This list of my Top 10 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets is an update from 3 years ago. I figure it was time to come back in and see what gadgets and tools I still use regularly and which ones had fallen by the wayside. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was only 1 kitchen tool that, three years later, I am still not using regularly! And while I hate to name names, it sounds a little like smiralizer.
Full confession: I love kitchen gadgets! Some (my husband) might say it's an unhealthy obsession. If I were a chocoholic, it probably wouldn't be wise for me to work at Godiva Chocolate. If shopping were my addiction, I probably need not work at The Mall of America.
Well…if kitchen gadgets were your addiction, Williams-Sonoma might not be the best place for you to work…if you actually wanted to bring home a paycheck. While I did love working at Williams-Sonoma, my husband swears that our bottom line is greatly improved since I left the store…go figure.
And while I'm not a medicine cabinet snoop, I am a kitchen gadget drawer snoop. It's always eye-opening to see what gadgets my fellow kitchenistas keep on hand and actively use.
It was really hard to narrow my list down to my ‘Top 10', because I have more than 10 that I regularly use, but at the same time, I didn't think you really wanted to see my ‘Top 37 Favorite Kitchen Gadgets'. So, I figure I'll come back later with more tools that I find useful in the kitchen. Here are some of my favorite kitchen gadgets, in no particular order:
When I worked at Williams-Sonoma, this was one of the items that we would sell out of quickly and when it came back in stock, would be bought in multiples. It's so much more functional than many other lemon juicers out there, proving that simpler is often better.
And while I do still appreciate my reamer, probably 2 years ago I got one of these in my stocking and sadly, the reamer is not used quite as often. I like the added benefit that the reamer collects the pulp and seeds and lets the juice run through to the cup.
3. A Gravy Fat Separator is another of my favorite kitchen gadgets that I continue to use frequently when making stock and gravies. It works like a charm to separate the bad fat from your good stock and broth.
4. I can't even begin to tell you how many garlic press/crushers I've owned since I've had my own kitchen. I have had many of the traditional hinged ones and some not so traditional ones. I found this one several years ago in a fantastic kitchen store in Charleston, SC and it is my hands-down favorite ever garlic press and surely one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. My search for a garlic press is over. There's nothing to break and it washes up great. I really like that there is no garlic waste…no garlic to get stuck in the press.
And for recipes for which I want smaller bits of garlic, I can easily scrape the garlic off after the first run, put it back onto my cutting board and then rerun the garlic crusher over it again for smaller pieces of garlic…once again with no waste!
5. I'm not a frivolous gal. I like to think I'm rather utilitarian, with just a little side of bling. When it came time to replace my KitchenAid blender, I looked long at hard at my options. I kept coming back to The Vitamix Blender, but the price tag was hard to swallow.
Ultimately, we bit the bullet and are so glad we did. We LOVE our VitaMix. If you are a Costco member, they often have VitaMix events, which is when I got mine. Without exaggeration, this VitaMix is used at least once a day, usually twice. Making smoothies is a breeze. We've made (and heated) soup in our VitaMix. I make almond milk, coconut milk, almond butter, peanut butter. When I make our cubed foods, the VitaMix is indispensable!
Recently, I was making a recipe that needed Tahini; I thought I had some but realized mid-recipe that I didn't. I did have a bunch of sesame seeds, so I ran them through my Vitamix until they formed a sesame paste and voila…Tahini!
I haven't tried grinding grains; I don't have the container for that, but it's on my wish list. From my Williams-Sonoma experience, I never heard or saw anyone ever complain about their VitaMix or return it to the store. It's a good product.
I stay away from non-stick cookware; the whole chemical process to make them non-stick gives me the heeby-jeebies. As such, I rely on my cast iron skillets when I need a non-stick surface. Well-seasoned cast iron gets you pretty darn close to non-stick…close enough that I don't feel the need to have a true non-stick pan.
The key is that they really do need to be ‘well-seasoned', which if you do some simple ‘maintenance' is really not a big deal. No, you cannot toss them into the dishwasher and no, you shouldn't use soap on your cast iron.
My drill is like this: After it's cooled down, I scrap it out and use this metal mesh scrubber to get all the bits of food off. Truly though, a well-seasoned cast iron surface really doesn't need much scrubbing and never needs soaking.
Once cleaned, I put it back on the burner and turn the burner on to let it dry and heat. Once dry, I turn the burner off and rub this conditioner very lightly over it and then rub it in with a paper towel. I reuse the wadded paper towel for months before I toss it and get another one…it's filled with all that good conditioner. (and actually, the mesh scrubber and Crisbee stick are a bonus! So there are truly 12 favorite kitchen gadgets mentioned in this post!)
Once cooled, I put it away.
Granted, there are a few more steps involved than tossing in the dishwasher, but I am happy to them for the benefits of using cast iron: even cooking, they can go from stove to oven, relatively inexpensive, the surface won't scratch, they are almost indestructible, no harmful materials or chemicals and their non-stick surface.
And it's just become part of our post-dinner cleanup.
I have 3 sizes of round skillets (12″, 10″ and this set of 4 5″ cuties that I use for mini skillet pies, brownies, and my clafoutis) as well as a cast iron dutch oven and a grill/griddle combo. The Grill/Griddle is great if you need to grill indoors or for a big batch of pancakes.
7. My Cuisinart 12-Cup Food Processor is another kitchen staple that is used on a regular basis. I like the one I have because it has a smaller nesting bowl for when you need to process smaller amounts. The reversible shredding blade has a thin shred and a thick shred.
My most recent uses for my food processor include making Thai Basil Pesto, making the crust and crumb for my Cherry Oat Bars, slicing the cabbage for our Thai Black Rice Bowls and grinding eggshells for compost. I also use it for making pate brisee for all my pie-ish things, like these mini Pecan Pies. The only downside is that it's a heavy thing.
O.K. How much does it bug you when you are whisking something thick and a good clump of batter gets stuck in your traditional balloon whisk? Bugs the crap out of me! Enter this genius gadget!
Not only does this whisk eliminate having to get the batter out of the balloon, it also gets into corners better and seems to incorporate your ingredients much more efficiently. My balloon whisks sit idle as this is my go-to whisk for just about every whisking task. This one was a no brainer when chosing my favorite kitchen gadgets!
9. My 5″ Wusthof Serrated Utility Knife. Sometimes, when I'm feeling frivolous, I think I really need 2 of these knives as the one I have is always being used. But then, I settle back to the ground and realize I could just wash it after every use so that it's always available. A very handy knife for cutting vegetables, fruits, and meat and is always in use in our kitchen.
We are a cookie baking family and these baking mats are so handy! There are more expensive brands, which I also own, but have found the Amazon ones equally as effective at keeping foods from sticking. Obviously, I use them for cookies, but also I have a set just that I use to get the proper size for macarons or smaller cookies.
We also use them when we flash freeze fruit so that the fruit doesn't stick to the pan, we use them when we bake crackers or pizzas and potatoes. In fact, whenever you would use parchment or aluminum foil you could use a silicon mat, eliminating a whole lot of waste in your kitchen.
OK…and let's talk about what got left off of the list…the spiralizer. I loved my spiralizer at the time and I'm all about zucchini noodles…but it's star started to fade because of the cleanup for such a limited use tool. I still have it…and don't have immediate plans to get rid of it…but it hasn't been used in quite some time. Do you use your spiralizer?
As I said, I'm always drawer snooping, so I'd love to ‘virtual snoop' in your kitchen drawer to discover your favorite kitchen gadgets that I just can't live without!
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