Everyone knows how to use a whisk, right? Well, the folks at America’s Test Kitchen applied a little rigor to the way most of us handle whisks—both stirring, side-to-side strokes, or beating—to find out which is best for really combining ingredients and a better finished dish.
It may seem silly, but the better you whisk your ingredients, the faster and more well-combined your ingredients. For example, the better you whisk your vinaigrette, the more well-emulsified it is—and by extension, it’ll hold longer. The ATK team took a look at those three whisking methods for three different situations: Making vinaigrettes, whipping egg whites, and whipping cream. They even made everyone time their strokes with a metronome to control. Then they looked at how long each vinaigrette held its emulsification, and how long it took to get stiff peaks out of the egg whites and the whipped cream.
Bottom line? Side-to-side motions with the whisk were the most effective—the vinaigrettes held longer, and you got stiff peaks from the whipped cream and egg whites the fastest—leading to fewer tired arms and more well-combined ingredients. Beating and stirring failed pretty badly at emulsifying and whipping cream, taking much longer to get where you needed to be. The beating motion did perform well in one area though: whipping egg whites. That beating motion is usually associated with beating eggs, and as a result, a lot of us think it’s the best way to use a whisk in general.
The video above goes into more detail about why side-to-side whisking motions work best. It also discusses shear force and how that force unfolds proteins in egg whites. There’s a lot of science that goes into an everyday kitchen tool.
The Best Way to Use a Whisk | America’s Test Kitchen