Even if you love everything about cooking, life has a tendency to get hectic, and time-saving kitchen tools and gadgets certainly have their place. We know, we know: you’re wondering whether you really need another bulky appliance or even have room in your already cramped space. That’s why we’ve not only selected 12 tools that will make cooking dinner faster, simpler and more enjoyable, but we’ve also laid out the arguments for investing in them – or not. 

For Slicing & Dicing: A Mandoline

Seasoned chefs insist on cutting, slicing and dicing ingredients uniformly in order to ensure that the foods cook evenly (plus, it looks so much prettier). Cutting neatly, however, takes time – and that’s where this nifty tool comes in. The mandoline gets you restaurant-worthy, perfectly consistent slices, julienne strips or crinkle cuts every time. A word of warning, however: the blades are sharp, which is the whole point, but you can use a special glove if you feel intimidated.

For Speed & Flavour: Air Fryer

You might need some convincing before you invest in this bulky machine, but the air fryer is not just a handy excuse to indulge in fries and other processed snacks. You can, in fact, prepare a host of healthy, quick dishes in this clever device, which is, in essence, a powerful mini convection oven. Cook perfect scallops, steaks, dinner rolls, candied walnuts, brownies and more; just be sure to invest in a high-quality, non-Teflon coated air fryer for extended use.

For Busy Carnivores: Digital Meat Thermometer And Timer

With cooking, knowledge is power – and if you have meat in the oven or on the grill, knowing when it reaches its ideal (and safe) internal temperature is key. Even better if you don’t need to constantly check on it. Equipped with a timer, a digital meat thermometer keeps you apprised of your dinner’s progress while you’re busy doing something else. Now there are even some wireless thermometers on the market that can connect directly to your phone and ping you when dinner is done.

For Saucy: Immersion Blender

Any household, big or small, should have an immersion blender on hand for quick, mess-free puréeing of soups, sauces and smoothies directly in their pot or container. Make sure to invest in a powerful one – the motor of cheaper specimens can burn out quite easily, and they generally have a short lifespan. To keep yours going strong for years to come, try mixing in pulses and not for too long at once, to avoid overheating.

For Tasty Toasting: Electric Griddle

With limited kitchen space, you sometimes have to make hard choices: should you buy a panini press, a toastie maker, an electric griddle or a waffle maker? Foodies will be delighted to learn that there are actually gadgets which can do all of the above! Such contraptions feature multiple cleanable plates that can be switched out, depending on what treat you want to whip up next. Chef Alton Brown demonstrates what else you can do with this appliance, if you want to get creative.

For Easy Greens: Salad Spinner

You probably know that pre-washed, packaged lettuce isn’t always as clean (or nutritious) as one would wish, but using full heads of lettuce requires you to wash and then drip-dry the leaves. The humble salad spinner, however, lets you wash and dry your leafy greens, vegetables, fruits and fresh herbs in seconds, making them ready to dress and eat. If you whip up salads often, buy one that will last you a lifetime – i.e. spring for a spinner that’s a bit more durable than the popular model from a large Swedish furniture chain. This one, for example, is worth the investment.

For The Nicest Rice: A Rice Cooker

If you’re a rice purist, you might not like the results from the Instant Pot, and may prefer a more specialised appliance. A dedicated rice cooker delivers tip-top, fluffy rice every time, even switching to a ‘keep warm’ setting once it’s done. Some rice cookers also have a steamer basket for cooking veggies or fish, while others offer specific settings for your desired texture, so your rice comes out just how you like it.

For Allium Aficionados: A Garlic Press

Some chefs swear by never crushing or pressing garlic: mincing is the only way for them. But mere home chefs? It turns out, they love their garlic press, as you can see in the video below. Food52 did a comprehensive press test, so you can get the right one for you: one that maximises flavour and minimises cleanup.

For Subtle Grate-ness: A Microplane

Microplanes have razor-sharp, fine teeth that can grate all sorts of ingredients. We love how they make hard cheese whisper-thin to sprinkle over pasta, and the way they give the aromatic oil and zest of citrus without the bitterness of its pith. They can even grate harder ingredients like nutmeg, ginger or chocolate. If you need coarser shavings, use a box or flat grater – just make sure it has super-sharp teeth.

For An Egg-cellent Breakfast: A Rapid Egg Cooker

An egg cooker might seem a bit excessive, but trust us: we know from experience that it’s quite a handy little thing, ensuring your eggs are boiled to perfection, just how you like them, without any effort. Especially on a Sunday morning when you haven’t had your coffee yet, this tool’s a real treat!

For Magnificent Mash: A Potato Ricer

If you love mashed potatoes or other puréed starchy vegetables, you know that using an immersion blender is going to turn your taters to glue. Enter the potato ricer, which is extremely simple to use and yields a creamier purée than a masher – plus you don’t need to peel the boiled potatoes before adding them to the chamber! Some even have interchangeable plates for achieving slightly different textures.

For Just About Everything: An Instant Pot

Of all the tools listed here, this one takes the multitasking crown, as the Instant Pot truly functions as multiple gadgets all rolled into one. Depending on the specific model you select, it can function as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yoghurt maker, sauté pan, food warmer and sometimes even an air fryer. It can work fast or slow, depending on the settings, but either way, you don’t have to babysit it. Soups, stews, roasts, puddings – you name it: dinner is sorted.

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