ve concluded that GE microwaves come darn close to the ideal. Our new top pick, the countertop model JES1656SRSS, offers all the GE features we’ve come to love. Its cooking performance is excellent and dead simple: It’ll expertly “bake” a potato, reheat pizza, and warm up a beverage to hot (but not scalding) with the touch of a button. Its internal sensors reliably eliminate cold spots and overcooking. It performs better at a wide array of tasks than more expensive and “advanced” competitors. And last but not least, it excels in the crucial matter of user interface: With a plainly labeled keypad and intuitive controls, it’s like that Ron Popeil oven—you “set it and forget it.” (One Wirecutter editor tested it for two weeks and never needed to consult the user manual.) The value of this cannot be overstated—especially in light of the absurdly complicated interfaces on offer from other makers. To cook something for one minute you simply press the “1” button, for two minutes you press “2,” and so on. Unlike with other microwaves, you don’t…

The Best Food Processor

After spending 50 hours researching food processors, interviewing experts, and conducting nearly four years of long-term testing, we still think the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is the best choice for most home cooks. Its simple, pared-down design makes it easier to use and clean than models with more settings or multiple bowls, and we found it to be built more solidly than other processors at this price range. In our tests, the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor tackled a multitude of chopping and shredding tasks exceptionally well. We like the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor for its simplicity and ease of use. It comes with a handful of accessories and disks you’ll need to complete common kitchen tasks, but nothing extra. It also has a straightforward interface with just two buttons and one bowl. However, its simplicity doesn’t come at the cost of performance: In our tests the Cuisinart Custom effortlessly chopped vegetables and herbs, and it made a more consistent mayonnaise than any of its competitors. If you want a mini food processor to make small batches of mayonnaise or mirepoix, we recommend the affordably priced KitchenAid 3.5 Cup Mini Food Processor. It chopped vegetables more evenly than the other mini…

The Best Ice Cream Maker

After researching for 95 hours, testing 16 machines, talking with pro ice cream makers and a food scientist, and churning gallons of the frozen stuff over the past four years, we think the Whynter ICM-15LS is your best bet for making consistently great ice cream at home. It’s not cheap, but because it’s so easy to use and it essentially guarantees success, it would likely get a lot more play in your kitchen than cheaper, more finicky machines. The Whynter ICM-15LS not only made some of the smoothest ice cream in our testing but also ranked as the quietest-running maker we tried and the easiest to scoop from and clean. And since it’s a self-refrigerating compressor machine, you won’t have to deal with freezing an insert bowl or futzing with messy ice and salt. If the Whynter ICM-15LS sells out, or you just want more bells and whistles, the Breville Smart Scoop is a great alternative. Although it made slightly creamier ice cream than our top pick, the difference was so subtle that we don’t think it’s worth the extra $100 or more for most people. It has an auto function with 12 hardness settings and a keep-cool function so you can set your ice cream…

The Best Soda Maker

After more than 47 hours of research and 155 hours of testing, we’re confident the SodaStream Source is the best home soda maker you can buy. Over the past three years we’ve tested 12 soda makers and siphons, made our own DIY version, and talked extensively with home soda-making experts and scientists about carbonation (as well as consumed many liters of seltzer!). The Source makes some of the bubbliest, best-tasting sparkling water, and it’s easier to use than the competition. For years, SodaStream has dominated the world of home soda makers. After looking for any other worthy competitors, we’ve found that the company still makes machines that work better than any other store-bought option we’ve encountered. We think the Source is the best of SodaStream’s offerings, with its optimal fizz-making capabilities, midlevel pricing, and sleek design. If the Source sells out, the SodaStream Power is another good option. It made equally bubbly water in our tests, and like the Source, it allows you to pick your fizz level. But the Power requires an outlet and is currently around $50 more expensive—a price premium that buys no added functional value, just a marginally sleeker design.  The iDrink Drinkmate is a great option if you want to experiment with carbonating…

The Best Toaster Oven

After more than 50 hours of research and testing—and making stacks and stacks of toasted white bread, mini pizza bagels, and cookies—we think the Panasonic FlashXpress toaster oven is the best for most people. This model performed as well as (or better than) models that cost twice as much. The Panasonic FlashXpress delivers four slices of perfectly browned toast every time due to its unique combination of both quartz and ceramic infrared heating elements. Its compact size takes up less space on a counter, while its interior is still large enough to comfortably reheat leftovers and frozen snacks. Compared with the other toaster ovens we tested, the Panasonic FlashXpresscooked food more evenly and didn’t generate any hot spots that might cause inconsistent toasting. It also gives you more accurate control over the shade setting than other models. At around 1 cubic foot in volume, the FlashXpress takes up less counter space than most of the other toaster ovens we looked at, but it’s still large enough to fit four pieces of bread or a few leftover slices of pizza. We think that’s large enough for most people, but if you need more space, consider our runner-up or our upgrade pick instead, which hold six and nine pieces…

The Best Citrus Juicer

After more than 38 hours of researching and testing, juicing more than 53 pounds of citrus, and conducting a four-person blind tasting, we think the Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer is the best machine for making the occasional batch of OJ at home. Compared with models 10 times the price, it produced as much juice (or more juice), and it has a higher-quality build than similar juicers. The Proctor Silex Alex’s Lemonade Stand model also offers one of the best self-contained pitchers we’ve found, with a pulp-control design that actually works. From hulking grapefruit to diminutive limes, the Proctor Silex efficiently handles all types of citrus, and the resulting juice consistently comes out sweeter than juice from more powerful models that tend to over-ream and produce more bitter results. It may not look like much, but the Proctor Silex hits every mark that’s important for a juicer, and at only about $15 currently, it costs less than a hand press that will extract just a few tablespoons of liquid at a time. In three separate rounds of testing, the simpler models have always produced the best juice. Smaller, self-contained juicers aren’t appropriate for producing gallons at a time, but they are just…

The Best Bread Machine

We spent 35 hours researching, testing, and retesting six bread machines (plus many more hours waiting for 30 loaves of bread to bake), and we think that the West Bend 41410 2.5-pound Hi-Rise Bread Maker is the best bread machine for most people. It proofs, kneads, and bakes evenly, and it does so for a reasonable price. Note: The West Bend Hi-Rise Bread Maker has been discontinued and is no longer available at Walmart or Amazon. The company has announced that it will release a new version next February. In the meantime, we think you should purchase our runner-up pick from T-fal. The West Bend 41410 2.5-pound Hi-Rise Bread Maker handled white bread, whole wheat bread, and several gluten-free recipes with ease, and it’s one of the few models that bake a standard-shaped bread loaf. In our tests, it consistently produced tender, golden-brown breads. Operating the West Bend is simple and intuitive, and it comes with a one-year limited warranty. The West Bend makes a great, standard-shaped loaf, but the T-fal PF311E ActiBread Programmable Bread Machine is a little more compact and includes more gluten-free settings. Like the West Bend, it kneads thoroughly and proofs and bakes evenly, but its loaves come out at least as tall as they…

The Best Juicer

After pushing almost 40 pounds of leafy, crunchy, pulpy produce through nine top machines, we think the Tribest Slowstar is the best and most versatile juicer for the home for the second year in a row. Its single vertical auger turns at a slow 47 rpm, making it one of the slowest juicers available—key for getting maximum nutrients and enzymes from produce—and it still yielded more juice than nearly every other model we tested, meaning there’s less going to waste. It comes with a 10-year warranty on parts, so you can crank it up every day without worry about wear and tear. In our tests, the Tribest Slowstar consistently outperformed its competitors, delivering delicious juices from a variety of fruits and vegetables with minimal effort. Compared with other juicers, the Slowstar is quieter and less likely to jam, and it generates less foam. We were also impressed with the 10-year warranty on the Slowstar’s motor and parts. If you can’t get the Tribest, the Omega VSJ843 is a very good runner-up, especially if you prefer only green juices. Juice from the new VSJ is virtually pulp-free and full of flavor with minimal foam, and the yield for green juice was especially high. The machine itself has…

The Best Blender

After researching dozens of blenders, talking with five experts, and testing 22 models over the course of five years, we’re confident that the Oster Versa Pro Performance Blenderoffers the best value for most people. It performs as well as some blenders that cost twice as much, and it blows cheaper blenders out of the water. With both variable speed and preset options for things like soup and smoothies, it has one of the most user-friendly and versatile control panels we’ve seen. The Oster Versa is the best of a new breed of high-powered but budget-friendly blenders. Compared with equally priced blenders, the Oster Versa’s speeds are more nuanced, its 1,400-watt motor runs more quietly, and it’s one of the few models that comes with a tamper for bursting air pockets in thick mixtures. At 17½ inches tall, it’ll also fit better under a counter than most other high-performance models. We don’t think the Versa is the absolute best blender out there. It doesn’t compare to Vitamix blenders in terms of power and longevity (we burned our Versa out after 2½ years), but the Versa has serious blending skills, a solid seven-year warranty, and a user-friendly design. If you don’t want to throw down…

The Best Pressure Cooker

After 40 hours of research and testing—including cooking 15 pounds of brisket, 13 pounds of black beans, and 12 pounds of brown rice—we think the best pressure cookers for most people are the electric Instant Pot IP-DUO60 (for hands-off cooking) and the stovetop Fagor Duo 8-Quart (if you want more manual control). Of the 15 pots we tried, these two offer the best combination of great performance at a reasonable price. They’ll help you get dinner on the table in less than half the time of cooking in a regular pot. And unlike the finicky, volatile pressure cookers of the past, our picks are totally safe and easy to use. The Instant Pot IP-DUO60 is our overall favorite if you’re looking for a super-easy pressure-cooking experience. It’s simple to use and will turn out delicious meals in a fraction of the time conventional cooking requires—you can cook black beans from scratch in 20 minutes, for example. Compared with other electric models, it has more heat settings, and it sautéed our onions better (none of the electric models brown meat all that well). As a multi-cooker, this pot can also function as a slow cooker and a rice cooker (which it did okay, but if you’re a rice snob…