Cooking isn’t quite as much fun if you don’t have the right tools. I’ve gathered together a list of my favorite kitchen tools and appliances–the ones I use every week in my own kitchen–and I’m sharing them with you in The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Home Cooks! Some of these are frugal purchases, and some are splurges, but any of these would make a great holiday gift for the chef in your life.
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This one’s almost a giveaway. Of course I like the Instant Pot. It features in many of my recipes. I use it all the time. It’s amazing. I’m in an Instant Pot Vietnamese food group on Facebook, I pin Instant Pot recipes, and I’m always planning my next Instant Pot meal. My recipe for Roasted Chicken in the IP was, frankly, amazing. My Buffalo Chicken Jalapeño dip might be the ultimate game day indulgence. Vegan Chili shows the healthy side of the IP. I have the 6 quart Lux version, which was on sale when I bought it. If you like to entertain, or cook for 4 or more people on the regular, I’d get the 6-8 quart size. For the most versatility, choose one with low and high pressure settings (such as one that has a yogurt function, like the one linked above).
Guys, I LOVE THESE KNIVES. I spotted Giada De Laurentiis using them maybe 13 years ago on her show, and thought that if they were good enough for her, they were good enough for me. I was right. They’re made from one solid, lightweight piece of metal. They’re as sharp as can be. They’re comfortable in your hand. I’ve had my set of 3 since my wedding shower 10 years ago, and I haven’t needed new everyday knives since then. These tend to go on sale around the holidays, so keep checking for deals
My mom bought this for me about 2 years ago after I complained about my much smaller, less powerful immersion blender. This one really does it all. There are multiple attachments and blades. It comes apart for easy cleaning. It comes with a chopper attachment, as well. For about $100, it serves the purpose of at least 3 other kitchen tools. Worth it.
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
So I don’t actually use this that much, but when I do, it’s great. I make all my marshmallows using this mixer, and my husband makes cookies in here. It’s the quintessential kitchen mixer, so I’m not going to spend much more time describing it to you.
I never knew how much I needed a waffle maker until I got a waffle maker. Sure, we make waffles, but it does so much more. You can basically crisp anything in there: quesadillas, mashed potatoes, stuffing, falafel, and my favorite: hash browns. For an inexpensive gadget, it’s actually pretty versatile.
Another kitchen staple of the last 40+ years, this is something I use quite often. While the metal cutting blade is most commonly used, I like to use the shredding and slicing blades to quickly shred vegetables for salads, like my Beet and Carrot Salad.
A French press is one of the more underrated coffee makers, in my opinion. We make hot coffee in ours every morning during the cold seasons (i.e. most of the year). In the summer, I use it to brew concentrated cold brew coffee. The cleanup is easy, and cold brew is so tasty. This is the one we have at home (a gift, mind you. We did not spend this much on a designer French press). You can get a cheap one at Home Goods or T. J. Maxx.
I bought this last year, and have used it for so many things! Zucchini, beets, squash, and sweet potatoes have all become noodles. Curly fries are a cinch. This brand specifically works well for “sturdy” vegetables. My new favorite way to get my son to eat fruit (which is actually super easy to do anyway) is to spiral slice it. This gadget isn’t essential, but it sure is fun.
Le Creuset Dutch Oven
A dutch oven is one of those non-negotiable kitchen tools that everyone needs. Available in a wide range of colors and sizes, this pot can be used to cook practically anything. I love using mine for braising short ribs, or for stews that start on the stovetop, but transfer to the oven.
Cast iron skillets look a little intense. They’re big and heavy, and one would think expensive. It turns out, though, they’re really pretty cheap. They sell these almost everywhere, from Sur La Table to Walmart. Why do I love mine? The heavy pan holds heat well, meaning you won’t get hot spots on your food. They come in a variety of sizes. They go from stovetop to oven. You can serve right out of the pan for a more rustic presentation (like in this photo of my Cauliflower Mac and Cheese). They even impart some iron into your food (if you are cooking with some acid in the pan–be careful of the metallic flavor, though). I have them in a few different sizes, and use them whenever I remember.
This is the big splurge. I love love love my All Clad stainless steel cookware. I don’t have a lot of it–a sauce pan, a small pot, and a 6 quart soup pot–but these are going to last forever. They’re heavy, distribute heat evenly, and never seem to show signs of damage. I got them as wedding presents, and I plan to accumulate more over time. Good quality pots and pans really do last forever. A word of advice, if buying these: don’t get non-stick. Non-stick pans must be replaced when the Teflon scratches, and it will scratch no matter how expensive it is. I buy cheaper non-stick pans, and don’t feel guilty when I need to replace them. Look for the heavy All Clad pans. They do make a cheaper, lighter version. While they are fine pots and pans, they don’t distribute heat quite as evenly to your food.
Digital thermometers like this are awesome. Choose one with a probe with a long wire, so you can stick it in the meat and run the wire and thermometer outside of the oven. When the meat reaches a specified temperature, the thermometer beeps, and you know your food is done. This is my most recent digital thermometer purchase, and I hope to have it for a while.
What are your favorite kitchen gadgets? Share with me below!