I am the first to admit I have way more kitchen gadgets and tools than the average person. Many of these tools I use every day, some are only used occasionally, and a few I almost never use, but when I do, I‘m happy to have them.
For example, we don’t make homemade ice cream often, but it’s great having an ice cream maker. Another rarely used tool is my kitchen blow torch. I don’t actually use the torch when I make crème Brule, but Paul sure enjoys torching our dessert.
That being said, there are certainly some kitchen tools I use almost daily and am super glad to have. Let’s go through some of my top picks.
Quality kitchen knives. The most used tool in any home cook’s arsenal, good knives are wonderful to use and if taken care of, will last decades.
You want a heavy knife and I prefer 8-inch or 10-inch chef’s knives. You also need a good paring knife and a good bread knife. A carving knife is nice to have, but some people prefer electric knives for carving — my mother always did. I cook lots of Asian foods, and I absolutely adore my Asian chef’s knife.
Handheld plastic mandolin. Great knives are awesome, but sometimes you want things sliced paper thin. For those tasks, invest in a plastic, handheld mandolin. Mine was about $12 and I have had it for years. It is great for thinly and uniformly slicing cucumbers, radishes, carrots, onions and celery. There are several settings so you can make slices a bit thicker if you want.
Cast iron skillets. With proper care, these skillets last forever.
If yours has seen better days, fear not. You can revitalize your skillet by scrubbing it with steel wool, then coating it with avocado or coconut oil. Place the skillet in a 300-degree oven for several hours. When you cook in a cast iron skillet, don’t use soap on it. Just use water and a scrub brush. Thoroughly dry and then I like to coat mine with a little avocado oil, rubbing with a paper towel.
Immersion blender. If you make lots of soups like I do, you will love an immersion blender. No more messily transferring soups to a blender — instead, you use the blender right in the soup pot.
You can also use your immersion blender to effortlessly make homemade mayonnaise right in a wide-mouthed Mason jar.
High-powered blender. I blew through three blenders over the years before I decided to invest in a high-powered blender. Wow. What a difference! Nothing blends like these machines. They also produce the absolute best frozen adult beverages.
Food processor. I love my food processor — I use it to make the best salsa, Gazpacho, and more. In addition, if you need a big amount of grated cheese, the food processor makes that happen in two minutes.
Hand mixer or standing mixer. Especially if you are a baker, these are indispensable tools. I don’t use mine often, but when I am baking, nothing beats a mixer.
Bread machine. I don’t use my machine to actually bake bread, but I use it all of the time to make the absolute best bread dough or pizza dough. I prefer to form the dough myself — the dough is great for bread or buns.
Electric juicer. I used to think this was a tool I didn’t really need. Then I got one as a gift. What a difference it makes when it comes to juicing citrus! It really gets every drop out of lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits. In addition, there are several on the market that are not expensive at all.
Rice cooker. Of course, you can cook rice on the stovetop, but the great thing about a rice cooker is that the rice is perfect every single time. You don’t have to worry about adding too much liquid or not enough. I have a large one for when I need lots of rice for a gathering, and a smallish one for cooking rice for just two or four people.
Other favorite tools I use almost daily include:
- kitchen shears,
- and a bench scraper.
Of course, I can’t imagine cooking without my heavy Dutch oven, wok, rimmed baking sheets, heavy casserole dishes, and my slow cooker.
Kitchen gadgets, while not necessary to make you a good cook, do make cooking more fun. What are your favorite tools when it comes to cooking?
Email me and let me know your thoughts.
Adlen Robinson is an award-winning columnist and author of “Organic Food and Kitchen Matters.” You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.