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October/November 2018

Pie Servers

Don't destroy your pretty pie with a subpar serving tool.

How We Tested

Baking a pie is one thing. Serving it is another. You can use a knife, but a pie server, essentially a pointed spatula, is specifically designed to cut, remove, and transport pie slices and should produce picturesque, intact pieces.

When we last tested pie servers, we named the OXO SteeL Pie Server ($9.99) as our top pick, owing to its comfortable handle and broad serrated blade. But with new models on the market, we decided to retest, selecting six options priced from $6.95 to $35.95, including our old winner.

We used the servers to slice single- and double-crust pies—both homemade and store-bought varieties, since these crusts can differ—as well as homemade cookie-crust pies. We also chose a variety of fillings to see how each tool handled different textures: smooth custard with an airy whipped cream topping; chunky fruit; and dense pecans. At the conclusion of testing, we had nearly 300 slices of pie and one clear winner. We found that three factors were most important: cutting ability, slice removal, and comfort.

A Pie Server That Can Slice Cleanly

The first job of a pie server is to cut through the filling and crust (or crusts). Here, blade material and design were key. One model with smooth, dull steel edges couldn't easily slice into thicker crusts or the firm, nutty top of a pecan pie. Another model with a nylon blade struggled with the initial crust-piercing; the blade bowed outward instead of driving straight down through the pie. The best pie servers had rigid stainless-steel blades with serrated edges. Though the steel models had different styles of serrations—from pointy teeth to larger scallops—all were able to effortlessly bite into the crust. However, one downside to the stainless-steel models was that they all left our favorite pie plate, which is nonstick, somewhat scratched. The nylon model was gentler.

The Right Design for Removing Slices

But cutting slices was only half the equation. Next we had to remove them—and it wasn't always easy. Two of the servers' blades, at 5 and 7 inches, respectively, were too long to deftly navigate a standard 9-inch pie plate. They couldn't fit neatly underneath a single slice, sometimes leaving crust stranded in the bottom of the pie plate. One of these long models was also too narrow and had trouble during transport; slices felt unsteady on the slender 1⅞-inch-wide blade. Our top performers were shorter (approximately 4 to 4½ inches long) and wider (2½ to 3 inches across at the base); they were easier to maneuver under pies and held slices more securely.

An offset handle, which tilts up and away from the blade at an angle, was also crucial. The one model with a straight handle couldn't get under the pie as cleanly and often left some crust behind. The remaining five models had offset handles, which allowed us to more easily maneuver their blades down and under pie slices for tidy removal.

A Rounded, Rubbery Grip Was Most Comfortable

Handles varied in shape and material, both of which had a big impact on comfort. One model had a thin, flat metal handle, and the hard edges pressed uncomfortably against our palms during use. The other servers had oval handles, and of these, testers liked the more bulbous options; they were easier to hold than narrower ones. Of the handle materials in our lineup, we preferred soft, rubbery grips best. This was a key feature of our top-rated pie server; testers praised its “really comfortable” handle, which had small ridges for extra grip.

The Best Pie Server

After slicing nearly 40 pies, we once again named the OXO SteeL Pie Server ($9.99) our winner. Its relatively short, wide blade perfectly cut, removed, and transported slices. It had serrations on both sides, so it worked for both right-handed and left-handed testers. Finally, this server's round, rubbery offset handle allowed us to neatly maneuver under pie and provided a comfortable, secure grip, making it easy to slice all types of pie. However, if you're using a nonstick pie plate and are concerned about scratching it, you might want to consider the OXO Good Grips Nylon Flexible Pie Server ($6.95). Its nylon blade sometimes struggled to cut through thick crusts, but it wasn't as harsh on our pie plate and its flexibility made it easy to remove intact, attractive slices.

Methodology

We tested six pie servers priced from $6.95 to $35.95. We used them to slice three homemade pies each (North Carolina Lemon Pie, Classic Apple Pie with Foolproof Pie Dough for Double-Crust Pie, and chocolate pudding pie with graham cracker crust) and three store-bought pies (pumpkin, pecan, and apple). We washed each server in the dishwasher 10 times and measured the blade dimensions in-house. Prices were paid online, scores were averaged, and pie servers appear below in order of preference.

Rating Criteria

Cutting Ability: We evaluated how well the servers cut through a variety of crusts and fillings. Servers that cleanly sliced through multiple types of pie with minimal effort rated highest.

Removal and Transport: We evaluated how easy it was to lift and transport pie and to produce aesthetically pleasing slices. We preferred servers that neatly slid under slices and lifted the entire piece, keeping it intact and steady during transport.

Comfort: We rated servers on how comfortable they were to use. Highest marks went to those that were easy and intuitive to use and hold, with a comfortable handle.

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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.