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I’d like to have a word with my fellow kitchen gadget junkies…
Hi, hello! What’s wrong with us?!
If you’re like me, you have occasionally fallen victim to buying… everything.
You might have some taco shell warmers, onigiri shapers, frozen yogurt popsicle makers, muffin top baking pans, milk frothers, bunny-shaped candy molds, and a pastry dolly or two stored – or lost – somewhere in your house.
And, um… how many times have we actually used these specialty gadgets?
Once? Maybe twice?
Look. I’m here for it. Playing with all the things can actually be fun at times, for entertainment purposes every now and then, to whip out as a fun party or hosting trick.
But when you are shopping for kitchen supplies for the very first time, or you’re determined to kick the gadget habit, it’s best to keep things simple.
I’ve managed to pare down our kitchenware to the most basic essentials. And I’m here to share with you my top 13 most fundamental gadgets every home cook should own.
The following list includes everyday kitchenware that will be easy to use, and that will save you time and money.
With these 13 suggested items, your time spent in the kitchen on a daily basis will be a breeze.
These implements might not be as fun to pull out of the cabinet as a fondue set, but you will soon wonder why you didn’t start using these gadgets sooner!
13 of the Best Kitchen Gadgets to Save You Time and Money
1. Airtight Food Storage Containers
We probably don’t need to tell you how to store your leftovers – like us, we know you may already have an ever-growing collection of Tupperware, or other plastic or glass containers, that do the job perfectly!
But what about all of the food you’re storing in your pantry?
These items also require proper storage to help them maintain superior quality and last as long as possible!
Airtight food storage containers will help you neatly store your rice, nuts, coffee, seeds, dried fruits, chocolate, cereal, pasta, dry baking ingredients, snacks, spice packets, meal mixes, and more.
OXO 12-Piece Steel POP Container Set, available from OXO
They will help you to find what you need in your pantry at a glance, not only keeping your ingredients fresh, but keeping your kitchen resolutely organized.
And choosing to use airtight lids, instead of storing items as-is in their original bags or boxes, will prevent you from accidentally spilling that open bag of single-origin coffee beans you were so excited to find, or that box of gluten-free macaroni you were desperate to buy for your gluten-free family members, or that package of freshly milled organic flour you bought to support your local food businesses.
This is a horrific kitchen disaster that requires lots of sweeping and vacuuming. And, obviously, time and money are wasted because of it!
Find a multi-piece container set with different sizes that you know you’ll be able to find uses for.
If you’re starting completely from scratch, this 12-Piece Steel POP Container Set from OXO will give you all the variety you need, with sleek stainless steel lids that will complement many modern kitchens.
Buy the set directly from OXO, or choose to purchase it from Sur La Table or Amazon.
The beloved blender – what handy gadget! This mighty tool will provide you with a multitude of uses.
Where do we even begin?
You can blend creamy smoothies, craft cocktails, swirl together sorbet and ice cream bases, make sauces, and whip up condiments…
You can make breadcrumbs, grind or grate hard cheeses, make salsas, puree soups and baby food…
And seriously so much more!
Vitamix 5200 Series Blender, available on Vitamix
Once you start taking full advantage of your blender and using it as one of your go-to tools, you will find it offers an easy way to save time. And you’ll discover that blending is a fun and easy way to create variety in your menu on a regular basis.
No more hanging out in the back of the cabinet for this small appliance! It deserves the counter space.
Discover all of the brands we have reviewed, and learn some important pointers for shopping in our complete series of blender reviews and guides.
If you’re committed to a serious investment, we enthusiastically suggest purchasing a Vitamix-brand blender.
A favorite in restaurant kitchens and bakeries, the motor is so powerful on the Vitamix, and there are many different accessory options you’ll enjoy using.
You really couldn’t ask for a more perfect kitchen tool.
Check out our in-depth review to learn more about the Vitamix 5200 Series Blender fitted with a 64-ounce container, a popular powerhouse for pureeing, crushing, and grinding.
If you want an option for smaller spaces or smaller recipes, or you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, we recommend you read our review of the Vitamix One Blender, fitted with a 32-ounce container. This model is also available to purchase directly from Vitamix.
3. Box Grater
A good four-sided box grater is a simple and nifty tool for completing a variety of prep work tasks.
When you’re looking for something manual to fall back on if you don’t own a food processor, or can’t add another bulky appliance to your small kitchen, this multi-purpose grater will be your old-school buddy.
You will find it handy for grating raw vegetables of all types, like carrots, beets, radishes, and potatoes. And it’s a great tool for grating cheese.
OXO Good Grips Box Grater, available from OXO
Grating some items is much faster than trying to finely chop them with a kitchen knife – and it will yield more consistent shapes if your knife skills still need some work!
The four sides of this standalone prep tool are designed to help you complete multiple tasks with one tool. The standard four sides typically include a fine grater, medium grater, coarse grater, and slicer.
Select a favorite from our list of the best box graters.
We are particularly impressed by the OXO Good Grips Box Grater. As a practical bonus, it includes a container that fits on the bottom of the tool to catch whatever you are grating or slicing, with measurements on the side of the container.
With our helpful guide, you can learn how to expertly use a box grater – we review the functions of each side, and the do’s and don’ts of mastering the grating technique, as well as cleaning and care tips.
4. Food Processor
When your kitchen operation revolves around very heavy prep tasks, an absolute must-have kitchen gadget is a food processor with interchangeable disks and blades.
This item alone could be considered the cook’s best prep friend!
With it, you will be an unstoppable duo in the kitchen, capable of pulsing, pureeing, shredding, slicing, grating, and more in mere seconds.
These are easy to clean, often with pieces that can go directly in the dishwasher, and the results are superior while being far less inexpensive than buying pre-prepped ingredients at the grocery store.
Cuisinart Pro Classic Food Processor, available on Amazon
Food processors are an essential kitchen tool that will save you loads of time, and once you start using yours, you will discover more and more uses for it.
If you love snacking on meats and cheeses at home, you can shred blocks of cheese or slice stick pepperoni, both of which are much cheaper than buying pre-shredded or pre-sliced options.
You can also use it to make mayonnaise, nut butters, and many other condiments and sauces.
Make smooth and creamy pates, dips, and other mixes. And you’ll be able to prepare the best hummus or guacamole in seconds!
Despise prepping fruits and veggies? Don’t have the best knife skills? Let the food processor do the work for you in no time at all.
When you’re ready to shop for a new one, first review our collection of food processor guides and useful information. With our help, determine what features will align with your kitchen prep requirements.
If you want a high-quality, sturdy model with multiple accessories that will withstand heavy use over the years, we recommend choosing The 7-Cup Cuisinart Pro Classic, available to purchase now on Amazon and Wayfair.
We also have a standalone review of this model, which you can read to learn all the details.
5. Immersion Blender
Do you live your best life when there’s a steamy, creamy soup sitting at the dinner table, waiting for you to slurp and savor down to the very last drop?
While many cooks go through the effort of transferring soup ingredients from a hot pot on the stove to a blender to whiz up the contents, the immersion blender is designed to completely eliminate this painstaking process.
Everything you are cooking, whether for a soup, sauce, or puree, can remain in the pot. Once you insert your handy immersion blender into the mix, you can swiftly blend everything together to creamy bliss with the quick push of a button.
Nutribullet Deluxe Set Immersion Blender, available from Nutribullet
And think of the easy appliance cleanup afterwards!
Most immersion blenders are designed so that the section with the blade easily detaches from the base of the motor. After a quick hand wash – unless it is safe to clean in the dishwasher – you’re done!
We recently tested the Nutribullet Immersion Blender, and have all good things to say about this model! We particularly liked the variable speed dial feature, giving us the freedom to modify RPMs as we wish within a certain range.
You can buy it directly from Nutribullet in a Standard or Deluxe Set, depending on how many accessories and attachments you want. The Deluxe Set is also available to purchase via Amazon.
To encourage a healthy lifestyle, an electronic juicer is an essential kitchen gadget to use on a daily basis in your household.
A juicer is a great tool for squeezing all the basics like lemon, lime, and orange juice when called for in multiple recipes – but you should take advantage of this appliance for juicing all varieties of fruits and vegetables.
Juicers save you significant muscle and time by extracting the most juice possible while separating the parts of the produce you may not need or want – like pulp, skins, and seeds. These can go right to your compost bin!
What a juicer can do in so little time is something you could never achieve efficiently by hand-squeezing fruits and veggies alone, and it allows you to extract juice from produce that you would never consider processing.
Breville Juice Fountain Cold Juicer, available from Sur La Table
Freshly squeezed juices may be considered far superior in taste and freshness to anything you can buy in the grocery store – with no added ingredients to maintain freshness. And serving your guests fresh juice will get you nonstop rave reviews for the uplifting and refreshing feelings they experience with each sip.
Once you taste fresh juice, you might never go back to store-bought varieties!
You can make all kinds of freshly squeezed juice recipes, combining different fruits and vegetables to create your own flavorful and nutrient-dense mixes. For inspiration, take a look at our collection of homemade juice recipes – you’ll find some fun combinations here!
We recommend the Breville Juice Fountain Cold Juicer, available from Sur La Table, if you’re serious about buying a quality tool that efficiently processes and filters juice.
It features a dual-speed control, allowing for low-speed or high-speed juicing depending on the types of produce you use. Leafy greens and soft fruit should be juiced at a lower speed, while harder fruits and veggies should be juiced at a higher speed.
You’ll be able to sip on fresh and healthy juices as quickly as possible!
7. Large Colander
I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t use my colander.
This is a fast and efficient tool when it comes to draining pasta, steamed vegetables, seafood, soaked dried fruit, and hard-boiled eggs.
All-Clad Stainless Steel 5-Quart Colander, available from Sur La Table
This is also a great tool to use for cheesemaking – you can line it with a few layers of cheesecloth before straining the whey from the curds – just like what we do to make fresh cottage cheese.
With all of these uses in mind, don’t think you can just keep a lid on a pot and pour out the excess water without using your colander!
The “hold-the-cover-and-just-pour-the-water” method is not only ineffective, but you also increase the risk of burning yourself badly with the steam that escapes.
It will take you far more time to deal with a burn or injury than if you had just used a colander in the first place!
You can review our favorite colander models now, but we think you should take a particularly close look at the All-Clad Stainless Steel 5-Quart Colander, available now from Sur La Table. It is made of heavy-gauge stainless steel, with a brushed interior to prevent scratching.
Do you often find yourself in overdrive chef mode as soon as you step into the kitchen? And do you love to prep ingredients by hand without too many electric appliances getting in the way?
A mandoline might have to be your next purchase.
It’s a more efficient alternative to a knife that will yield consistent results if your aim is to achieve thin, uniform slices, without the bulkiness of a food processor.
Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Adjustable Mandoline, available on Amazon
When you safely develop a fast pace, the mandoline will help you rapidly perform food prep tasks with swift and nearly effortless movement.
There are some options to consider when you’re ready to shop, and we’ll teach you how to choose the best mandoline to fit your personal requirements.
If you prefer a more basic style, choose a mandoline with a single blade to change thickness levels, and no other attachments to worry over.
We like the Kyocera Advanced Ceramic Adjustable Mandoline, available to purchase on Amazon.
Benriner Mandoline Slicer, available on Amazon
For a more customizable option, you’ll benefit from purchasing a multi-use mandoline with different attachments and blades.
The Benriner Mandoline Slicer is a popular choice in both professional and home kitchens, with various styles of interchangeable blades included with your purchase. Check it out now on Amazon.
9. Pliable Spatulas
Having a good set of pliable spatulas on hand in at least three different sizes will save you time and money in the kitchen.
But how can something so seemingly small and insignificant like a spatula help you at such a high level?
OXO 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set, available from OXO
When you’re collecting the last few smears of a condiment from inside a jar, scraping all the brownie or cake batter or cookie dough from a mixing bowl, or scooping up every bit of homemade sauce from a pan, your food waste is kept to a minimum.
Spatulas can swiftly clean up any usable food remnants from jars, bowls, and many appliances.
And heatproof spatulas double as fantastic tools for mixing ingredients together as they cook.
We’re a little obsessed with the OXO 3-Piece Silicone Spatula Set, a dishwasher-safe set suitable for many applications when working in the kitchen.
You’ll be glad you chose a set that features different styles. OXO’s small spatula is ideal for scraping saucepans, the spoon spatula is handy for mixing and scooping wet ingredients, and the everyday spatula stands up to its name as an option that’s useful for a wide range of tasks.
10. Rice Cooker
Another one of my must-have kitchen tools is an electric rice cooker.
Rice is a staple in any frugal cook’s pantry. While you can cook all kinds of rice in the electric pressure cooker, it may benefit you to have a separate dedicated appliance for cooking these starchy grains.
Zojirushi Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer, available from Sur La Table
This gizmo is the best and most energy-efficient way to cook your preferred type of rice to absolute perfection every single time.
Think about the number of times your rice has boiled over on the stovetop, or cooked for too long and burned, or dried out without enough liquid, or took up valuable burner space so you had to wait to cook another part of your meal.
Rice cookers eliminate every single one of these obstacles!
They are easy to use and come with precise directions, clear features and buttons, and infallible pre-programmed cooking procedures – so there is no guesswork involved.
As a suggestion, the Zojirushi Micom 3-Cup Rice Cooker and Warmer has all the features you could want in this type of gadget, with smart and thoughtful details like a warmer button, multiple cooking options, a detachable inner lid and bowl for easy cleaning, and a retractable power cord.
Read all of our rice cooker reviews and guides to find the right one for your culinary needs. If a steamy bowl of rice is a constant in your household, you really won’t regret this purchase!
11. Slow Cooker
The slow cooker needs no introduction – I’m sure many of you busy bees with hectic schedules can agree with this choice!
Slow cooker meals can easily fit into a busy family’s schedule, when different family members sometimes need to eat at different times.
With this simple and straightforward cooking method, everyone can enjoy a comforting meal without requiring you to put in the effort of cooking multiple times a day.
Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, available on Amazon
Using this magical beauty is a smart choice to cook different cuts of meat, especially tougher cuts, until they are succulent and fall-off-the-bone tender – the result you want for short ribs, pork shoulder, and dark meat poultry.
Use the slow cooker to make crowd-pleasing family favorites like casseroles, soups, curries, stews, chili, and sloppy joes.
When you’re interested in making more basic kitchen items from scratch, you can also prepare your own broths and stocks that are slowly and gently infused with your choice of seasonings.
And when you’re looking for ways to use up the week’s leftovers that were nearly forgotten in the fridge, turn to the slow cooker to make something hearty – just toss a tasty medley of leftover meats and veggies with some broth, let it cook all day, and you have Sunday soup!
Depending on the size you decide to buy, you can also make large batches of slow cooker dishes to provide multiple meals you can freeze.
Review all of our slow cooker reviews and guides before you buy. You may be surprised by the many elements to consider before you shop for a slow cooker, and the number of different models there are – each with its own unique specs!
A nice bonus feature is a slow cooker that also doubles as a pressure cooker when you want to make extremely fast work of cooking – you’ll find this option in the Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker, which you can learn more about in our standalone review. You can also find it on Amazon to purchase.
For a basic slow cooker option, we’re big fans of the popular All-Clad 6.5-Quart Slow Cooker, with its high-gloss stainless steel frame, ceramic insert, and programmable heat and time settings.
All-Clad 6.5-Quart Slow Cooker, available on Amazon
You can purchase the All-Clad now on Amazon and Wayfair – but only after you read more about it in our roundup of 9 of the Best Slow Cookers and Crock-Pots on the Market Today!
If you already own a slow cooker but it’s collecting dust in the basement, bring it out and start using it! You will be amazed by how much time this valuable tool saves you.
12. Stand Mixer
Do you bake constantly, always whipping up batches of brownies, cakes, cookies, and more? Are you searching for the best investment piece to make easy work of a multitude of prep tasks in the kitchen?
Whether you are next in line to inherit a reliable hand-me-down used in your family for generations, or you want to purchase the latest new model, a stand mixer is an undeniably tried-and-true appliance that is essential for cooks and bakers alike!
And with a long list of nifty attachments available to purchase separately, don’t limit the stand mixer’s capabilities to just the baking realm!
Ankarsrum 7-Liter Mixer, Orange, available on Amazon
While it’s an essential workhorse for mixing batters, kneading bread, and whisking egg whites, you can also use your stand mixer for a large range of prep tasks for other types of recipes.
With various attachments depending on the brand and model you choose, you can shape pasta dough, grind meat, stuff sausage, mill grains, make ice cream, slice and shred vegetables, and more.
We highly recommend reading all of our stand mixer reviews and guides before making this significant purchase.
Among the models we have reviewed and tested, we were impressed with the Ankarsrum mixer for making bulk recipes. It’s a perfect choice for larger households, or the busy baker with tons of special orders in the works for friends, family, and coworkers.
Review the Ankarsrum options available now on Amazon – there are a lot of colors to choose from to match the palette of your kitchen!
KitchenAid 5-Quart Artisan Stand Mixer, available from KitchenAid
But for an everyday kitchen assistant, we will forever show our loyalty to KitchenAid’s stand mixers! We have used and reviewed quite a few over the years, and we think you’ll get the most use out of the KitchenAid 5-Quart Artisan Stand Mixer. It’s one or top-rated picks, ideal for the most fundamental prep and baking tasks.
You can save so much time in the kitchen by cooking fast meals in a wok.
With only one pan to clean, and fresh dishes that are ready in minutes, you can’t beat it when you’re running a busy household.
Made In Blue Carbon Steel Wok, available from Made In
If you need help with this cooking technique, we can teach you how to use a wok for stir-frying and steaming. We’ll give you all the pointers you need to gain the confidence you seek to make a quick meal for your next dinner.
Not sure what style or material of wok you want? Take a look at Foodal’s article on choosing the best wok for more details.
For a superior carbon steel option that heats quickly and evenly, you’ll be impressed by Made In’s Blue Carbon Steel Wok. Buy it now, directly from Made In.
As long as you follow our easy cleaning, seasoning, cooking, and re-seasoning recommendations for Made In’s wok, you’ll enjoy dish after dish with amazing results for a very long time!
What Will You Choose for Your Home?
Taking advantage of the benefits offered by a few simple tools and kitchen appliances will not only save you time, but in many cases, it will save you money as well.
By doing the majority of the prep work at home rather than buying premade products from the store, you’ll quickly realize how much you’re saving with each grocery trip.
And choosing the most essential appliances will transform your kitchen into an efficiently-run workstation.
You probably already have many of these gadgets – and maybe you have been intentionally ignoring some of the items on our list for years, thinking they wouldn’t be worth the splurge.
Maybe you’ve even got one or two hidden away in a closet or attic.
But I’m here to tell you that these kitchen gadgets on our list are the necessities – meaning they will certainly be of great use in your household!
Oh, and about those taco shell warmers and bunny-shaped molds? I’d say pass them by… unless, of course, you plan to buy them at my next yard sale!
What essentials are you planning to add to your kitchen first? Are there any gadgets not mentioned in this list that you would recommend? Chat with us – leave us a message in the comment section below!
Hungry for more? We have a few more fun gadgets you might consider buying once you’ve checked off everything from this list. From our full collection of general kitchenware reviews, here are some other honorable mentions you’ll also like:
- Get Your Seasonings in Order: The Best Spice Racks
- Foodal’s Top Tools for Baking Bread
- The Best Salt and Pepper Mills: 7 Top Picks Reviewed
© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos via Shutterstock. Product photos via Amazon, KitchenAid, OXO, Sur La Table, Vitamix, and Wayfair. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on August 14, 2012. Last updated on June 15, 2023.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is an ACS Certified Cheese Professional and cheesemonger living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.