After nearly 20 hours of research, testing across two years, and consulting with numerous culinary professionals and chefs, we’re confident that both the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler and the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler are the best peelers for most people. In our tests, both peelers tackled a range of vegetables and fruits far better than any of the other models we looked at. Both had the sharpest swivel blades and were the easiest and most comfortable to hold during prolonged peeling (the major distinction between the two is that the Kuhn Rikon is much more lightweight). Since we found both vegetable peelers equally great, we recommend choosing based on your preference for straight or Y-shaped peelers .
When it comes to peeling, people generally fall into two camps: those who prefer a Y- (or harp-) shaped peeler and those who like a straight swivel peeler. Both styles can be used to peel toward or away from yourself, yet the range of motion you use for each is slightly different. For a Y peeler, your wrist will generally rotate more (basically in a 180-degree range). Holding a straight swivel peeler, on the other hand, is more like using a traditional paring knife, where your wrist just moves back or forth. In fact, peeling toward yourself with a swivel peeler mimics the traditional European style (which is done with a paring knife). Several reviews suggest that Y peelers work better for large, round fruits and vegetables (such as potatoes and apples) while swivel peelers handle thinner carrots and asparagus best. However, in our testing of both styles of peelers, we didn’t find this held true. If you’re vacillating over which style to buy, it really comes down to which movement you’re more comfortable with.
We looked for both straight peelers and Y-shaped peelers with a comfortable handle, a well-angled blade (so it won’t cut too deeply or shallowly), and the ability to handle bumps and irregularities with ease. We spoke to food and restaurant professionals to find out what they look for in the ideal peeler. Tara Ayers, the Program Manager of Culinary Content at Sur La Table said, “the essential features would be that it’s durable, stays sharp, easy to clean, long-lasting, and slip resistant, so if your hands are wet, you can still hold on to the peeler.” Additionally, most industry cooks we spoke with prefer peelers that are lightweight to prevent their hands from getting tired.
In choosing our selection of peelers to test, we also took into consideration the type of blade. We found that most blades are made of stainless steel, though a few outliers are made of carbon steel or ceramic. Reviews were mixed regarding these materials; some said that stainless tends to dull faster, others said ceramic dulls faster, and reviews on Amazon indicated that the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler’s carbon steel blade is prone to rusting. To gain a little clarity, we spoke with David Barry, an associate professor at the Culinary Institute of America, where he teaches culinary basics. He has peeled literally thousands of pounds of fruits and vegetables in his 22-year culinary career.
Barry prefers stainless steel blades because you can hone them just as you would a knife. Ceramic blades can be very sharp (and stay that way) but they’re not as durable. (If you drop the peeler, or something drops on it, the blade might break.) Carbon steel makes very sharp blades, but these can rust if exposed to acidic foods or not dried after use.
Another issue to consider is that the blades of some peelers tend to clog easily. According to America’s Test Kitchen, who did the most thorough review of peelers we could find, this happens when there’s not enough space between the peeler’s blade and bridge (the piece that connects the handle to the top of the blade). They found that the optimal distance between the blade and the bridge of the peeler at its highest point should be about 1 inch. Any less, and reviewers found that peels piled up. Peelers with a wider aperture didn’t clog but suffered in leverage and control. (However, in our testing, we came up with slightly different results.)
Though we were intrigued by a number of peelers with serrated blades, our testers found these more limiting and only useful for specific tasks, such as removing lemon rind without the pith. If you’re going to invest in just one peeler, Barry suggested purchasing one with a regular edge. It won’t leave the lines, and a sharp regular blade should work on everything you peel. Similarly, some peelers have specific blades that will julienne, but Barry said he hasn’t been satisfied with their results. Better to just use a mandoline.
Another thing to consider is whether the blade swivels or not. Most of the pros we spoke with prefer a swivel blade because it’s more comfortable. Chef Candy Argondizza, the Vice President of Culinary and Pastry Arts at the International Culinary Center said, “whether you’re a professional or amateur [cook], the most important feature to look for is the swivel blade so that you can remove peels going in either direction. The swivel blade really allows a lot of freedom and ease.” She explained how the very classic French peelers, which do not have a swivel blade, make it more difficult for the blade to grab the peel because you have to hold it at the right angle.
To find the best vegetable peelers for testing, we looked to reviews from America’s Test Kitchen, Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and various other publications, as well as highly rated models on Amazon, to narrow our choices. In addition to speaking with Chef Candy Argondizza, Tara Ayers, and David Barry, we talked to Jennifer Aaronson, Editorial Director of Food and Entertaining at Martha Stewart Living, and sent peelers to the chefs at Dirt Candy to get their expert opinion.
For our original guide, we tested eight peelers, both Y-shaped and straight-swivel models. For our 2016 update, we tested our previous top pick and “pro pick” (the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler and the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler) against an additional three peelers: the OXO Good Grips Pro Y-Peeler, the Messermeister Pro-Touch Serrated Swivel Peeler, and the OXO Good Grips Serrated Peeler.
This year, we put the peelers to the test with eggplant, butternut squash, celery root, carrots, potatoes, lemons, and broccoli. For good measure, we threw in a wedge of parmesan to see if each peeler could make smooth cheese shavings. We observed how sharp the blades were on each model, how well they removed the peel from each item, and whether the blades became clogged. We also took note of any glaring comfort issues and how easy the peelers were to grasp when wet.
In our tests, the Kuhn peeled eggplant surprisingly well, along with butternut squash, celery root, carrots, and potatoes. It is by far the preferred peeler in professional kitchens, including at Dirt Candy, where it’s used by nearly every cook we interviewed. They praised it for its sharpness and light weight. However, some of our Sweethome testers felt the Kuhn created parmesan shavings that were a bit too thick. They also found that too much pith was removed when peeling lemon rinds.
Its only drawbacks are that it feels cheaply constructed (what can you expect from an approximately $6 peeler?) and the handle isn’t as comfortable to use as the OXO Pro’s. The carbon steel blade can get rusty if left in a damp environment (like a dishwasher or wet sink), but the rust is easily removed with a green scrubby. The manufacturer suggests washing the peeler by hand and towel drying immediately after use to avoid rust build-up. One chef we spoke with suggested brushing the blade with a little vegetable oil for added protection against rust.
We were also concerned about some Amazon reviews that said the Kuhn Rikon’s plastic handle and casing break easily. Yet when we spoke with Tara Ayers from Sur La Table, she said she still has her Kuhn peeler from the mid-’90s in her toolkit and it’s going strong. Even Jennifer Aaronson at Martha Stewart Living said, “this is the peeler I like. I would highly recommend it. We use them constantly and have never had a handle break or a blade dull.” David Barry said that many of his co-workers and students at the CIA also like this peeler.
After our new round of testing, the clear winner for the best straight swivel peeler remains the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler. The OXO Pro glided more smoothly over the lemons with just a tiny bit of pith, easily sliced the skin off an apple, and made nice peels of parmesan, and the eyer popped imperfections out of a potato without a hitch.
We also found that the blades of the competing peelers all rattled slightly, giving them a cheap feeling. Even when shaken, the OXO Pro doesn’t make a peep, and as an added bonus, you can replace the blade.
When we spoke with David Barry, the associate professor at the CIA, he didn’t recommend using peelers with replaceable blades because they might be more apt to come loose after a while. He recommended just honing your peeler as you would a knife. However, we found the OXO removable blade didn’t feel like it would come loose, and it was easy to use the replacement feature. We also think most home cooks are more likely to replace a blade than sharpen one.
Additionally, OXO also offers a “satisfaction guarantee” for all of its equipment, which isn’t the case for some of the other models we tested. If you buy the OXO peeler and aren’t happy with it or it breaks shortly after purchase, just send it back for a replacement or refund.
After six months of regular use, the Kuhn Rikon vegetable peeler remains a workhorse in our test kitchen. Some Sweethome staffers who own the Kuhn Rikon say that it continues to retain its sharp edge even after years of use. The OXO Good Grips vegetable peeler has maintained its sharp edge over the past several months, too, and we can see no signs of corrosion or rust.
Multiple cooks at Dirt Candy as well as our own testers found the OXO Good Grips Pro Y-Peeler too heavy. While the blade is replaceable and it worked well on hard-to-peel celery root, our testers didn’t like this peeler as much as the OXO Pro Swivel Peeler.
The OXO Good Grips Serrated Peeler worked best for parmesan and lemons, but it wasn’t popular among our testers, who found the serrated marks on the vegetables not aesthetically pleasing.
The Y-shaped Rosle Crosswire Swivel Peeler’s stainless steel construction seemed of much higher quality than some of the plastic models we tested. However, at around $30 at time of writing, it’s no bargain, and we feel our top picks performed better all around for a fraction of the price.
While the Messermeister Pro-Touch Serrated Swivel Peeler did better than the OXO Serrated Peeler in our tests, we weren’t fans of the resulting serrated marks left on the food we peeled. Overall, we found this peeler to be ineffective and the chefs at Dirt Candy recommend it only for parmesan and creating lemon peel free of pith.
Though the Messermeister Pro-Touch Fine Edge Swivel Peeler is highly recommended by America’s Test Kitchen (subscription required), we found the blade rattled more than the OXO Pro’s and didn’t perform as well overall.
The more basic OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler is a best-selling peeler on Amazon, although America’s Test Kitchen recommends it with reservations because it took multiple attempts to peel the same spot and clogged frequently.
We also looked at unusual peelers, such as the Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Perfect Peeler with its adjustable blade and the Chef’n Vibe Collection Palm Hand Peeler that fits in the palm, but we found these gimmicky and awkward to use.
There were also promising Amazon reviews for several all-stainless-steel straight models that don’t come with a bridge at all, such as the Rada Cutlery Vegetable Peeler, the WMF Profi Plus Vegetable Peeler, and the Rosle Peeler. Yet none of these came as highly recommended as the others we tested.
Whether you prefer straight or Y-shaped peelers, you won’t find more reliable models than the OXO Good Grips Pro Swivel Peeler and the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler. We’re confident you’ll be satisfied with the efficiency and ease of use these peelers will provide for years to come.
(Photos by Kate Milford.)
Originally published: January 21, 2016