Whisks are a deceptively simple kitchen tool. Most people picture a classic balloon whisk, but they come in a wide range of styles of differing shapes and sizes. And whether you're scrambling eggs, beating batter, preparing roux or custard, making sauce in a pan, emulsifying a vinaigrette or mixing matcha tea, the right whisk makes any whisking task go smoothly, and the wrong one can make any task frustrating.
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If you regularly cook and bake a variety of foods, you'll invariably end up wanting more than one whisk. But, if you're only looking for one that's as multipurpose as whisks get, make it the classic balloon whisk.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Whisk
Style: There are plenty of whisk styles, and each one is best suited to a few jobs. Here's a quick look at common types of whisks:
- Balloon whisks (also known as piano whisks) are the classic style, and they're the go-to if you just want one everyday whisk that can do the most. They have thin wires and a bulbous end, and the wires are a bit springy, which helps create motion as you whisk. They're particularly good for making scrambled eggs and omelets, keeping custards in motion, and combining dry ingredients. The shape is good for getting to the edges in a bowl.
- French whisks are similar to balloon whisks, but they have thicker, heavier wires and a longer, thinner profile. They're shaped well for use in bowls and smaller pots, and they do a good job aerating ingredients like eggs and cream and emulsifying ingredients. The sturdier wires are better for mixing thicker preparations, too.
- Flat whisks have several (usually four) looped wires in a flattened balloon shape, and they're like a whisk with spatula characteristics. They're an excellent tool for making roux, sauces and gravy, especially in a shallow pan. They're also often used to extract poached eggs from the water and as a fish spatula.
- Kettle whisks have a long, thin handle with a spherical whisk at the end. They're designed to protect your hand from the heat when you mix things like soup or sauce in a stockpot or kettle.
- Ball whisks have thin, straight wires with little balls at the tip of each one. They're great when you need to scrape in tight pot corners, whisk on a flat surface like a skillet and for combining dry ingredients, but aren't good for uses like thick batters or keeping custards in motion.
- Dough whisks are specially designed for situations when you don't want to overwork your ingredients, like when mixing bread doughs and thick batters and folding aerated ingredients you don't want to deflate. They're also a go-to for polenta, grits and porridges. This style generally has a wooden handle and a few thick wire loops.
And then there are mini whisks, spiral whisks, spring whisks, conical whisks, rotary whisks and more. If there's a specialized whisking task, there's a specialized whisk made just for it.
Size: It's helpful to have a whisk that's appropriately sized for the task at hand. You should have a full-sized whisk for mixing bowlfuls and thicker preparations. Smaller whisks are convenient if you're doing something like beating an egg or two, making matcha tea or some other specialty drink, or mixing a dressing.
Material: Stainless steel is the standard material for whisks. It's strong, durable, non-reactive, non-rusting and easy to clean. However, there are also silicone-coated whisks, and it's smart to have one on hand for use in nonstick pots and pans; stainless steel will scratch the surface of nonstick cookware.
By getting the right style, size and material for the particular whisking tasks you do, cooking and baking will be a more pleasant experience. These factors, along with your budget considerations, will help you purchase a tool you'll be happy with.
The Best Balloon Whisk
OXO Good Grips 11-Inch Balloon Whisk
This is an excellent choice for a multipurpose stainless steel balloon whisk. It's solidly built and a good size—but still notably lightweight to prevent fatigue—and it's affordably priced for the quality. The wires are amply spaced and thick enough for mixing things of substance while still flexible enough for whipping, fluffing and creating motion. This model has a unique, soft, ergonomic, comfortable, nonslip handle, too. Plus, you'll enjoy easier clean-up because you can put this water-tight product in the dishwasher.
The Best Budget Balloon Whisk
Winco 10-Inch Piano Wire Whip
If you're looking for the cheapest possible multipurpose balloon whisk that you can count on to hold up and perform well, look no further. This whisk is large and durable but still lightweight, with wires that are strong yet as flexible as you want them to be. You'll feel like you're using a more expensive cooking utensil. The slightly-shorter-than-normal handle lets you get closer to the ingredients, which reduces fatigue during use. It's dishwasher-safe, but consider hand-washing if you want to preserve the shine of the stainless steel.
The Best Silicone Whisk
Cuisinart 12-Inch Silicone Balloon Whisk
For a multipurpose silicone balloon whisk that's safe for use in nonstick cookware, choose this product from Cuisinart, a well-known name in quality kitchenware. It's large and has silicone wires that are substantial yet flexible, and it's lightweight enough to stave off arm fatigue. It's dishwasher-safe for easy clean-up, plus it's heat-safe up to 460 degrees Fahrenheit (but keep in mind that the stainless steel handle will get hot).
The Best French Whisk
Best Manufacturers 12-Inch Standard French Wire Whisk
This budget-friendly, dishwasher-safe stainless steel French whisk has sturdy wires and a slim 2.25-inch body. It's great for those uses where a balloon whisk is too broad to get the wires everywhere you need to get them (and if your drawer is a bit short on storage space). It's tough and durable while only weighing in at a user-friendly 3.2 ounces. And this product is made in the U.S. by a family-owned manufacturer that's been producing professional-grade whisks and mashers since 1959.
The Best Mini Whisk
RSVP Endurance 9-Inch Mini Whisk
You'll be glad you have this compact whisk on hand whenever you want to beat an egg or two, mix matcha tea, dissolve coffee or powdered creamer in your coffee or espresso beverage, make hot chocolate, prepare a bit of homemade vinaigrette, cook up a small quantity of sauce for just a portion or two, and so on. This stainless steel mini whisk is 9 inches long and a little under 1 inch wide, it fits easily in a utensil drawer, it's durable with stiff wires and it's dishwasher-safe, too.
The Best Flat Whisk
Tovolo 10-Inch Flat Sauce Whisk
Here's an affordably priced flat whisk that does a great job when you're preparing a roux, sauces or gravy. At 10 inches, it's just the right size for so many common uses for this type of whisk, and the ample handle fits comfortably in hand and lets you get a good grip. The wide, flat stainless steel wires get into the corners of your pan, and the concentric loops are handy when deglazing the pan. And these wires have an ideal balance of sturdiness and flexibility for the ways you'll use this whisk. It's dishwasher-safe, but remember to hang it upside-down to dry so the water can run out of the handle.
The Best Ball Whisk
PomeloHome 12-Inch Ball Whisk
When a ball whisk is the right tool for the job, this 12-inch, dishwasher-safe stainless steel model performs admirably. You'll get right into the edges of your pan, saucepan or other cookware with this product from PomeloHome. The ergonomic handle is comfortable to grip and reduces arm fatigue during use, as does the lightweight yet durable construction and the perfectly weighted steel balls. It's also available in a 10-inch size, but you might find the handle on that one a bit shorter than you like if you have large hands.
The Best Dough Whisk
Zulay Kitchen 13-Inch Danish Dough Whisk
This very budget-friendly Danish dough whisk doesn't sacrifice performance, durability or aesthetics for the low cost (it even comes with a lifetime warranty!). You can choose between an ashwood, rubberwood or stainless steel handle. The wood handles are strong, smooth, ergonomic and comfortable to grip, so don't hesitate to choose them (and their charming look) over the stainless steel option. The high-grade stainless steel wires are as stiff and strong as you need them to be for the heaviest-duty dough work you do with this whisk style. They're also designed to prevent clumps from getting stuck in them, providing easier cleanup with this non-dishwasher-safe item.