Whether you’re cracking a few nuts for a snack or shelling a cup or more for a recipe, nutcrackers can give your hands a workout—and test your patience as you pick shells out of crushed nutmeats. Five years ago we chose the Reed’s Rocket ($29.99) nutcracker as our favorite: It’s an innovative tabletop model that uses a lever to easily crack and remove shells without pulverizing the contents. Since then, new models have come on the market. We tried four—priced from $14.99 to $35.99 and including another lever-style cracker, two variants on the traditional V-shaped style, and one resembling a jar with a crushing post attached inside the lid—and pitted them against our favorite. We used them to crack a full range of typical nuts, from tiny round hazelnuts and rock-hard Brazil nuts to softer pecans, walnuts, and almonds.
After choosing testers of different sizes and hand strengths, we evaluated the different crackers on their ease of use and ability to crack all nut types while leaving the nutmeats intact. For the ultimate test, we timed how long it took to crack and shell 1 pound of walnuts with each cracker. The V-style crackers took a great deal of effort and tended to crush the nuts into small pieces; the jar-style cracker was slow (and some said difficult) to twist, although after shells flew around the room when we used other crackers we appreciated that it kept the mess in the jar. The two lever-style crackers were quickest and did the best job at leaving the nuts whole.
The clear winner's extra-long handle made the hardest nuts easy to crack, leaving the meat intact. It required no adjustment when we changed the type of nut, and it didn’t scatter shells everywhere (unlike our former favorite). Best of all, it cracked a pound of walnuts in record time.
The nonslip grip and narrow, straight blade let testers remove the smallest bones with precision and complete comfort. Perfectly balanced with enough flexibility to maneuver around tight joints. The low price was a bonus.
Hefty in weight, this knife was a solid performer when removing poultry bones, and the handle was easy to grip, even when covered in chicken fat. Piercing silver skin was a challenge since the tip wasn’t sharp enough and the long narrow blade produced slightly jagged cuts.
|Recommended with Reservations|
The sharp tip performed well when removing silver skin, but it was too flexible when maneuvering around poultry joints, leaving testers feeling a lack of control. The heavy handle was slightly unbalanced and became slippery once covered in poultry fat.
Designed to replicate a samurai blade, this expensive knife was a disappointment. It struggled to pierce the silver skin, although long cuts were smooth and even. Minimal flexibility and extreme curve got in the way when maneuvering around joints. The smooth handle was hard to grip and slippery.
The large, cumbersome handle reminded testers of an outdoors knife for fishing and hunting. The blade was too wide to maneuver around joints and it struggled to pierce silver skin. Unlike other knives, this boning knife could only slice in one direction, making intricate cuts around joints difficult.
The blade was so flexible it led to erratic cuttings; testers said the knife was hard to control. The blade was not sturdy enough to maneuver around joints and the lightweight handle felt flimsy and unbalanced.
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