You'd be surprised how one kitchen appliance can turn your culinary world upside down.
When I moved into my first apartment and bought a hand blender, I realized what a game changer it was for my weeknight cooking. I could toss some veggies into a pot, let them cook down, and blend it up for an easy-to-pack, one-dish seasonal soup. When I moved again, I bought a salad spinner—only to find that I had been wasting so much time and energy, not to mention paper towels, on hand-drying all of my lettuce leaves.
This got me thinking: What are the must-have kitchen gadgets to make cooking a breeze? I asked the Cooking Light Editors to share their favorite kitchen gadgets, and this is what we came up with to make dinnertime so much easier:
1. Knife and Block Set ($329.95)Sure, when you’re in college you can get away with a paring knife and a chef’s knife, but a true home cook needs a wide variety of knives for all sorts of recipes. Slice bread or tomatoes with a serrated knife, cut meat with a utility knife, and chop strawberries with a paring knife. It’s an investment now, but you’ll be thankful in the long run.
2. Keurig ($69)Once you buy your Keurig coffee maker, you’ll never turn back. With just a push of a button you can brew a fresh cup of coffee every morning, without the mess or time commitment. If you’re not into coffee, it makes a convenient single serving of hot water for tea or soup in a mug.
3. Dishwasher-Safe Cutting Board ($14.95)If you’ve been using wood cutting boards, you’re in for a treat. Dishwasher-safe boards don’t stain or smell and are extremely useful when you’re working with raw meat and just want to pop it in the dishwasher for a great clean.
4. Automatic Soap Dispenser ($21.99)For those times you wash your hands after rolling out your pizza dough and then have to wash the soap dispenser, too, because it’s covered in flour, this one’s for you. It’s a cleaner, more efficient way to wash your hands halfway through cooking.
5. Magic Butter Machine ($136.44)This super simple tool is perfect for grinding, steeping, and infusing liquids, but we love to use it for basically everything. Use it to enhance the flavor of your favorite sauces or oils and, oh yeah; it self cleans.
6. Touch Anywhere Faucet ($270)Instead of getting cooking grease all over your faucet handle, simply tap anywhere on the faucet with any clean part of your hand. It’s a foolproof way to keep a cleaner kitchen and more a sanitary environment.
7. Dutch Oven ($300)This old-school cookware makes for a mean roast or steamy soup. Usually filled with a cast-iron interior, they’re easy to clean, can withstand high oven temperatures, are great for baking crusty breads, and are fantastic for one-pot meals that can go oven-to-table.
8. Salad Spinner ($20)Skip the bagged lettuce and buy a salad spinner instead. You’ll save money in the long run by buying full heads of lettuce, which suddenly prep in minutes, and your greens will last longer than something that’s been pre-cut.
9. Ceramic Pizza Stone ($31.96)Shake up grilling season with BBQ pizza. Simply cook fresh pizza on the stone for a crispy crust, artisan feel, and a smoky flavor that can’t be beat. Pile on the veggies and enjoy!
10. Stainless Steel Grill Grids ($39.96)Any time you’re worried an asparagus spear or cherry tomato will fall through the cracks of your grill or maybe the skin of your fish filet you’re grilling will stick; cook them over grill grids to keep everything in one piece.
11. Bread Maker ($99.95)Baking bread is beyond easy when you own a bread maker. In just a few hours you’ll have fresh dough to shape as you wish or crusty, fresh bread that the supermarket can’t compete with.
12. Cooling Rack ($10.23)Even if you’re not much of a baker, cooling racks are essential to setting food aside and letting them chill, literally. Use it to allow cakes and muffins to cool after baking, cool waffles so they don't get soggy, or let fried foods drain and rest before serving.
13. Hand Blender ($39.99)This “handy” hand blender is perfect for blending hot stews into a thick soup without transferring ingredients from a hot pot into a blender. It’s also fantastic for making smoothie bowls, blending up sauces, or finely chopping veggies with minimal clean up. This gadget helps you avoid dirtying more dishes, a goal we can get behind.
14. KitchenAid Stand Mixer ($249.99)You don’t know what you’re missing if you have never used a stand mixer. Make dough for breads and cookies or simply beat eggs for perfect omelets. It’s a simple clean up, with little work on your part.
15. Mandoline ($69)If you’re looking for a quick way to slice veggies for burger toppings, stir-fry dinners, and salads, then a mandoline is a must-buy essential in your kitchen. You can’t get even, thin slices for perfect presentation any other way than with this kitchen gadget.