After Testing 10 Reusable Beeswax Wraps, I Found Six That Are the Bees Knees

We wrapped, unwrapped, stained, and cleaned 10 reusable food wraps to find versatile options that help keep produce, bread, and more fresh.

six pieces of beeswax reusable wrap layered on top of each other
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

It’s getting easier than ever to rid your household of single-use plastics, and we’ve reviewed many of the reusable products out there: silicone storage bags, food storage containers, grocery bags, and Swedish dishcloths, which are stand-ins for paper towels (and a Serious Eats staff-favorite). 

To add to that growing list, I took a gander at another popular reusable household item: beeswax wraps. These wraps are typically made of cotton cloth that’s coated with wax, resin, and oil, which helps them cling to various bits and bobs. But how well do they really stick? 

To find out, I tested 10 options by using them to wrap and store an avocado, seal a stainless steel mixing bowl holding some grapes, and more, to find the very best. To get the full breadth of wraps out there, I also evaluated silicone and vegan sets, which use plant-based wax instead of beeswax. 

The Winners, at a Glance

This set comes with seven wraps: two small, three medium, and two large. The smallest size was perfect for covering citrus halves or avocados, while the larger ones comfortably fit on bowls and around larger produce. The wraps stayed adhesive throughout testing, too, even after multiple washes. 

Though slightly stiffer than the Trifecta, once warmed up with my hands this wrap crimped securely onto bowls and easily wrapped around pieces of food. It also kept avocado halves nearly blemish-free.

This set breaks down to $1.67 per wrap (at the time of writing), the most affordable of all the options I tested. All the wraps easily stuck onto bowls and kept browning minimal on the halved avocado.

This roll gives you the option to customize your wrap size—which is great if you have oddball-shaped ingredients (parmesan rinds, baguette butts, etc) or find pre-cut wraps too big or too small; this way, you can make it JUST right. This wrap did have a slight patchouli-like smell (likely from the resin in the coating), but it faded after use and washing.

This was another great roll option, with fun patterns and sticky (if a little stiff) material that clung easily to cans, halved fruit, and cheese.

Instead of beeswax, this wrap is coated in coconut oil and plant-based wax—and it worked just as well as the non-vegan offering from the same brand. It also had a faint patchouli-esque smell. 

The Tests

avocados wrapped in beeswax wrap and one with plastic wrap
I even used foil and plastic wrap as controls, to compare the reusable wraps' performance to.Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
  • Bowl Test: I filled a small metal mixing bowl with a handful of green grapes and covered it with each wrap. I then shook the covered bowl 10 times to see if the wrap stayed secure.
  • Avocado Test: I halved ripe avocados and wrapped each half in the reusable wraps; I also wrapped one in plastic wrap and one in aluminum foil as controls. I stored the avocado halves in the crisper drawer of my refrigerator and, after three days, checked the avocados for blemishes. I also noted if the wrap was still malleable after being in the fridge and if it was easy to clean. 
  • Stain Test: I smeared one tablespoon of marinara sauce on each wrap, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, and then cleaned it using cool water, mild soap, and a sponge. After drying, I noted if any stains or odors remained. 
  • Fit Test: Throughout testing, I used each wrap to cover various foods, including halved citrus and fruit, bread, and open cans. 

What We Learned

What You Can (and Can’t) Store in Beeswax Wraps 

a slice of honeydew melon on top of a piece of beeswax wrap
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

While it might be tempting to go wild and wrap everything in beeswax wraps, there are some no-nos. The number one is not to wrap raw meat or fish. Since the wraps are cleaned with cool water, if they gets soaked with meat juice, the wrap will basically become a bacteria-infested contamination rag—yuck. You might want to also avoid wrapping sticky, gooey items like pizza dough since it’ll adhere to the wrap and could strip it of its waxy layer (not to mention it’d be a pain to unwrap). While some brands advise avoiding wrapping acidic foods, I had no issues when I covered citrus.

Wash Wraps With Care

a person washing a beeswax reusable wrap with a sponge
Don't even think about washing reusable warps with hot water!Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Nearly all of the wraps I tested recommend washing with cool water and dish soap—and for good reason. Since the clingy nature of these reusable wraps comes from a coating of oils and wax, if you scrub them with hot water and harsh cleansers, you’ll strip away that coating and end up with slightly oily cotton cloths that won’t stick to anything. Wash your reusable wraps like delicate laundry—with cool water and a delicate touch. 

Beeswax Wraps Kept Foods Fresh 

a variety of avocados on top of the wraps they were stored in
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Keeping a halved avocado beautifully creamy, pale green, and blemish-free is a Herculean task. But most of the reusable wraps did a good job at maintaining a fresh appearance. The Abeego and Bee’s Wax were Allstars in this arena; the exposed avocado only had a pale brown tint, with no dark splotches, and the texture was still creamy and firm. Other wraps, like the Public Goods, were stiff and difficult to wrap tightly around the avocado, which let more oxidation occur. That said, even the worst beeswax wraps did better than the plastic wrap, which resulted in a slowly rotting avocado replete with splotches and a gooey texture near the peel. (Want to know the best way to store an avocado? Aluminum foil. It did a great job of keeping the halved fruit fresh and blemish-free). 

Wraps Break in With Time and Use

Some of the wraps were downright rigid when I first used them, especially offerings from Meli and Bee’s Wrap; I had to warm them up quite a bit with my hands before they became supple. That said, after a few uses and washes, stiffer wraps tended to break in and soften up, making them easier to use. The exception was the Public Goods wrap, which remained stiff and became papery after washing. 

Soft and Sticky Was Better

a person covering a bowl with beeswax wrap
A softer, stickier wrap was easier to crimp around a bowl's edge.Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The above statement is something I agree with when it comes to dessert consistencies, too. But back to the point: sticky, soft wraps were easier to fit around, well, everything. In my bowl test, malleable wraps, like the Trifecta and Akeeko, were easy to mold and crimp and fit securely around the bowl’s edges; even when I shook the bowls (and turned them upside down), they stayed put. They were also easy to mold around oddball-shaped foods like a random half a starfruit, and a slippery, wonkily cut honeydew melon. The only downside to soft and sticky wraps was that sometimes they clung to the food item in question a little too greedily; the Bee Carefree wrap stripped off the surface of the avocado when I removed it. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in Reusable Beeswax Wraps 

a closeup of the trifecta wrap on a ramekin with the following text overlayed: Seriously Good Beeswax Wrap: Adheres easily; stays sticky; wax coating
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

First off, they should be made of some kind of cloth coated in wax—the one silicone wrap I tested was truly terrible and didn’t stick to anything. I evaluated reusable wraps that came in pre-cut sizes, as well as rolls that let you cut what you need—both are good options, but consider your needs when choosing between them. The wrap should be easy to mold onto a variety of objects, and it should stick nicely; it should also retain its stickiness after washing and regular use for a good amount of time. 

Our Favorite Reusable Beeswax Wraps 

What we liked: This versatile set comes in three sizes: two small, three medium, and two large. Each wrap was malleable and crimped nicely onto fruit, cheese, bowls, and more. The wraps were also easy to clean, retained their stickiness after washing, and didn’t stain too much even when lightly painted with tomato sauce. 

What we didn’t like: The three sizes are versatile, but not quite as much as cutting a piece of wrap to fit.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Cotton, organic jojoba oil, beeswax, tree resin
  • Dimensions: Two small-sized (7 x 8 inches), three medium-sized (10 x 11 inches), and two large-sized (13 x 14 inches)
  • Stated lifespan: NA 
  • Disposal: Can be used as a cloth once it loses its stickiness
  • Cleaning and care: Wash with mild soap and cool water; air dry
trifecta wrap on a ramekin
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: While slightly stiff, once warmed up with my hands the wraps were easy to crimp onto the edges of a bowl and wrap around an avocado. While they did stain after being brushed with tomato sauce, it was very faint. This wrap kept a halved avocado nearly blemish-free, with minimal browning on the cut surface. 

What we didn’t like: The set only comes with three wraps, and they are a little stiffer than the others I tested. They’re also one of the pricier options, clocking in at around $6 apiece at the time of publish. 

Key Specs

  • Materials: Cotton-blend fabric, hemp fabric, beeswax, tree resin, jojoba oil 
  • Dimensions: One small square (7 x 7 inches), one medium square (10 x 10 inches), and one large square (13 x 13 inches)
  • Stated lifespan: NA
  • Disposal: Compostable 
  • Cleaning and care: Hand-wash with cool water and mild soap
abeego wrap on a small ramekin
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This was another wrap that kept the halved avocado in good shape, with only light browning and no dark spots. Each piece was very malleable and easily molded to a stainless steel bowl's rim, staying secure when the grape-filled bowl was shaken. This set of nine wraps was also one of the cheapest, at around $1.67 per piece. 

What we didn’t like: There wasn’t much I didn’t like about these wraps, though they did stain after the tomato sauce test. Also, there’s only one large-sized wrap. 

Key Specs

  • Materials: Cotton, organic jojoba oil, beeswax, tree resin
  • Dimensions: Five small wraps (7 x 8 inches), three medium wraps (10 x 11 inches), and one large wrap (13 x 14 inches)
  • Stated lifespan: NA
  • Disposal: NA
  • Cleaning and care: Hand-wash with cold water and alcohol-free soap and air dry
akeeko wrap on a ramekin on a white surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This roll of beeswax wrap is great because you can cut out the exact shape needed, reducing waste even further. While the wrap was a little stiff at first, it broke in after use and easily molded to a myriad of foods. It also kept the sliced avocado in decent shape, with only a few brown spots. 

What we didn’t like: This wrap did have a patchouli-esque aroma, but after washing, the scent faded.   

Key Specs

  • Materials: Cotton, beeswax, plant oil, and tree resin
  • Dimensions: 14 x 52 inches (a little over four feet)
  • Stated lifespan: 1 year
  • Disposal: Compostable; can also be used as a fire starter
  • Cleaning and care: Hand-wash in cool water with mild dish soap, and air dry; avoid exposure to heat and hot water
Bees Wrap wrap on a ramekin
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This wrap comes in a variety of fun patterns and was super sticky, if a little stiff; but, over time, it became more malleable. It also did a good job keeping the avocado fresh, and had no noticeable staining after the tomato sauce test (though the wrap I used had a bright papaya pattern that might’ve hidden any blemishes). 

What we didn’t like: It was a little stiff at first and took more effort to tightly wrap the halved avocado. 

Key Specs

  • Materials: Cotton, Hawaiian beeswax, tree resin, plant oils
  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 42 inches (around four feet long)
  • Stated lifespan: 1 to 2 years (about 150 washes)
  • Disposal: NA
  • Cleaning and care: Hand-wash with mild soap and cool water, and air dry
meli wrap on a small ramekin on a white surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: If you’re vegan and/or avoid bee products, this is a great option that performed well. Like the non-vegan Bee’s Wrap, this was a little stiff at first but broke in quickly; once this happened, it was easier to tightly wrap around items like open cans and halved citrus. 

What we didn’t like: Since it was stiffer at first, it was more difficult to tightly wrap around the avocado, which led to some dark splotches. It also has a faint patchouli scent, though this faded with use and washing. 

Key Specs

  • Materials: Cotton, plant-based wax, organic plant oil (coconut oil and soy), tree resin
  • Dimensions: 14 x 52 inches (a little over 4 feet)
  • Stated lifespan: 1 year
  • Disposal: Compostable; can also be used as a fire starter
  • Cleaning and care: Hand-wash in cool water with mild dish soap, and air dry; avoid exposure to heat and hot water
vegan bees wrap on a ramekin
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Competition 

  • Bee Carefree Reusable Beeswax Food Wrap: While I loved the patterns on this malleable wrap, they lost stickiness after washing. The avocado also got a little more browned than it did with other wraps.
  • Public Goods Reusable Food Storage Wraps: This set of wraps was stiff and hard to wrap around various items and got heavily creased after use. It also lost much of its stickiness after washing.
  • W&P Reusable Silicone Stretch Wrap: This set was the only one I tested that wasn’t made of beeswax. But the silicone wraps didn’t stick to anything (other than themselves), resulting in grapes flying everywhere during the bowl test, and the avocado getting dark brown and slimy. 
  • Lilybee Wraps: While I liked these wraps, they were a little too sticky (they were hard to unfold) and they took weeks to arrive since they are shipped from New Zealand.

FAQs

Does beeswax wrap keep food fresh?

We found beeswax wraps did a good job of keeping cut fruits and vegetables fresh; while not perfect, they led to less browning than produce wrapped in silicone wraps or plastic wrap. 

What is the best material for beeswax wraps?

Most of the wraps we tested were made of cotton and/or hemp cloth and worked well; the only wraps that weren’t made of these fabrics were the silicone ones, and they didn’t stick to anything. 

How many times can you reuse beeswax wraps?

While it varies, generally, beeswax wraps can be reused for around one year. That said, if you’re washing the wraps in hot water and stripping them of their wax, they won’t last very long at all. 

What are the disadvantages of beeswax wraps?

They aren’t quite as clingy as plastic wrap and become stiff when in the refrigerator for a while. However, in our tests, beeswax wraps kept sliced produce fresher than plastic wrap. They can also be pricey, though their reusability and longevity make them a good deal. 

How do you dispose of beeswax wraps?

While beeswax wraps can last a long time (some brands claim their wraps are good up to 150 washes), they will eventually lose their stick. Many of the brands we tested suggest using the leftover cloth as a fire starter or cleaning rag, and some are even compostable

Why We’re the Experts

  • Grace Kelly is a commerce editor for Serious Eats, where she’s been testing gear for almost two years. 
  • She has a background in journalism and has also done stints as a bartender and cook. 
  • She has written dozens of reviews and articles, including knife rolls, butter dishes, mandolines, and more. 
  • For this review, Grace tested 10 sets of reusable wraps (most of which were cloth coated with wax, resin, and oil; one set was made of silicone). She used each wrap to cover a bowl filled with a handful of grapes and to wrap halved avocados and other ingredients. She also painted each wrap with one tablespoon of tomato sauce to see if they stained.

I Made a Dozen Pizzas (and Calzones) to Find Out If the Gozney Arc Could Bring the Heat

We used the pizza oven to make a variety of pies and calzones, evaluating its ease of use, speed, efficiency, and results.

the gozney arc with an illustrated blue badge that says Seriously Good
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

My husband has a love-hate relationship with making pizza (and outdoor pizza ovens). There’s the appeal of cooking outside and chatting with friends as you throw a pie—but there’s also the reality: torn dough, the propane tank running out, the pie coming out a little too charred. The night usually ends with semolina flour scattered into every nook and cranny and with my husband wondering why he thought slinging pizza all night (while guests mingle and drink beer) would be fun. 

All that said, he still enjoys cranking up the heat and making some Neapolitan-style za, and any pizza oven that can streamline that harried experience, well, it’s worth something. I’ve long loved the Ooni Koda for its easy interface (just screw on the propane tank, turn the knob, and the heat gets blasting), so I was curious when Gozney released a compact domed pizza oven with a “lateral rolling flame” that replicates that of "traditional wood-fired ovens, distributing heat evenly and consistently,” per their website. They also promised this design would allow home pizzaiolos to “spend less time turning pizza and more time making memories.” Well, count me (and my husband) in. To test it, I made around a dozen Neapolitan-adjacent pizzas and a few calzones, burned through a tank of propane, and still ended up with semolina flour everywhere.

The Tests

a pizza turner being used to turn a pizza inside the gozney arc
Pizza! Calzones! Lots of semolina flour! I became a backyard pizzaiolo to see if the Gozney Arc could bring the heat.Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
  • Pizza Test: I made a dozen Neapolitan-style pies (some with sauce and cheese and others with pepperoni and salami). Before cooking them, I preheated the oven to 900°F, timing how long this took, and using an infrared thermometer to take the temperature of the pizza stone on the left, center, and right. I also timed how long it took for the oven to reheat to 900°F after throwing a pie, repeating this three times. I used the pizza peel and turner provided by Gozney to throw, turn, and retrieve the pizzas.  
  • Calzone Test: I used the Arc to cook calzones, noting how evenly and quickly they baked. 
  • Use Test: Throughout testing, I noted how easy the oven was to set up, use, and clean.

What We Learned 

It Was Easy to Use, and the Size Was Spot-on

a hand turning the dial on the gozney arc to turn it on
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Like many gas-powered pizza ovens, the Gozney Arc was super easy to set up and use: twist on the propane tank to the connector hose, open it up, press and turn the dial, and it fires up. Adjusting the heat was easy, too, since you just had to turn the dial—my only qualm with it was that it spins a bit further north than needed since the max heat setting sits around nine o’clock. The smaller Arc oven I tested was also plenty big; I didn’t have any issues maneuvering the launching peel inside and even larger bakes, like calzones, fit nicely without being cramped. 

It Took a While to Heat Up but Was on Par With Other Pizza Ovens 

a person holding an infrared thermometer and pointing it at the center of the pizza stone inside the Gozney arc
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

I used an infrared thermometer to find out how long the stone took to reach 900°F, which is a good heat for cooking thin-crust pizza. Since the burner is on the left side of the oven, that area heated up the fastest, reaching 900°F in around 27 minutes, while the center took around 38 minutes to come to temp. Because of the arcing flame, the right side of the stone also heated up faster than the center. For example, seven minutes into heating, the left side of the stone was 565°F, the center was 494°F, and the right side was 520°F. While there were differences, they were small and showed that the heating was pretty consistent.

…But It Cooked Pizzas FAST

a turner reaching inside the arc to rotate a pizza
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

All of the pizzas I made were ready in 90 seconds or less and every one of them emerged with puffy crusts and leopard spotting on the bottom. Recovery time was fast, too: on average, the oven took a little less than two minutes to climb back up to 900°F. This stellar heat retention, while a boon in terms of time spent cooking pizzas (I really could sling a pizza and eat it too!), did mean I had to pay close attention to pies as they cooked. If I got distracted, there was a penchant for blackened dough bubbles and charred toppings. 

the underside of a pizza cooked on the Gozney arc that showcases the leopard spotting.
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Calzones were a little trickier to nail since they take longer to cook and need less blistering heat; even when I kept the flame low, I still had to use the turner peel to shield the top of the crust so it didn’t emerge completely burnt. That said, this is an oven meant to churn out pizzas and isn’t specifically made for calzones, so I don’t think this is a negative. Overall, it did its designated task, and it did it well. 

The Verdict

Gozney Arc showcasingt he arching flame
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Gozney Arc was easy to use and set up. I tested the 14-inch size and found it plenty versatile, but it’s also sold in a larger 16-inch pizza capacity if you want an even bigger option. The oven was a little slow to heat, taking nearly 40 minutes for the center of the stone to reach 900°F (the left and right sides heated faster due to the nature of the arcing flame), but it retained heat very well and churned out perfect thin-crust pizzas in under 90 seconds, with little reheat time needed. The one big downside is that, at $700, it’s $100 more than the Ooni Koda 16, one of our other top gas-powered picks

The Pros

A peel receding from the pizza oven after depositing a pizza inside
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

It’s easy to use and cooked leopard-spotted pizzas fast—there was little reheating time needed after slinging a pie (it usually took about two minutes to climb back up to temperature), which meant I could spend less time cooking and more time eating and socializing. I think the 14-inch size is big enough for most people’s needs, too. I didn’t have any issues launching or retrieving pizzas with the Gozney peel, and the interior felt spacious when turning pies. Gozney does sell a stand for the Arc, which I used and found great (it holds the oven at eye level and has folding prep tables), though it is an extra $250.  

The Cons

a closeup of the thermometer on the gozney arc
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

It’s expensive—at $700 for the 14-inch capacity Arc, it’s $100 more than the Ooni Koda 16, which performed similarly in our other tests. The Arc was also a wee bit slow to hit 900°F in the center of the stone, though it still did a fabulous job quickly cooking pizza after pizza. 

The built-in thermometer wasn’t accurate: a few minutes into heating, the thermometer said the oven was 188°F while the infrared thermometer reading was around 463°F in the center of the stone. This trend continued as the oven heated, though the displayed temperature did get closer to the actual temperatures as time went on. Still, I wouldn’t rely on the built-in thermometer. 

Key Specs

  • Weight: 47.5 pounds
  • Internal width: 14.8 inches 
  • External dimensions: 19 x 22 x 13.5 inches 
  • Max temp: 950°F
  • Stone thickness: 2 millimeters
  • Fuel type: Propane
  • Warranty: 1 year from date of purchase

FAQs

What is the difference between the Gozney Dome and the Arc?

The Gozney dome is a dual-fuel oven; you can use propane/wood or natural gas/wood. The Arc, conversely, is propane-only. The Dome is also much larger at 26 x 24.8 x 28.8 inches, while the Arc is 19 x 22 x 13.5 inches. Both reach temperatures up to 950°F and boast even heating. 

Can the Gozney Arc be used indoors?

Since it uses propane, it’s best to use the Gozney Arc outside to be safe. 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Grace Kelly is a commerce editor at Serious Eats and has been testing kitchen equipment for almost three years.
  • Prior to this, she was an environmental reporter, prep cook, and bartender. 
  • She’s made countless pizzas with her husband using outdoor pizza ovens.
  • For this review, she cooked dozens of pizzas and a few calzones to test the Gozney Arc’s ability to bake up even, well-cooked pies. 

Editor’s note: We received a press sample of the Gozney Arc, but all of our opinions are our own.

As a Professional Equipment Tester, a Chest Freezer Helps Me Do My Job

The extra storage might have you wishing you bought a chest freezer sooner. In fact, our commerce editor couldn’t do her job without having one.

a chest freezer with the lid open revealing pizza boxes, ice cream, and frozen shrimp
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

As a professional gear tester, my kitchen (and basement…and floors, if I’m honest) fills up fast with gizmos and gadgets. All of this testing also ends up stocking my larder with the various foods required to evaluate said equipment. For example, when I tested petty knives I had to mince a ton of shallots (I’m still finding bags tucked away in my freezer), while cleavers involved cutting up bone-in chicken breasts, and my review of the Traeger Ironwood XL meant I was eating ribs for weeks. Combined with my proclivity for impulse buying (hello discounted turkey from the day after Thanksgiving) and you can see how this is a storage nightmare. Enter my chest freezer, which lets me stash racks of ribs, chicken, and even minced vegetables from knife testing. It helps prevent my rather small main freezer from overflowing, and mitigates food waste—and it can help you, dear reader, do these things, too.

What’s a Chest Freezer Good For?

I don’t know about you, but my bottom freezer is, well, quite small and fills up quickly. Enter the chest freezer, which opens from the top and comes in a variety of sizes. Rather obviously, chest freezers are great for food storage, but they especially come in handy when you’re hosting. Ever bought a massive turkey or ham, returned home, and thought, where the heck am I going to put this? A chest freezer answers that question. It’s also just nice not to have your main freezer packed to the brim.

As far as where to put the chest freezer, I have a mud room that I keep mine in, but you can also stash it in your garage or basement like people often do with extra refrigerators. Just keep an eye on it if it gets really cold out (since, ironically, the cold is bad for freezers and can actually cause them to shut off ), and give it a regular cleaning to prevent ice buildup. 

What’s the Best Chest Freezer?

While we haven’t formally tested chest freezers, I quite like my 5-cubic foot Magic Chef freezer, which is just the right size for my two-person household (it’s also fairly affordable, with the current price at $190). However, you can find freezers as large as 16 cubic feet (and even bigger), though these are mostly used by avid hunters or industrial kitchens. Something to remember beyond capacity is where you want to keep it and the color—I have a white freezer that shows grime, especially where I grab the lid to open it. A black freezer might be a better option if you’re concerned about aesthetics. The chest freezer should be easy to use, and the lid should stay up so you can rummage around. I will note that because you’re reaching down into the freezer, it can be difficult to find things, as stuff tends to get buried. 

How to Use a Chest Freezer

the inside of a chest freezer with frozen peas, shrimp, croissants, and beef.
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Well, duh, you might think—you freeze things in it. But over the years I’ve learned some practical tips for storing stuff in the freezer, especially a chest freezer, which is prone to becoming a black hole for frozen goods. Here are a few tips:

  • Act like a chef and label and date everything (you can write directly on freezer storage bags or label something with freezer tape)—that way you’ll know what that baggie of freezer-burned mystery meat is, and if it’s time to toss it. 
  • If you can, try to be strategic about organizing stuff in it; this could be as simple as placing bigger stuff at the bottom and smaller stuff at the top. 
  • Finally, don’t be like me and avoid confronting the inevitable task of cleaning your freezer—ice buildup can warm it up, leading to smells and potentially spoiled food. 

FAQs

What’s the best way to clean a chest freezer?

Sadly, you’ll have to empty it out—so I recommend either eating away at the food in it or transferring it to your main freezer. Then, unplug the freezer and let it thaw out—if you have a lot of ice buildup, you might want to take it outside or place it on a plush towel. Once it’s thawed, dry it off and use cleaning spray and a rag or towel to sanitize and clean it. 

What size chest freezer is best?

It depends on your needs, but for a two-person household, my five-cubic food freezer is more than enough.

Why We're the Experts

  • Grace Kelly has been a commerce editor for Serious Eats since 2022.
  • Prior to this, she worked at America's Test Kitchen, where she reviewed gear and organized taste tests.
  • She's reviewed hundreds of products and conducted dozens of taste tests, and a chest freezer is essential to her job. She's had hers since 2021.

Why I Still Reach for This 40-Year-Old Cookbook from L.L. Bean

This 40-year-old cookbook still presents the food of New England in a modern way.

L.L. Bean New New England Cookbook
Serious Eats / Brian Kopinski

I was born in Delaware, but after 20-some years of living in southern New England, I consider myself a bonafide East Coaster: I’ve dug a hole in the sand for a clam bake, clutched an iced coffee in the middle of winter, and evaded enough potholes to earn a lifetime of free lobster rolls. I love the fall and the warm tones it paints the treeline and, as a Rhode Island resident, I have a visceral reaction when I’m too far from open water. 

Like all good New Englanders, I also have a deep connection to L.L. Bean—but not in the way you might think. While most associate the Maine-based retailer with duck boots, slippers, and flannel, I equate it with fluffy pancakes dripping with butter and doused in syrup. You see, back in 1987, L.L. Bean released a cookbook: The L.L. Bean Book of New New England Cookery. At the time, the brand was rapidly expanding, bringing its New England aesthetic—and food and lifestyle—to a wider audience. 

The book, written by Judith and Evan Jones (a prolific pair of cookbook authors who worked with Julia Child), the cookbook pays homage to the cuisine of the land of L.L. Bean. It also contains a recipe for the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted.

On some special Sundays, my mom would tug her well-worn copy from the shelves, flip to page 404, and break out the hand mixer to beat egg whites, the secret to the fluffiest pancakes. I’d go ahead and pour half a bottle of fake maple syrup all over the griddled stack on my plate (sacrilege!).

She’d also frequently turn to recipes for casseroles (young kids will eat anything smothered in cheese) and in the spring, when the fuzzy ferns began to poke their curls from the damp earth, she’d flip to the recipe for Stir-Fry of Beef with Fiddleheads, a real treat. 

a closeup of the basic pancakes recipe in the ll bean cookbook
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The cookbook has other delightful nuggets, like Squiggled Eggs (eggs with cheddar and crumbled sage cooked in half a stick of butter, then drizzled with scalded heavy cream, which keeps the mixture soft, luscious, and entirely naughty), Milkweed Bud Fritters, and recipes from immigrants who’ve made the region their home, like Portuguese Sweet Bread and Italian Snail Salad (made from local whelks). 

It’s also a cookbook that, while nearly 40 years old, is still relevant today (and thoroughly exciting and novel—I’d never heard of squiggled eggs!) in its recipes and lessons.

“New England has always been eclectic,” the Jones’ wrote in 1987. “The trouble may be that we have been myopic about the region. Assessing the Yankee psyche, we’ve seen only what we wanted to see—as if Currier and Ives lithographs were the reality of village and hill-farm life, as if black wood-burning stoves and biscuits rising, and beans cooking gently overnight, were as definitive today as a century ago.” They go on to say, “The new, New England cooking style is as much a mosaic of ethnic heritage as are the Red Sox fans that fill Fenway Park,” and “We have not collected ‘old country’ recipes, but rather we’ve tried to pack these pages with the ideas that show how Yankee eating habits are changing.”

They’re on the nose. I’ve seen the recipes and foods they wrote about in my day-to-day living in this northeast corner of the country. 

the ll bean book of new new england cookery on a red backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

When I cycle on the local bike path, the fuzzy milkweed plants sway in the wind with butterflies resting on their pods. Drive by a local Portuguese-American Catholic church on a Sunday, and you’ll smell hot oil in the air as the parishioners fry up sugar-coated malasada doughnuts. Head to the tiny town of Central Falls and you’ll find shops peddling queso fresco stuffed arepas, courtesy of the local Colombian population. 

The food of Rhode Island—and the broader region of New England—is diverse, and The L.L. Bean Book of New New England Cookery invites you to experience the region beyond the tropes (though we do make a mean clam chowder). It’s also helped this wayward New Englander (who had a lovely time at college in Pittsburgh before, inexorably, returning to the Ocean State) appreciate this place she calls home.

FAQs

What are the six states in New England?

New England includes Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. 

Where can I buy The L.L. Bean Book of New New England Cookery?

You can find the cookbook on Amazon, Abe Books, Ebay, Thriftbooks, and other online booksellers.   

Why We’re the Experts

  • Grace Kelly is the commerce editor for Serious Eats. 
  • She’s lived in New England (Massachusetts and Rhode Island) for around 20 years. 
  • Her mother cooked many recipes from The L.L. Bean Book of New New England Cookery when Grace was growing up, and she continues that tradition in her own household today. 

To Find the Best Tamagoyaki Pans, I Made Nearly Two Dozen Japanese Omelets

I used six tamagoyaki pans to make nearly two dozen Japanese omelets. Three were easy to use and clean, and made perfect rolled omelets.

five tamagoyaki pans on a gray surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

I first encountered tamagoyaki about five years ago. I was working my way through Masaharu Morimoto’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of Japanese Home Cooking, and started with tamagoyaki (a Japanese omelet)—I figured it would be easy. I bought a rectangular pan and got cooking, only to end up with a disheveled heap of egg. While it tasted good (tamagoyaki have a gentle sweetness from mirin and umami from soy sauce and dashi), it took dozens of tries to finally get a semi-perfectly rolled, layered omelet.  

All this to say, while sushi masters spend years perfecting tamagoyaki, you CAN make a decent iteration at home. The first step to doing so is buying a tamagoyaki pan. I got some tips on what to look for in a tamagoyaki pan from Masaaki Saito, a bladesmith and former sushi chef who used to make dashi maki (a.k.a tamagoyaki with dashi) every day. After that, I rolled dozens of omelets with six pans to find three solid options for home cooks. 

The Winners, at a Glance

This nonstick pan makes it easy to roll delicate tamagoyaki at home. The handle was securely attached, and it had an inclined lip to help slide the finished omelet onto a plate. 

This pan had a balanced handle that facilitated spreading the beaten egg mixture. It also sported an inclined lip, making it easy to remove the omelet. 

This small, rectangular pan produced neat tamagoyaki, and I like the included silicone scraper, which helped fold each layer. 

The Tests

pouring egg mixture into a tamagoyaki pan on an induction burner
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
  • Seasoning Test: I seasoned the cast iron and copper pan before using them. 
  • Tamagoyaki Test: I made this tamagoyaki recipe using each pan, noting how easy it was to use and what the final result was like. I also hand-washed each pan after use. 
  • Durability Test (Winners Only): I used the best tamagoyaki pans to make five tamagoyaki in a row, noting if the pan sustained any damage or warping from frequent heating and cooling, and from rolling the omelets. I used the dishwasher to clean applicable pans and hand-washed the rest. 

What Is Tamagoyaki?

a tamagoyaki roll sliced in half to show the layered interior.
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Tamagoyaki came about in the 1950s in Japan as a way to encourage the population to eat more protein. Today, in addition to being a bento box staple, this airy rolled omelet is also served in sushi restaurants, where it’s thought to signify how talented the chef is. In its most simple form, tamagoyaki is a rolled omelet that’s made by pouring a thin layer of mixed egg into a rectangular pan, then using a spatula or chopsticks to fold the egg layer. This little roll is pushed to the edge of the pan, lifted, and another layer of egg is poured, then the first layer is wrapped by this second layer. This continues four times, resulting in a layered, wrapped omelet that’s served in slices to show off its striations. 

While that’s the general idea, tamagoyaki can come in various shapes, sizes, and flavorings. “There are several variations of tamagoyaki like Tokyo (sweet), Kyoto (savory and juicier) style, as well as grilled eel rolled inside,” says Saito. While there are also thicker offerings like datemaki, or thin shredded omelets like kinshi tamago, for my review of the pans, I focused on making home-style omelets flavored with mirin, soy sauce, and dashi

What We Learned

Nonstick Tamagoyaki Pans Are Best for Beginners

a tamagoyaki roll in the pan
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

While professional chefs may use copper tamagoyaki pans, Saito suggests nonstick skillets for home cooks and/or beginners because they’re easier to use. “Nonstick pans are easy for everyone, and there’s less chance of making mistakes,” he says. That said, the results from a copper pan will differ slightly from tamagoyaki made in nonstick or cast iron.

“Copper pans have fantastic thermal conductivity, so they make the omelet really fluffy while keeping the juiciness inside,” Saito says. “I find tamagoyaki cooked in nonstick and iron are a little drier and harder compared to one cooked in a copper pan, which feels like baby’s cheek.” 

Copper does take a little more skill and effort, though, and requires seasoning and maintenance, or else you might end up with a pan gunked up with egg. “For experienced cooks, copper is the go-to, but they need to be seasoned and don’t work well with induction cooktops,” Saito says. 

While nonstick is the easiest option for most home cooks, as we’ve said before, you shouldn’t spend a lot of money on a nonstick skillet, since it will break down over time—and the same is true of tamagoyaki pans. The good news: my three favorite pans are all under $30. 

A Rectangular Pan With a Slanted Lip Was Easier to Work With

Most of the pans I tested were rectangular—about five by seven inches—and made it easy to whip up perfectly shaped tamagoyaki. Larger pans, like the copper Tikusan, which is a seven-by-seven-inch square with straight sides, were more difficult to use and my tamagoyaki ended up more like a thin roll than a brick. If you’re a newbie to making tamagoyaki, in addition to looking for a rectangular pan, I also recommend finding one with a slanted outer lip to make serving the omelet a cinch. 

Utensils Helped

Watching a video of a skilled tamagoyaki chef is not only soothing, but also impressive. With a flick of the wrist and a pair of chopsticks they turn sheets of egg into a perfect, layered roll. While this is what I aspire to, I get by with a little help from my (utensil) friends. Specifically, this thin metal spatula (I know, I know... you're not supposed to use metal on a nonstick pan, but I've been doing this for years and haven't had an issue with it scraping the pan) and a silicone turner spatula; I like to slot the thin lip of the metal one under the egg to get it rolling, then nudge it along with the soft silicone turner to prevent any tearing. A few pans I tested, like the HooJay, came with a silicone scraper that was quite useful when folding each omelet layer. 

A Good Handle Made It Easy to Swirl the Egg Mixture

a person tilting the handle on a tamagoyaki pan to swirl the egg around the pan
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Making tamagoyaki involves pouring a layer of egg into the pan, then using the handle to swirl it so it coats the bottom—so you want a handle that’s comfortable to grip. I liked the Techef handle, which was elevated enough that it kept my hand a safe distance from the burner, but also provided enough grip and control to swirl the egg mixture. Conversely, I wasn’t a huge fan of handles that stuck up at a severe angle, like on the Yamasan and copper Tikusan, which made it tricky to spread the eggs. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Tamagoyaki Pan

a tamagoyaki pan on an induction burner with a carton of eggs and a meta bowl with a whisk on the side
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

If you’re new to tamagoyaki (or at the very least, aren’t on the same level as a sushi chef), I’d recommend starting with an affordable nonstick pan. It’ll be easy to use and clean, and the chances of rolling a perfectly pretty omelet are higher than they are with a square copper skillet. That said, if you’re a tamagoyaki pro, you might want to consider a copper skillet, which makes airier omelets. Either way, a good handle is a must—this makes it easy to spread the egg mixture. A slightly slanted lip also made it easier to create layers (it lets you slip a spatula into the pan) and plate the omelet.

Our Favorite Tamagoyaki Pans

What we liked: I loved the compact, rectangular shape of this pan, which made it easy to roll and layer tamagoyaki. The nonstick coating worked wonderfully and there were no scratches or damage after use. The handle is solidly attached, well-balanced, and has a divot near the pan that keeps your hand in place. 

What we didn’t like: This is a nonstick pan, which means it has a finite lifespan. 

Key Specs 

  • Materials: Teflon nonstick coating, aluminum
  • Weight: 1 pound, 0.8 ounces
  • Pan dimensions: 7.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Handle length: 6.5 inches
  • Induction-friendly: Yes
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes, though we recommend hand-washing nonstick skillets
techef tamagoyaki skillet on a gray backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: I liked this pan’s sturdy, balanced handle (with a hook for hanging). Being able to confidently grip the handle helped the process of rolling the egg mixture. The omelets emerged light and fluffy. 

What we didn’t like: The far edge of the pan is straighter than the others tested, so it requires a little finagling to remove the omelet from the pan. The wooden flipping tool didn't work.

Key Specs 

  • Materials: Aluminum, nonstick coating, stainless steel
  • Weight: 14.7 ounces
  • Pan dimensions: 7.3 x 5.3 inches
  • Handle length: 5.75 inches
  • Induction-friendly: Yes
  • Dishwasher-safe: NA, so we’d recommend hand-washing (which we do for nonstick pans in general)
lisos tamagoyaki pan with silicone brush and wooden spatula on a gray surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: The slightly inclined lip helped me slide out finished omelets, and the silicone spatula got the omelet rolling (literally). It comes with a tiny silicone brush for wiping oil on the surface, which is a nice touch. It’s the cheapest winning pan by a few bucks. 

What we didn’t like: The handle has a deep divot on the underside where it meets the pan, which is uncomfortable when you're gripping it. It’s also not as balanced/sturdy as our other winners.

Key Specs 

  • Materials: Aluminum, nonstick coating, stainless steel
  • Weight: 12.4 ounces
  • Pan dimensions: 6 x 7 inches
  • Handle length: 6.5 inches
  • Induction-friendly: Yes
  • Dishwasher-safe: No
the hoojay tamagoyaki pan with silicone brush and flipping tool on a gray surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Competition

  • Iwachu Iron Tamagoyaki Omelette Pan: This hefty cast iron pan was quite sticky, though I think with time and use it would become more nonstick. That said, it’s a challenging pan to use if you’re new to making tamagoyaki, and Saito says the omelets made in cast iron often emerge firmer than those made in copper. 
  • Yamasan Japanese Iron Tamagoyaki Omelette Pan: This was a pricey pan, which made it all the more disappointing when the coating on the interior started to wear off after the first use. 
  • TIKUSAN Japanese Tamagoyaki Omelets: While a copper pan can make a light and airy rolled omelet, it’s best used by confident tamagoyaki cooks. Plus, this version had a wooden handle that you had to affix to the pan by hammering a single, tiny nail into it—hence, it was very wobbly. 

FAQs

What is tamagoyaki?

Tamagoyaki is a rectangular Japanese omelet made by layering thin sheets of beaten egg. It’s often flavored with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi, though there are lots of other iterations. 

How are tamagoyaki pans different than nonstick skillets?

Tamagoyaki pans are unique because of their shape: most are rectangular or square. This helps create the namesake omelet’s shape, and makes it easy to roll up each egg layer. Beyond that, they are similar to other nonstick skillets in terms of longevity and materials. 

What else can you make in a tamagoyaki pan? 

Anything you want to be rectangular—but, seriously! If you have a nonstick tamagoyaki pan, you can use it to make French toast (the slices will fit perfectly, though you might only be able to cook one or two pieces at a time), square okonomiyaki, or rectangular scallion or kimchi pancakes…the list goes on.  

What is the best material for a tamagoyaki pan?

While sushi chefs often use copper tamagoyaki pans, which heat up quickly and produce lighter tamagoyaki, nonstick is the easiest for most home cooks. 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Grace Kelly is a commerce editor at Serious Eats; prior to this, she was a reviews editor at America’s Test Kitchen.
  • She’s been testing gear for almost three years. 
  • She has a tamagoyaki pan that she’s used for about five years at this point. 
  • For this review, Grace tested six tamagoyaki pans by making around 21 omelets. She examined the pans for durability, results, and also how easy they were to clean. 
  • She also interviewed Masaaki Saito, a bladesmith and former sushi chef, to get tips on what to look for in a tamagoyaki pan.

This Simple Strainer Drains, Scoops, and Skims With Ease—And It’s One of My Most-Used Kitchen Utensils

This metal, web-shaped skimmer is a versatile utensil that excels at scooping, flipping, and draining all manner of foods, from dumplings to vegetables.

a spider strainer being used to deposit sliced plantains into hot oil
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Spider strainers’ (a.k.a skimmers) origins lie in East Asia, where they’re commonly used in wok cooking, allowing the user to deftly and quickly toss or scoop food. If you take a gander at one, you can see how they get their name with the web-like threads of metal fanning out from a centralized point. Dumplings, pasta, blanched vegetables, and doughnuts are scooped up easily, with any residual liquid quickly draining away. It's a versatile tool, and one I'm always reaching for.

Why I Love My Spider Strainer

While slotted spoons have their use cases (retrieving a single boiled or poached egg, I guess?), a spider strainer is my go-to for scooping and draining tasks big and small. 

While they sometimes come with wooden handles, I own a stainless steel number which I keep in a utensil crock near my stovetop. Its long handle makes it easy to toss and turn fried treats like doughnuts, French fries, or fried clams all while keeping my arm and digits at a safe distance; the same is true when scooping pasta or blanched vegetables out of hot water. But its key feature, which has me grabbing it over a slotted spoon, is its large, webbed scooping bowl. 

closeup image of the basket of a spider strainer holding fried plantain pieces over a Dutch oven
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The intertwined metal pieces create the namesake “spiderweb” shape, and since they crisscross to form quarter-inch gaps, they're fantastic at wicking away liquids: Doughnuts emerge without excess grease, and I can scoop up a load of rigatoni rather than just two or three noodles. It’s also a must-have when cooking with a wok, making it easy to toss and fry crunchy salt and pepper squid or chicken wings

A metal spider resting next to deep fried chicken wings
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Associate editorial director Megan Steintrager loves using her spider strainer as well, particularly for pasta dishes where she wants to save some of that starchy water. "It lets me put the pasta directly into a separate pan on the stovetop while saving the cooking water in case I need to add it to the sauce," she says. "No pouring pasta cooking water that I meant to reserve down the drain and no handling large, heavy pots of boiling water."

While I’m not saying we should all ditch our slotted spoons, I am saying that it’s worthwhile to have a spider strainer on hand—get one in your utensil crock and maybe you too will become a convert. 

FAQs

What’s the best spider strainer?

While we haven’t tested spider strainers, there are lots of options out there, and most are pretty affordable and will do the job fine. A couple that we’ve used and like include the Hiware Solid Stainless Steel Spider and Helen Chen’s Asian Kitchen Stainless Steel Spider

Is a brass spider strainer good?

Brass strainers with wooden handles are more traditional and often used in wok cooking. The wooden handle often stays cooler than a metal one. 

How do you clean a spider strainer?

Stainless steel spider strainers are often dishwasher-safe, though make sure to check the manufacturer's instructions. Wood and brass strainers should be hand-washed, and the wood can occasionally use a quick swipe of mineral oil to keep it from splitting.

Why We’re the Experts

  • Grace Kelly is a commerce editor for Serious Eats, where she’s been testing gear since 2022. 
  • Prior to this, she worked at America’s Test Kitchen and in restaurants as a prep cook and bartender. 
  • She’s been using the Hiware metal spider strainer for about six years, and it's still going strong. 

I Tested 11 Reusable Grocery Bags—My Favorites Made Hauling Groceries Less of a Chore

We tested 11 reusable grocery bags, examining their durability, how easy they were to fill and carry, and if they could be stashed away. We landed on six favorites.

Numerous reusable grocery bags, with onions, a lime, and bananas spilling out of one.
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Four years ago, as an environmental reporter in Rhode Island, I lived and breathed the beat of single-use plastics. I even interviewed a woman known as “the founding mother” of a town’s plastic bag ban.

Fast forward to today and bag bans (of the plastic varietal) are more ubiquitous; many grocery stores either don’t carry bags or have flimsy paper ones that don’t hold up from the store to the car to the kitchen counter. 

Enter the reusable grocery bag: A practical way to lug groceries without throwing a bag away every time. But what’s the point if the handle breaks or the bag rips? That’s just one more bag in a landfill. To find a durable option that’ll last you a long time (and many grocery trips), I tested 11 bags of various materials, shapes, and sizes by packing, unpacking, and lugging loads of groceries for over a month. 

The Winners, at a Glance

While this looks like a paper bag, it’s made of beeswax-coated canvas, so it’s easy to prop open and fill. It’s spacious, sturdy, and a pleasure to carry thanks to its wide handles. 

This rectangular, boxy bag is super easy to open and fill; it’s also quite spacious and lightly insulated, making it great for toting chilled goods.

If you want heavy-duty insulation, you can tuck this bag into the freezer before your grocery run (it has a built-in ice pack on the bottom). The zipper opened smoothly, and the bag stood tall and was easy to fill. 

While I wasn’t a huge fan of floppy bags, this set sported flat-ish bottoms, which made them easy to prop open and fill. The bags were also roomy and comfy to carry. 

If you’d rather tote smaller bags than lug a big one, this set comes with 10 sturdy bags. 

While it might not seem all that different from the BeeGreen and BagPodz bags, the Baggu features reinforced stitching, which bodes well for its durability. It also comes in a dazzling array of fun colors and patterns.

The Tests

a bunch of grocery bags on a black marble countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
  • Filling and Emptying Test: I filled each bag with a variety of goods, including heavy items like canned seltzer, and fragile things like avocados and tomatoes. I noted how big the bags were and how easy they were to fill and empty. I also toted them around to see if they were comfortable to carry when full. 
  • Durability Test: I used the winning bags during grocery trips for over a month, noting how easy they were to fill and carry, and if they held up over time. 
  • Cleaning Test: I cleaned the bags per manufacturer instructions (spot-cleaning for some and using the washing machine for others). 

What We Learned

Structured Bags Were Better 

A hand placing a jar of salsa into a green grocery bag
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

You know the dream: sashaying through a farmer’s market on a sunny Saturday morning, French net bags filled with juicy tomatoes, a bunch of organic beets, and a sourdough baguette peaking perkily out of the bag—bliss!

Except it’s all a lie—okay, well, just the bags are. The truth is, floppy, collapsible bags, like the ones from Junes, are a pain for your average grocery run. They sit in a puddle when you try to fill them, sag in all the wrong places, squish food, and dig into your shoulders or hands. Net bags are especially awful; I bought a bunch when they became trendy a few years ago, but the netting broke in spots and I once left a trail of plums in my wake (kidding, but also, not kidding). 

The best bag is a well-structured, sturdy one, like the gorgeous waxed canvas offering from Colony Co or the rectangular option from Veno—both stood tall and straight in the bagging area and were easy to fill with no flopping or sagging. This style of bag is oftentimes more spacious, too: I easily fit an 8-pack of seltzer, three 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes, a large bag of brown sugar, a bag of grapes, two Roma tomatoes, and two avocados. Because of their tall, rigid shape, nothing shifted or squished. Plus, the small sturdy handles kept my soft writer’s hands in pristine condition; no ripstop nylon digging into my palms.  

All that said, I do have a few collapsible bag picks since they're admittedly great in a pinch; you can easily crumple one up and tuck it in your purse, or keep one in your car’s glove compartment for an impromptu grocery run (they also double nicely as gym bags). They’re just not great for hauling loads of groceries, and if you do spring for one, avoid nets at all costs. 

Stiffer, Rectangular Bottoms Provided Support

a hand holding the handles on an orange reusable grocery bag on a countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The bags I preferred (like the Colony Co and Veno) had semi-stiff, rectangular bottoms that didn’t sag; I could pick up the bag and not worry about items slipping toward the center or ending up in a jumbled heap. This was not the case with some of the collapsible bags, which sagged, causing items to shift around when carried. That said, if you want a set of collapsible bags to have on hand, some, like the BeeGreen bags, did have a somewhat flat, rectangular base which was better at keeping items in place.  

A Good Bag Was Easy to Fill and Carry

a grocery bag filled with oranges, bread, and other groceries.
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Beyond sturdiness, which helped with filling and emptying a bag, I also liked bags that had wide openings that weren’t impeded by handles or pockets. The Capabunga bag was cute and sturdy, but it featured lots of pockets (with the theory being you could slot a carton of eggs, a bottle, or a baguette into them). While a nice idea, they got in the way; plus, if you have anything poking out of the pockets, like a celery bunch or a baguette, it impedes handle access. Speaking of handles, wide, stiff ones were best; the thin ripstop nylon and polyester bag handles dug into my palms and shoulder when loaded up. 

Bigger Wasn’t Always Better 

two grocery with greens sticking out
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

While it’s tempting to buy the biggest bag you can find, there’s a catch to all this space: you end up overstuffing the bag, making it heavy, bulky, and difficult to carry. This is exactly what happened with the Rachael Ray Jumbo Chillout Thermal Tote; I filled the massive 1.75 cubic foot bag to the brim, zipped it up, and then basically had to do a deadlift to hoist the thing out of my car’s trunk. This is not ideal. In the end, I preferred bags that yes, were capacious, but not SO big they were impossible to carry without throwing out your back. I also liked some more petite bags, like the BagPodz; they’re about the same size as a standard plastic grocery bag and are easy to carry since they don’t hold too much. That said, it does mean making multiple trips to the car to bring groceries inside.  

Stitching and Construction Were Important for Durability

a closeup of the reinforced stitching on the Baggu bag
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

I didn’t have any issues with bags ripping or fraying in my tests, but upon further inspection, some were better constructed than others—and this was especially true of the nylon and polyester bags. While these materials are known for being durable (ripstop nylon is often what companies use to make hiking backpacks since it’s tough and fairly waterproof), if the stitching is poor, there’s more of a chance that one day you’ll unfurl your bag and find a ripped seam. While I did like the cheaper bags from BagPodz and BeeGreen, they only had single or double stitching holding them together. The Baggu had a single stitch AND a complex row of stitches underneath. All of these bags sailed through my durability tests, but I’m curious to see how they hold up over long-term testing. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Reusable Grocery Bag 

a person pulling a loaf of bread out of a grocery bag on a countertop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

A good reusable grocery bag should be durable and last a long time. It should also be easy to fill and unpack and have handles that don’t dig into your palms or shoulders when the bag’s loaded up. While I prefer stiffer, structured bags, if you like to have a few collapsible bags on hand for unexpected grocery runs, look for bags with a flat piece of material on the bottom (to keep items sorted), and solid, reinforced stitching. 

Our Favorite Reusable Grocery Bags

What we liked: I thought it was gimmicky at first glance (a reusable bag shaped like a paper bag?), but when I got my hands on it and my groceries in it, I had a large slice of humble pie. This is an excellent bag: It’s durable and spacious without being too big, and the stiff canvas keeps the bag standing upright and open when it’s time to checkout. The handles don’t dig into your hands, everything inside stays put, and it’s easy to carry—what more could you ask for? (I've also gotten multiple compliments from grocery store cashiers when I use it— just sayin'!)

What we didn’t like: If you want to buy multiples of this bag, it’s pricey. It’s also bulky when folded up. 

Key Specs 

  • Stated capacity: NA
  • Open dimensions: 17 x 12 x 7 inches
  • Weight limit: NA
  • Materials: Beeswax, canvas
  • Cleaning and care: Spot clean with a damp cloth
Colony Co grocery bag on its side with plantains, onions, and limes spilling out
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This spacious bag is lightweight and easy to stow, but sturdy and spacious when filled. I liked the flip-top zippered lid and wide opening, as well as the spacious rectangular shape; it was easy to add and layer goods without worrying about items shifting. The handles are wide and soft, too. Plus, this bag comes in packs of two. 

What we didn’t like: The insulation isn’t very thick, so it’s not great for storing cold items for a long time. While the bottom is structured and rectangular, it isn’t super stiff and does sag when filled with heavier items.

Key Specs

  • Stated capacity: 7.8 gallons
  • Open dimensions: 15.8 x 13 x 8.7 inches
  • Weight limit: 30 lbs
  • Materials: Recycled polypropylene polymer fabric
  • Cleaning and care: NA
Veno grocery bag on a pink surface with onions, plantains, and limes inside
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This bag is great if you have a long drive to the grocery store and want to keep perishables cool since it has an ice pack built into it—just fold the bag up and tuck it in the freezer a few hours before you head out. The bag is also quite spacious and pretty easy to fill, with a zipper that divides the opening. 

What we didn’t like: While the bag stood upright at the checkout, I would have liked it if the opening had been designed differently. As it is, you have to hold the opening apart to fill the bag.  

Key Specs

  • Stated capacity: NA
  • Open dimensions: 14 x 12 x 7 inches
  • Weight limit: NA
  • Materials: Polyester canvas
  • Cleaning and care: Wipe the cooler grocery bag thoroughly or hand wash the interior and spot clean the exterior; allow the bag to dry completely before freezing. Not machine washable.
Packit grocery bag on its side with plantains, onions, and limes spilling out
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: While I generally didn’t love floppy, collapsible bags, the bags in this set had a somewhat structured rectangular bottom, which made them easier to open and fill. The ripstop nylon is tough, too; I loaded the bags up with heavy items, like seltzer and sports drinks, without any wear or tear. Plus, you get 10 (colorful!) bags for a mere $1.75 each—which is a great deal considering a single Baggu bag (which is made of the same material and has a similar shape) costs $14.

What we didn’t like: The nylon handles do dig into your palms a bit, and the bags are floppy and more difficult to fill than a very structured bag. The stitching looks less durable than other similar bags tested. 

Key Specs

  • Bags in set: 10
  • Stated capacity: NA
  • Open dimensions: 17.75 x 15 x 8.5 inches
  • Weight limit: 50 lbs
  • Materials: Ripstop nylon
  • Cleaning and care: Machine-washable
an orange Bee Green grocery bag on its side with plantains, onions, and limes spilling out
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This is a great set if you like toting smaller bags; while they’re still spacious and can hold a good amount, they aren’t as big as, say, the BeeGreen, which makes them easier to carry when full. They also have a rectangular bottom, which gives the floppy bags some structure when you’re filling them. They’re affordable, too, clocking in at $3.80 per bag. 

What we didn’t like: The handles are small (you can’t slip them over your shoulder) and dig into your palms, and goods are more likely to shift around. The bags in this set are also more petite than other options in this review, so keep that in mind. 

Key Specs

  • Bags in set: 10
  • Stated capacity: 2 to 3 grocery bags worth 
  • Open dimensions: 15 x 15.8 x 4.7 inches
  • Weight limit: 50 lbs
  • Materials: Polyester
  • Cleaning and care: Machine-washable
BagPodz grocery bag on its side with plantains, onions, and limes spilling out
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: While this is a pricier bag (at $14 a pop), it had better engineering than some of the other nylon/polyester bags I tested, with multiple reinforced rows of stitching holding the fabric together. The Baggu is also spacious and is available in loads of fun patterns and colors. 

What we didn’t like: As with other collapsible bags, filling the Baggu could be irritating; the handles slumped over and it was hard to keep the bag flat and open. The handles were also a bit smaller than the other collapsible bags, and I had more difficulty slipping them over my shoulder to carry. It’s also kind of expensive for a single bag, though I do think the quality is better.

Key Specs

  • Stated capacity: 2 to 3 grocery bags worth 
  • Open dimensions: 25.5 × 15.5 × 6 inches
  • Weight limit: 50 lbs
  • Materials: Ripstop nylon
  • Cleaning and care: Machine-washable 
A dark teal Baggu grocery bag on its side with plantains, onions, and limes spilling out
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Competition

  • Junes the Market Tote: While this is a pretty bag, the slinky, itchy material was unpleasant to hold, and it was really hard to fill since it’s so floppy. The bag also sags quite a bit when full, which meant avocados and tomatoes got bashed up when packed with other ingredients. 
  • Rachael Ray Jumbo Chillout Thermal Tote: This bag was just way too big! When packed to the gills, it was almost impossible to hoist and carry. That said, they do sell a smaller version (the Rachel Ray Chillout Thermal Tote, minus the jumbo), which I have and quite like; it’s easy to fill, sports a solid zipper, and is insulated. If you want a heavy-duty insulated bag, I’d recommend the smaller version. 
  • CapaBunga Multi-Pocket Canvas Market Tote: This is a cute and sturdy bag, but the numerous pockets limited the overall interior space and made it more difficult to fill. That said, it was a great bag for toting wine and snacks to a party.
  • Wrapables Durable and Large Nylon Reusable Shopping Bag: The handles were small and dug into my shoulders, and the bag was cramped when full. 
  • Full Circle Tote-Ally Reusable Grocery Tote: What a saggy bag! It was difficult to load and everything sunk towards the center when carried. The included produce bags were a nice addition, but not enough to make it a winner. 

FAQs

What’s the best material for a reusable grocery bag?

Our favorite bag from Colony Co is made of waxed canvas, which is durable and makes it easy to keep the bag propped open at the checkout. We also liked ripstop nylon and polyester bags, two other hardy materials, though they are floppier and more difficult to fill. 

What’s the best capacity for a reusable grocery bag? 

While you might think a larger bag is better, it’s really difficult to carry a bag bursting at the seams with stuff; instead, consider buying smaller bags (we liked bags that held two to three plastic grocery bags worth of stuff) or not filling them up completely, since they will be easier (and lighter) to tote.  

How much weight can a reusable bag hold?

It depends on the bag, but most options we tested held between 30 to 55 pounds. While you might think the ability to hold more weight is better, for the good of your shoulder or wrist/hand, you probably don’t want to tote 55 pounds of groceries in a single bag. 

How do you store reusable grocery bags?

Our favorite bags can be folded up (or hastily scrunched, in the case of polyester and nylon options) for easy storage. Some, like the Baggu, BagPodz, and BeeGreen, have small carrying pouches. 

Can you wash reusable grocery bags?

Most of the bags we tested can either be spot-cleaned or machine-washed (often with cold water), so just check the manufacturers instructions prior to cleaning. 

Are reusable bags sanitary?

Reusable bags are sanitary, just make sure to clean the bags if there is a spill (especially if it’s meat juice or dairy). 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Grace Kelly is a commerce editor for Serious Eats, where she’s been reviewing gear for almost two years. 
  • She has a background in environmental journalism and was a bartender and prep cook. 
  • Grace tested 11 reusable grocery bags for over a month, examining how easy they were to fill and empty, and testing their durability. She loves grocery shopping (truly!), so rest assured that the bags in this review will be well-worn throughout long-term testing.

Find a Cast Iron Skillet Difficult to Lift? Try This Two-Handled One from Lodge

This two-handled skillet is easy to lift, whether you’re taking cornbread out of the oven or pouring out oil after frying.

the lodge dual handled skillet on a black tile surface with a carton of eggs to the left and a bag of yellow onions on the right
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

I love my dual-handled Lodge cast iron skillet—it’s durable, sears a mean piece of meat (and a darn good cauliflower steak, too!), and has built up a slick patina and nonstick-ish surface from years of use. But wanna know what I really love about it? The two wide handles on either side. 

It’s like a round casserole dish, but, I’d argue, even easier to move. That’s why whenever a newbie cook wants to talk cast iron, I gently guide them toward this easy-to-lift skillet.

Let’s Face It—Cast Iron Is Heavy

See, while cast iron is great for all kinds of stovetop and oven-baked recipes (like cornbread, skillet bakes, seared pork chops, potato hash, yadda, yadda ), it’s also heavy. Our winning skillet from Lodge—which sports a single long handle and one helper handle—is around five-and-a-half pounds. While pumping weights at the gym is something I do on the reg, when I’m whirring around my kitchen making dinner, a wrist and arm workout isn’t exactly what I’m looking for. 

Two Handles Make It Easy to Lift and Pour

holding the lodge with two kitchen towels
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

But this is where the two handles come in handy (sorry, I couldn’t resist!). To put it plainly, it’s just much easier to grasp two handles and move the heavy pan than it is to foist a skillet with one long handle. 

My in-laws have our winning cast iron skillet, and any time I lift it by the main handle, the pan inevitably tips forward, threatening to spill whatever’s inside. Call it a family penchant for weak wrists or cast iron being heavy (it’s likely a bit of both). 

a closeup of one of the handles on the Lodge cast iron skillet
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This is not the case with the dual-handled pan; just take your pot holders or folded kitchen towels, wrap them around each wide handle, and lift with both hands—et voila!—you’ve got a solid, balanced grasp. Plus, combined with the pour spout, it makes it exceedingly easy to pour out any residual grease or, if you’re frying, spent oil, without worrying about making a mess. 

FAQs

How do you clean cast iron?

We have a whole article that busts the myths (no soap? No scrubbing? Pah!) of cleaning a cast iron skillet. TLDR: You can wash it with soap and a sponge, just make sure to thoroughly dry it and rub it with a thin layer of food-safe oil (like Canola) before putting it away. 

What size cast iron skillet is best? 

While our winning cast iron skillet is 10.25 inches, we also like having a larger 12-inch skillet for bigger meals or larger amounts of cooking.

Why We’re the Experts 

  • Grace Kelly is a commerce editor at Serious Eats. 
  • She has been an environmental journalist and magazine reporter and worked as a prep cook and bartender. 
  • She’s had her Lodge Cast Iron Dual Handle Pan for around six years and uses it weekly.

I Tested 10 Butter Dishes and Bells to Find the Best Ones (Since Life Is Better With Spreadable Butter)

We tested 10 butter dishes for two weeks, evaluating their performance, usability, and cleanup, to find the seven best, whether you need a pat or a smear.

butter dishes and bells on a gray background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

I was a margarine kid. It was the 90s, and my parents, like many other adults at the time, were trying to cut back on saturated fats. Enter the magical tub of hydrogenated oil, a.k.a., margarine, which was low-fat and always ready to spread; you could pluck the container straight from the fridge and it would still slather nicely over a slice of bread. 

It wasn’t until the yellow glow of margarine began to fade in the public eye—and until I met my now-husband, whose family always had a stick of salted butter on the table at dinner—that I discovered that, well, real butter was actually pretty good. And the best butter was the soft kind: a fudgy golden stick ready to be slathered on toast. It was the worst when you forgot to take the stick out of the fridge and tried to spread a solid hunk.

As my affinity for soft butter grew, I decided I needed a butter dish—it looked so pretty and it made me feel like I was living in a cottage in Provençe. Then, I stumbled upon butter bells, an even more romantic way to serve beurre at dinner. But, which is better? Is there a “best” way to serve up that glorious, fancy, salted European butter at your dinner party? Will the butter go rancid? I decided to get answers by testing 10 butter containers (both dishes and bells) and consuming a little bit of butter every day for two weeks straight (bleh). 

The results were surprising: Almost every butter dish and bell I tested were totally fine at their (admittedly quite simple) job. They kept butter spreadable, made it easy to access, and kept it safe and sound, with only one butter bell container getting a wee bit of mold (and that was likely my fault for forgetting to change the water one day).  In summation, if you’re the relaxed type and go through butter quickly, a butter dish is best; if you’re the type to take initiative and get into routines easily, a butter bell could be a good option. 

The Winners, at a Glance

If you dream of living in a cottage in Provençe, this is the butter dish for you; it’s gorgeous, with Le Creuset’s signature colorful enamel options. The lid, with a wide handle, was easy to remove, and the butter stayed fresh throughout the two weeks.  

This colorful butter dish has two lids that fold over the stick of butter, keeping it safe and sound. It also comes with a knife, though it’s duller than your average butter knife. 

While not a looker, this butter dish performed well, keeping butter fresh for two weeks. The lid was also easy to lock on and pop off. 

I loved the heft of this butter bell; it stayed squarely in place on the counter with nary a spill even when accidentally jostled. Its beautiful marble construction was easy on the eyes, too. But looks weren’t its only boon; it also kept butter soft, spreadable, and fresh. 

This $20 butter bell has a timeless look, is easy to fill and scoop from, and kept butter fresh. 

Arguably the OG butter bell, there wasn’t much not to like about this offering; butter stayed fresh and the lid was easy to grip and remove. 

This butter bell looked great and kept butter creamy and smooth for weeks. It also features a water line on the interior, so you know where to fill it to. 

The Tests

butter in the emile henry butter bell
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly
  • Filling Butter Test: I filled each butter dish and bell with one stick (four ounces, or eight tablespoons) of butter, noting how easy it was to do so. 
  • Butter Taste Test: I tasted the butter in each container for two weeks, noting if there were any off aromas or flavors, as well as how easy it was to stick a knife in for a slice. I replaced water in butter bells every three days, as recommended by most manufacturers. 
  • Cleaning Test: After two weeks, I removed the butter and cleaned the dishes and bells. 

What We Learned

How Long Can Butter Stay Fresh at Room Temperature? 

A stack of 5 sticks of Land O Lakes butter
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

As we explained in this piece about butter bells, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about how long a stick of butter stays fresh at room temperature. Per the USDA, “Butter and margarine are safe at room temperature. However, if butter is left out at room temperature for several days, the flavor can turn rancid so it's best to leave out whatever you can use within a day or two.”

However, during my two-week testing period, I never tasted any hint of rancidity (plus, rancid doesn’t equal bacteria, it just means the fat has oxidized, leading to a sour taste). 

According to one Korean study, butter stored between 77ºF to 95ºF has a shelf life of 109 days based on “quality changes, including total cell count, coliform counts, Listeria monocytogenes counts, acid value, moisture content, pH, acidity and overall sensory evaluation.” In other words, it took 109 days for room-temperature butter to finally "go bad."

That said, if you’re storing butter in a butter bell, you’re actually increasing the risk of contamination, and more care (and consistently refreshing the water) is needed.   

Butter Bells Were Good—If You Change Their Water

Butter in the norpro butter bell jar
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Butter bells use water (which surrounds the bell) as a way to keep butter soft and spreadable, but a stagnate pool of water is a breeding ground for bacteria. The best practice when using a butter bell entails changing out the water every three days. That said, if you’re like me (read: absent-minded on occasion) and forget to change the water, you might end up with some unsightly, slimy black and green mold where you last took a chip of butter out with a knife—in which case, it’s best to toss the butter. 

Lidded Dishes Kept Butter Fresh

a variety of butter containers on a wooden surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Prior to testing, I figured that butter dishes that didn’t completely seal, like the Le Creuset and Butterie, wouldn’t keep the butter as fresh. But, during testing, I found no difference between sealed and lidded dishes; both kept room temperature butter fresh for two weeks, without mold or rancid flavors. Sure, if you kept a stick of butter in a dish for months and months, it probably would taste off and get moldy and gross, but who has the fortitude to do that? That said, if you want a butter dish/container to keep butter fresh and free of flavors in the refrigerator, a sealed container, like the Rubbermaid or the LocknLock, is a better option. 

Butter Bells Versus Butter Dishes: Which Was Better?

a marble butter bell next to the red le creuset butter dish on a gray surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

During my tests, the butter in both dishes and bells remained fresh over the two week period (though this might just be the nature of butter itself, and less to do with how it was stored). 

In terms of keeping butter soft, I didn’t notice much of a difference between the two styles of containers; both kept butter spreadable but not super soft (obviously this would change if it was the dog days of summer). Overall, neither was better than the other.

Where the butter bells and dishes did diverge was in ease of use; it sounds dumb, but a butter bell is more “work” to use since you have to pack the butter in it and change the water every few days to prevent bacterial growth. A dish, on the other hand, just requires cleaning after you’ve gone through the stick of butter. In the end, it depends on how high-maintenance you want your butter to be. However, I think a butter dish is better overall, since it’s easier to use and doesn’t require maintenance (other than cleaning it); plus, it kept butter just as spreadable as a bell in my tests. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Butter Dish

the le creuset butter dish on a gray backdrop with the following text over top: A Seriously good butter dish; easy to use; kept butter soft and protected; easy to clean
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Most butter dishes and butter bells did the job just fine. That said, the ones that stood out were also easy to clean, easy to use, and kept butter soft and protected. For butter dishes, this was a simple task, since they're oftentimes just a lid that covers the stick of butter. For bells, this also meant that they were easy to fill with butter. and that it was easy to stick a knife in the bell for a scrape.

The Winning Butter Dishes

What we liked: This is an elegant butter dish that does its job well—butter was fresh, soft, and easy to access. I liked the looped lid handle and small side handles that made bringing it to the table for dinner easy peasy. 

What we didn’t like: Not much! It did get a bit dirtier than the plastic dishes, but it was easy enough to clean.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Ceramic
  • Weight: 1 lb, 7.6 oz
  • Capacity: 4 ounces (1 stick)
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
Le Creuset butter dish with stick of butter on bottom dish and lid to the side
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This simple flip-top butter dish was easy to open and close and stayed relatively clean throughout the two-week testing period. The butter was fresh and spreadable. 

What we didn’t like: It has a vintage, 1950s look that might not appeal to everyone. The plastic butter knife that came with it was dull, dull, dull.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Plastic
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Capacity: 4 ounces (1 stick)
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
yellow butterie dish with lid opened at hinge and stick of butter inside
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: If you’re looking for a no-frills, sealed butter dish that you can easily put in the fridge or pull out to soften, this is a great option. While it’s made of plastic and kind of looks like a food storage container, it kept butter safe and sound, and the lid was easy to pop on and off. 

What we didn’t like: This is a very practical dish, as in, it’s not very pretty and looks more like an upside-down food storage container than a butter dish. 

Key Specs

  • Materials: Plastic
  • Weight: 2.8 ounces
  • Capacity: 4 ounces (1 stick)
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
the rubbermaid butter dish with the lid to the side
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: The heft kept this butter bell from moving around on the counter, and the lid was easy to grip and remove. Plus, okay, fine, it’s just really classy looking! The bell was easy to pack with butter and a quick swipe with a knife removed it readily. 

What we didn’t like: There wasn’t much not to like about this butter bell, other than it’s not dishwasher-safe and it's a little heavy.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Marble
  • Weight: 2 lbs, 11.2 oz
  • Capacity: 4 ounces (1 stick)
  • Dishwasher-safe: No
the marble crate and barrel butter bell with the lid off so you can see the bell part
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This simple butter bell was easy to fill and use, and the price (which was $20 at the time of publication) was wallet-friendly. 

What we didn’t like: There was some mold on the butter on day 13, but I think it was my fault for forgetting to change the water (whoops). The lid was also slightly jiggly. 

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stoneware
  • Weight: 1 lb, 5.8 oz
  • Capacity: 4 ounces (1 stick)
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
norpro butter bell with lid off and upturned
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: A classic butter bell, this lived up to expectations and was easy to use, fill, and clean. The wide, round knob on top made it easy to grasp and place on the counter, too. It also comes in a wide variety of fun colors—royal blue! Golden yellow! Café beige!

What we didn’t like: Not much, other than having to change the water, but that’s par for the course for butter bells. 

Key Specs

  • Materials: Ceramic
  • Weight: 1 lb, 9.4 oz
  • Capacity: 4 ounces (1 stick)
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
the butter bell butter crock with the lid upturned
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

What we liked: This beautiful butter bell, like the others, was easy to fill and use and kept butter soft and spreadable. While a small detail, I liked the water fill line marked inside the jar; it reduced the risk of having a small gush of water when we put the bell in.

What we didn’t like: Not very much, other than the slightly high price tag (it’s $24 more than the Norpro butter bell).

Key Specs

  • Materials: Ceramic
  • Weight: 1 lb, 7.2 oz
  • Capacity: 4 ounces (1 stick)
  • Dishwasher-safe: Yes
the le creuset butter bell with the lid upturned
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The Competition

  • LocknLock Easy Essentials Food Storage lids/Airtight containers: This wasn’t a bad butter dish, but it really does look more like an upside-down food storage container than anything. If you’re looking to keep a larger amount of butter (it could likely hold a 16-ounce block of European butter) super fresh and free of off-flavors when it’s stored in the refrigerator, this could be a good option. 
  • DOWAN 6.5" Large Butter Dish: This dish was too deep to comfortably slice a pat of butter. The lid was also difficult to put on and remove because of its silicone lining. 
  • Emile Henry Modern Classics Butter Pot: While this was a pretty little butter pot (that held seven ounces of butter), there was no handle on the lid, just a raised bump, which made it difficult to remove. The interior bell portion was oval-shaped, which was harder to fill and scoop butter from. 

FAQs

What is a butter bell, and how do you use it?

A butter bell (a.k.a a butter crock) is a small jar-like container that you add 1/3 cup of water to before placing the butter-filled, bell-shaped lid inside. In theory, the water surrounding the bell keeps butter softer than a stick left on the countertop. 

How long can butter stay on the countertop?

According to the USDA, butter is safe to store are room temperature, but they recommend using it within a few days. However, during our tests, we didn’t notice any off-flavors or mold over the two-week test period. 

How often do you have to change the water in a butter bell?

Most manufacturers recommended changing the water in a butter bell every three days to prevent mold or bacterial growth. 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Grace Kelly is the associate commerce editor at Serious Eats.
  • She has been reviewing gear for three years. 
  • Her background includes environmental journalism and magazine writing; she was also a bartender and prep cook. 
  • For this review, Grace used 10 butter dishes over two weeks, examining their ease of use, performance, and how easy they were to clean.

Spicy! Crunchy! Crispy! The Best Chili Crisp You Can Buy Online

We spoke to experts and tasted more than 19 chili crisps to find savory, spicy, and garlicky options.

a few jars of chili crisp on a pink background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Chili crisp—the crunchy, savory mixture of aromatics (chili, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, and more) and oil—is hot, both literally and figuratively. Chef Max Boonthanakit of Boon Chili Sauce said that back when he started his chili crisp brand, the now-ubiquitous condiment was relatively unknown on a wider scale. “We started Boon in 2018, and back then there were only a handful of chili oils being made in the US. We remember educating people on what chili oil/crisp was and how to use it,” he says. “We don't have to do that as much anymore.” 

Jing Gao, founder of chili crisp company Fly by Jing, agrees. “When I looked at the industry, there were only a couple of brands that were readily accessible to the everyday consumer, but their products lacked quality,” she says. “For too long, Chinese and Asian pantry staples have been relegated to the ‘ethnic aisle’ of grocery stores. When I started Fly By Jing, I wanted to break out of that box and push authentic, high-quality flavors into every aisle.”

Today, there are hundreds of chili crisp brands to choose from, each with its own spin on the classic Chinese condiment. Boonthanakit thinks it not only speaks to entrepreneurs rounding out the market but also to an opening of people’s minds—and taste buds. “I appreciate that chili crisp is popular and mainstream in our culture. It just shows that people, as well as their palates, are open and are willing to try new things,” he says. “I think that's extremely important for our future. It's good to keep an open mind.”  

In this market flush with offerings, we wanted to highlight a few (okay, a bunch!) of our favorite chili crisps, including spicy, garlicky, mild, and super savory picks. 

Our Favorite Chili Crisps, at a Glance 

Super Savory Picks

For Garlic Heads 

For Hot Heads

Sichuan-Inspired Picks 

Chili Crisp with a Twist

What Is Chili Crisp?

a closeup of chili crisp with all the chunky, crispy bits on a white surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

“In China, chili crisp is a universal condiment used on virtually any dish. I was privileged to always have authentic, homemade chili crisp within arm’s reach,” Gao says of growing up in Chengdu, China.

At its most basic, chili crisp is oil (usually canola, sesame, soy, or grapeseed oil) plus aromatics—most often with some sort of crunchy textural component like fried garlic, shallots, or even peanuts. Some chili crisps get an extra hit of umami with fermented black beans (which are actually soybeans). Other brands take influence from the Sichuan region with the addition of the namesake fruit of the prickly ash bush: Sichuan peppercorns. Any chili crisp with this piney, floral hit gets your mouth watering—literally—and is followed by a tingly-spicy sensation, known as málà. Then, there’s the chilis, which can range from mild to downright fire burning. The chili crisps we tried contained various kinds, including Arbol, Tianjin, Thai Bird's Eye chili, paprika (which is made from dried, ground paprika chile), Japones chili, and Korean chili. Fly by Jing uses Erjingtiao chilis from Chengdu, which Gao says has “a mild spice but intense fragrance.” 

a spoon with chili crisp
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

No two chili crisps are truly alike, as the list below goes to show, and this means there’s a chili crisp for any palette and heat tolerance. Just a word of warning: don’t wear white whilst consuming, or you likely will end up with burnt orange stains on your clothes. We’ve learned this from a whole lotta chili crisp consumption.

How Can I Use Chili Crisp?

a spoonful of chili crisp over a an open jar
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The answer is: however you desire! Stir it into mayonnaise to give your sandwich (or French fry dip) a kick, or drizzle it onto roasted vegetables or meats. Gao says she likes to put her chili crisp on pretty much everything, but “a few of my favorite ways to eat it are on vanilla ice cream (trust me), tossed into a bowl of noodles (hot or cold) for a quick dinner, and even in cocktails like a spicy Margarita,” she says. “The options are endless. For someone who’s not sure about where to begin, I’d suggest adding it to avocado toast, frying your egg in it, or drizzling onto a grain bowl.” 

The Best Chili Crisps

Super Savory Picks

This is the chili crisp that started it all, so to speak, since it’s one of the first to be widely available in the U.S. It’s incredibly savory, with a sultry umami depth. Senior commerce editor Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm says it’s her favorite since it “has just the right amount of heat, as well as sweetness. I love how its varied, crunchy texture enlivens the likes of eggs, roasted meats, grain bowls, and brothy, noodle soups.” We tasted the spicy version and found it more of a medium heat level and wholly approachable. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium 
  • Amount: 25 ounces
  • Ingredients: Soybean oil, chili, onion, soybeans, monosodium glutamate, Sichuan pepper powder, sugar, salt, sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfite
lao gan ma chili crisp on pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Loaded with crunchy bits (peanuts, shallots, garlic) and with an umami boost from mushroom powder and fermented soybean, this is a sumptuous, savory, chili crisp. It had a bright tangy flavor that lifted everything to another level, and a touch of sweetness to round it out. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 6 ounces
  • Ingredients: Canola oil, peanut, garlic, dried chili peppers, cane sugar, shallot, sesame oil, fermented soybean, Sichuan peppercorns, spices, mushroom seasoning, sea salt, gluten-free tamari powder
kari kari chili crisp on a pink background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

A little spicy, a whole lotta savory—this is a nutty, crunchy, and wholly satisfying chili crisp. We really liked the fermented black beans, crunchy peanuts, and faint tingle from the Sichuan peppercorns. The crystallized ginger added a sweet and lightly spicy touch. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 9.2 ounces
  • Ingredients: High oleic sunflower oil, fermented black beans (soybeans, salt), crushed red pepper, crystallized ginger, peanuts, sesame oil, dried garlic, sesame seeds, dried shallots, Sichuan peppercorns
oomame chili crisp on pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This is really, really savory, with a mushroomy smell and intense nuttiness. There's almost a curry-like note, and it’s quite salty and rich. It’s perked up by an anise and piney flavor and isn’t super spicy. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Mild
  • Amount: 7.75 ounces
  • Ingredients: Canola oil, ground chiles, soybeans, preserved black beans, onion, garlic, kosher salt, granulated sugar, mushroom powder
Milu chili crisp on a pink background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

The original chili crisp is a little sweet, not too spicy, and has a very umami flavor (there's a hint of saline from seaweed, too). We also tried the Momofuku black truffle chili crisp, which is spicy and has a backbone of truffle depth that's not overpowering. A drizzle goes incredibly well on pasta dishes, particularly fettuccine alfredo, or even mixed with melted butter and drizzled on popcorn—yum. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 5.5 ounces
  • Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, puya chili, coconut sugar, sesame seeds, onions, garlic, mushrooms, chili de arbol, Japones chili, salt, red pepper, shallots, yeast extract, seaweed
momofuku chili crisp in four flavors on a pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This chili crisp has an almost cheesy aroma—like you’re taking a whiff of a chunk of parmesan. It’s quite thick, more of a paste than a chili crisp with oil and floaty bits, but the flavor is super savory and moreish. We may have eaten a few spoonfuls straight out of the jar. It has a nice sweetness too, and a bit of heat. Because it’s so rich and savory, a little goes a long way. You can taste the fish sauce, which gives it funk and roundness. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium-hot
  • Amount: 8 ounces
  • Ingredients: Soybean oil, fish sauce (anchovy, sea salt, sugar syrup), dried red chili pepper, garlic, sugar
Me's way chili sauce on a pink background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

If you grew up being the kid who brought Funyuns to school, then this chili crisp is for you. Not only does it have a pleasant sweetness and a teensy bit of heat (though it’s labeled as mild), but it’s also packed with crispy fried sweet onions. It’s not super salty, either, so you don’t have to worry about oversalting when you drizzle a lick of it onto a dish. You can also buy a spicier version, which has a good amount of kick to it.  

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium 
  • Amount: 7 ounces
  • Ingredients: Chili peppers, onions, mushroom powder, non-GMO oil, garlic, spices, rice bran, turbinado sugar, salt
mr bing chili crisp on pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

For Garlic Heads

If one (or two…or five) clove of garlic isn’t enough, then these are the chili crisps for you.

This stuff just oozes garlic—in all the best ways. Open the lid and that wonderfully piquant smell wafts out, and big crunchy pieces of—you guessed it: garlic—float like little golden icebergs upon a sea of spicy oil. We love it on rice, fish, and eggs, and think it would be a killer addition to any garlic bread recipe (or just dunk good bread in it—an easy way to earn a yum). The mild option still has a wee bit of spice to it that gets you at the back of the throat. Former updates editor Jacon Dean says, “Mama Teav's is one of my absolute favorites. This particular chili crisp is made by Cambodian American siblings in honor of their mother, and for my palate, I think it's the perfect combination of crunchy, savory, and unctuous. I love that the garlic is fried in grapeseed oil (which gives it a nice, clean flavor) and that the chilies are sun-dried before they're roasted, and it's nice that it comes in both mild and 'OG heat' levels of spiciness.”

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 6 ounces
  • Ingredients: Grapeseed oil, garlic, dried Thai bird chile, onion powder, dehydrated onion flakes, kosher salt, mushroom powder, celery salt
mild hot garlic and OG heat garlic chili crisp from Mama Teav's
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Garlic lovers, rejoice. Liquid Gold comes in three heat levels—spicy, ultra-spicy, and not spicy—all loaded with crunchy, toasty garlic pieces. The salt content on these is low, which is nice because you can add a spoonful to a meal without worrying about creating an inadvertent salt lick. The spicy isn't super spicy, though the ultra-hot will get your mouth tingling. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Mild
  • Amount: 6 ounces
  • Ingredients: Fried garlic, grapeseed oil, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, msg, spices, sea salt
liquid gold chili crisp with three flavors on a pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This was one of the first chili crisps I tried (Grace here!), and I’ve had a jar in my pantry ever since. I, as you may have guessed, am a self-proclaimed garlic head—no amount is too much. This super savory offering satiates my garlic cravings and goes well on just about everything. It’s also not spicy at all, making it a great option for those who pale at the sight of “extra hot” or 🌶️🌶️🌶️ on anything. Amanda Suarez, Serious Eats associate visuals director, claims this is her favorite chili crisp. “This is my fave; I put it on literally anything: eggs, ramen, and sometimes just with cheese and crackers.”

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Mild
  • Amount: 3.9 ounces
  • Ingredients: Corn oil, chili pepper, fried garlic, sesame oil, monosodium glutamate, onion powder, salt, sugar, soy sauce powder (soy sauce [soybeans, wheat, salt], dextrin, salt), chili paste (chili pepper, salt, rice), fried onion, almond, ground sesame seeds
S&B crunchy garlic chili crisp on a pink background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

For Hot Heads

A few chili crisps that pack the heat and taste amazing doing it.

Dark and unctuous with lots of umami, this one has a kick of spice. It has a deep toasty flavor, and the jars come with little golden spoons for serving, which is a nice touch. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Hot
  • Amount: 3.53 ounces
  • Ingredients: Canola oil, Tianjin chili flakes, cayenne pepper, Zhenjiang vinegar, brown cane sugar
junzi chili oil on pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This sweet and spicy chili crisp brings with it a whiff of anise and a floral chili flavor. It’s bright and intense, (and pretty spicy!), the heat lingering on your tongue followed by the numbing málà sensation.

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Hot
  • Amount: 5.8 ounces
  • Ingredients: Sunflower oil, hot chili flakes, Korean chile flakes, garlic, onion, gluten-free tamari sauce, sesame seed, coconut amino, yeast extract, sesame flour, sugar, spices, birdseye chili, seaweed powder
Bowlcut chili crisp on a pink surface

Sichuan-Inspired Picks

Crispy and crunchy, with a little bitterness from the Sichuan peppercorns, this chili crisp highlights the piney, floral flavor of this little berry (yes, it’s a berry!). We liked the swirling flotilla of sesame seeds on top, which added a nutty crunch. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 6 ounces
  • Ingredients: Hot chili peppers, black peppers, prickly ash, sesame seed, fresh fried garlic, mushroom powder, soybean oil, spices
Hot Jiang Chili crisp on a pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This chili crisp was created by chef Max Boonthanakit to reflect his Chinese and Thai upbringing. Sichuan peppercorns are at the forefront, and the faint whiff of anchovy rounds it out. It also has a nuttiness from the sesame seeds and a faint sweetness from the fennel. This would go incredibly well on a bowl of Dan Dan noodles or Pad Thai.

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 8 ounces
  • Ingredients: Canola oil, chili, shallots, garlic, sugar, sea salt, fennel, Sichuan peppercorn, anchovy
Boon chili crisp on pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This is Riddley's favorite Sichuan-style chili crisp. “It provides that expected tingly-numbness, but is also wicked spicy (at least for me),” she says. “Just a drizzle of the oil onto a bowl of soup or roasted vegetables is plenty.” It’s very Sichuan peppercorn forward, showcasing the berry’s piney, resinous flavor, and tingly effect. It also has a faint tang to it and the ginger adds a nice spice and freshness. It’s a little sweet, too.

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 6 ounces
  • Ingredients: Infused oil (sunflower and/or non-GMO canola oil, ginger, spices, shallots, garlic), Sichuan peppercorns, red chili flakes, toasted sesame oil, sea salt
blank slate chili oil
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This rich, umami-laden chili crisp has a good amount of Sichuan peppercorn but isn’t too spicy. “When building a chili oil, I think not only about heat from chilis but also the tingly sensation from our Tribute Peppercorns,” Gao says. “These aren’t just any Sichuan peppercorns. This variety grows in Qingxi village, and they are so prized for their many uses that they were offered in tribute to the emperor. We also build layers of umami with fermented black beans and mushroom powder.” It’s a great all-rounder and goes well on eggs, rice bowls, and soups, too. We also really liked Fly By Jing’s Chengdu Crunch, which is loaded with crunchy bits of fava beans, pumpkin seeds, and shallots. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 6 ounces
  • Ingredients: Non-GMO rapeseed oil, non-GMO soybean oil, dried chili pepper, preserved black bean, garlic, sesame oil, salt, shallots, ginger, mushroom powder, Sichuan pepper, seaweed powder, spices
three jars of fly by jing on a pink backdrop
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Chili Crisp With a Twist

This has big chunks of shallots, with depth and savoriness from mushrooms and curry leaves. It’s warm, cozy, and delicious on an omelet

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Mild
  • Amount: 10 ounces
  • Ingredients: Garlic, grapeseed oil, herbs, mushrooms, shallots, a blend of spices including red chiles, kosher salt
tasting india chili crunch on a pink background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

This chili crisp is loaded with big chunks of crunchy bits (Marcona almonds, garlic, sesame seeds) and sorta tastes like Fritos, in a really, really good way. While it doesn't taste spicy at first, there is a little bit of back-of-throat burn. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Medium
  • Amount: 8 ounces
  • Ingredients: Canola oil, dried chili peppers, Marcona almonds, shallots, garlic, sesame seeds, organic coconut sugar, salt
onino chili crisp on a pink background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly


This one differs from the others in that it’s a chili oil with just a wee bit of crisp, while many other brands are heavy on crunch (though Little Truc does sell a crispier offering, called Chili Crush). It’s quite floral with a bit of a tangy backbone thanks to lemongrass. It’s bright but still with a mild burn and a nuttiness from the soybean oil. 

Good to Know

  • Spice level: Mild to medium
  • Amount: 7.5 ounces
  • Ingredients: Soybean oil, dried chilis, garlic, lemongrass, spices, kosher salt
little truc chili oil on a pink background
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

FAQs

What is chili crisp?

Chili crisp is a Chinese condiment that has spread throughout the world and comes in many iterations and expressions. At its essence, it’s an oil infused with chili and other flavors and loaded with crunchy ingredients, like fried garlic and shallots. 

Are chili crisp and chili paste the same thing?

Chili paste is thicker and often made of whole pulverized chilis, while chili crisp is an oil-based condiment with aromatics added. 

How should you store chili crisp?

While it will rarely go bad, it’s a good idea to keep chili crisp in a cool dry place, like a pantry,  and to keep the lid tightly sealed (which keeps out bacteria). 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Grace Kelly is the associate commerce editor at Serious Eats. Before this, she tested equipment and ingredients for America’s Test Kitchen.
  • In her past life, she worked in restaurants and as a bartender. 
  • For this story, we interviewed Max Boonthanakit of Boon Chili Sauce and Jing Gao of Fly By Jing. 
  • We tasted over 19 chili crisps and used them for over a month in our daily cooking.