There are lots of things the amateur cook can stock in their kitchen. Some range from the absurd (a pickle picker, a corn butter-spreader, the Roll ‘n Pour — just in case pouring milk is too difficult) to the obvious (spatulas, mixers, bowls). But, in between is a range of gadgets obscure and not-so-obscure.
How do you know which are actually going to be useful and which just sound cool? Partially, it depends on the person. Maybe the egg-and-muffin toaster is really the go-to breakfast gadget for you. Or, maybe you just can’t stop crying every time you’re slicing and Onion Goggles might be the simple but amazing solution. What is useful to some, might be useless to other.
Here, though, are a handful of items that every chef should probably try at least once:
Juicer: With the juice craze still in full swing, if you want to juice it makes sense to DIY instead of handing over money every time you’d like your food in liquid form. Debates over the best juicer rage across the internet, but you can’t go wrong with the Omega Juicers. The 8004 Nutrition Center Commercial Masticating Juicer is one of the most popular juicers, costs over $200 and has 150 watts and a two horsepower motor. If that’s more power than is necessary for your juicing needs, there are plenty of lower-key juicing options.
Food Processor: Of course, you can’t juice all your food. Sometimes you need to process food (or cut or slice or dice). As mashing our food up has become more and more popular, food processors and juicers and blenders have flooded the market. It can be hard to know which will really do your processing well. According to Consumer Reports, the Oster FPSTFP4010 may be the best bet for your money at just $34. Though it’s small, it is mighty. Or, if you really want to splurge, the top-rated Breville BFP800XL/A will do anything you want — and will cost you $400.
Ice Cream Maker: OK, so no one needs an ice cream maker. But, who doesn’t want one? The problem with ice cream makers, though, is the ice cream never turns out quite as good as you hope. Many the hopeful ice cream maker has been scarred by memories of trying to churn and churn the ice cream as a child. Fortunately, ice cream technology has come a long way since then. The Cuisinart Mix It In Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker makes close to restaurant-level soft serve and lets you mix in toppings like sprinkles. Just combine that with the Breville Personal Pie Maker and you’ll never go hungry again.
Carbon Knives: The carbon v. steel debate may be controversial, but it’s worth testing different kinds of knives. Stainless steel can be less likely to rust, but the carbon steel knives often provide a sharper edge — as long as you maintain them regularly. For most of us it doesn’t make much difference what kind of knife we use, but for the aspiring home chef at least one carbon knife is worth having. Some of the best include Shun knives made in Japan from 16 layers of a high-carbon stainless steel allow, Wusthof wide professional chef’s knives made in Germany, and the Sabatier French knives made by a 150-year-old company from 100% carbon steel.
Peelers and Corers and Slicers: There’s an entire sub-market in the kitchen tool industry of gadgets to de-core and un-stem and slice your vegetables and fruit. Some of them are pretty straight-forward like the cucumber and zucchini peelers. Some of them are very specific like the four-in-one avocado tool. Then, there’s the StemGem — a strawberry-shaped tool thats sole purpose is to cleanly remove the stems from strawberries. You should probably pick these tools based on which you eat most frequently.