Be a Smarter Cook
Behind every beloved family recipe is a secret ingredient that makes the meal taste that much better—and usually that hidden X factor is time. Rush through making Grandma's marinara sauce or your dad's famous BBQ and you'll notice that it doesn't taste quite the same as when your loved ones spend hours in the kitchen laboring over a delicious dinner. While everyone likes a tasty meal, not all of us enjoy the work it takes to prepare it. So if you're short on time or just don't enjoy the act of cooking, consider adding one of these gadgets to your kitchen to speed up cooking time and meal prep, simplify clean-up, and generally make you look like a star cook.
It's the talk of the town: Cooks can't get over how quickly the Instant Pot enables you to pressure-cook everything from soups and stews to beans and risotto. True, pressure cookers aren't new, but whereas older models often proved unsafe or unreliable, the Instant Pot delivers on the promise of the technology. Plus, boasting seven functions in one, it's not only a pressure cooker. In addition to providing steaming, warming, and sautéing functions, the user-friendly, stainless steel-lined Instant Pot also operates as a slow cooker, rice cooker, and yogurt marker. Indeed, for fast, fresh, homemade meals, it's hard to imagine a more fully featured small appliance. Available at Amazon; $79.
Hand-Powered Food Chopper
How much time do you spend chopping up fruit, vegetables, and other dinner ingredients? The annoying task of slicing and dicing wastes precious minutes and causes hand cramps to boot. Thankfully, the Chef'n VeggiChop Hand-Powered Food Chopper does the hard work for you. The gadget replaces a knife to cut up any ingredient, which comes in handy when making guacamole, pesto, hummus, and other recipes that require finely diced or puréed foods. To use, simply place your food in the container and pull the cord to activate the sharp chopping blades. Available on Amazon; $17.
Many great dishes call for peeled potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, apples, and other fruits and veggies with tough peels. The common tool used to peel these foods is the standard vegetable peeler—but those tools can be awkward to hold and dangerous to use, thanks to the razor-sharp blades located centimeters away from your fingers. The Chef'n PalmPeeler offers and interesting alternative to the ordinary peeler. Once securely fastened to your finger, the gadget rests in the palm of your hand to let you shave any food with ease, with no risk of accidental slipping. The stainless steel blade is strong and durable, while the soft finger grips promise an additional level of comfort. Available on Amazon; $6.99.
Electric Wine Bottle Opener
Have you ever found yourself with a bottle of wine that's particularly difficult to open? When that happens, twisting and tugging can result in a broken cork stuck halfway in the bottle. The Oster Cordless Electric Wine Bottle Opener could eliminate that inconvenience forever. In just seconds, the rechargeable opener will uncork any bottle of vino. The integrated foil cutter easily removes the seal, then all you have to do is place the opener over the bottle and press a button. Voilá! The bottle is open—and you can reward yourself on your new gadget acquisition with a well-deserved glass of wine. Available at Target; $14.99.
Whether you're charged with the task of cooking separate meals for picky eaters or you need to grill, sauté or fry different ingredients for the same meal, you'll probably have to use more than one pot or pan to do the job. Employing this divided skillet, however, this divided skillet will streamline cooking and declutter your stovetop. Three separate sections allow you to prepare different foods at the same time—or help healthy eaters manage their portion control. But the best reason to consider adopting this skillet into your kitchen may be its ability to reduce the number of dishes sitting in the kitchen sink. Available on Amazon; $24.98.
This smart, sleek, and stainless steel appliance earns its space on any kitchen countertop by taking guesswork out of grilling. Whether you prefer zero pink or like your steak cooked rare, the T-Fal OptiGrill utilizes sensors to recognize the thickness of your cuts of meat and adjust its cooking time accordingly to achieve the perfect "doneness" you desire. Start with fresh or frozen foods, heat up the grill, and then wait for color coding and an audible beep to signal dinner time. After you cook up burgers, poultry, sandwich, sausage, red meat, fish, and more, remove the non-stick grill plates for cleanup that's as easy as the meal prep. Available on Amazon; $121.82.
Gravity Electric Pepper Grinder or Salt Mill
Gone are the days where grinding fresh peppercorn or salt involved twisting action. Adjust the grind from medium to coarse, and then just tilt—yes, tilt!—the stainless steel canister for a blue LED light to flick on and your spices to grind automatically. Master multitaskers will appreciate how easy HomeKitchenStar's Premium Electric Pepper Grinders and Salt Mills are to use one-handed, while you stir or hold a plate with the other. The rest of us easygoing chefs will simply appreciate the ease and instant gratification. Available on Amazon; $21.99.
Garbage Bag Bracket
You may have heard about this idea of the garbage bowl—a countertop container for the food waste you generate during meal prep. If you love the concept but can't squeeze yet another item onto your tiny countertop, consider a cabinet-mounted garbage bag. This garbage bag bracket slips over a standard-sized cabinet door and holds a small bag open for you to dispose of vegetable peels, crumbs, and other inedible leftovers. When you're finished with meal prep, remove the bracket from the cabinet and dispose of your produce scraps in the compost bin or toss the whole bag in the trash can. Available on Amazon; $6.99.
From little drips to stray burnt crumbs, your oven is a combat zone of spills and messes. Cut down on the grime and make cleanup easier by placing these reusable liners on the bottom of your oven. These removable and easy-to-clean add-ons catch spills before they become a baked-on memory of last night's meal. Available on Amazon; $13.99.
Indulge in your favorite fried foods without moving up a notch in your belt with this air fryer that whips up light-as-air delicacies with 85% less fat than a deep fryer. The generous 5.8-quart-capacity unit crisps up everything from shoestring potatoes to a full rotisserie chicken through 11 preset functions, including fries, steak, poultry, seafood, and vegetables. Just preheat the unit and tap the desired preset to speed through dinner duty, then remove the detachable non-stick fry basket to clean. Available on Amazon; $119.99.
Electric Can Opener
Opening a tin with a conventional can opener makes a mess in the kitchen even before you’ve turned on the stove. Sharp can lid edges can cut unsuspecting fingers, while pop-top cans send food flying. Home cooks can avoid these hassles with this electric equivalent that unseals cans along the sides to achieve smooth, ouch-free and mess-free can opening. Tap the lever on top of the sleek chrome-and-black tool to safely release the lid and get cooking. Available on Amazon; $29.85.
For a stimulating start to the day without the mid-afternoon energy crash, forgo your morning Joe for a nutrient-packed smoothie fresh from your NutriBullet blender. This 600-Watt, 12-piece model includes three blending cups that hold up to 24 ounces of hearty ingredients, from fibrous fruits to nuts, while the interchangeable extraction and milling blades twist and turn to crush them within 60 seconds while preserving their nutrients. After fueling up, twist off the detachable blades, rinse with water, and toss the cups in the dishwasher—getting healthy couldn’t be simpler. Available on Amazon; $57.16.
Why fatigue your fingers chopping garlic by hand or lug out the food processor to machine mince it? This garlic press peels and chops garlic cloves at the same time, pushing peels out through the built-in cleaner and producing uniform pieces through a grid-like release chamber. Load three or more cloves into the spacious garlic reservoir and push the soft-handled, non-slip lever for garlic that’s minced to perfection and ready to toss into salad dressing, spaghetti sauce, and more. Available on Amazon; $16.95.
Roll-Up Dish Drying Rack
Drying clean dishes is a chore made all the more unappetizing by plastic dish racks that easily mold and standalone metal dish racks that rust. Roll out this sleek stainless steel grate over the sink to instantly gain a drying rack that fends off mold and rust without eating into surrounding cooking prep surfaces. Lay clean dishes onto the rack, or slot cutting boards or plates in between the grates to multiply sink storage. The food-safe, heat-proof rack is free of the chemical BPA and can withstand temperatures up to 400°F. When you’re not drying dishes, rinse it off, roll it up, and roll it out on the counter as a cooling rack for fresh-from-the-oven foods or dishes. Available on Amazon; $25.99.
Pancake Batter Dispenser
While a momentary slip of a ladle can lead to lopsided pancakes, this batter dispenser makes it easy to serve up a stack of uniformly sized pancakes. The BPA-free tool with a trigger handle and a wide mouth ensures perfect portion control as it dispenses up to four cups of batter either directly into a pan or into a pancake mold in your desired shape. The fail-safe valve ensures that the liquid goodness that comes out doesn’t soil your hands or clothes. If your treat of choice isn’t pancakes, use the dispenser to distribute batter into baking tins to make muffins or cupcakes or ramekins to whip up custard. Available on Amazon; $18.99.
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!