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February/March 2018

Kitchen Tongs

Which pair offers the best precision and comfort?

How We Tested

Tongs look simple: two arms connected by a hinge. Pinch ’em together, pick something up. But this kitchen utensil is surprisingly complex.

When we previously tested tongs, the OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs were our favorite; they gripped foods well and were comfortable to hold. But with new models on the market, we decided to retest. We selected eight models priced from $12.88 to $19.99. We included tongs that were 10 to 12 inches long and had a variety of pincer designs, from scalloped to straight-edged.

Tongs have many uses, so we tested them in a variety of ways, including handling and frying delicate tortillas to make taco shells, rotating and transferring a roast, stirring and portioning angel hair pasta, and dredging and frying chicken-fried steaks. We also examined each model’s ability to grip and transfer ramekins and to precisely grasp a toothpick. To test durability, we washed each product 15 times and pushed each off the counter three times. Finally, we asked people with different builds and hand sizes to use and evaluate each pair of tongs.

The Most Comfortable-to-Use Tongs

We noticed big differences in tension during testing; some tongs were so stiff that they were downright painful to use for extended periods of time. So we took our tongs to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Michael Tarkanian, senior lecturer in the Materials Science and Engineering department, used a tool called a uniaxial tensile tester to determine how much force was needed to close each pair of tongs.

Comfortable tongs needed between 0.44 and 0.57 pounds of force to close. The more taxing models took between 0.70 and 0.84 pounds of force, which was fine for one or two quick closures but became uncomfortable during prolonged use. “My hand and wrist are killing me,” complained one tester while using the highest-tension model.

Which Tong Design Grips Food Best?

Even if the tongs were comfortable to squeeze shut, they had to actually do their job: securely hold food without tearing or shredding it. This is where the shape and material of the pincers came into play. Some models had concave, scalloped pincers, while others had rectangular pincers with straight sides and blunt edges.

Scalloped edges won, hands down. They were more precise and held everything from slippery pasta to bulky beef roasts; tongs with oar-like blades offered no grip whatsoever. One such model dropped a steak mid-dredge, and most straight-sided tongs struggled with the heavy beef roast, as the flat tong heads slid up the sides of the roast instead of gripping it. One tester, describing a nonscalloped model, said that it was like trying to use two baseball bats to grasp food.

We tested tongs that had uncoated stainless-steel pincers as well as models with silicone- or plastic-coated pincers, which can be advantageous for use with nonstick cookware. One pair even offered both: Half of each pincer was coated in silicone, while the other half was plain stainless steel. It was an intriguing design, but users weren’t sure what to do. “I’m confused. Which side do I use?” asked one tester. Overall, coated pincers were thicker and less precise, so we generally preferred the precision and control of tongs with uncoated stainless-steel pincers.

Differences in Tong Locking Mechanisms

All the tongs had locking mechanisms designed to keep them closed for easy storage. We preferred models that required us to push the locking mechanism at the end of the tongs to unlock them because we could grab them with one hand and quickly tap the butt on the counter or another handy surface to pop them open. But two pairs required us to pull the lock mechanism toward us to open the tongs, which required two hands—not convenient. Another pair of tongs sometimes accidentally locked, and yet another had a terribly designed locking mechanism that appeared to be broken; when it was “unlocked,” the plug was loose and wobbly (though not actually defective), and it often caught our skin, pinching the heels of our hands.

By the time we finished testing, one pair of tongs outshone the rest: The OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs ($12.95), our previous winner, kept its top spot. This model was precise, thanks to its uncoated, scalloped pincers. It also required a comfortable amount of force, whether we were holding the tongs shut for more than a minute or lifting a heavy beef roast, and its silicone grip was a nice bonus. The next time you need a heatproof hand in the kitchen, let these tongs do the work for you.

Methodology

We tested eight tongs priced from $12.88 to $19.99 and ranging in length from 10 to 12 inches. We made home-fried taco shells, browned a 4-pound top sirloin roast and transferred it to a roasting rack, stirred and portioned 1 pound of angel hair pasta, and made our recipe for Chicken-Fried Steak, including both dredging and frying. We also tested each pair by picking up a single rounded toothpick and transferring 6-ounce ramekins filled with 3 7/8 ounces of pie weights (roughly the weight of two eggs) into and out of a Dutch oven filled with 1 inch of boiling water. Finally, we conducted user testing, asking each participant to transfer one bunch of roasted asparagus—one spear at a time—to and from a rimmed baking sheet and to portion 1 pound of cooked angel hair pasta from a serving bowl into four smaller bowls. We washed each pair of tongs in the dishwasher 15 times and pushed each off the counter three times to test durability. Prices listed are what we paid online. Test scores were averaged, and tongs appear below in order of preference.

Precision: How well tongs could pick up and hold an item; tongs rated higher if they could easily pick up objects of all sizes and grip them securely, with no slipping.

Comfort: How much effort it took to close tongs and how comfortable it was to hold and operate tongs; tongs rated higher if they were easy to hold closed for prolonged periods of time and maneuver without causing wrist or hand pain.

Pincer design: How pincers, or tong heads, were shaped and whether they were coated or not; tongs rated higher if the pincers were scalloped and uncoated.

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The Results

Note: Cook's Country continuously updates our equipment reviews and taste tests. The written content below is the most up-to-date information available and may not match what appears in the video segment.

Key:
Good
Fair
Poor
Winner
Highly Recommended

OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs

Buy For $13
Purchased for $12.95 at time of testing

OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs

The scalloped, uncoated pincers on our longtime favorite tongs felt very precise. This model was also comfortable to use, not only because of the silicone-padded handle but also because the tension didn’t strain our hands or wrists. These tongs struggled a bit when transferring ramekins, as the uncoated pincers didn’t securely grip the ceramic, but this is a less common use, and the tongs excelled at every other task. This pair felt like a natural extension of our hands.

More Details
Comfort
Precision
Pincer Design
Purchased for $12.95 at time of testing
Recommended

OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs with Silicone Heads

Buy For $14
Purchased for $14.95 at time of testing

OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Tongs with Silicone Heads

This model is similar to our winner, also made by OXO, but has coated pincers. Even with a silicone coating—an upgrade from an older model that had thicker nylon-coated pincers—these tongs still offered a precise grip most of the time, but we struggled when transferring the beef roast from stovetop to roasting rack: The coated pincers didn’t grip as well as the uncoated version. We did, however, notice that the coated pincers were advantageous when moving ramekins into and out of a Dutch oven, as the silicone held the ceramic ramekins more securely than uncoated pincers did.

More Details
Comfort
Precision
Pincer Design
Purchased for $14.95 at time of testing

Edlund (4412 HDL) 12 inch Heavy Duty Tong with Lock

Buy For $12
Purchased for $12.88 at time of testing

Edlund (4412 HDL) 12 inch Heavy Duty Tong with Lock

These pared-down metal tongs—with uncoated pincers and no silicone grip on the handle—were light and precise. Though they didn’t securely hold ramekins, their slightly more concave scalloped pincers held food with excellent precision. Tension was in the comfortable range, so holding them closed for up to 90 seconds when frying taco shells was no problem at all.

More Details
Comfort
Precision
Pincer Design
Purchased for $12.88 at time of testing
Not Recommended

Ergo Chef Pro Series 12" DUO Tongs

$19.99

Ergo Chef Pro Series 12" DUO Tongs

These tongs had the second‑highest tension in the lineup, and we felt it, as they took more strength to hold closed. The half-coated, half-uncoated pincers confused users and didn’t impart any clear advantage. Though this model’s pincers had very shallow scallops along one side and something resembling rounded teeth on the other side, they didn’t grip well, so we couldn’t get any leverage on the beef roast and it slipped en route to the roasting rack.

More Details
Comfort
Precision
Pincer Design
$19.99

Joseph Joseph Elevate Steel Tongs

$16.99

Joseph Joseph Elevate Steel Tongs

When we were making Chicken-Fried Steak with these silicone-coated tongs, our steak fell mid-dredge and batter got stuck in the holes on the tong heads (which appeared to be for design only and didn’t add any obvious benefit); we wound up with a lot of batter on our tongs instead of our steak. We also had issues trying to transport ramekins—two slipped—and meat slid around between the pincers, as there was virtually no grip. This model featured an “integrated tool rest” meant to keep dirty tong heads off the counter, but oil and water still dripped onto the counter. Finally, these tongs frequently locked when we didn’t want them to because the plug that we pushed to open them gradually worked its way back to the locked position during use.

More Details
Comfort
Precision
Pincer Design
$16.99

Mastrad Quick Tongs

$14.99

Mastrad Quick Tongs

With the highest tension in the lineup, these tongs were stiff and tiring to use. The bulky locking mechanism cut down on handle grip space; plus, we had to pull it to open the tongs, which inconveniently required two hands. This model was also designed to stand on end to prevent a dirty counter, but peanut oil dripped down the handle when we made chicken-fried steak, giving us a greasy handle instead. Finally, the pincers’ wavy edges—not quite teeth and not quite scallops—were ineffective: We dropped pasta twice, and meat was similarly challenging.

More Details
Comfort
Precision
Pincer Design
$14.99

KitchenAid Silicone Tipped Tongs

$13.87

KitchenAid Silicone Tipped Tongs

These tongs were the shortest and heaviest in the lineup, which made them feel clunky and made them tiring to use. The thicker, silicone-coated rectangular pincers weren’t very precise, which was especially evident when we tried—and failed—to pick up a single strand of stray pasta. These tongs also slid up the sides of the roast, never really getting a good grip on it. Finally, the metal handle got noticeably warm when we used these tongs to stir angel hair pasta.

More Details
Comfort
Precision
Pincer Design
$13.87