5 Kitchen Tools That Will Change Your Life

Here you have it, a short round up of the five kitchen tools and gadgets that have had the biggest impact on my culinary life. Any of these would make a great holiday gift for someone who likes to cook or bake.

1. Microplane Zester – the perfect tool for grating cheese and spices, zesting citrus, shaving chocolate, and more. They’re light and easy to wield and produce very fine shavings although there are various sizes of these should you prefer one that does coarser grating. And it’s stocking-shaped, to boot. They cost between $8 and $20, in general. Read more about it in my Gifts from the Kitchen Gods post.

2. Mandoline – this little tool takes all the tedium and inconsistency out of slicing. There are two kinds — adjustable and fixed. The adjustable ones allow you to slice thick or thin or anywhere in between and often include attachments that let you julienne, shred, or crinkle cut but even the cheaper, non-adjustable kind is awesome – I actually have both and I mostly use the cheaper, non-adjustable one (shown below making quick work of some celeriac) because it is lighter and easier to handle. You can get a non-adjustable one for under $20 and the adjustable kind for roughly $35 and up, depending on the brand and attachments.

Celery root and the mandolin by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

3. Silpat Baking Mat – every baker’s best friend. I love making cookies and scones and free-form breads and even fruit leathers on this thing since it lets you bake without any fear of sticking whatsoever. It’s also very easy to clean. Read more about it in my earlier post.

Chocolate Chip Cream Scones With Orange Zest by Eve Fox, Garden of Eating blog, copyright 2011

4. Kitchen Scale – cooking is really a science and a reliable kitchen scale that takes the guesswork out of amounts is a must for your baking and preserving experiments. I love my little OXO digital scale – it’s small and simple and lets me know how many ounces of flour or tomatoes or strawberries or sugar or whatnot I am dealing with. At just $30, it’s pretty affordable, too.

5. Immersion Blender – I’ve said it many times before but I’ll just say it again… I think this is the single most useful kitchen gadget I own. This handy little wand blender allows you to puree sauces, soups, jams and more right in the pot or bowl without having to deal with pouring hot (or cold) liquids into a blender or food processor. And it makes the clean up wonderfully easy, too — no need to mess with the Cuisinart’s millions of hard to clean parts or cut your fingers dealing with the blade on your blender. Prices vary widely by brand with the cheapest coming in at under $20 and the priciest at around $200 but if my own experience is any guide, you probably don’t need one of the expensive ones. Read more about it in my Gifts from the Kitchen Gods post.

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mac C.
mac C.2 months ago

I have two of the author's favorites listed here. But I can't say enough about the immersion blender, I use mine a lot since I make soups and sauces regularly. Best by far. Thanks for the post.

Cedar F.
Cedar F.about a year ago

I love my immersion blender also. Finally got a small microplane thing to grate nutmeg. Found it's easier to use than the tiny hole side of my box grater. No room to keep a kitchen scale. I've had a little Mouli Shredder (comes with 4 different size - blades?) forever & I don't grate my fingers like happens with the box grater. I don't think they make them anymore. I don't bake enough (other than bread) to need a silpat.

Mickey J.
Past Member 2 years ago

Great blog post! I don’t understand how long it will require me to obtain through all of them!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson2 years ago

thanks, but I have done well without any of them :)

Suzanne L.
SuzanneAWAY L.2 years ago

TY but I have decluttered the kitchen and am down to the basics, which I find very nice.

Sheri P.
Sheri P.2 years ago

3 out of 5 isn't bad...

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Eve, for Sharing this!

Denise Morley
Denise Morley2 years ago

I love my microplane zester and my immersion blender, I've got a teflon sheet that is similar to the baking mat and it is great but I rarely use my mandolin...it's an adjustable one and is kind of pain to clean properly. I've never seen fixed mandolins before, thanks for sharing!

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B.2 years ago

So many recipes tell us to"chop it in the blender" . I haven't got one-no room. I find a sharp knife much easier to clean anyway.

Eve Fox
Eve Fox2 years ago

Wow. A lot of comments to address. I also do love baking/pizza stones - perhaps I'll write about this in another post. Anne G and the people who've mentioned concerns about silicon and baking, I hear ya. I do have my doubts, as well. But I kinda can't stop using the Silpat - it's really great. Also, parchment paper is no better since it actually contains silicon -- something I had not realized initially but that is definitely an ingredient, even in the unbleached parchment paper that I use (rarely) and the silpat is at least less wasteful than the parchment paper since you don't throw anything away.
As for where to find these things, you can buy them online (and my post included some links) or you can probably find most if not all at any kitchen store like Bed Bath and Beyond, etc.