I love a shiny new kitchen object as much as the next cook, and at times over the years my kitchen has resembled a kitchen specialty store. And then I have to pare back down. Because unless you eat a LOT of watermelon, you might not need to store a watermelon cutter in your drawers. Especially if you live in an apartment or house with a small kitchen, where counter space and cabinet storage are at a premium. But there are a whole bunch of kitchen implements that will make your cooking life a whole lot better, and the following are some of my all-time favorites.
I’m skipping the bigger cooking appliances, like slow cookers, instant pots and air fryers. And I’m also skipping knives and cutting boards and pots and pans measuring cups and the like, because I think you pretty much know you need those. This is about gadgets. Great gadgets, both low and high tech, that deserve a spot in your kitchen, because they work hard and smart.
9 Must Have Kitchen Gadgets: Each of these kitchen tools is well worth the storage real estate, and they all make great holiday gifts.Tweet This
9 Best Kitchen Gadgets
I use a peeler pretty much every day for something or other. Potatoes, carrots, apples, winter squash, etc. I am a fan of Kuhn Rikon peelers, which are lightweight and easy to use and make quick dispatch of peels thick and thin, as are many professional cooks. OXO also make a large assortment of peelers with different blades and shapes and widths.
Nothing is more important in the kitchen than salt and pepper, and freshly ground pepper is head and shoulders above pre-ground. The Peppermate Traditional Pepper Mill is quite sleek and contemporary looking, made of ceramic with a side crank. It has a removable clear bottom cup under the pepper grinder to catch the pepper as you grind it, and an adjustable grinding size, from very fine, for most things, to very coarse, for things like steak au poivre. If you want a peppermill with a more classic look, Peugeot makes high quality mills.
It’s hard to get perfectly thin slices for most of us home cooks. Even with a good knife, those thin uniform potato slices for potato gratin, or those finely slivered brussels sprouts for slaw are elusive. But with a mandoline, you can get even slices of all sorts of vegetables and other ingredients every time. The OXO Good Grips Hand Held version comes with adjustable setting for slices of three different thin-nesses, and a handle so that you can slice your food safely and quickly into a bowl or over a plate.
I use no appliance more. I use it for pureeing and chopping and slicing and shredding, and outside of my knives, it’s the device I rely on most heavily. Cuisinart has long been my go-to brand; I grew up with one in my kitchen, and now own about half a dozen. Other companies make good food processors, like KitchenAid and Breville. Sizes range from quite large (14 or 16-cup bowls) to mini (about 2 cups) – I recommend one little, for things like mincing garlic or making pesto, and one large, for everything else.
Microplane is one of those products where the brand name has become synonymous with the product itself, even though other manufacturers make similar items. This is in essence a small handheld grater, and the most classic one is long and narrow, with lots of fine blades that turn lemon zest and hard grating cheeses and chocolate into fluffy mounds of delicate tiny shreds. You can also get versions that grate food into larger strands – there are lots of sizes available (and I definitely use quite a few versions in my cooking).
Instant Read Thermometer
There are a number of versions of these on the market, from digital to analog to Bluetooth to infrared. When you want to make sure you are not overcooking a roast beef, or that your bread is cooked through, an instant read thermometer is indispensable (you’ll justify the cost quickly when you consider how much you spent on that holiday filet!). In the most user-friendly digital arena, Thermapen instant thermometers are fast and accurate and super precise with a wide temperature range. They are the choice of many a respectable test kitchen and restaurant.
I love my blender and food processor very much, but if you’ve ever tried to transfer a pot of hot chunky soup to a blender then you will understand why an immersion blender is such an asset. Instead of pouring your soup or sauce into another device you just placed the immersion blender right into a pot and blend and stir. You can even stick the wand right into a can of whole tomatoes and puree them right in the can! There are loads of good ones on the market, from companies like Breville, All-Clad, Braun and Philips.
Obviously if you’re not a wine drinker, this isn’t necessarily a go-to gadget, but if you are, investing in a nice one makes opening bottle a real pleasure. Williams Sonoma makes a great assortment including classic winged corkscrews and easy-to-use lever corkscrews. Rabbit is an another reliable name in the wine opener world, and you might splurge on a Pro Electric Corkscrew with an Infrared Thermometer for the true oenophile in your life.
If you have been curious about sous vide (and if so, you’re in good and substantial company), then now is a good time to take the plunge on this latest-technology gadget with a lot of options out there at pretty reasonable prices. Sous vide is a cooking method that entails sealing food in a vacuum sealed bag and cooking in in water that is held at a controlled temperature. It’s basically impossible to overcook the food, and it holds at the desired correct temperature for a long time staying perfectly cooked. The Joule Sous Vide is very small, compared to other sous vide appliances, but quite powerful, as well as sleek and attractive enough to leave out. It works with your Android and iPhone as well, for the ultimate in modern cooking.