The Best Mixing Bowls
Mixing bowls may be underrated, but a good one is sturdy and comfortable to use.
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If you want to gain a real appreciation for mixing bowls, try cooking in a rental vacation home. Not too long ago, I found myself preparing dinner for a crowd in one such kitchen. My mixing bowl slipped and slid around on the counter as I whisked up a vinaigrette, sloshing the salad dressing all over the counter in the process. As I yearned for my home kitchen setup, I realized that a good set of mixing bowls–like our favorite Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (available at Amazon for $22.53)–are often taken for granted.
Most mixing bowl sets can be found for $20-$30 (available as a set or purchased individually), so we narrowed down our criteria to look for ones that nested for easy storage. Then, we looked at sizing—smaller bowls are perfect for whisking up dressings and scrambling eggs, but you also need medium and large bowls (for preparing cakes, mixing batters, and holding marinating ingredients). Finally, we threw out ceramic and plastic options (the former are heavy and chip easily, and the latter can warp from heat and tend to absorb odors) and narrowed down our selection to microwave-safe glass bowls and lightweight stainless-steel bowls.
After we had the bowls in hand, we set about whisking, mixing, and melting until we found a few bowls that fit all our specifications.
Here are the best mixing bowls, in order:
- Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls with Lids, Set of 3
- Pyrex Smart Essentials Glass Bowl Set, 8-Piece
- Fox Run Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (purchased individually)
- Finedine Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls, Set of 6
- Duralex Lys Stackable Glass Bowl Set, 10-Piece
- Vollrath Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (purchased individually)
- Tramontina ProLine Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls, 3-Pack
- Anchor Hocking Glass Mixing Bowls, 4-Piece
If you ask me which I prefer (glass or stainless steel bowls), I'll say stainless every time. There’s nothing to shatter or chip, making them both durable and long lasting, and their lightweight profile makes them easy to use. While they shouldn’t go into the microwave, they can be used on the stovetop as a double boiler–and the small- and medium-sized bowls in the Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls with Lids worked perfectly for melting butter and chocolate over a 2-quart saucepan.
In addition, this set had nice, tall edges and a comfortable rim to hold onto while whisking. Each bowl was heavy enough to keep movement at a minimum (especially when we placed a towel underneath it) but light enough to hold in one hand while scraping out batter with the other. As a bonus, the bowls come with air-tight plastic lids, so each bowl doubles as storage and transportation container. Put all this together and it's easy to see why these bowls earned our top spot as the best stainless-steel mixing bowls.
If you prefer glass mixing bowls, it probably has something to do with their heavier weight, microwave-safe status, and ability to go from kitchen to table. The Pyrex Smart Essentials glass bowl set quickly rose to the top of our list, matching the performance of the Cuisinart bowls test-for-test. In addition to earning top marks, its heavier weight was balanced by a generous rim that made it easy enough to hold when scraping out pancake batter.
They look nice enough to use as serving bowls and the set also come with matching lids. While the lids aren't quite air-tight (some liquid contents sloshed out when held upside down), they do function as food storage vessels. Combine it all together, and this top-performing glass set easily earned our best glass mixing bowl award.
How We Tested
Hi, I’m Lindsay Mattison, a trained professional chef. You know that I’ve cooked a dinner in your home if all of your bowls are dirty! I find myself using mixing bowls for all kinds of uses, from storing chopped ingredients for mise en place to mixing together sauces and marinades. I've learned the hard way that my job as a chef is more difficult without a good set of mixing bowls, so I'm determined to find the best of the best to make your life easier.
We chose eight bowls–five stainless-steel sets and three glass models. In addition to mixing, stirring, and combining ingredients, we looked for an all-purpose bowl that could be used as a double boiler. It earned bonus points if it was nice enough to use as a serving dish or could be used as storage. Our tests were designed to assess size and shape, stability, and whether it was comfortable and easy to use.
Mixing bowls come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so we looked at sets that had at least three bowls. We whisked vinaigrette in the small 1- to 1.5-quart bowl, prepared pancake batter in the medium 2.5- or 3-quart bowl, and tossed salad in the large 4- or 5-quart bowl. We wanted gentle, sloping sides that were deep enough to prevent splashes but shallow enough to make it easy to mix and fold in ingredients.
Next up, we needed each bowl to have stability without compromising weight. Bowls that are super heavy (like ceramic bowls) may stay put, but they’re uncomfortable to hold and clean. We whisked up marinades three different ways–as we held the side of the bowl, placed it on a towel, and let it sit directly on the countertop–to see if the bowl moved around or tipped over during the mixing process.
Finally, the bowl had to be comfortable and easy to use. It should be lightweight enough to clean and scrape out batter without hurting your wrists. It's also nice if it has a rim to help you hold the bowl, both as you whisk and as you pour.
Other Mixing Bowls We Tested
Sometimes, you don’t want an entire set of bowls–that’s where Fox Run comes in handy. Each stainless-steel bowl is affordably priced, so you can fill in your collection or focus on buying the sizes you want. These bowls were amongst the lightest we tested, so they did tend to slip around a bit more when whisking hands-off. That being said, their deep shape made them well suited for mixing and that same lightweight profile made them one of our favorite to use when pouring and scraping. When nested together, they took up the least amount of storage space compared to the competition, too.
The Finedine fell right smack in the middle of the pack. These super-lightweight stainless-steel bowls performed well on our whisking and pouring tasks, but the very wide design caused the ingredients to splash around more than we’d like. It looked a little bit cheaper than the other bowls (an assessment we confirmed when we saw some small but permanent scratches from the whisk). On the plus side: for the same price as some of its competitors, you’ll get six bowls of varying sizes–just make sure you have somewhere to store the super-wide 8-quart bowl.
If you’re looking for a starter mixing bowl set that can also double as serving ware, the Duralex Lys Stackable Glass Bowl Set is the way to go. It was the lightest of all three glass sets we tested, but it stayed put as we whisked and mixed. Because the bowls are short and wide, there was a lot more splashing with these bowls, and we disliked that they didn’t have a rim (making it difficult to pour out the contents). On the other hand, each bowl is etched with a lined pattern on the outside and they can become a beautiful showpiece on the dinner table. Since there are 10 sizes in the set, you'll also get five bowls that I consider small enough to be mise en place bowls.
Like the Fox Run bowls, you can buy each of the Vollrath stainless-steel mixing bowls individually, allowing you to build a set with exactly the sizes you need. These bowls remind me of the very inexpensive ones we use at a restaurant–wide and lightweight enough to allow you to toss ingredients without needing a utensil. They did a fine job on our tests, but as compared to the other models, these wouldn’t be my top choice for the home cook–they don’t stay put when you mix and they discolor and scratch easily.
Of all the bowls we tested, the Tramontina ProLine are the biggest and hardest to store. The stainless steel bowls skip the traditional 1.5- or 2-quart small mixing bowl and instead give you a 3- , 5- , and 8-quart bowl. That’s great if you are mixing up a ton of batter or bread, but we felt like it was overkill to whisk two eggs in the "small" bowl. They were heavy enough to prevent movement as you whisk and the tall edges prevented splashing, but none of them were sized right for use as a double boiler. Ultimately, we found them too large and heavy to be functional.
The very heavy Anchor Hocking glass mixing bowls just missed the mark for us. They didn’t quite fit into the saucepan to be used as a double boiler, and they were too heavy for everyday use. Between the weight and the lack of a rim, it was extremely difficult to hold the bowl in one hand and scrape out batter with the other. All in all, I'd rather use any other bowls than these.
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