Kitchen tools

6 essential kitchen utensils to elevate your kitchen

When many imagine their ideal kitchen setup, they probably imagine owning a Cooking aid stand mixer or a high end Dutch oven to concoct the ultimate culinary masterpiece. But in addition to a good chef’s knife, a few small purchases might actually be better investments than those more expensive luxury items. For just a few dollars in some cases, these tools can change the cooking experience and make the elaborate meal prep often involved in the recipes we try in 2021 much more feasible. Not to mention, these tools might even help impress picky in-laws at your family reunions this holiday season, too much.

Here are six essential tools that can seriously improve the quality and aesthetics of the food that comes out of your kitchen. We update this list regularly.

Read more: Get a smart kitchen without buying new appliances

David Priest / CNET

The best investment in my kitchen over the past four years has been a mandolin. Essentially, it’s an adjustable slicer for fruits and vegetables, and it makes preparing salads easy. All of the complex slicing you normally have to do for good salads is so much easier with a mandolin, and preparing vegetables for pickling is just as easy. Not only does this make everything you slice look even and beautiful, but it also gives you fantastic opportunities to enhance the textures of your signature dishes. This particular model was not available at the time of writing, but it is an example of what to look for.

David Priest / CNET

If you cook steak with some regularity, you probably already have a cast iron pan. But these pans are just as useful for preparing all kinds of meats, from chicken to octopus. One of my favorite recipes that I have perfected over the years is an octopus-lime bagna cauda – and the well-grasped baby octopus is one of the most important components. When it’s too cold or I’m too lazy to grill, my cast iron skillet is perfect for grabbing those tiny tentacles.

Read more: We tried two lighter cast iron pans to see if they do the job.

David Priest / CNET

A good chef’s knife doesn’t come cheap, but it’s an investment that will last for years. The problem is, many of us are happy with mediocre knives because our old ones are getting dull and we don’t want to shell out for a $ 150 knife every two years. The tool that helps you keep your knife as performing as possible is a knife sharpener. You can pick up a well-functioning pencil sharpener for as little as $ 6 on Amazon.

David Priest / CNET

One of the biggest obstacles to preparing complex dishes is preparation. If you need to mince, dice, or roughly chop half a dozen ingredients, a roomy cutting board makes all the difference. Yes, you can buy small plastic cutting boards for a hell of a lot of clearance from TJ Maxx, but it’s a better investment than spending $ 20 for a board that’s at least 18 x 14 inches. You will immediately be grateful that you can keep three separate piles of herbs on it, as well as chopping carrots without the slices rolling on the ground.

David Priest / CNET

If you really want to get started in making high quality breads or desserts, a kitchen scale is a must. You can get one for a little over $ 10 on Amazon, and it will make your recipes much more accurate. As the saying goes, cooking is an art and baking is a science. Science depends on math, and good math begins with precise measurements.

David Priest / CNET

Five degrees can separate a good steak from a perfect steak, and unless you’re a seasoned chef, cooking with the eye isn’t a reliable way to achieve those perfect results. Especially if you are experimenting with different meats, a meat thermometer will be one of the most used tools in your drawers. Three years after buying my first, honestly, I don’t know how I tried to cook meat without it.

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