The humble potato ricer has been around for a long time, but it remains an oft-overlooked tool in most foodies' kitchens. While some are already familiar with its advantages and swear by them, many have yet to ever use one and aren't aware of just how useful a potato ricer can be.
Potato ricers are primarily used for—you guessed it—transforming cooked potato chunks into light and fluffy mashed potatoes. This effect is achieved by forcing the potatoes through a metal sheet perforated with holes that are about the diameter of rice grains (hence the name).
But don't let the name fool you, the potato ricer has other uses too. You can use it to puree all kinds of fruits and vegetables, including apples, pears, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower. Many like to use ricers to make fresh apple sauce, for example, or to puree their own baby food. It's also the perfect way to prepare cooked potatoes for homemade gnocchi!
Plus, the ricer is the perfect tool to squeeze excess water from certain foods: cooked spinach is easily drained in a ricer, and grated raw potatoes can be squeezed much more effectively than can be accomplished by hand, improving the quality of hashbrowns, pancakes, or potato chips made with them.
A common question people have is, "How are ricers different from potato mashers?" These tools have similar effects, of course, but their differences are particularly evident when it comes to processing starchy vegetables like potatoes. When mashed, the starches in potatoes are activated, creating a denser, heavier result. A ricer, on the other hand, leaves the potato starches mostly unactivated, resulting in lighter, fluffier potatoes.
Ricers also ensure that whatever fruit or vegetable you're processing is uniform and free of lumps, which is key not just for mashed potatoes, but also for satisfying applesauce and safe baby food.
There aren't a lot of bells and whistles when it comes to potato ricers, but there are still plenty of models to choose from. Here are a few of our top picks and the reasons we love them.
Let's start with the most basic basics. This is your classic potato ricer with no extra features or fancy details. The reason we like this one is that it's affordable (currently $24.95 on Amazon) and—like most Oxo Good Grips products—is reliable and ergonomic.
Next up is this Norpro ricer. As you can see, it sports an unconventional basket shape, the idea being that it can hold more food than the average ricer and still remain ergonomic. It also comes apart with the removal of a small pin so that it can be easily cleaned, either by hand or in the dishwasher.
Now for a ricer with a couple extra doodads. This item comes with a little bonus: a two-sided tool for peeling and shredding, which is particularly helpful for potatoes and sweet potatoes. Not only that, but it's also the cheapest option on our list (currently $18.44 on Amazon).
Look familiar? This next one on our list is very similar to the Oxo Good Grips product above, but with a larger basket, meaning you can move more swiftly through large batches. Compared to the other large-barrelled ricer on our list—the Norpro—this one has silicone grips and a classic cylindrical basket.
Finally there's the Bellemain, which has cute red silicone grips and—more importantly—a selection of interchangeable disks that yield different shapes and sizes of food. It also comes with a 2-year warranty and a low price-tag (only $18.95 right now on Amazon).
Do you have a potato ricer? If so, what do you love to use it for? Let us know in the comments and help us keep the inspiration train moving!