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April/May 2016

Biscuit Cutters

Do biscuit cutters really matter?

How We Tested

Crafty home cooks punch out biscuits with old aluminum cans, overturned glasses, and even Mason jar rings. But using a makeshift cutter with rounded edges can compress the sides of dough, leading to misshapen biscuits. We prefer to use biscuit cutters, round cutting tools with sharp edges that make even cuts and thus produce tall, symmetrical biscuits. We tried eight sets, priced from $8.99 to $56.08, all containing between four and 11 different-size rings. We used the cutters on a buttery biscuits dough, a wetter cream biscuits dough, and an elastic pierogi dough.

Though we tried every cutter in each set, most biscuit recipes call for a 2-, 2 1/2-, or 3-inch biscuit cutter. Oddly, none of the sets in our lineup hit these sizes on the mark when we measured them ourselves, but as long as they came close (within ⅛ inch), we didn’t dock them points. One smaller set missed the 3-inch mark by 1/4 inch, making pierogi that were far too small and overstuffed—a definite problem.

Sticking wasn’t an issue; all the cutters easily relinquished the doughs, especially when we dipped the ring in flour before cutting (as we usually call for in our recipes). Cutting integrity was a bigger concern, especially when working with elastic, stretchy pierogi dough and wet cream biscuits. Flimsier cutters made from thin, malleable metal or plastic easily warped under the pressure of our hands, making lopsided, misshapen biscuits and pierogi. Two sets with handles initially seemed like they’d give us a sturdier grip, but the handles forced testers to grip the cutter with a closed fist, limiting our range of motion and leaving us struggling to turn the cutter in the dough. Double-sided cutters were also out: Their sharp edges pushed painfully into our fingers as we used them. We preferred single-sided sets made from thicker metal or strong plastic, which allowed us to apply sturdy, even pressure for perfectly round biscuits.

Durability proved a high hurdle for some cutters. After just three rounds in the dishwasher, one set’s handles broke off. Another set that was made from tin rusted. Our favorite sets were made from stainless steel or tough, durable plastic. In the end, we returned to our old standby, the Ateco 5357 11-Piece Plain Round Cutter Set ($14.95), which is made from tough stainless steel and didn’t warp or rust. This set comes with 11 sizes (a bit of overkill, perhaps) nested in a handy storage case and produced biscuits that were tall, even, and perfectly round.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

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

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.