When it comes to kitchenware, I’ve always thought it excessive to have more than one version of any tool, but I make an exception for whisks. I have three—a straight whisk, a balloon whisk, and a flat whisk—and I use them to handle different tasks.
A straight whisk is essential for making smooth sauces. It also comes in handy for mixing and folding. Sometimes referred to as a French whisk, the straight whisk has an elongated shape and relatively stiff wires, making it sturdy enough for stirring heavy batters.
A balloon whisk aerates egg whites, cream, and light batters. Its thin wires make this whisk much lighter than a straight whisk, so whipping egg whites for meringue is a lot less tiring. The large bulb-shaped head and delicate wires can beat the maximum amount of air into thin liquids.
A flat whisk makes easy work of stirring a roux or deglazing a pan. Also known as a skillet, shovel, or roux whisk, its flat shape means you won’t miss any lumps of flour or bits of caramelized juices stuck in the corner of the roasting pan.
What to Look For in a Whisk
Whisks are sold by size, measuring from the tip of the handle to the top of the whires. I find 12-inch whisks most useful, but different sizes come in handy for small or large amounts of food. No matter what size or style you’re buying, look for these features:
- stainless steel wires, which won’t corrode, chip, or react with acidic foods. If you’re concerned about scratching a nonstick surface, whisks with silicone-coated wire are now available.
- a sealed handle, which ensures that liquids and food can’t get into the handle and cause corrosion or problems with bacteria.
- a sturdy handle; professionals prefer stainless steel.