The Top 10 Most Useful Kitchen Gadgets

We got you talking about the ten most useless kitchen gadgets last week, and now it's time to weigh in on the 10 most useful gadgets. Here are our picks; what would you choose?

As we thought through useless kitchen gadgets (and perused nearly 100 comments on that post!) we saw a pattern. Many useless tools seem to be trying to compensate for a lack of knife skills. Onion choppers and avocado slicers are no match for a good knife and some skill. They are also attempts to make cooking tasks quicker. If we had to slice 100 avocados for a catered lunch, we might also opt in the end for that otherwise useless tool, but we don't do it enough on a day-to-day basis to warrant an entire tool devoted to it.

So as we looked for the most useful kitchen gadgets, we looked for things that really do the job better than you ever could with a chef's knife and all the skill in the world. A mandoline, for instance, just slices better and faster than all but the most battle-hardened chef.

But these picks are still of course going to be different for every chef. A really useful gadget for one of us might be useless to you.

Oh, and one more note: We defined "gadget" as something with a little more design to it than a basic kitchen tool. So this list doesn't include wooden spoons, chef's knives, cast iron pans, spatulas, bowls, cutting boards, strainers, or other basic kitchen tools. (For a great list of our favorite kitchen basics, check out this post: 15 Really Useful Kitchen Items for Your Favorite Cooks.) It also doesn't include small electrics, like food processors and coffee grinders.

This list focuses on the small gadgets and designed tools that may make our lives a little easier in the kitchen. So here, for what it's worth, are our picks for the ten most useful kitchen gadgets!

  1. Microplane zester - The classic gadget. What would we do without our Microplanes? No other zester we've tried works as well, and we use it on everything from cheese to spices to chocolate to citrus.
  2. Salad spinner - Especially this Zyliss model. Nearly everyone we surveyed said they love their salad spinner. Yes, it takes up room in the cupboards, but it also does double duty as a storage bowl for freshly washed greens.
  3. Garlic press - For sheer, overwhelming popularity, especially for folks who regularly make dishes that call for 15 cloves of minced garlic. (It's also great for juicing tiny citrus.) But we know this one is controversial. Let the firestorm commence!
  4. Mandoline slicer - Another favorite. This speeds things up in our kitchen like no other tool or gadget. It slices, minces, and juliennes. Watch your fingers!
  5. Digital timers - This one is from MUJI, a version of our favorite timer. What would we do without timers? Some of us have lots more than one!
  6. Thermometers - Like the timer, we often don't think of thermometers as a gadget. But they are designed tools that really are essentials in the kitchen. No more guesswork; use a thermometer! We usually have at least three around: instant read, oven, and candy/deep-fry.
  7. Manual juicer - Not everyone uses a juicer on a daily basis, but for those who do, a well-designed juicer is so much better than a small reamer or citrus juicer. A powerful juicer is a great gadget for anyone who likes fresh juice or bakes lots of lemon cakes.
  8. Pepper mill - A good pepper mill is one of the most essential gadgets in our kitchen! And it's a classic example of how some tools just have to be uni-taskers. Could we grind pepper in our spice mill? Well, sure, but we use way too much pepper for that to be practical.
  9. VeggiChop - This is a personal favorite of mine. And, full disclosure, it's not just because they gave me one. This little manual food processor has been my constant companion this summer. It is so great for making salsas, dips, and rubs — and it's way lighter and easier to clean than the food processor.
  10. Can opener - A favorite can opener. A can opener is a great gadget; there really isn't anything else that can do its job!

Stay tuned; we might tackle the ten most useful kitchen small electrics and basic tools soon too.

See our picks for most useless kitchen gadgets here:

The 10 Most Useless Kitchen Gadgets

OK, your turn! Any arguments with our list? Any favorite brands for the tools listed above? What would make your list of ten most useful kitchen gadgets?