Peelers make light work of fruit and vegetable preparation. We put straight and Y-shaped peelers to the test to bring you the sharpest tools in the box.
Anyone who’s ever tried to peel a potato with a paring knife will know that a specially-designed peeler can save precious time. These hand-held fixed blades quickly remove skin and peel from fruit and veg, and if you have a particularly slick peeler it can be used to create ribbon food too. But as with all sharp utensils, safety comes first. So which peelers perfectly marry speed and strength while being safe to use? We tested some everyday models to find out…
Peelers are inexpensive, they’re easy to store, time-saving and safe to use. Using a cumbersome paring knife instead is more likely to waste fruit or veg as it’s nigh on impossible to get such thin peelings, and depending on your deftness of hand the sharp pointed blade might pose a safety risk. All in all, if you can pick up a peeler and still have change from a £10 note, you’ll get your money’s worth…
What to buy
One of the biggest questions when it comes to peelers is whether or not to buy a straight or Y-shaped version. Our chief tester and product guru Barney prefers Y-shaped peelers as they offer more control and seem to be quicker. It’s important to find a peeler that feels comfortable in the hand, and as we saw from our sample selection, brands go some distance to creating ergonomic yet stylish peelers. In the end, swish designs lose to really simple, sturdy ones that allow you full control over the tool. If grip is a concern, a rubber-coated peeler might be a good choice for you, while ceramic blades can retain their sharpness for longer than traditional metal blades. One benefit of buying a straight peeler is that sometimes the head can double up as a corer.
What we looked for
Grip: When you’re dealing with blades, it’s essential to have a firm hold on your utensil. We looked for handles that not only felt comfortable and secure in the hand, but also those with rubber or ribbed surfaces.
Speed: We timed each peeler to check how long it took to safely remove all peel from our range of fruit and veg.
Thickness of blade: A wide blade makes for bigger ribbon, which in turn saves you peeling time. Wide blades also make for attractive long ribbons when making a raw food salad.
Weight: We looked for light but sturdy peelers.
Ease of use: For something so simple, it’s surprisingly easy to make an ineffective peeler. Some blades get caught and don’t remove skin in one fluid motion. Others just don’t sit in the hand well. We wanted something that made peeling easier than using a knife, not more complicated.
How we tested: We tested 14 peelers using potatoes – likely to be the most commonly peeled ingredient – plus peppers and tomatoes, both of which have tougher skin challenges. We also tested citrus fruit to check how well the peelers fared with paring.
Our top five peelers
Zone Denmark confetti organic vegetable peeler
This attractive peeler feels lovely in the hand due to its ergonomic design and soft grip rubber. It’s quite stubby, which Barney warned can be a challenge for those with larger hands, but it’s a slick mover otherwise. The blade is super sharp and worked its way through our ingredients with ease.
£12.50, buy from Red Candy
Kyocera rotating head ceramic peeler
We were primarily looking for simple peelers, but this straight peeler with a rotating head is worth a mention. Ceramic blades are a good choice as they stay sharper for longer and don’t rust, and this efficient blade was particularly good when paring zest. The turn handle is to make the peeler suitable for both left and right-handed cooks.
£12.55, buy from Sizzle
Lakeland ceramic peeler
With so many other expenses in life, splurging over a tenner for a peeler might seem a bit extravagant. That’s where winning cheaper models come in. This simple ceramic peeler shows that going back to basics but doing it really well is what makes for the most cherished kitchen items. The handle is just as good as the Zone peeler, but has a flat end meaning it sits rather neatly in the palm.
£4.39, buy from Lakeland
Best… straight peeler
OXO Good Grips swivel peeler
This remarkably well-priced peeler has it all – a sharp blade, effective motion and a very comfy ridged handle (hence the name Good Grips we surmise). It’s non-slip even when wet, and it feels like it’ll stand the test of time. Straight peelers are also very easy to store, and this one has an added eye-remover for potatoes.
£4.99, buy from John Lewis
Stellar Soft Touch Y-shaped peeler
This peeler has great dimensions – a nice long handle and a wide blade. The rubber coating gives it a comfortable grip and it created the best ribbons of the lot. We think there’s only so far you can go when it comes to making peelers attractive, but if you were looking for something chic, the copper colour is a nice added bonus.
£9.50, buy from Emporium Cookshop
This review was last updated in April 2016. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What peeler do you use? We’d love to hear your picks. We have plenty more product rundowns in our review section.