A solid set of mixing bowls is somewhere near the top of the list of kitchen essentials every cook must have. You can use these versatile vessels to whip up batters, toss salads, rise doughs, marinate meats, or blanch vegetables. Coming up with uses for them is easy—but choosing the right one for you can be a little trickier. Do you prefer the sleek look of stainless steel? Or is durability more important? To help narrow your choices down, we’ve compiled our favorite bowl sets, ranging from the eco-friendly to the easy-on-the-wallet. Read on for Saveur’s list of the best mixing bowls for 2021.
Stainless steel is the most versatile. “I think it’s the all-around best for mixing bowls because it will either cool down quickly or warm up faster when needed; it’s a sturdy material,” says Chef Tab Volpe, corporate pastry chef for the Barbara Lynch Collective. Glass and ceramic are obviously more breakable, but they do retain heat better than metal, and some chefs prefer their heftier weight. Plastic mixing bowls rack up points for being virtually unbreakable and—thanks to their smooth sides—are often the choice for those working with chocolate or batters. And while wood bowls certainly lend a charming, old world aesthetic, most can’t go in the dishwasher and must be oiled regularly to maintain their appearance. For those reasons, they’re better for serving than for actual prep work.
Size and Shape
Forget those gimmicky-shaped bowls: you need a circular bowl for easy stirring or whisking. As for sizes, a standard small 1.5-quart to 3-quart bowl is ideal for mixing dry ingredients in small quantities; a medium 5-quart option is a go-to for everyday cooking; and a large 8-quart bowl is best for whisking eggs or prepping large quantities.
“With a hand mixer, it’s good to have a bowl with a steeper slope on the side, similar to the bowl of a standing mixer,” says Caitlin Dysart, pastry chef at Centrolina and Piccolina in Washington, D.C. “That way, your hand mixer can have traction in the material you are mixing.” Most stand mixers feature glass or steel bowls, but any durable bowl should be able to handle the whizzing of a hand mixer.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Cuisinart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls with Lids
Cuisinart’s three-piece set enjoys near-universal acclaim. We’re fans because these bowls are so versatile: they are freezer- and refrigerator-safe, made of durable stainless steel, and even come with lids that make storage a snap. They’re also deep enough to handle a hand-mixer without overflowing. And don’t worry if you’re lacking in kitchen cabinet storage: the three bowls nest inside one another easily, so they take up very little space.
Best Value: FineDine Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls Set
For under $25, you can scoop up this set of six stainless steel bowls, ranging in size from 3/4-quart up to an 8-quart size. The steel is odor-, taste-, and stain-resistant, which means you can go from Caesar salad to chocolate pudding without worrying about any contamination. And, since they’re metal, they’re extremely durable: not only shatterproof, but freezer- and dishwasher-safe. We also like the wide rim, which is easy to grip and great for spill-free pouring.
Best Plastic: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set
This BPA-free set from OXO is ideal for the clumsier among us. Not only is there a handy rubber grip on the lip of each bowl, but the bottoms of the bowls are coated with a non-skid material, which means even when you’re mixing on a tilt, they won’t fly out from under you. They also have steep sides for mess-free hand mixing.
Best Glass: Pyrex Smart Essentials 8-Piece Mixing Bowl Set
Multi-purpose kitchen tools are every cook’s dream, and this Pyrex set goes the extra mile. Not only are they perfect for mixing up whatever you’re cooking, they’re also sleek enough to use as serving pieces, and have color-coded lids that make storing leftovers easy. The non-porous glass is also safe for use in dishwashers, ovens, microwaves, refrigerators and freezers—a true kitchen workhorse.
Best Stainless Steel: OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl Set
While stainless steel bowls conduct heat extremely well, the downside is that they can get very hot or cold to the touch. OXO solved that problem by adding an exterior plastic coating to their stainless steel bowl set, which protects your hands from extreme temperatures. Other clever innovations include a non-skid bottom to keep it from slipping and secure nesting for easy storage.
Best Eco-Friendly: Bamboozle Bamboo 7-Piece Nesting Bowl Set
Environmentally friendly and sturdy are not always two descriptors that go together, but you’ll find both of these attributes in Bamboozle’s bamboo bowls. The set of seven is made out of post-industrial bamboo fiber and durable enough to be washed in the dishwasher. But we also love these bowls because they’re beautiful; the muted color palette of the pieces make them a showstopper on a tablescape.
Best Stoneware: Farmhouse Pottery Pantry Mixing Bowls
Stoneware pieces aren’t the kind of mixing bowls you’d necessarily carry around the kitchen while whisking, but there’s something to be said for a hefty bowl. They’re incredibly stable—even when mixing something like a thick brownie batter—and, like this set from Farmhouse Pottery, they’re pretty enough to leave out as decor. We especially love these bowls because of the clever, hand-shaped pour spout, which makes transferring batters a breeze.
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