6 Kitchen Gadgets You Really Need, and 7 You Can Do Without

6 Kitchen Gadgets You Really Need, and 7 You Can Do Without

Before you succumb to another kitchen-related impulse purchase, read this.


By Debbie Koenig

I used to have a drawer in my kitchen filled with oddball tools. Most were impulse buys – waiting to pay at the home store, I’d spy some gizmo that only cost a few bucks and think, This looks neat. I’d bring it home, use it once, and toss it into that drawer, where it would taunt me whenever I tried to find a tool I actually needed. That all ended when I had a kid, which brought a whole new level of chaos to my life (and ate up most of my disposable income). I’ve now banished all those single-use thingamobobs from my kitchen, and kept only items that really help. My top picks:

1. Kitchen timer. After that one time I accidentally melted a batch of pacifiers – I’d only meant to sterilize them, but forgot and let all the water boil out – I invested in a digital timer that clips onto my shirt. It’s been nine years, and I haven’t so much as singed a tray of cookies since.

2. Instant-read thermometer. Is there anything more repulsive than cutting into a gorgeous roast chicken and finding it still pink and bloody at the bone? Temperatures don’t lie – if the thermometer says it’s done, it’s done.

3. Peeler. I know that carrot and potato peels have tons of nutrients. But my picky son is aesthetically offended by them, so they must go. (I’m only half-joking here.) Plus he’s much more likely to eat things that have been shaved into ribbons.

4. Salad spinner. Theoretically, this is a single-use item. But I use mine for all kinds of off-label tasks: cleaning berries, rinsing and draining canned beans – I’ve even used the clear bowl to serve the salad.

5. Tongs. Peek inside any professional kitchen and you’ll see chefs using tongs to turn, stir, and arrange food. Get a pair that locks closed, since they’ll stow more easily.

6. Measuring cups and spoons. No, the spoons you eat with aren’t accurate for cooking. Especially if you bake more than once a year, where precision is crucial, you need a set of spoons, a set of dry measuring cups, and a liquid measuring cup.

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Fight the urge to bring tools like these into your home:

1. Spiralizer. Sure, it’s fun to say “zoodles,” but six months from now will you still be excited by long strings of zucchini?

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2. Corn stripper. You already have a tool for this. It’s called a knife.

3. Avocado pitter. Take that knife you just used to cut off the corn kernels, give a nice solid thwack to an avocado pit, twist, and it’ll come right out.

4. Strawberry huller. Hold a straw upright, put the pointy end of the strawberry on top, and push it down. The hull will pop off.

5. Egg separator. The nifty thing about eggs is that they come with a built-in separator. Also known as a shell.

6. Gizmos that help you make stuffed burgers, poach eggs in the microwave, prop up tacos, or cut a pat of butter. Y’know, things you can do yourself, with regular tools.

7. Any gadget made for hot dogs. I’ve seen ones that steam dogs and buns, others that toast both, a slicer shaped like a dachshund, even a doohickey that cuts your dog into a spiral. Frankfurters are one of my son’s top food groups, so I made sure he knows how to cook one the old-fashioned way.

What gadgets do you use most often? Which do you regret buying?


Debbie Koenig writes about family and food, and is the author of the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too. Find her at debbiekoenig.com.

Image ©iStock.com/JannHuizenga


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