I have a love/hate relationship with kitchen gadgets. I’ve been known to go on long(ish) diatribes about “uni-taskers” that have such limited utility I can’t see devoting any cabinet space to them. Case in point: These bear-claw thingies for shredding meat. Forks will do just fine, thanks.
But listen, I’m only human. I definitely get sucked into all the “miracle” cooking-accessory ads that promise to make my life easier. And occasionally, some of them do.
So now that you’ve simplified your recipe collecting with ClipDish, here are my recommendations for the top 13 useful kitchen gadgets that will make preparing meals even easier.
1. Knife sharpener
The most dangerous knife is a dull knife. I learned that lesson as a Boy Scout and I’ve always remembered that advice. Well, I remembered it but I didn’t really listen to it. Then one day my wife gave herself a serious cut while slicing a bagel. Within a week, I purchased a knife sharpener.
It’s amazing how taking care of your knives can improve your knife skills. I feel more confident moving faster because my knives easily slide through whatever I’m cutting, slicing, or chopping.
If you own reasonably decent knives, buy an electric knife sharpener. Now if only I could stop crying while cutting onions.
2. A good meat thermometer
The secret to perfectly cooked meat is cooking to temperature, not to time. That means you need a good thermometer.
You have a couple of options here. You can opt for a leave-in thermometer or you can opt for a quick-read instant thermometer.
In our house we have both. Ok, I’m lying; we actually have three. We also have an infrared thermometer which is great for checking the surface temperature of my pans (I told you I love gadgets).
I use the Thermapen quick-read thermometer to check the temperature of steaks, chicken, or pork chops – basically any smaller cuts of meat. The probe reads quickly and doesn’t leave a giant hole for juices to run out.
For larger roasts, grilling, or smoking, I’m using a Thermoworks X2 BBQ thermometer. It has two probes – one to track the ambient temperature inside your grill, smoker, or oven, and another to put inside the a roast.
If you only get one, start with the quick-read thermometer.
3. A chain-mail scrubber
There are multiple ways to clean cast iron cookware, but using one of these is the fastest way to get your cast iron clean without resorting to using detergents. Bonus: If you’re a very tiny person, it will protect you in the event that you find yourself in the midst of a joust.
I use this scrubber almost every day because it’s the quickest way to scrape off the bits of food left behind in pans. It’s not just for cast iron, either. I use it on my glass bakeware, and it has been amazing at getting the sticky residue from cooking spray off of my cookie sheets.
4. An oil sprayer
Speaking of sticky baking spray, one way to avoid it sticking to your pots and pans is to stop using it. Instead, get yourself an oil spritzer, better yet get two, one for canola oil and one for olive oil.
5. Mandoline Slicer
A mandoline slicer makes it easy to slice vegetables to a consistent thickness. I use ours when I’m making large batches of pickles. I can slice an entire cucumber in under 30 seconds.
A word of caution: This may be your most dangerous tool in the kitchen besides a dull knife. The Amazon reviews contain multiple horror stories of people losing parts of their fingers in this thing. However, if you use it with care, a mandoline is going to make short work of any vegetables you need to slice down, rather than your fingers.
If you want to really be safe, use a cutting glove like this one (which could also be useful for jousting – YMMV.)
6. A Y-peeler
You probably grew up watching your mom peel potatoes using a swivel peeler. When I became a big boy and had to peel my own veggies, I bought one, too.
Later, when I started to learn about fancy cocktails, I had the need to peel thin slices of lemon, lime, and orange. The old potato peeler just wouldn’t do.
So I bought a Y-peeler. This peeler is perfect for peeling thin super-slim slices of orange to express into my drink. It’s incredibly satisfying to see a spray of orange oil mist the top of a drink.
But let me tell you, this is no uni-tasker. I have replaced my vegetable peeler in favor of the Y-peeler because it works so much better for a lefty like me.
7. An Instant Pot
It’s Tuesday night, your kids have soccer practice, you had a late meeting, and now it’s dinner time. Sure, you could throw some chicken nuggets in the oven. But if you had an Instant Pot you could make some fresh tomato soup or BBQ chicken in about the same amount of time.
If you have a little more time, you can also put together a delicious pot roast.
In my opinion, the Instant Pot is a game-changing cooking gadget that belongs in everyone’s home.
8. A food scale
If you do any baking, you need to do two things: Buy a kitchen scale and measure everything in grams. It’s way easier than pulling out multiple measuring cups and spoons.
Make sure your scale has a “tare” function, which will let you reset the scale to zero as you add additional ingredients into your mixing bowl.
9. Grease pencils
I first discovered grease pencils as a teenager working at the local Burger King. We used them to label containers that were going into the fridge or freezer. I still use them all these years later to label freezer bags and containers so we can avoid the “what do you think THIS is?” game. It’s also a good idea to note the date so you can avoid the “how long has this been in here?” game.
10. Mortar & pestle
It’s amazing that a tool from the Stone Age is still used by millions of people today. I use the mortar and pestle to pulverize garlic into paste, crush dried peppers, and make delicious guacamole.
Sure, you could use a food processor for some of these things but that’s going to cut your ingredients. A mortar and pestle grinds it, which will release more flavor. I have this amazing granite one and use it regularly to make Kenji’s garlic noodles.
11. An adjustable measuring cup
Have you ever had to measure syrup or honey and then had to use your finger to scoop the remaining goo from a measuring spoon? Gross, right? Unless you are a bear, keep your fingers out of the honey and get yourself an adjustable measuring cup.
With an adjustable measuring cup, you can mark off the amount of liquid you need, pour the liquid in, and then push it out to your mixing bowl, ensuring that you get an accurate measurement and nothing goes to waste.
12. The ClipDish app
OK, it’s time for a shameless plug. Do you hate scrolling through a long blog post for a recipe while you’re trying to cook dinner? How about having your phone turn off while you’re elbows deep in diced chicken thighs? Yeah, us too. That’s why we built ClipDish, the recipe app that lets you stop scrolling and start cooking. Check it out for free.
13. A phone holder
Whether you use ClipDish or not (and I think we’ve established that you should), you need to protect your phone if you’re cooking near it. The best thing you can do to is get it off the counter.
I used to prop my phone against my knife block until I found this awesome iPhone stand. Now, I don’t have to worry about my phone falling over while my hands are covered with raw chicken.
What are the kitchen gadgets you can’t live without? Share them with us on our Facebook page.