How Well Do You Know Your Whisks?

Whip and Whisk Buyers' Guide

If you spend any amount of time preparing whipped toppings or blending batter, you likely have a favorite whisk or two in your kitchen toolkit, but do you know the difference between a piano whisk and a French whip? Would you know a kettle whisk if you saw one? What about a dough whisk? These simple kitchen tools come in a surprisingly diverse number of styles. This guide aims to sort them out and help you choose the right one for each job.

Piano Whisks

Balloon WhiskA piano whisk, so named because the wires resemble piano strings, is what most likely comes to mind when most people picture a whisk, and it's by far the most common. Piano whips are also sometimes called balloon whisks because their shape is reminiscent of a hot air balloon.

If you could just have one type of whip at your disposal, the piano whip would probably be the best choice. It's a good all-around tool for blending, whipping, and beating all types of thin- to medium-texture products. It can be used to whip cream and beat egg whites or blend many types of batter. The balloon whip's round shape allows the user to get good coverage in round bowls and cooking vessels. The drawback of the piano whisk is that dry ingredients and denser mixtures can clump up inside and between the wires, making it a poor choice for blending thicker batters and doughs.

French Whisks

French WhiskThe French whip is the second most common type of whisk. It looks similar to the balloon whisk, but it's a little narrower and longer.

In France, this tool is called a fouet à sauce, or a sauce whip. That name sheds light on its most common application - blending sauces. Its more elongated shape makes a French whisk suitable for use in straight-sided pans and deeper vessels that balloon whips can't reach into. A French whip's closely-spaced wires make it unsuitable for blending denser ingredients.

Kettle Whip

Kettle WhiskKettle whips are built with longer handles than the tools we've discussed so far. Their more compact heads are often round, but sometimes resemble that of a balloon whisk. Many round kettle whip heads are made of a single coiled wire shaped like a beehive. Others are built with heads that look like wire cages.

The kettle whip is designed to reach deep into kettles and stock pots to efficiently blend ingredients into smooth soups and sauces. Smaller kettle whips are sometimes called twirl whisks.

Flat Whisk

Flat WhiskA flat whisk or roux whisk is designed to blend pan sauces and similar concoctions in shallow vessels. Its nearly flat shape resembles a flattened balloon whisk and is optimized to cover the wide surface of a pan bottom. The flat whisk's long concentric loops blend flour and other sauce ingredients to a smooth texture.

Spiral Whisk

Spiral WhiskAnother tool for blending pan sauces is the spiral whisk, which features a slightly angled head wrapped in a coil of wire. That coil makes this whisk an efficient choice for breaking up clumps of flour and other dry ingredients in thicker sauces and gravies.

Dough Whisk

Dough WhiskThe dough whisk, sometimes called a Danish dough whisk, has one of the most unique shapes out of all the tools in this category. It's made with two concentric loops of wire: the outer one is nearly perfectly round and the inner loop is formed into an oval shape with a small twist. This unique design is intended to enable cooks to blend doughs and denser batters into a uniform texture without beating them to the point of toughness or thickening cream.

Kitchen Whip Applications

Shallow PansDeep PansWhipped toppingsThick Batters/DoughThin Batters/Sauces
Piano/Balloon Whisk
French Whip
Kettle Whisk
Flat Whisk
Spiral Whisk
Dough Whisk