Stainless-steel bowls are inexpensive, durable, and lightweight—making them a staple in professional restaurant kitchens—and they can do double duty as double boilers. But they are not microwave-safe. It’s worth mentioning that professional cooks and bakers prefer stainless steel. Stainless steel stays cool regardless of the temperature in your kitchen, ensuring your dough or batter remains at a cool temperature throughout. Additionally, eggs fluff up and firm more quickly in stainless-steel bowls.
Like stainless-steel bowls, copper mixing bowls are excellent for maintaining an even temperature when making dough and batter. Copper, in fact, has ions that bond with an egg while you’re whipping it—and those ions stop the eggs from deflating and keep them super fluffy as they expand. In Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child said that copper was the most satisfying cookware to use. That’s no small compliment! But as great as copper is, it tends to be more expensive (and more delicate) than other materials. Since we were focused on finding the most utilitarian, everyday mixing bowls that could withstand any and everything, we left copper mixing bowls out of this particular roundup (though you can check out our guide to copper cookware here).
Glass bowls are microwave-safe and look more attractive if you like to use one bowl for both prep and serving, but they are much heavier than stainless-steel bowls, which can make them feel cumbersome, especially if you’re trying to hold the bowl with one hand. On the other hand, you might welcome the weight that allows the bowl to stand firm on the counter no matter hard you whisk. It’s a matter of personal preference.
Plastic and melamine bowls are durable and shatterproof but generally less versatile than either stainless or glass because they cannot be used as double boilers or be put in the microwave. They also have a tendency to scratch over time, making them inferior for tasks like whipping egg whites, which can be ruined by any fatty residue trapped in the crevices. Plastic also tends to trap odors and discolor over time when exposed to ingredients like tomato sauce or turmeric. If you are set on this style of bowl though, see our not on bamboo bowls below beloved by editor Kendra Vaculin.
Are the sizes of the bowls practical?
You might be seduced by a set that boasts six different bowls—but if half of them are too small to hold more than a pinch of spices, what’s the point? Instead, when seeking out mixing bowls, look for a range that includes at least one small (1–1½ quart) prep bowl and two larger bowls in the 3- to 8-quart range that will allow you room to fold and toss with confidence and without worry of making a mess. In general, you can find mixing bowls in the following sizes: 1½, 2, 2½, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 12 quarts.
Are they durable and easy to clean?
A good mixing bowl should stand up to high-intensity work and clean up easily. It should, of course be dishwasher-safe and come out without leaving behind dents, scratches, stains, or odors.
Are the mixing bowls a good value?
If you want to spend your money, save it for fancy serving bowls and platters. Mixing bowls are meant to be workhorses. While build quality is important, these kitchen tools should be priced accordingly and affordably.
Other Mixing Bowls We Tested
Bamboozle nesting bowls have a lot of great design touches that make them desirable. They are made of compostable bamboo, have nice tall sides that are advantageous for mixing, and are stackable for easy storage. The only problem is that they aren’t microwave- or dishwasher-safe. For people without dishwashers, that’s not so bad, but if you want mixing bowls you don’t have to wash by hand, pretty much any option aside from the Bamboozle bowls can provide that. However, if having a sustainable kitchen is important, and you appreciate the visual appeal and design of Bamboozle bowls. we say they are worth it.
Tempered-glass Pyrex bowls have been a fixture in American kitchens for generations for good reason: They’re exceptionally sturdy, well-designed, and versatile—and can move safely and stylishly from the countertop or the microwave straight to the dining table. I liked that this set came with four bowls rather than three—all of which were handily sized not only for mixing but for portioning out mise en place. But ultimately the extra weight of the glass mixing bowls felt cumbersome in comparison to stainless steel and disqualified them from being my number-one pick.
These restaurant-supply-style stainless-steel mixing bowls have a lot going for them: They’re lightweight, easy to handle, inexpensive, well-proportioned, and nest for simple storage. We love that the biggest bowl was a generous 8 quarts—3 quarts larger than the biggest bowl in the Cuisinart 3-piece set. But while the bowls performed ably during the brownie and chopped salad tests, they fell short during the whipped cream test. The reason: Compared with our top pick, these bowls have wider openings and shallower sides that aren’t as good at catching errant drips and splatters, especially when using a hand mixer. So, in the end, the Cuisinart set was a more reliable overall choice.
Like all Oxo products, this set is distinguished by a few smart design features that set it apart from the pack. We appreciated the deep bowls, high sides, and built-in pour spouts, which made transferring batter from bowl to baking pan neat and easy. The rubberized grips on the bases, which kept the bowls sturdy on the counter during even the most vigorous whisking and beating, were also nice. But while Oxo’s molded, unbreakable BPA-free plastic feels well-made and durable, for long-term use, I worried this set would suffer the same drawbacks as all plastic mixing bowls: a tendency to stain, trap odors, and scratch. Also, plastic bowls are not suited for use as a double boiler or the microwave—so despite their appealing design, we found them considerably less versatile than their stainless-steel and glass counterparts.
With deep interiors and tall sides, these bowls are similar in design to my first pick (and the set comes with two extra-small prep bowls), but the difference in build becomes apparent as soon as you pick them up. Overall, the FineDine bowls felt flimsier and more cheaply made than the Cuisinart set, and though they’re slightly cheaper, that small difference in price didn’t seem to justify the concern that they would not wear well over long-term use. The FineDine’s lids were also fiddly to get on and the seals unreliable. And while I did not personally experience problems with discoloration, I was alarmed by a pattern of Amazon user reviews citing denting, scratching, and rusting.
The Cuisinart Stainless-Steel Mixing Bowls With Lids are the best option for a well-built, versatile, user-friendly set that should provide years of pleasant, practical use. We especially loved their rolled lips and high, deep sides, which are easy to grip and keep whatever you’re mixing inside the bowl, not on your counter. And the matching lids are sturdy and airtight, making the bowls great for marinades, storing leftovers, or transporting food to parties and potlucks.