18 Kitchen Gadgets We Wish We’d Bought Sooner

18 Kitchen Gadgets We Wish We’d Bought Sooner
Graphic: Elena Scotti,Photo: Getty Images,Photo: Shutterstock,Photo: Amazon

Most people do not own every kitchen gadget their heart desires. It’s a matter of cost, but also one of space — unless you are a rich person with a spacious kitchen, gadgets, mixing implements, and even bowls and platters have to earn their spots in cabinets and drawers.

But sometimes one can swing too hard the other way, and deprive oneself of the tools that make life easier. It’s all about balance, and a seemingly silly gadget can surprise you with its utility. The following is a collection tools, gadgets, and implements that make our lives easier. Our only regret is that we didn’t purchase them sooner.

A burr coffee grinder, so you can have the coffee shop experience at home

“I’ve always thought that there was no way a burr grinder could be that much better than a blade-style coffee grinder. They are so expensive and loud and take up so much counter space! But since I made the switch, the difference in flavour is major. The coffee tastes round and rich and not at all bitter. It’s like my $US10 ($13) beans have produced the fanciest brew from the fanciest coffee shop around.” — Joel Kahn, senior video producer

A space-saving dish rack that folds up for easy storage

“There’s a catch-22 in sacrificing counter space for a dish rack when most of your dishes go in the dishwasher anyway. That’s why this foldable, flat silicone dish draining mat is the perfect solution when you sometimes need a dish rack, but don’t want to take up your counter or shelf space. It’s angled to drain your dishes, easy to clean, and folds up so you can hide it when it’s not needed.” — Joel Kahn

A washable, re-usable coffee filter

Photo: Joel Cunningham Photo: Joel Cunningham

“If exclusively drinking home-brewed pour-over coffee is pretentious, well, hand me my monocle; I’ve already written a whole slideshow about what a dork I am for brew methods and gear. Which is why it’s weird it took me so long to realise I was way overspending on imported Japanese coffee filters to match my pour-over thing. My favourite brand kept getting more expensive, so I finally decided to order a reusable metal filter — and it’s great! I’ve noticed no difference in taste or brew time, and at about $US20 ($26) online, it will pay for itself in less than a year. The one downside is you need to be diligent about cleaning it, lest it clog and need a vinegar soak for a few hours, but I love a reason to do chores promptly.” — Joel Cunningham, deputy editor

A small spatula for cookies and tofu

“Full-size spatulas are just too unwieldy. Unless you’re flipping something big, they can be too large themselves to allow you to manoeuvre around your pan, or too thick to slide under something that doesn’t want to release from the cooking surface. That’s why I use this small, slope-edged cookie spatula for a whole lot more than cookies (it’s great for frying tofu steaks). You can get a cheap one, but even a heavier, nicer one with a solid handle won’t set you back much. And think of all the spatula-storing room you can free up!” — Joel Cunningham

A crêpe pan that makes an excellent cheese toastie (and really good crêpes)

Photo: Joel Cunningham Photo: Joel Cunningham

“My wife makes really good crêpes — they’re probably the first thing she ever cooked for me — but she makes much better ones ever since I bought her a halfway decent crêpe pan. Because we live in an extremely space-compromised Brooklyn kitchen, of course, it is important to note that this pan can do much more than produce perfectly round, thin crêpes — the luxuriously non-stick surface (get one that’s PFOA-free) is great for cooking everything from delicately browned grilled cheese sandwiches to a decadent frambled egg.” — Joel Cunningham

A cherry pitter for eating mountains of cherries

Photo: Beth Skwarecki Photo: Beth Skwarecki

“Cherry pitter. Yes, I only use it once a year. But it’s been a fantastic investment. It sits in the back of the gadget drawer until it’s cherry season, and I buy ALL THE CHERRIES and let the kids pop the pits out. Now I can snack on them without having to constantly spit pits out, and I can cook with them without having to slice each of them open individually.” — Beth Skwarecki, senior health editor

A toaster oven for cooler cooking

“I resisted the toaster oven for years, because we already have a real oven. Finally my husband convinced me to give it a try, and we ordered one. It is wonderful being able to bake small batches of things in the summer without heating up the kitchen. Our big oven died during the pandemic and we didn’t want to invite a repair person in, so we just used the toaster oven exclusively for most of a year. Now we have an even fancier model with a ‘speed convection’ setting, which means it is also an air fryer. I love this thing. The toaster oven has earned its place.” — Beth Skwarecki

A vacuum-sealer, for fresher rats (and venison)

“Oddly enough, I didn’t buy a vacuum sealer when I got an immersion circulator, nor when I started meal-prepping and freezing food more often — although it’s certainly handy for those uses. No, my husband got it to more efficiently feed his pet snakes. He orders big shipments of rodents (they come packed in dry ice) and repackages them into individual vacuum-sealed bags that can then be easily thawed by plopping the packet into hot water. He also hunts, and the vacuum sealer is great for packaging cuts of venison so they stay fresh in the freezer all year.” — Beth Skwarecki

A two-tiered fruit basket for longer-lasting fruit

Photo: Jordan Calhoun Photo: Jordan Calhoun

“I used to pile fruit into the refrigerator, even if it didn’t need to be refrigerated. The only reason I stored it there was because I didn’t have anywhere else to put my apples, oranges, bananas, avocados, peaches, and pears. Sometimes I would leave them on the kitchen counter like a monster — that is, until I finally stumbled on a two-tier fruit basket that was cheap enough to buy on a whim, and I’ve been happy ever since. My only regret is that I didn’t go even bigger and get one of those three-tiered baskets, maybe with one of those fancy hooks for bananas. Having another designated place for produce helps me keep things separate — which Claire assures me is important to stop foods from ripening too soon — and it keeps my fruit organised at the cost of very little space.” — Jordan Calhoun, editor-in-chief

A soap dish for longer-lasting soap

Photo: Jordan Calhoun Photo: Jordan Calhoun

“Like a fool, I went years without a soap dish pad, laying my bars of soap on the stainless steel of the kitchen sink, the soap dish holder above my bathroom sink, or the corner of my bathtub like a savage. I graduated to having a few portable soap dishes around my home, but what I really needed was one of those coarse little soap dish pads that act as a buffer between my bar of soap and the surface it rests on. Buying them has been a tiny little game changer by keeping soap scum from building up in the soap’s resting place; most of the cleaning is as simple as running it under some hot water.” — Jordan Calhoun

A surprisingly useful dedicated bean strainer

Photo: Meghan Walbert Photo: Meghan Walbert

“Did I need a can strainer to better strain my beans? I didn’t even know such a thing existed, but when a friend coerced me into attending her Pampered Chef party, I had to find something cheap to buy, and along came this little fellow. The first time I used it, I was sceptical that it would be markedly better than the traditional method of letting the juice trickle out of a gap in the lid, but that scepticism quickly vanished as I saw how much faster and more thoroughly I was able to strain beans without pulling out the big colander. It is a luxury, and we can all use a little luxury.” — Meghan Walbert, managing editor

An elegant egg slicer

Photo: Meghan Walbert Photo: Meghan Walbert

“Do you know how many years I spent hand-slicing my hardboiled eggs? Too many! One of my favourite breakfasts is a sliced hardboiled egg on toast, but you want thin layers of egg evenly distributed over the surface of the bread, not uneven chunks of egg that have clearly been hacked up by an amateur. I did not want to buy this clunky one-use item, given my limited kitchen storage, but it does this one thing so well I simply had no choice. I hope to never hand-slice a hardboiled egg again.” — Meghan Walbert

An apple slicer for perfectly-proportioned segments

Photo: Mike Winters Photo: Mike Winters

“I don’t know why, but apples taste better when sliced, which is why I swear by my apple slicer. Perhaps it’s because I’m weird about food texture, but I like apple slices have an equal proportion of chewy apple skin with each bite, which is not the case when eating an apple whole (the initial bites of a Red Delicious are a joke). I also eat more of the apple with a slicer — everything except the core — so it ends up being more of a filling, healthy snack. Plus, there’s a dignity to the presentation of apple slices on a plate. This way, you can share an apple with your wife, rather than greedily eat it with your hands, like a raccoon.” — Mike Winters, personal finance writer

A tiny pan for perfect fried eggs

Photo: Micaela Heck Photo: Micaela Heck

“I never would have thought to buy a single egg frying pan — I’m definitely a fan of multi-use tools in my kitchen. But since being gifted a stainless steel one, I find myself adding a fried egg to almost every meal because of how quick and easy it is to make them. Because of its size the eggs cook quickly, and when buttered you don’t even need a spatula to serve them — you can simply tip the pan to plop the egg on anything. Plus they’re so small that they don’t feel like a burden to clean.” — Micaela Heck, podcast producer

A zoodle maker to up your veggie intake

Photo: Aisha Jordan Photo: Aisha Jordan

“When everyone went on a no-carbs kick, I started eating a lot of zoodles. I didn’t want to buy the bigger appliances that take up a lot of counter space. I also wasn’t sure it was for me, so I didn’t want to make a large purchase that I wasn’t going to use. I bought a handheld zoodle maker that can spiral your zucchini into thick or thin strips, depending on your preference. The little spiral machine has been a lifesaver in a clutch. It’s not without its faults — like my hands cramping from the twisting involved. Fortunately, I don’t make zoodles every day, and this thing is perfect for my no-carb pasta nights.” — Aisha Jordan, staff writer

A potato masher for more than just potatoes

Photo: Aisha Jordan Photo: Aisha Jordan

“This kitchen tool seems like a regular everyday item, but it deserves mention. The flat and holed masher works wonders, given my desire to mash everything. I mash squash (butternut and spring squash), sweet potatoes, russet potatoes — the list goes on. Before I had a masher, I employed a fork and spoon combination that took far too long, and was so exhausting, eating whatever I’d made was an afterthought. If you have one already, just try mashing everything, and you’ll find you don’t use it enough.” — Aisha Jordan

A collapsible salad spinner for better salads

Photo: Claire Lower Photo: Claire Lower

I held out on purchasing a salad spinner for years, because I’m a stubborn idiot. Drying lettuces on towels is for chumps. It takes far too long, takes up too much counter space, and never gets the leaves fully dry, resulting in soggy salads (boo).

When I started growing my own lettuces, I knew it was time. Pre-washed, bagged salad just does not last as long or taste as good, but there is dirt on the lettuce in my garden, and it must be washed off, which means it must be dried. If you’re worried about space, I have great news: Prepworks makes one that collapses for easy storage. (It’s also fantastic for drying mushrooms.)” — Claire Lower, senior food editor

An ice cream scoop

Photo: Claire Lower Photo: Claire Lower

“It is actually wildly unhinged that I went nearly seven years without an ice cream scoop. I eat a lot of ice cream, and had been scooping it out with metal measuring cups, which got the job done but was kind of messy. It wasn’t until my boyfriend and parents collectively bullied me about it that I bought one at the grocery store, just so the taunting would stop.

I have a dream of finding the perfect, vintage ice cream scoop (my dad has a really cool one), but it’s already the end of June — prime ice cream-eating season — so I gave in and chose this sturdy one with a nice pointed tip. It’s great. It gets ice cream out of the carton and into the bowl, which is really all we can ask of it.” — Claire Lower

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