21 Things That’ll Help You Relax More in 2021

updated Apr 1, 2021
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woman having a cup of coffee while standing in her kitchen at home
Credit: Dean Mitchell/Getty Images

For some people, the kitchen is our happy place; it’s where we go to unwind, cook a great meal, and feel a reprieve from all that’s going on. For others, it’s a stressor — a place we have to clean, and use to churn out meal after meal, and clean again. And for most of us, especially Kitchn readers, it’s both. We can love to cook and still get stressed out by the thought of it all.

What can help with the stress-y parts? Tools. The right tools that’ll make it easier for you to cook. The gear that’s so great, it means worry-free cooking. Maybe that’s a cut-resistant glove that’ll have you grating with abandon or using a mandoline without fear, a coffee maker that makes the best brew, or a soap-filled dish brush so you can scrub plates and bowls more easily and quickly. Here are 21 things that’ll help you relax more in the kitchen and focus on the good stuff (the food!).

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Fishing lemon seeds out of freshly squeezed lemon juice is not fun. What is fun is this Chef'n FreshForce Citrus Juicer. It both catches seeds and gets more juice (20 percent!) out of citrus than other presses.

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For less-stress prep, we recommend a garlic press. This well-constructed stainless steel model from Kuhn Rikon crushes garlic effortlessly and is also dishwasher-safe. We also like this unconventional garlic chopper, which you roll across the counter like a toy car; it works best when you're in need of more than one clove of minced garlic.

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Having to worry less about cutting your fingers or hand when slicing or dicing or using a mandoline? That's relaxing. This cut-resistant glove from Microplane is thin but not too thin, so it feels both dexterous and protective. It's also machine washable.

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A lot of things you could do by hand are way easier in a food processor. Take pasta dough, pie crust, and even muffins as examples. One of our favorite food processors is this 14-cup model from Cuisinart. While it's pricey, it'll last for years and years, is easy to use and clean, and produces consistent results time after time. It includes shredding and slicing discs, too.

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Williams Sonoma

If you don't have a great stand mixer, you should consider investing in one. It's the key to great pizza dough, cookies, frosting, and cake without calling for too much muscle power on your end. KitchenAid makes our favorite stand mixer and has several models to choose from.

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Williams Sonoma

For tasks that are too small for a stand mixer or for when just you don't feel like cleaning your big ol' stand mixer bowl, a hand mixer is here for you. It's ideal for beating a few egg whites, whipping cream, and mixing together cookie dough. For a splurgey pick, this hand mixer from Breville is a fantastic option. For less than $100, we also like this model by KitchenAid.

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Williams Sonoma

If you find it stressful to transfer hot soup to a blender to purée it, an immersion blender is for you. It's fast, efficient, and easy to clean (just the wand versus a whole blender jar). This one by Breville is top-notch, and comes with a whisk attachment, chopping bowl, and a storage jug.

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Easier cleanup means you can watch a movie, scroll through TikTok, or read a book as soon as possible. (And those things are relaxing!) The soap dispensing scrub brush from OXO releases a squirt of dish soap with the gentle push of a button, so there's no need to stop and reach for a separate bottle of suds. It's easy to refill and has stiff-yet-flexible nylon bristles that easily scrub skillets, saucepans, and silverware clean.

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If you stress about where to store your sponges (because who wants them just sitting in the sink?), you need a sink caddy. This version from OXO has enough space to hold two sponges and brushes, like a soap-dispensing dish brush and a bottle brush.

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If you have a cast iron pan you love, you're certainly careful about how you clean it. You're not really supposed to use soap. And while a chain mail scrubber is great, you can also get this Full Circle Tenacious C Cast Iron Brush, which can be used on both cast iron and stainless steel (double duty!). It has almost 7,000 glowing reviews and 4.5 stars on Amazon. We liked its little chisel tip, which is helpful for scraping, and found it very effective.

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While a trash can might not seem like something that would help you relax, this version from simplehuman does just that. It has separate recycling and trash bins inside of it, so there's no need for two trash cans or to have to constantly lug your recyclables outside. It also has a soft-close lid so you don't have to listen to your kids slam it. Plus, it's about as pretty as a trash can can be.

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A single appliance that can pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sauté, and even make yogurt? You'll have dinner ready quicker and less to clean up. We like the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus, which comes in both 6- and 8-quart sizes.

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House of Noa

Do your back and feet hurt after a day in the kitchen? You need an anti-fatigue mat, whose sponginess will help support your feet. We love this mat (and, really, all the mats) from The House of Noa. Unlike a lot of other anti-fatigue mats, they're plush and actually stylish, so you don't have to sacrifice aesthetics for comfort.

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Dishwashing gloves protect your hands from hot water and let you handle the slimiest stuff without you having to touch it. We like these gloves, which have a rolled cuff to catch water and texturized fingers and palms for added grippiness.

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Williams Sonoma

If you're a coffee drinker, an easy way to make sure your morning is more relaxing is a great cuppa. To do that, you need a top-notch coffee maker. The Technivorm Moccamaster 79312 Coffee Maker makes excellent coffee day after day, and has a thermal carafe that keeps coffee hot for hours. It's also super-simple to operate: Just a flick of a button turns it on and off.

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For a nonstick skillet that has the durability and heat retention (read: even browning!) of stainless steel, try one from Hexclad. It has a slick surface you don't have to be too precious with, unlike like a traditional nonstick skillet, and is both oven- and dishwasher-safe.

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Tongs might not seem like they'll do much for your stress level, but drop a chicken breast on the floor and then come talk to us. A good pair of tongs is indispensable — here to help you flip, pick up, shred, stir, and even juice a lemon. This model from OXO has silicone tips (although you can buy one with uncoated tips as well) and a hands-free unlocking mechanism. We also like these stainless steel Winco tongs, which are just $6.

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With a mandoline, you don't have to worry about getting perfectly thin slices for this and that. It does the slicing work for you! We like the one by Benriner (one of our editors uses hers five or six nights a week!).

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A dull knife is a dangerous one. And what can be more stressful than something dangerous? This knife from Victorinox is super-sharp and stays that way for a long while, minimizing the need to sharpen it.

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If organization will help you relax (because, same!) these lid organizers are for you. They come in a set of two and hold three lids each, eliminating the need to stash lids in a cabinet or in that drawer at the base of your oven. Just screw them into the back of a cabinet and that's that.

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Let's not worry about whether or not your oven mitts will actually protect your hands, okay? And for that, you need great mitts. Wirecutter recommends these, which cost $15 and are long enough to protect your forearms.