If you like to cook, your kitchen is probably stocked with basic tools like spatulas and mixing bowls, but with so many gadgets available it can be hard to know what extras you want taking up space in your drawers. Do you really need that electric mixer? Will that salad spinner actually come in handy? What should stay and what should go? Here are the top ten kitchen tools and equipment every home cook needs.
1. Slow Cooker
There was a time when I thought the only thing my slow cooker was good for was making chili, but since I became a mom of two, not a single week has gone by that I haven’t cooked at least one meal in it (and no, we don’t eat chili every week). This is the most essential item of all my kitchen tools and equipment. It cooks a healthy dinner even while I’m busy chasing the kids, and nothing tops that.
2. Mandoline Slicer
I landed a slicer in a gift exchange, and though I first thought it would just take up room on the shelf, it has become an absolute must-have among my kitchen tools and equipment. You can use it to slice sweet potatoes and apples that you bake into chips, for perfectly uniform scalloped potatoes, or as a fast way to shred cabbage. You can also adjust the thickness and use it as a quick hack to make rounds of cucumber or carrot for salads.
These are one of the latest in trendy kitchen gadgets, and they’re super useful for more than just making vegetable noodles. Think of the spiralizer as a step above the mandolin slicer, in that it will cost a bit more but make the job even easier. Besides turning zucchinis into green spaghetti, it can also shred and create thin-spiraled slices of beets, carrots, or sweet potatoes for healthy, attractive dishes.
4. Mesh Colander
Beyond straining pasta or any other boiled foods, a mesh colander can be used to quickly defrost frozen chopped veggies, like spinach and kale. Run warm water over the greens until they’re soft and then strain for an impromptu addition to a recipe.
5. Apple Corer
A corer isn’t just handy when you need a bunch of apples for a pie—it also cores other seeded fruits, like pears, and comes in handy in unexpected ways. When the zucchinis in my garden become a little overgrown, I like to remove the seeds before cooking to improve the flavor; a corer simplifies the task.
The first time my husband mentioned buying one of these, I thought it was a frivolous purchase. With small kids, however, this thing can be a lifesaver. Cherries are a summer favorite at our house, especially pitted and frozen cherries that are eaten cold. They taste like ice cream without any added cream or sugar, and thanks to my pitter, they’re a cinch to make.
7. Mini Food Processor
A food processor is great for big recipes, but for basic, daily use it’s a pain to drag the whole thing out—not to mention cleaning it. A mini one is just the right size for quickly dicing an onion or pepper, and makes prep much faster than it is when using a knife.
Despite the name, it’s not just for making cheese, though you can certainly use it for that. I often strain water from finely chopped veggies with it. When I started experimenting with cauliflower crust pizza, for example, it was a must-have item for removing all the moisture. In a pinch, a clean dishtowel will work— a cheesecloth will just do the job a lot better.
9. Reusable Glass Bottles
One of the first things I learned when switching my family to a cleaner diet was how unhealthy premade sauces, marinades, and dressings can be. They’re often loaded with sodium or sugar, so instead I try to make my own as often as possible. As a mom, I don’t have a lot of time to spare, so I like to make things in batches. Sealing sauces in an airtight bottle ensures they’ll last longer in the fridge.
10. A Really Good Knife
This might seem obvious, but when was the last time you invested in a really good knife (or even had an old one sharpened)? A dull knife is not only harder to work with, but it will also make chopping more time-consuming and can even be more dangerous to use. Knives can definitely be pricey, so it helps to invest in one that’s versatile. If you don’t want to spend a fortune, make sure you maintain the knives you have by sharpening them.
What essential kitchen tools do you use? Share your favorites with us on Twitter.
Image sources: Pexels | Sher Warkentin
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