Let me put it this way: I’ve heard people say they don’t like sweet potato recipes because sweet potatoes are “too hard to cut.” Now I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there’s nothing wrong with sweet potatoes – those people probably just don’t have the right tools for the job.
Having good-quality cooking tools can mean the difference between a recipe turning out okay, and amazing. (Or in the case of sweet potatoes, between a recipe turning out, or not happening at all).
Functional equipment makes us more comfortable and efficient, and less frustrated, cooks. This is doubly true for people who cook out of necessity and not necessarily for pleasure – lacking the right tools means you’ll despise your kitchen time that much more.
As someone who’s cooked nearly every day since I was 12, I’ve experienced a whole lotta stuff – from testing a bunch of items well-meaning friends and family have gifted over the years, to learning what professional chefs actually rely on in a culinary school. And despite how many specialized, one-trick gadgets there are at Bed Bath & Beyond (I mean, does anyone actually use an egg slicer?), a well-functioning kitchen actually needs very little.
Below, I’ve rounded up my most beloved – and yes, truly life-changing – kitchen tools and equipment. These are highly functional, [largely] multi-purpose, well-designed items that simply make my life in the kitchen better.
8″ Mercer Genesis Knife
I’ve sung the praises of my favorite knife before and here I go again: I use it for literally all my chopping and rarely have a need for anything else.
A sharp, professional knife (versus a dull, uncomfortable one you buy as a set from clearance at Marshalls) makes chopping easier, faster, and more efficient. Which in turn makes chopped vegetables prettier and more uniform, which also makes them taste better (I don’t know how, it just does!). Another benefit of a well-designed knife: your arm gets less tired.
I recommend this model because it’s super affordable for the quality. Whichever knife you buy, make sure the handle fits comfortably in your palm. It should also feel a little heavy for its size.
Oneida 16″ Cutting Board
A big, sturdy cutting board is just as important as a good knife. Few things frustrate me more in the kitchen than too-small, slippery boards. (Don’t even get me started on the flexible ones…) This one with non-slip grips is a total game-changer because it doesn’t slide around as you chop.
Rubbermaid Instant Read Thermometer
I have no idea how I baked anything with even remote success before my oven thermometer came into my life. As someone who’s lived in a grand total of nine rental apartments, I can assure you that every. oven. is. different. It doesn’t matter what the dial is turned to, or that the beep went off letting you know it’s done preheating. In my experience, it’s always off by at least 20 degrees. With an oven thermometer, you can be sure every time and make adjustments as needed.
I never considered buying a Nutribullet because I already had a blender. But when my sister was looking to get rid of hers, I thought, why the heck not. This baby ended up changing my smoothie game forever.
Unlike my standard blender, which requires six separate pieces to be cleaned each time, the Nutribullet has only two, which are a breeze to clean. Long story short, I’m drinking a ton more smoothies these days.
Reusable Plastic Quart Containers
What else really grinds my gears besides sh*tty cutting boards? Tupperware. I cannot stand the bulky stacks of differently-shaped containers and lids that are nowhere to be found. Plastic deli containers are a literal life-saver: they’re stackable and have a small footprint; the lids are universal; they’re perfect for every type of food and are virtually leak-proof.
OXO Conical Burr Grinder
I wouldn’t call myself a coffee snob, but I do love my morning coffee (like, a lot). Ever since I learned that coffee beans are only considered fresh within two weeks of roasting and grinding, I’ve been obsessed with making the freshest coffee possible (type A much?). And I have found that freshly roasted and ground coffee beans make a huge difference – both in taste and overall aroma.
This OXO grinder is nothing short of brilliant. It grinds the exact amount you need for each brew, in the exact texture you need for your system. (I do a coarse grind for my French press). It takes up minimal counter space and is pretty quiet, too.
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