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It might not be the most coveted piece of kitchen equipment, but a hardworking set of mixing bowls is one of the most important parts of a functional kitchen. Every cook eventually finds their go-to bowl for tossing salads, salting flash-fried Brussels sprouts, or mixing banana bread batter.
With that said, different mixing bowls offer different advantages depending on what you’re cooking. Some bowls can seamlessly move from mixing chilled ceviche to whipping a béarnaise sauce over a water bath on the stovetop. Other bowls can be popped into the microwave for a quick flash of heat and double as a serving bowl at your next dinner party.
Here are the best mixing bowl options to help you tackle any cooking or baking project you set out to make.
This three-piece set of bowls welcomes your hand mixer, with deep bowls that minimize splashing and a handle on each bowl that’s easy to hang onto with one hand while you’re using the mixer in your other hand. The bowls are made from durable plastic that won’t crack or break with normal use, and they a rubbery bottom that won’t slide on your kitchen counter.
A small spout opposite the handle makes it easy to pour your batter or drain excess liquid from the food you’re marinating. The set includes one 1 1/2-quart bowl, one 3-quart bowl, and one 5-quart bowl. While these probably won’t grace your table for fancy parties, they’re super-sturdy, so they’re great for outdoor use or for movie and popcorn night. These nest neatly when it’s time to put them away. They are dishwasher safe, so cleanup is easy when you’re done cooking.
You’ll always have the size you need with this set of six stainless steel mixing bowls. The smallest bowls can be used for prep work while the largest will hold your largest batches of cake batter, super-sized salads, or bread dough for a crowd, and the shape is ideal for hand-whisking, whether you’re whipping cream or emulsifying a salad dressing. Since these are made from stainless steel, you can use them as a double-boiler on top of a saucepan of simmering water to melt delicate chocolate or cook a custard. They won’t stain, rust, or retain odors, and are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. While they’re not as decorative as the serving bowls you use on holidays, they’re great for picnics, barbecues, and outdoor dining, since they’re unbreakable and heavy enough not to blow away in the wind. This set includes 3/4-quart, 1 1/2-quart, 3-quart, 4-quart, 5-quart, and 8- quart bowls that nest for storage.
Glass mixing bowls are classic, and the borosilicate glass used in Pyrex has been used in kitchens since the early 1900s. It is designed to be safe in your preheated oven, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher. While glass can break when handled improperly, these are sturdy enough for everyday use for many years. Since the glass is nonporous and nonreactive, you can use it for marinating foods, mixing cake batters, or serving delicate salads without worrying about flavors or odors remaining. The set includes one 1-quart bowl, one 1 1/2-quart bowl, one 2 1/2- quart bowl, and one 4-quart bowl, all with coordinating BPA-free plastic lids. The plain clear glass shows off your food nicely if you decide to use them for serving. The lids make storing and reheating foods ultra-convenient.
This four-piece bowl set will add festive color to your kitchen and the wide-ribbed exterior adds a decorative touch so the bowls will also look great on your table for casual dinners. Made from sturdy plastic, you’ll feel confident using them outdoors, or anywhere breakable bowls wouldn’t be welcome. The sizes are great for large and small mixing tasks, whether you’re whisking salad dressing in the small bowl or tossing a salad in the large one. When it’s time to reheat leftovers or melt chocolate for a recipe, these are safe for use in the microwave. The bowls have a non-skid bottom that will hold them secure while you mix, and they’re dishwasher safe for easy cleaning when cooking is done. The set includes one 2-quart bowl, one 3 1/2-quart bowl, one 5-quart bowl, and one 7-quart bowl. They nest easily for storage, so you’ll save space in your cabinets.
When you’re making cookie dough that needs to be refrigerated before baking, these are the bowls you’ll reach for, since each bowl has its own lid. Made from stainless steel, they won’t discolor or absorb odors, so you’ll reach for them when you’re marinating your famous spicy chicken, and for storing leftovers in the refrigerator or in the freezer. This set of three includes one 1 1/2-quart bowl, one 3-quart bowl, and one 5- quart bowl, along with lids for each. When cooking is done, these are dishwasher safe, including the lids, so cleanup will be done in a snap.
These bowls have a stainless steel interior and a plastic exterior, providing insulation against heat or cold, so you can work with hot or chilly foods while keeping your hands comfortable. That insulation also makes these bowls ideal for holding your rising bread dough, since the dough will stay at a more constant temperature, even if the kitchen is drafty. This three piece set includes sizes you’ll reach for often: one 1 1/2-quart bowl, one 3-quart bowl, and one 5-quart bowl. The stainless steel interior won’t stain or absorb odors, so you can use these for marinating your favorite curry today and mix a delicate salad dressing tomorrow. The non-skid base on each bowl keeps them from sliding around on your counter while you’re mixing, and avoids the marks you can get from stainless steel bowls sliding on your countertops. When cooking is done, these are dishwasher safe for quick cleaning, and then they nest neatly for tidy storage.
Great for a new kitchen, a vacation home, dorm use, or as a spare set of bowls for any kitchen, this budget-friendly set will have plenty of uses at home and away. They’re inexpensive enough that if you take one to a potluck and leave it behind, you won’t be making frantic calls the next day. The bowls come in six coordinated colors, so they’ll look good in the kitchen or on the table, no matter which size you use. They are made from heavy-duty plastic and are microwave safe for heating leftovers or melting butter for your favorite recipes. When cooking is done, they’re dishwasher safe for easy cleaning and they nest neatly for storage. Got leftovers? You can use them for storage in the refrigerator or freezer. This set includes one .32-quart bowl, one .74-quart bowl, one 1.37-quart bowl, one 2.22-quart bowl, one 3.69-quart bowl, and one-5.8 quart bowl, so you’ll always have the right size for the job. This set comes in a variety of color options, so you’re sure to find one that’s perfect for your kitchen or for a themed party.
This stainless steel and rubber mixing bowl set aims to cut down on the number of tools you need to tackle your next project. Each lid has a removable insert where any one of the three attachments easily fits into place. Attachments include a slicer, grater, and shredder. Additionally, each bowl has liquid measurements printed on the inside of the bowl for quick mixing without a liquid measuring cup. A small pour spout opposite the handled-side of the bowl makes for smoother pouring of sauces and batters.
The non-porous brushed stainless steel bowls have rubber bases to prevent slipping while mixing heavier-duty ingredients. There are also rubber handles for a non-slip grip, and for some minimal insulation from warmer ingredients. Bowl sizes include a 1 ½-quart, 3-quart, and 5-quart bowl, each with accompanying lids. Safe for use in the dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer, and a preheating oven.
If you’re looking for a set of bowls that can attractively go from mixing to serving, as well as microwaving leftovers, and finally washed-up in the dishwasher—the Nordic Ware 4-Piece Prep N Serve Mixing Bowl Set has you covered (view at Amazon). More serious cooking projects and professional-style pastries call for heavier-duty stainless steel bowls. Opt for a set like the FineDine Premium Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls (view at Amazon).
What to Look for When Buying Mixing Bowls
The larger the set, the wider the range of bowl sizes you have at your disposal. Small sets typically start with about a 1-quart bowl and increase in capacity incrementally to a 5-quart bowl. Larger sets include smaller bowls and larger bowls, as well as increments in between.
The smallest-capacity bowls are perfect for quickly melting butter in the microwave and prepping ingredients for your recipes. Medium-sized bowls will do the majority of your mixing work, and larger bowls are convenient for ingredients that need to be tossed together or when extra space is needed to avoid spilling.
Generally speaking, you should get the set with the most bowl sizes that you can afford. The more you use your bowls, the more you’ll find you need them—especially if your bowls double as storage containers for leftovers or serving bowls for the table. Stopping in the middle of a project to wash bowls because you don’t have enough on hand is inconvenient and takes some of the pleasure away from making your favorite meal.
There are plenty of opinions when it comes to the best shape for a mixing bowl, and all of them depend on what you’re mixing. It may take a little experimentation to find what you like the most, but here are some pointers to get started.
Shorter and wide: This is the style preferred by most savory-focused cooks because the shallower depth of the bowl makes it easier to reach in and mix or whip whatever you’re working on. The standard ratio for a bowl this shape is: Height is roughly half the size of the diameter of the bowl. So if you have a 10-inch wide bowl, the sides should be about 5-inch tall (within an inch or so). The shape of this style bowl also lends itself to easily tossing salads, salting french fries, and adding sauce to wings.
Taller sides: Bowls almost as tall as they are wide also have a place in the kitchen. Most pastry cooks reach for these bowls to mix cookie doughs and cake batters without fear of spilling whatever might splash up. Convenient for use with longer hand tools, immersion blenders, and hand mixers, taller-sided bowls mimic the deeper bowls on stand mixers that accommodate a substantial amount of mixing work.
Flat bottom: The purpose of flat-bottomed bowls is to provide stability in the mixing process. If you’re mixing something that requires both hands or blending a liquid that you’d rather not risk toppling over, a flat-bottomed bowl is a little more dependable than a rounded-bottom bowl.
Round bottom: For those looking for the flexibility to smoothly flick or rotate a bowl while mixing, the rounded bottom bowl is the way to go. The continuous curve of the bowl also makes whisking and scraping the bowl a seamless movement. A nicely rounded bowl can also be used as a mold for recipes that are set or baked and flipped out for a domed presentation.
The convenience of being able to rinse your mixing bowls and then wash them in the dishwasher is a luxury that can’t be overlooked, especially when it comes to removing oily dressings that coat the bowl or sanitizing bowls that have held raw meats. Most bowls these days—even the most economically priced ones—are dishwasher safe and will be labeled accordingly.
Perhaps the most important consideration for some cooks is whether or not the bowls are microwave safe. College students and cooks with limited cooking space may rely on the microwave to take on some, if not all, of the heating work. Bowls should be clearly labeled as microwave safe. Most plastic, glass, and ceramic bowls fit into this category but always double-check before purchasing.
Some might claim that stainless steel is technically safe to use in a microwave if it doesn’t touch the sides of the oven—but the bigger problem is that the microwaves themselves cannot pass through the metal bowl, making cooking whatever is inside more difficult and uneven than with other materials. Also, if there are any cracks or uneven edges on your bowl, you may inadvertently prompt the electromagnetic current “arcing” that can start a fire in your microwave oven. So for effective and safe microwaving, it’s best to use a bowl made of a different material.
Cooks in professional kitchens have been known to heat butter or sauce in a stainless steel bowl directly on the open flame of a stovetop if they’re in a hurry. While this cooking method happens far less often at home, having a bowl that can be used over a double boiler or flashed over an open flame can be very useful.
Stainless steel bowls will be able to handle the heat of the stovetop without an issue. Some glass and ceramic bowls can also be used on top of a double boiler, but they do not conduct heat as quickly or efficiently as metal and may continue to cook your ingredients after removing from the heat because they retain heat for longer.
Generally speaking, if a bowl can be used on the stovetop, it can probably be used in the oven. As always, check the manufacturer’s recommendation before baking with your mixing bowl, and make sure that it is placed on a stable surface (such as a sheet tray) for even baking.
Mixing bowls are available in just about any color you want, from neutral monotones to rainbow palettes to coordinating sets so you can match with your existing kitchen equipment. Vibrant colors are available mostly in plastic or ceramic options, but you can occasionally find colored glass options too.
The handiest pieces of kitchen equipment won’t cost you an arm and a leg. On average, a set of mixing bowls with three to six pieces will cost $25 to $35.
Economically priced plastic and stainless steel bowls will work just as hard for you as the luxury bowls. The differences lie in the longevity of the bowls, additional parts (such as lids and graters), and cosmetic features that may or may not be valuable to you depending on your interest in displaying or serving the bowls.
Most name-brand mixing bowls have manufacturer warranties that range anywhere from two years to a lifetime. These warranties cover any out-of-the-box defects, as well as breakage that might happen while properly using your bowl (like a Pyrex bowl breaking while in the oven). The warranties typically do not cover regular wear and tear, and any evidence that you’ve used the bowl in a way not specified by the manufacturer will likely void your warranty.
Types of Mixing Bowls
Stainless steel is the most versatile of mixing bowls because it can be used for nearly every cooking method except microwaving. The standard in professional kitchens, stainless steel bowls come in the widest variety of shapes and sizes. They are also non-reactive and non-porous, so they can be used with any ingredients you want to mix in them without fear of the bowls reacting with your food or holding on to any aggressive scents or colors. Typically lightweight even at large sizes, stainless steel bowls are easy to handle regardless of your strength.
While aluminum bowls are available, they are far less dependable than stainless steel and not that much less expensive to make the swap worth it. Reactive with acidic ingredients, the softer metal may impart a grey color and metallic taste to foods requiring heavy mixing.
Some people think stainless steel mixing bowls are unattractive and shouldn’t be used for serving—although that’s entirely a personal preference. If your style is ultra-clean and contemporary, or if you like to mix styles, stainless steel bowls can easily serve you in both the kitchen and at the table.
Even if you decide to get a full set of stainless steel bowls, it’s worth it to have a few plastic bowls on hand for microwaving odds and ends. While plastic bowls generally aren’t suited for heating on the stovetop, many of them function perfectly fine in the microwave and are just as light, if not lighter, than their stainless steel counterparts.
Available in a wide range of colors and shapes, plastic bowls can also function as serving bowls and storage bowls. Plastic is non-reactive but may pick up aggressive scents and colors over time or scratch when used with utensils with sharp edges.
Glass bowls are usually made of tempered or fortified glass (like borosilicate glass) to allow for both hot and cold cooking applications. Often made for use in the microwave as well as the oven, glass bowls are nearly as flexible as metal bowls. They also tend to make great serving bowls for those who like the visibility of the bowl.
The downside is that glass bowls tend to be heavier than metal and plastic ones, and because of their weight, glass bowls are typically only made in smaller-sized options. Glass bowls are occasionally known to chip, and when dropped they can shatter or crack.
Other Mixing Bowls
Copper: When you think of classic French kitchens you probably imagine shining copper on every surface, maybe like the kitchen in “Ratatouille.” Copper pots and bowls are by far some of the most expensive pieces of cooking equipment you can buy but aren’t appropriate for everyday use. Copper is a soft metal and is reactive to acidic ingredients, which will alter the color of your food and the bowl, as well as the flavor of anything you mix in it.
The most notable use for a copper bowl is whipping egg whites, which it does better than any other bowl on the market. For those who are curious and want to indulge a little, start with one medium-sized copper bowl in your collection and leave the rest of your prep work to the heavy-duty bowls.
Ceramic/earthenware: Ceramic bowls are usually attractive, either handpainted or fired with beautiful glazes, and can come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, they can also be very heavy for regular use and may or may not be appropriate for use in the microwave, oven, or dishwasher. Reach for this kind of bowl when preparing to entertain (even if you’re just entertaining yourself).
Wood: While wooden bowls look fantastic for bread or salad service at the dinner table, that’s about the extent of their usefulness. Not as heavy as glass or ceramic bowls, but often porous with seams and cracks, wooden bowls shouldn’t be used with any kind of liquid. They also can’t be used for hot applications, in the microwave, or in the dishwasher (which strips the wood of any finishes, while water clogs or completely dries it out).
OXO Good Grips
OXO hit the market a few decades ago and took the kitchen storage and hand tools market by storm. Beloved by home cooks and professionals alike, its tools are ergonomically designed and can withstand rigorous use. Priced on the medium-high end compared with other tools, OXO equipment is an investment that will last you many years to come.
An emerging household name, Finedine offers a large collection of kitchen gadgets, food storage options, and drink service sets. Finedine’s kitchen basics collection is reasonably priced and provides quality tools suitable for any home kitchen.
Pyrex has been a staple dish in American households for generations. A Pyrex casserole dish is often the first piece of dishware in a new kitchen, and the brand can be found in almost every grocery store and home goods store in the country. Economically priced bowls and dishes are meant to last for decades—as long as you can get it back from your last potluck.
Minnesota-made Nordic Ware products are known for their heavy-duty reliability—without costing quite as much as their higher-end competitors. Still a favorite for molded cake pans, Nordic Ware also produces cooking and baking equipment for home and professional use. Expect attractive and functional tools from Nordic Ware at an average price.
Many people know Cuisinart as a small appliances brand, but it also provides a sturdy selection of cooking and baking tools to accompany all of your kitchen gear. The iconic brushed stainless steel look of Cuisinart appliances is replicated with their hand tools and smallware, creating a consistent look across all of its kitchenware.
One of the most notable benefits of a set of mixing bowls (other than how much it helps while cooking) is how easy it is to store. Bowls usually nest inside each other and only take up as much space as the largest bowl.
Before storing, make sure your bowls have been thoroughly cleaned and dried. All mixing bowls can be washed by hand, but many are also dishwasher safe. Wooden bowls may need to be oiled occasionally to avoid drying out.
Many mixing bowls on the market come with matching lids for easy storage. Most of the lids are made of plastic or rubber regardless of what the bowl is made of, although ceramic bowls are occasionally accompanied by decorative ceramic lids.
Some mixing bowls also include inserts for grating, zesting, or slicing that fit snugly on top of the bowl like a lid, making it easy to prep foods that need shredding directly into the bowl that they’ll ultimately end up in.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a freelance food writer specializing in testing kitchen tools and recipes for The Spruce Eats. Her lifelong interest in cooking and baking led her to pursue recipe development through her personal blog, as well as her cookbook, Make Ahead Bread. Whether it’s kitchen essentials or one-off kitchen gadgets, Donna is always looking for the best products for her cooking projects.
This roundup was updated by Jenny Kellerhals, a professional pastry chef and food writer based in New York City. With over a decade of experience in professional pastry kitchens and bakeries, Jenny has a wide range of experience with professional and home tools—and a lot of opinions about all of them.