Picture this: you walk into your favorite cookware, head over to the utensil section, and are immediately bombarded with so many options. Except that those options are all for the same cooking utensil: the whisk. Your first thought maybe, "Why are there so many? They're all the same thing!" We've all been there.
Except, my friends, not all whisks are alike. This standard kitchen utensil comes in many shapes and sizes, all with their own use. As a kitchen tool, a whisk is versatile. You can use them as an egg beater, to froth milk, to make hot chocolate, and to mix the batter. You need a one to make gravy or bechamel sauce, and it's very helpful in breaking up clumps of dry ingredients.
Because we know your kitchen space might be limited, and because it is possible to have too many kitchen utensils (especially if you never use half of them), we've researched this particular kitchen gadget and have some thoughts on which ones you need and which ones are just nice to have. And we'll note that none of these kitchen gadgets are true unitaskers; some of them work best on specific cooking tasks, but most of them can be swapped in to pinch hit for any mixing action.
You might think about getting a whisk set, but you can also put together your own favorite mix. The different types may seem overwhelming, so here's our guide for you to these must-have kitchen gadgets.
1. Balloon Whisk
This is your everyday use go-to type of wire whisk that definitely deserves a spot in your utensil collection. The old school stainless steel whisks have metal handles, but you can get OXO or other brands with a more comfortable grip. You can also find silicone whisks in this shape.
This whisk does it all: from whisking eggs for a scrumptious omelet to whipping egg whites to top off that lemon meringue pie, to mixing dry ingredients for a cake. And since they're dishwasher safe, get several so you have one always at the ready while the others are sitting in the dishwasher.
2. French Whisk
These gadgets are similar to balloon whisks but are for heavier tasks, such as making sauces or batters (pancake batter, anyone?).
Besides its uses, the French whisk fits perfectly in mixing bowls and saucepans, simplifying your cooking experience.
3. Ball Whisks
Ball whisks have a good rep in the cooking community, especially with gourmet chefs. The balls at the bottom allow you to reach every nook and cranny in whatever bowl, pot or pan you may be using as you cook.
Because the balls at the ends of the tool vibrate when you begin to stir, these tools are great for adding air into your mixtures. Like the balloon and French versions, they are also great for sauces and mixing together dry ingredients as an alternative to sifting.
4. Flat Whisk
These gadgets are noticeably different from the balloon and French whisks in that they are, as the name states, flat.
You may also see them sold as roux whisks since this type of tool is generally used for making sauces such as a roux or gravy. The flat design allows scraping of shallow pans to incorporate every flavor possible.
5. Twirl Whisk
Twirl whisks are generally used for adding frothiness to a liquid. You've probably seen them used at your favorite coffeehouses, as they are used to froth up milk for lattes and other beverages.
However, beyond the general task of frothing, these gadgets hardly serve any outside jobs. If you're not intending on making your own frothy creations, this one probably isn't an essential addition to your collection.
6. Coil Whisk
The coil whisk performs the same tasks as the flat version, with the exception that these stainless steel whisks come in a variety of sizes, allowing you to have the perfect fit for those smaller bowls that need mixing.
If you have a flat whisk, you might not think you need one of these in your collection. But this mini whisk is so useful (it's a milk frother, perfect for making a roux, fits into any small bowl to make a small batch of vinaigrette), it's a good investment. It's also perfect for small kitchens because it fits in any drawer or easily hangs on a small hook.
7. Tornado Whisk
This particular gadget might seem a bit redundant. Similar to the flat whisk, the tornado whisk is flat-bottomed, making it perfect for making a roux and other sauces. This kitchen tool is nonstick and perfect for sautéing and saucepans.
If you're deciding between a flat or a tornado version, it depends on the types of pans you have in the house and if you prefer silicone or stainless steel.
So which one is the only one you need? Well, a balloon whisk might seem like an obvious choice. It's certainly the most common kind you'll find in the store. However, we're partial to ball whisks because not only do they add fluffiness to batters and mixes, they are also great for scraping pan bits when making sauces.
In the end, the decision to the right tool comes down to what kind of cooking you do the most often and how much space you have.
This article was originally published on December 28, 2016.