We’re always looking for ways to make our lives a little bit easier every day. Sometimes though, we just deal with a challenge or annoyance out of habit or because we don’t know there’s another way.
When it comes to cooking, something that we spend much of our lives thinking about, talking about, and doing, we often settle for what we have to work with in our kitchens. Most kitchens are stocked with essentials: pots, pans, good knives, mixing bowls, sturdy sheet pans, measuring cups, casserole dishes, to name a few. But what about everyday cooking tools you never knew existed, or needed, the ones that just might be the difference between making dinner or not?
Our kitchen experts put together a list of 13 smart kitchen tools that fix common kitchen problems in easy, innovative ways. You’ll wonder what you ever did without them!
For the best combination of heat protection, comfort, and maneuverability, try silicone oven mitts. They contour to your hands for a secure grip, and are designed to beat the heat, up to 480°F, so you can comfortably lift a hot, heavy cast-iron skillet or a large roasting pan from the oven with ease. The textured surface provides additional grip and the cotton-polyester lining keeps your hands comfortable. Because they are waterproof, you can lift corn, lobster, or ribs directly from boiling water, or transfer whole chickens or roasts to serving platters. And, they’re machine washable. When you just need to keep your fingers safe, a silicone microwave grip set works great.
With the right microwave cookware, you won’t have to soak and scrub rice and other foods off the inside of pots and pans and your stovetop. A Micro-Cooker® can quickly and easily steam veggies, make perfectly cooked rice, poach chicken, melt chocolate, heat soup, and more in the microwave. You can even make a healthy veggie and rice dinner in less than 20 minutes. The frosted lid has holes that let steam escape and the lid locks into place to drain liquid before serving. We recommend using the 3-qt. Micro-Cooker® Plus for starchy side dishes like rice, quinoa, pasta, polenta, and potatoes. It includes a boil-over guard so your microwave stays clean and free of spills.
When you grab the can opener out of the drawer, do you quietly whisper, “please work” only to have to use all your might to crank every turn of the wheel? Have you ever had a dusty lid fall into the can after opening? There’s a better way. We recommend a smooth-edge can opener. This clever cutting mechanism pries under the lid’s outer lip so the entire top lifts up and off and leaves a smooth edge on both the lid and can so there’s no sharp edges, no worries about cutting yourself. The claw removes the lid with a push of the button to keep your hands clean. Because the wheel never touches the contents in the can, there’s no gunky wheels or risk of cross contamination. It’s a different motion than using a standard can opener, but once you’ve done it, it becomes routine.
Cutting small food in half is such a tedious task, especially if you’re making something for a large group or party. The Close & Cut lets you to cut batches of up to 1 cup of food like grape or cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, seedless grapes, and pitted olives, all at once. It’s also great for cutting bagels, halving or butterflying chicken breasts (which can be expensive to buy), or creating pockets in food for stuffing. The angled design stabilizes food and holds it in place, whether you’re cutting a big batch or just a few pieces. For safety, there’s a finger guard to protect your hands, a knife stop, and non-skid feet.
If you leave boiling pasta or potatoes, milk or cream, or big batches of sauce or soup on the stove long enough, they’re sure to boil over. Putting a lid on won’t stop overflows (though it will rattle) or keep your stove from becoming a mess, but a Boil-Over No More certainly will. This silicone spill guard has an insert that breaks up the bubbles so they drain back in the pot, and can be removed to keep an eye on what you’re cooking. If you flip the insert from bottom to top it becomes a splatter guard, perfect for preventing messy splatters in the microwave or on the stove. These spill guards come in two sizes and fit most pan sizes. Side handles make for safe, easy removal.
If you’re tired of scrubbing oil and grease off the stovetop or have just accepted that cooking bacon will cause a few sizzle burns, a hinged splatter screen is the way to go. In addition to keeping oil inside the pan and off your stove and body, the screen perforations let steam escape so your food gets nicely seared instead of soggy. The hinges and silicone-covered handles let you check cooking progress and turn food without removing the screen (just be sure to use a mitt). Plus, it’s dishwasher-safe and folds in half for easy storage.
After slicing, dicing, and chopping food on a cutting board, do you pick up the board, walk over to the stove, do a little balancing act, and then push the prepped food into a pot or pan with your hand or knife? Lightweight, flexible cutting mats are thick enough to protect your countertop and table, but flexible enough to bend any way needed to funnel ingredients right into your recipe. This set includes three mats so you can do all your prep without cross-contamination, and features helpful information like knife techniques, measure marks, and portion sizes. Silicone backing grips counters to keep firmly in place. And when you are done, you can wipe down or pop in the dishwasher. Need a great gift idea for college students, new cooks, and first-time homeowners? This basic kitchen tool set includes cutting mats, multicolor coated knives, and more.
Does it seem like your favorite spatula or turning tool is somehow always at the bottom of the utensil drawer? With a rotating utensil holder, you’ll always have the right tool at your fingertips, ready when you are. We like how this one rotates easily, fits a bunch of utensils, has a handy spoon rest that stores in the holder when not in use, and looks great with any kitchen décor.
Cutting a whole watermelon or carving a roast can be messy with a standard cutting board. This large grooved cutting board does double duty: it’s flat on one side for everyday cutting tasks and has a well on the other side that captures juices as you slice melons, tomatoes, meat, poultry, and more. There are handy measure marks and nonskid edges to keep the board safely in place.
When it’s time to tenderize meat or flatten chicken breasts, instead of grabbing a rolling pin, empty wine bottle, cast iron skillet, or a can of vegetables, use a heavy-duty meat tenderizer. This one has a toothed side to tenderize tougher, less-expensive cuts of meat like chuck steak, and a flat size to flatten chicken breasts, pork, or beef. You can also use the flat side to easily crush cookies, crackers, or cereal. Not only will it save time and money, once you see how great it works, you’ll wonder what you did without it.
Some cooks swear by using plastic bags to bread chicken and other meats, but we find it makes a gummy mess. With this three-piece coating trays & tool set, you’ll have an “Aha” moment. The trays interlock so spills and mess are minimized, and each tray has nonskid feet to keep securely in place. The set comes with nylon tongs for dipping, breading, and turning which keeps your fingers clean so you can look something up on your phone, or get the door more quickly without having to stop and wash your hands. This set is also great for dipping fruit, pretzels, and sweets in melted chocolate, then rolling in colored sugar, chopped nuts, or candies. Plus, they are dishwasher-safe and nest for easy storage.
A colander is indispensable in a kitchen. Instead of your run-of-the-mill inexpensive plastic colander that can melt if gets too hot and has large holes not suitable for rice, quinoa, or angel hair pasta, use a sturdy stainless steel mesh colander. This set has raised bottoms that quickly rinse and drain everything from fruits to pastas, potatoes, grains, and more. Flat rims make them easy to lift, they are dishwasher-safe, nest for easy storage, and great looking.
If you avoid cooking with fresh garlic because you don’t like garlic-scented hands, this garlic peeler & slicer set lets you peel and thinly slice garlic without touching raw garlic. All you have to do is pop a few cloves into the peeler and roll it over a hard surface. Voila, the peels come off like magic! Put the peeled cloves into the slicer and twist to create perfectly even, thin slices of garlic, thinner than you could ever get with a knife. This handy tool also slices chocolate, nuts, and hard cheese.