Please feel free to check out the full affiliate statement and disclosure here. The Epicure Multipurpose Steamer is a versatile cooking tool that will end up being indispensable in any family kitchen, but is especially useful for dorm dwellers, campers, travelers, singles, and empty esters.
This post does NOT contain the basic product information and usual recipes. Epicure pushes the steamer as a way to get dinner from raw to ready in 20 minutes or less by using it in the microwave.
As small a point that seems, it is a HUGE time saver for this productive mother. A great option for preparing a meal in advance for your family or an older neighbor.
You can prep, freeze, bake, store and reheat right in the same pan. The Less Than Great I want to get real for a moment and share some cons of the steamer and similar silicone bakeware.
Baked goods won’t brown, as silicone doesn’t retain heat. There are some products, like Silent mats that are silicone over fiber glass, that do allow for browning.
Stack insert trays for two layers of bacon or chips. Great for when it’s still hot out and you don’t want to heat the whole house.
You can definitely grease the steamer (with butter or oil, not sprays) if you are baking in it. I find a short soak is all that’s needed if something is stubbornly stuck.
This beautifully constructed pure aluminum cookie sheet will exceed all your home baking expectations. Foods bake and brown evenly due to its excellent heat conductivity.
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The tools you use can make all the difference, allowing your dough to bake evenly and your decorations to shine. We spent 200 hours researching and testing 20 types of essential cookie-related items to find the best gear to make holiday baking fun and stress-free.
Collapse all In compiling this guide, we sought advice from renowned bakers such as Alice Med rich, author of books like Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies and, most recently, Flavor Flours ; Rose Levy Geranium, author of Rose’s Christmas Cookies and The Baking Bible, among others; Matt Lewis, cookbook author and co-owner of New York’s popular Baked ; and Gail Disk, cookie-decorating expert and former owner of New York’s One Tough Cookie. If you make a lot of cookies every year, investing in a classic Kitchen stand mixer is worthwhile.
A good stand mixer will make your baking (and cooking) life a lot easier. That said, stand mixers weigh quite a bit and have a large footprint on your countertop, and a quality machine costs hundreds of dollars.
And after spending over 20 hours researching and testing for our guide to the best hand mixers, we recommend the Seville Handy Mix Scraper. It churns through dense cookie dough and quickly whips delicate batters and pillow meringues, and it comes with more useful attachments and features that cheaper mixers lack.
These Pyrex bowls are heavier than stainless steel, so they won’t go sliding all over the counter. You can find a lot of fancy bowls out there with handles and pour spouts and rubberized bottoms, but after years of baking experience and time spent consulting with the experts, we think you still can’t beat the basics.
They’re durable, attractive, versatile, easy to hold with one hand, and have tight-fitting lids for storing leftovers. And unlike some other bowls we tested, they’re both deep enough to contain splatters from a hand mixer and wide enough to allow for folding ingredients together easily.
The big advantage of glass bowls is that they can go in the microwave, which makes it easier to do things like melt chocolate. The Pyrex bowls come in a set of four useful sizes (1, 1½, 2½, and 4 quarts) and they come with lids, so you can store a batch of cookie dough in the fridge or keep icing from drying out.
According to Alton Brown, 1 cup of flour can equal anywhere from 4 to 6 ounces, depending on who measures it and on factors like relative humidity. Converting recipes from cups to grams is an extra step, but if you keep a chart with the standard weights of your baking ingredients on hand, it shouldn’t take long.
Alice Med rich (who recently made the case for baking with a scale in The Washington Post) noted that a scale also comes in handy if you don’t have a cookie scoop but want to make your drop cookies exactly the same size (which ensures that they bake evenly). It's bulky, and it measures only in full grams, but it easily accommodates high-quantity baking with a whopping capacity of 17.56 pounds.
Flour and other dry ingredients mound, and generally you measure them using a dip-and-sweep method, so cups with flat rims work best for scooping and leveling. All the experts we interviewed keep at least a few different ones on hand, and Alice Med rich declared that “for anyone who bakes, it’s important to have different-sized whisks.” For making cookies, however, you won’t be using such a tool for much more than whisking dry ingredients or making icing, so a narrow, medium-size whisk will do.
All of our experts emphasized that, as Matt Lewis put it, “simpler is better.” Whisks shaped like tornadoes or with metal balls rattling around inside the wires don’t perform any better than the simple, sturdy teardrop-shaped models. In our tests, it whipped cream and egg whites faster than most of the other whisks we tried, and was able to reach easily into the corners of a pot to keep a custard from sticking.
The bulbous handle fits the contours of your hand, and has a rubbery TPE coating that makes it easy to grip even when it’s wet. Our only complaint is that the handle isn’t entirely heatproof: it will melt if you rest it too long on the edge of a hot pan.
But that shouldn’t be an issue for making cookies (or a lot of other whisking tasks), so we don’t think it’s a deal breaker. And if you want to take our experts’ advice and get multiple sizes, Ox also makes a 9-inch version of this whisk.
If you do want a whisk with a heatproof handle, we also like the simple Winch 12-Inch Stainless Steel Piano Wire Whip. With 12 bouncy wires, the Winch made quick work of whipping cream in our tests, and it was easy to maneuver around a small saucepan.
The smooth stainless steel handle isn’t as comfortable as the Ox’s, but it’s still perfectly fine, especially for simple tasks like whisking dry ingredients. It should be stiff and thick enough to press dough together but flexible enough to scrape down the sides of a bowl with ease.
Silicone is the material of choice over old-fashioned rubber spatulas because it’s food-safe, heat-proof, and nonstick, so you can use it for melting butter or chocolate as well as for mixing, and sticky dough slide right off (plus, you can throw it into the dishwasher). It’s a single piece of silicone, a design that we preferred to competitors with a wooden handle and a detachable head; as a result, it goes into the dishwasher easily, and grime has no chance to get lodged in nooks and crannies.
The small head is slim enough to fit into a peanut butter jar but comfortable and quick to use in a curved pot, with parallel edges that can scrape down the straight sides of a sauté pan. Though the tip is thick enough to give the spatula heft for pressing down dough, it’s also flexible enough to glide smoothly and cleanly around the edges of a batter bowl.
And when we used it in high heat, even when we pressed the head down onto the hot pan for 15 seconds, it showed no signs of degradation. The Air Spatula comes with a lifetime guarantee and remains a pleasure to use, and the bright, popping colors would look great hanging on a wall.
And of course, a good strainer can also help you drain pasta, rinse rice, wash fruit, and strain custard or broth or any other sort of liquid. You can find plenty of sets like that, but many of the inexpensive ones won’t last long: The steel can rust, the mesh can warp or pop out of its binding, and as Cook’s Illustrated points out in its review, the handles are particularly vulnerable to bending or breaking.
For most uses, we recommend the Ox Good Grips Stainless Steel Multi-Purpose Scraper & Chopper, which is The Kitchen’s top choice. Cook’s Illustrated complained that this model was too dull, but as of this writing it had a stellar, nearly five-star Amazon rating.
So, in contrast to Cook’s Illustrated’s second choice, the Nor pro Grip-EZ Chopper/Scraper (which has printed measurements), the Ox has markings that can’t fade. The Ox was also several dollars cheaper than the Dexter-Russell at this writing, and a bench scraper, useful as it is, is not a tool you should have to spend a lot of money on.
It’s great for quickly cleaning off counters, because it can easily scrape up crumbs or sticky cookie dough. You won’t see a huge variety of bench scrapers out there, but you should look for one with a blade that’s thick enough to resist buckling and sharp enough to actually cut things.
A comfortable, drippy handle is also a bonus, since, as The Kitchen notes, your hands “are often sticky or greasy” when you’re cooking. In a pinch, you could use a wine bottle instead, but achieving an even thickness would be harder, and things could quickly get frustrating if you’re trying to roll out lots of dough.
The timeless maple Whetstone Woodenware French Rolling Pin proved to be a superior tool and a great value. Without tapered ends, however, it isn’t as agile as the Whetstone, so it’s slightly awkward for rolling out round shapes.
And because the surface of the pin was not as smooth as that of our main pick, in our tests it required more dusting of flour and more effort to clean. On the other hand, silicone pastry brushes are easier to clean, heat-proof, and designed not to shed bristles on your cookies.
Cook’s Illustrated says this model isn’t great for heat or for heavy sauces, but that’s to be expected, and it does have a sturdy construction. The Ate co Stainless Steel Christmas Cookie Cutters had the heaviest-gauge metal among the seven sets we tested.
But whether you’re trying to kick-start a collection or you want to have just a few on hand for the holidays, buying a set of cookie cutters is easier than sorting through a dizzying variety of individual ones. The shapes are clear and elegant; of all the cutters we tested, the Ate co pieces offered the sturdiest construction and cut the cleanest cookies.
We squeezed the cutters to see how easily they would bend, and we washed them a few times (by hand) while keeping an eye out for rust. All the experts we spoke to preferred metal cookie cutters over plastic because they feel sturdier and their sharper edges cut a cleaner line.
Plastic has its advantages, too: It doesn’t rust or bend, and duller edges can be a plus when you’re baking with kids. Ultimately, for most bakers, we think metal is the way to go, and if you take care of your cutters, a high-quality set can last a long time.
For holiday baking, we like Ate co Stainless Steel Christmas Cookie Cutters, which include six different shapes. Photo: Michael Sullivan Ate co cookie cutters had the heaviest-gauge metal of any we tested, and the difference was immediately noticeable.
Copper cookie cutters are strong, unbendable, resistant to rust, and undeniably beautiful. If, as Disk put it, there’s a cookie shape you “know you’re going to make religiously,” you may want to invest in a high-quality copper cutter.
If the dough gets stuck inside the cutter, the big, simple shapes let a kid push out the cookie without damaging it. They’re not as sharp as metal cutters, so pushing into frozen dough is a little tougher, but they have a wide upper lip, which makes them more comfortable to push down hard on (our young tester gave them a few hard smacks, which was probably excessive, but fun for her).
Just be aware that they’re not as deep as any of the other cutters we tested, so they’re not the best for cutting through thicker things, like sandwiches. This set of four plastic cutters felt sturdy, and we liked the silicone grip, which made them more comfortable to use.
The holiday shapes are nearly identical to some of those in the 101-piece set, and they would be great for kids, but they just don’t come in enough variety to make them our top choice. Cookie cutters are like 3D puzzle pieces, and you’ll be surprised how difficult it is to fit them back into a tub.
A Ziploc bag can work too, but then you run the risk of your cutters getting bent out of shape if you shove them in a drawer somewhere. It’s important to invest in a good, sturdy one, or else you’ll quickly run into more frustration and mess than you would by shaping cookies by hand.
Unlike with some other scoops we tested, the handle was easy to squeeze, so it didn’t require much force. The Nor pro was one of the few two models we tried with silicone grips on the handles (the other was the Ox Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop), which made them easier to hold onto while we were working with buttery cookie dough, and more comfortable to use for a long scooping session.
The mechanism felt sturdy, too, and our tests of scooping and releasing firm dough didn’t push the band out of alignment. The squeeze action is smooth and easy, the handles are comfortable, and the tool is sturdy and reliable.
This heavy-gauge sheet has two raised handles on the short ends, which make it easy to rotate in the oven. By far the best and easiest way to keep your cookies from sticking to the pan is to line it with a simple sheet of parchment paper, especially during a big baking project.
Nonstick Silent baking mats get a lot of hype, and they’re excellent for certain projects, especially sticky ones like toffee. Alice Med rich mentioned that Slats tend to leave the bottoms of cookies uncrowned and undercooked.
The company notes on its website that baking on Slats produces flatter cookies because the dough slides effortlessly across the surface. Yes, you will produce more waste, but if you’re going through big batches of cookies, the time and effort saved are probably worth it.
We haven’t found any significant differences between parchment paper brands, so just get whatever is readily available at your local grocery store. Such a tool is designed for bakers who want to add polish to their frosted cakes or to spread thick batters into the corners of pans.
Its shape makes it much more adept than a butter knife at spreading frosting or chocolate evenly over a cookie. The SUR la Table Stainless Steel Cooling Grid fits inside a half-sheet baking pan.
The SUR la Table Stainless Steel Cooling Grid fits inside a half-sheet baking pan. The SUR La Table rack is made of a thicker gauged stainless steel wire, so it’s sturdier than most other racks we’ve tested, and its tight grid pattern (as opposed to parallel wires) won’t let cookies bend or fall through.
They’ll help you draw smooth, precise lines with royal frosting or chocolate, and using them is the only way to achieve the level of detail (with some practice) that bakers like Gail Disk of One Tough Cookie does on their sugar cookies. You might also buy reusable pastry bags made out of plastic or plastic-coated canvas, but experts like Gail Disk and Matt Lewis, who put their decorating bags to a lot of use with a lot of different materials, prefer the disposable plastic kind because they make for quicker cleanup.
This feature offers an advantage, especially when you’re working with greasy buttercream, because it helps keep the bag from slipping in your hands, which can turn decorating into a frustrating and messy struggle. All the bags we tested were strong enough to hold up under forceful stretching, and none showed signs of bursting at the seams.
Just keep in mind that you need enough empty space in the top to twist the bag closed. Twisting forces the frosting down into the tip and ensures that you can squeeze it out evenly with only gentle pressure.
One hundred bags is a lot, and anyone not working in a professional kitchen would take a long time to get through them, but you may find more uses for them than you think. Use them to pipe a prettier filling into deviled eggs, or to make an elegant mashed potato topping for shepherd’s pie.
We can’t recommend the enormous box for everyone, but if you’re creative and fond of spending time in the kitchen, you might just find a lot of uses for your lifetime supply of pastry bags. These pieces allow you to make stars, rosettes, leaves, and basket weaves (though more successfully with a thick frosting like buttercream than with thin, runny royal icing).
But because the Wilton tips have an inner seam (albeit a slight one), we can recommend that set over the Ate co version only if organization is your main concern. Food coloring can make cookie decorating more fun (especially for kids) and more elaborate, but you can find much better options than the watery liquid McCormick sets available in most grocery stores.
Powdered coloring are the least common, and they’re necessary only for making things like French macaroni, which you can throw off with the addition of even a few drops of moisture. Disk said she finds the colors to be “true and beautiful” and likes that they “mix well and store well.” Lewis noted that Watercolor is the only brand that never separates from his buttercream.
The squeeze bottles, on the other hand, made adding one drop of liquid gel at a time easy. Plus, as it turned out, the Wilton gel paste wasn’t even that much more concentrated than either liquid gel: It took about seven toothpick dabs of the Wilton paste to create a purple as rich as the one we achieved with two drops of Watercolor, and four toothpick dabs of orange to equal one drop of Watercolor orange.
The set has issues: It’s expensive, for one thing, and in the package we received from Amazon, the yellow bottle had leaked a little. And they don’t contain preservatives, so as many Amazon reviewers point out, they tend to become less effective over time.
You may not get wild, electric colors out of this set, but if you’re devoted to keeping things natural, this is a great way to go. Marguerite Preston is a senior editor covering kitchen gear and appliances at Wire cutter, and has written guides to baking equipment, meal kit delivery services, and more.