Our Top Kitchen Essentials

Generally speaking, I’m the anti-gadget girl. I don’t load up on every cooking utensil and machine so I can more easily make zoodles or panini. Instead I stick with good-quality basics — the essentials — for easier, safer cooking. However, there are some cooking gadgets I consider essential. Here I share with you some of my favorite things beyond great cooking vessels and knives. Affordable, attractive, and necessary, these are things that help me get food on the table every day. — Erika Lenkert, editor-in-chief


Giant Tweezers

I learned about these from one of our wonderful recipe testers, who used them when working in a Michelin-ranked San Francisco restaurant kitchen. They give you way more dexterity than everyday kitchen tongs, allowing you to gently turn hot items (Hello, bacon!) in the pan or remove them to a plate. When I found out they’re under ten bucks, I ordered a pair immediately! Get it here

Handle Sleeves

I love love love these. You only need to grab a burning-hot handle once to know why a sleeve is critical. With these in the kitchen, you’ll get in the habit of sliding one on after removing any hot pan from the oven or cooking with a full stove and lots of heat sources. Plus, they’re super cheap. Get it here

Elegant Spoon Rest

It’s embarrassing how many years I spent in the kitchen without something to rest my messy wooden and stainless spoons on. Once I got a spoon rest, it became an essential allowing for me to minimize my mess, even though I’m a messy cook! Get it here

Lemon/Lime Squeezer

Citrus is expensive! It’s also sometimes hard to squeeze. This gadget helps get the most juice out of lemons and limes while keeping out the pesky seeds. Get it here

Iron Fish

How often have you been concerned with an iron deficiency? For me, it’s not as rare as I’d like. That’s where this cute little fish comes in handy. Pop it into your soups and stews and it will release some supplemental iron into your meals. Clean it and tuck it away and it’ll be ready to be reused. I dare say it works swimmingly! Get it here

Bamboo Salt Keeper

A long time ago I was at a ceremony to fill and bury a cooking-related time capsule. Everyone in attendance brought something they thought important to contribute. Famed California-cuisine pioneer Alice Waters was there and contributed a container of salt, explaining how important salt is as to amplifying the flavors of food. She’s right. Salt can turn a blah dish to an Aha! dish with a quick sprinkle and stir. This sweet little eco-friendly bamboo salt keeper makes sure you have this magical ingredient close at hand. It also has a magnetic swivel top, which is great for one-hand operation; it also keeps the salt clean and dry when not in use. Get it here

Paring Knife Set

My amazing editor, Cindy Rice has this color-coded set and uses it every single day. The knives are the perfect size when you don’t need your big clunky chef’s knife. The serrated one is perfect for slicing peppers and tomatoes. The sharp middle one is great for hard or soft cheeses, and the small curved one works well for hulling strawberries and slicing soft fruits like peaches. Plus they’re so cute! The trio makes a great gift for college students, newlyweds, or anyone with a kitchen! Get it here

Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Okay. So these aren’t exactly cooking equipment. But when I’m cooking, I often crave a hit of chocolate. These spectacular-tasting chips from historic San Francisco chocolate makers are just the things. Any left go into my baking! Get it here

KitchenAid Artisan Series 5 Quart Tilt Head Stand Mixer with Pouring Shield 

This beauty is a workhorse that every home cook should have. It does everything from mixing, whipping, kneading and more to even making pasta or grating with additional attachments. Use it to make fancy dishes and to whip up that brownie mix or fresh whipped cream — it’s guaranteed to earn its keep. Get it here

Cuisinart Food Processor

Another necessary kitchen workhorse, the food processor makes slicing, chopping, and grating an absolute breeze. It’s my sous chef for Thanksgiving prep, latkes, and anytime I need to get a big chopping job done quickly. Get it here

Natural Peanut Butter Mixer

How many times have you battled to recombine compact nut butter and its oil? This gadget helps you effortlessly win the war, and it fits most nut butter jars. Get it here


Silicone Trivets

I have some solid trivets, but I love these because they’re pretty and pliable; they are bendable and can be tucked into drawers with ease and look pretty on any table too. Get it here

Ergonomic Ice Cream Scoop

Is this ice cream scoop really that different from an old-fashioned one? YES! it has a pointy edge that cuts through rock-hard pints, plus an ergonomic design that really makes it easier on your hand and wrist to scoop our your favorite flavor. It comes in a nice box, too, which makes it a great idea for gift-giving. Get it here

Maldon Salt

I have a box of this flat, flaky, clean-tasting salt next to the stove. A classic finishing salt, it has gazillions of uses. Try it on eggs, chocolate chip cookies, baked potatoes, steak, or anything that needs a little extra flavor and texture. Get it here

Butter Crock for Counter

There’s nothing more delightful than soft, ready-to-spread butter when you need it. This countertop airtight butter keeper is not just pretty, it also helps ensure butter stays soft, creamy and ready to spread without giving access to my butter-loving cats! Get it here

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