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There are certain single-use kitchen tools that attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist (we’re looking at you, egg cutters). But there are others you may not even realize could change your cooking habits forever. Garlic presses, immersion blenders, microplane graters, and others all serve a single purpose that you’ll find yourself using far more often than you thought you would.
What Are the Best Kitchen Tools?
Some tools make everyday tasks like slicing, zesting, and sauteeing easier, while others open up a whole new world of cooking options. Here are some of our favorites.
Garlic Press: For years, I insisted that I had no use for a garlic press since I could always just mince, couldn’t I? Friends, I am adult enough to recognize when I am wrong. Not only does a garlic press extract more flavor from the clove than simply chopping, it is also much preferable when you need garlic fully emulsified in a mix (like for meatballs, burgers, or hummus) or when mixing in a dressing where you want to avoid random chunks of raw garlic. Plus, it’s faster.
Microplane Grater: You need a small grater like this any time a recipe calls for zest (which is often). Lemon or lime zest imbues a stronger citrus flavor to dishes without changing the consistency. You can also use the grater for garlic, nutmeg, ginger, cheese, and other ingredients that are best when fresh.
Immersion Blender: Who doesn’t love a cozy pureed soup? No one, that’s who. It’s even better when you can puree soup without the mess of transferring the ingredients into a blender or food processor in batches. An immersion blender is a thin tool that purees ingredients right in the pot they were cooked in and it is So. Much. Easier.
Mandoline: Any time you need thin slices of a vegetable, commonly potatoes for example, there is no better friend than a mandoline, which cleanly and easily produces razor-thin slices of whatever you’re cooking. If you’re fond of your knuckles, we recommend finding a tool that comes with a guard or buying a protective glove so that you don’t scrape your skin as well as your food.
Spiralizer: Zucchini, carrots, squash, whatever you’d like, really, becomes instant healthy noodles with a vegetable spiralizer. But we also like spiralized noodles in salads or sauteed as a side for the interesting texture they provide a dish.
Banneton: If you, like millions of others in recent years, have taken to bread baking, you may have come across a problem with bread dough sticking to the bowl after proving, thus deflating all those nice air bubbles you spent the past two hours waiting for. A banneton, or proving basket, is designed to be a stick-free vessel for your bread doughs. You can use the linen lining for a smooth finish, or simply dust the sides of the basket generously with flour to allow your dough to take on the pattern of the basket. Either way, you’re more likely to achieve the kind of crumb even Paul Hollywood couldn’t criticize.
Kitchen Scale: Measuring ingredients by weight is far more precise than measuring cups, which is especially useful when baking (like with the bread you’ll be proving in your new banneton), but also for measuring out precise cuts of meat, dried beans, vegetables, and other ingredients. Digital scales are the most convenient, as they are easiest to read by adjusting the unit of measurement, using the tare function, and getting the most precise numbers.
1. OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Garlic Press
The OXO garlic press has a large reservoir with room for multiple cloves at once, an efficient grid pattern, and ergonomically designed and cushioned handles that are comfortable to grip. It is also dishwasher-safe, which is important for easy cleanup.
2. Deiss PRO Citrus Zester and Cheese Grater
This grater’s long, comfortable handle makes it easy to hold, while the long blade allows it to be balanced over a mixing bowl as you grind up whatever ingredient you’re using. It’s dishwasher-safe so it is easy to clean, and comes with a plastic guard for storing.
Use it for lemon zest, herbs, cheese and more. The grippy handle ensures that your hands and fingers don’t accidentally slip.
3. Braun 2-in-1 Immersion Hand Blender
While there are certainly more advanced models on the market, the Braun immersion blender hits just the right spot between high powered and just the basics. You’ll be able to reliably pulverize any pureed soup or sauce you need (especially if you make use of the turbo power button), and the machine comes with a helpful beaker and whisk attachment included.
4. Mueller Multi-Blade Adjustable Mandoline
Outfitted with ultra-sharp German steel blades and five blade attachments for slices, wavy cuts, shredding, coarse shredding, and grating, the Mueller mandoline has you pretty much covered when it comes to your fine vegetable chopping needs. We also appreciate the cutting guard, which protects your fingers from accidents.
5. Spiralizer Ultimate
A practical and versatile spiralizer, this hand-crank version comes with ten steel blades for slicing vegetables into noodles and slices in varying sizes and shapes from super thin angel hair to wide ribbons to wavy chips. And unlike other, similar devices, this one’s heavy duty suction cup base adheres sturdily to your countertop.
6. Bread Banneton Proofing Basket
This is a simple proofing basket that measures nine inches in diameter. The set comes with a lining included, as well as other handy bread-making tools like the scraper and lame — a tool for creating slashes in the dough before baking. I like the pattern the basket makes on my dough when I use the basket without the lining, as well as how easy it is to simply shake dry and store after use.
7. Escali Primo P115C Precision Kitchen Food Scale
Lightweight, precise, quick-reading, and with a four-minute automatic shut-off time, this kitchen scale is ideal for all-purpose use. It fits easily in a drawer, has a simple two-button operation, easy-to-read LED screen, and can measure in ounces and grams. We use it to measure everything from spices to coffee grinds to liquids.