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February/March 2017

Rolled Oats

We prefer rolled oats for baked goods, since their thin, flat shape gives cookies, bars, and toppings just the right amount of chew.

How We Tested

We prefer rolled oats for baked goods, since their thin, flat shape gives cookies, bars, and toppings just the right amount of chew. In addition, they make good oatmeal relatively quickly. To find the best rolled oats, we rounded up five contenders and sampled each product as oatmeal (prepared according to package instructions) and in our recipe for Chewy Oatmeal Cookies (where we weighed the oats to ensure consistency).

In the oatmeal test, three products were nutty and hearty, but two were borderline unpalatable: one was too clumpy and dry, and the other was a gluey mass of goop. Worse, some tasters noticed a metallic, chemical taste in the gluey oats. Products that were mushy or parched in oatmeal made cookies that were a tad dense or dry. We were perplexed, too, by the appearance of cookies made with one “extra-thick” product; they spread into flat disks with crispy edges.

To find out why, we took a closer look at the oats. There wasn’t a noticeable difference when we examined the raw extra-thick oats next to standard rolled oats, but when we painstakingly counted out 100 oats from each product and weighed them on a lab-grade scale, it turned out that the extra-thick oats had about 1,114 oats per ounce, while our preferred products had an average of about 1,200 oats per ounce. That may not seem like a huge difference, but when you consider that there are 9 ounces of oats in our standard cookie recipe, that adds up to more than 700 fewer oats to soak up liquid and provide structure—it’s no wonder that cookies made with the extra-thick oats spread so thin.

Our new winner, Bob’s Red Mill Old Fashioned Rolled Oats, makes perfectly formed cookies and hearty, creamy oatmeal in about 10 minutes. 

Methodology

Twenty-one America’s Test Kitchen staffers tasted five samples of rolled oats in two blind tastings—as oatmeal (cooked according to each package’s directions) and in our recipe for Classic Chewy Oatmeal Cookies. A team of editors also evaluated our top three products in Cowboy Cookies. We weighed 100 oats from each product and used the weight to calculate number of oats per ounce. Results from the tastings were averaged, and products appear in order of preference.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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"

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.