5 Kitchen Gadgets You Don’t Need (and 3 You Do!)

So if you subscribe to our newsletter, your eyes aren’t deceiving you–we shared this a couple of weeks ago. But it turned out to be kind of a controversial post and people had a lot to say, so I decided to open up to conversation to everyone. (Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, I came down with a sudden, nasty upper respiratory infection and the idea of editing pictures and writing stuff people might want to read made me feel dark inside, so here we are.)

Whether you’ve had your own kitchen for awhile or are just getting started on collecting kitchen tools, you might be wondering what you do and don’t need. Take it from a girl who’s been down the road of gadget overconsumption–you need less than you think! Here are my tips on 5 things you don’t need (and 3 that you do.)

5 Things You Don’t Need

KitchenAid Professional Series. Don’t get me wrong–I love my KitchenAid mixer. I had two classic/artisan mixers before I got my professional size mixer and I miss them like crazy. First of all, it’s too big and the motor isn’t adequate for heavy-duty jobs. If I’m making a giant batch of cookies or a million loaves of bread, I pull out my Bosch mixer. But for everyday jobs or small loaves of bread, it’s too large to adequately mix things. Secondly, it’s awkward to add dry ingredients after you’ve started mixing (which is essential for so many cake and cookie recipes). With the tilt head, you just lift the head and add the ingredients, but with the professional, you lower the bowl. But there’s still not enough room to add things from a mixing bowl, so you either spill ingredients or you have to remove the attachments, remove the bowl, then reattach everything. And finally, the attachments aren’t dishwasher safe–they don’t have the enamel coating on them, which means they’re pretty and also that they will be ruined if you put them in the dishwasher. Plus, the professional model is significantly more expensive, so if you’re on the fence about mixer size, definitely go with the smaller Kitchenaid mixers.

Silicone baking mats. This is a controversial one, especially since I have advocated having them in the past. But. Here’s my thing. If I still have to wash it (and it’s not easy to wash), what’s the point? I mean, aside from things not sticking to the pan. What do I recommend instead? Parchment paper all the way. You could buy a lot of rolls (or boxes of cookie sheet-sized pieces) for the cost of one Silpat. Now, Roul’Pats on the other hand (silicone mats for rolling dough) are treasures.

 

 

Garlic press. This is another tool I’ve recommended in the past. But, after breaking several, and realizing that I spend more time cleaning them than it would have taken me to chop the garlic, it became obsolete in my kitchen. I don’t even own one anymore and I go through at least a head of garlic a week. I actually use a meat mallet now to smash the garlic and remove the peels, then I just give it a quick chop with my knife. So much easier!

Rice cooker. I loved my rice cooker once upon a time, but after I got my Instant Pot, it went unused. One issue I have with rice cookers is that if you have a large cooker, it’s hard to cook small quantities of rice (and vice versa). My Instant Pot still cooks perfect rice (in small or large quantities), but it also does a million other things, so once I realized that, my rice cooker was sent to the great kitchen appliance store in the sky.

Specialty pans like crepe, omelet, and quesadilla pans. With a couple of online tutorials or Youtube videos (or just some rudimentary kitchen basics in the case of the great quesadilla), you can use a small non-stick pan for all these things. Plus a million other things. Resist the middle of the night infomercial temptation.

 

 

3 Things You Do Need

Immersion blender. If you ever make sauces or soups that need to be silky smooth, or basically anything hot that you plan on blending (like homemade applesauce), you need an immersion blender. Transferring hot ingredients to a blender (and the subsequent blending) can be dangerous (and kind of scary). Immersion blenders are cheap, safe, and way less messy.

Thermopop. Every kitchen needs a reliable thermometer and Thermopop is the best (America’s Test Kitchen even says so). It’s inexpensive, comes in adorable colors, and can be used on anything from candy to bread to meat on the grill. Sure, it’s a little more expensive than something from Walmart, but it will be more reliable and last longer, saving you money in the long run.

 

Pineapple corer. If you’ve ever cut a fresh pineapple with a knife, you don’t even need me to explain this one. Just do it. It seems silly until you see it in action and then it just feels right.

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36 comments

  1. I actually agree with most of this. I love the thought of owning most of the five items, but they are needed. I have a regular kitchenaid that I love and would never upgrade because of the handles, I feel like they would annoy me. No silpats needed and I use a hand grater for garlic when I’m too lazy to chop it. It almost makes it melt into everything and I prefer that. I’d have everything in my kitchen but I lack space and desire to spend money on something that only has one purpose.

    http://aneducationindomestication.com

  2. So funny, because I feel the opposite about most if these. I love my KitchenAid “professional series” and have never had issues with adding ingredients or just throwing the attachments in the dishwasher. I can adequately make enough cookies/muffins/bread for our family of 7 without ever having problems with the motor or the size of bowl.

    Also, I love my silpats. Yeah, they’re annoying to wash but I hate having to cut the parchment paper to fit my cookie sheets (how come parchment paper is never the right size?! It annoys me!) Plus, less waste that way (though I’m not usually someone who usually cares that much, truthfully).

    And I still use my rice cooker often because I usually am using the instant pot for whatever is going to go on to of the rice made in my rice cooker. 😁 I guess I could do the pot-in-pot method, but I haven’t gotten that far into my instant pot experience, yet.

    And I’m sure there is no way I’d own the pineapple corer/peeler thing. It takes like 2 minutes to just use a knife and I don’t like having utensils that are only good for one purpose. Seems like just one more thing to have in my drawer that I only use occasionally when pineapple is on sale.

    I totally respect your choice to love or hate these things, I just find it interesting that I feel so differently. 😁

    1. I used to feel the same way about parchment paper (all the cutting), but the now make it in rectangles! I have found them at Target and Safeway in the same place as the regular roll. Such a game changer!

    2. I’m totally in the same boat as you! Especially with regards to silpats- I find them indispensable! I’ve also found that when you really don’t feel like dealing with them, you can stick them in top of some other dishes, at least in the top rack of the dishwasher, and they come back clean 😉

      1. I put mine in the dishwasher. I use clothes pins or even rubber bands to keep them in place. Never had an issue washing them this way. I mostly use them for candy coating Oreos or cake pops. I do prefer parchment for its ease if use fir batch baking cookies. So, I guess I agree with both of you.

    3. I don’t make rice in my Instant Pot either because the main dish for a family of 7 that will go on the rice takes too much room. So another pot to cook enough rice doesn’t fit in my Instant Pot.

  3. Have you ever tried a garlic zoom? A friend of mine introduced me to it, and I kind of love it. I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond and have used it quite often. It’s great for letting kids help with cooking, it’s small, and it can go right into the dishwasher. You literally just put the garlic inside and zoom it back and forth. I bang the top on the counter to get all the garlic into the lid, and then swipe it out with my finger. https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/chef-39-n-reg-garlic-zoom-reg-garlic-chopper-set/1043565283?Keyword=garlic+zoom

  4. I was going to buy a Thermopop yesterday (I’m still going to) but then I saw they have a new gadget on their site called the Dot. I think I want to get that too but not sure… anyway Kate can you tell me what the difference between the Kitchenaid Artisan and Classic mixers are? What would you recommend? And do you like the glass or stainless steel mixing bowl?

    1. As far as I know, the artisan and classic are basically the same. I had both bowls and really, they’re both great–sometimes it’s handy to have two (like if you’re making frosting and brownies), so I’d actually recommend just buying whichever one you don’t get with your mixer.

    2. The Artisan model has a more powerful motor. I have both the glass and metal bowls but rarely use the glass bowl.

  5. I have used the same garlic press for over 10 years, I got it at IKEA and it is all metal. There is a cup (where the garlic goes) that comes out to make it easy to wash. I just rinse it really good, use my finger tips to get the excess garlic out, and let it dry next to the sink, easy peasy.

  6. I used to hate my garlic press as well, until a friend showed me I was using it wrong. I used to peel the garlic clove, but if you put the clove in without peeling, the garlic presses out, and the peel stays behind and usually just pops right out and goes into the trash. The peel keeps the holes from clogging, and my hands don’t smell like garlic. It was a game changer for me! I rarely have to do more than rinse my garlic press. (It is from pampered chef, but I don’t think it’s the press that is the secret.)

  7. Also, we are split on the pineapple corer. My husband loves it, but I always feel like you end up throwing away a lot of good pineapple. But the ease of it means we use it more than not! It seriously is mess free and produces beautiful pineapple rings.

  8. I am 100% with you, especially regarding the silicone baking pads. We have two, received as gifts, and I MUCH prefer baking with parchment paper or aluminum foil. It seems like the silicone is impossible to get TRULY clean — it always feels gritty or greasy, no matter how well I clean it.

    One of the few single-use items I LOVE is my grapefruit knife. I don’t even eat grapefruit that often, but when I do, it really improves the experience.

  9. I pretty much agree with all of this. I have the smaller Kitchen Aid, and, while I HAVE gone to my mom’s house and used her professional one when I was making a GIANT cake for a baby shower – I found it super cumbersome to use. Maybe if you use it all the time, you get used to it, but I found it pretty annoying and, aside from that giant cake, I’ve never found a job that my Artisan one couldn’t do.

    Also, I HATE garlic presses. I use A LOT of garlic and I just don’t find it that hard to chop it up. If I need it super fine – like for raw use in dips and things, then I grate it on the microplane – easy peasy.

    I agree with Laura on the pineapple corer – I feel like it wastes too much pineapple (although I’ve never used one). Maybe I’ll have to do a science experiment someday and figure out if there truly is a lot more waste.

    I love, love, love my immersion blender – and if you get the one with the whisk attachment and the mini chopper, it’s even better. What a TRUE multitasker.

    I still use a rice cooker because I don’t have an Instant Pot 🙁

  10. Totally agree with all of this except I am very attached to my IKEA garlic press! I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and I am trying to convince my husband to get rid of our rice cooker and replace it with another pressure cooker so I can do meat and rice/potatoes/veggies at the same time. Have you ever used the stove top pressure cookers?

  11. Thanks for the recommendation on the Thermapop! I’ve wanted a Thermapen forever, but couldn’t justify the $100. I am so glad to know the same company makes a less expensive one! Ordering now! Also, I checked it out on Amazon and it was almost 3 times the price on there as the Thermaworks website that you linked.

  12. I love my 6qt professional mixer, but I make a 6 loaf batch of bread (almost) weekly. Sometimes it is big for small stuff, but I usually can make it work. I think it all depends on what you’re using it for.

  13. I feel the opposite of you on some of these! I love my professional series kitcheaid, but I have never had another one so I guess I have nothing to compare it to (and I will admit that I’d love a Bosch someday!!).

    I love my Silpat, but I too have recently discovered the precut parchment papers that are awesome as well. And I LOVE my OXO garlic press, it is the best one I’ve ever used (I’ve had this one for 6.5 years and it’s still works like the day I got it). And it has a grid of little knobs that clean out the holes for you.

    I also don’t like rice cookers (I prefer to make my rice in a regular sauce pan on the stove, easier to clean than a rice cooker too). And I hate those specialty pans too, I imagine they just take up space that could be used by more useful kitchen items.

    I have a love hate relationship with my immersion blender. Is there a brand you recommend?
    I have a kitchenaid one and it sucks most of the time, it never blends anything very well. At best I get a really chunky sauce. I’ve debated calling kitchenaid and complaining about it (don’t know if it’s just mine or if all of them stink).

    Not sure I like the idea of that pineapple corer, looks like a lot of waste to me. I hate cutting pineapples but I usually make my husband do it. He has this super fancy way of doing it that minimizes waste :).

  14. Whoa Whoa Whoa… I love you but we will have to take it outside on this post and hash it out!! Just teasing, I agree with you especially on the Silpats. I love my Garlic Press (I have the Kuhn Rikon one from Amazon, cleans like a champ and dishwasher safe) and I love my rice cooker.
    But to your point… they are not essential. I could do without them. For me the rice cooker is a luxury item along with the garlic press. On Tuesdays everyone has practice or class, so I prep dinner at three pm in the Instant Pot and it’s either a curry or an Asian dish. Then I put rice in my rice cooker… when we return home at what feels like 2am (or 7:30pm) dinner is ready… I haven’t figured out this “pot in pot” cooking yet, to do it all in the instant pot.

  15. I read the title of this post and then saw the pictures and felt pretty sure I knew which ones fell into the “need” and “don’t need” piles and I was wrong on several of them. And I (respectfully) disagree on most of them!
    I think the pineapple thing is ridiculous! I’ve never actually had one but cutting and peeling a pineapple just isn’t that hard. It certainly doesn’t justify it’s own tool!
    I bought Silpats at your recommendation so I was surprised to see that you don’t think people need them. However, I don’t love them. I think they’re a pain and I swear my cookies come out flatter when I use them than when I don’t. I don’t like using parchment though. It’s a pain. I just stick with good old Pam cooking spray and wash my pans after.
    I have a classic size KitchenAid an have a love/hate relationship with it. First of all, the lowest speed is not low enough. When adding flour or other dry ingredients to it while it’s already going, they go everywhere! And I wish the bowl were bigger. When I make any kind of bread dough it ends up climbing up the hook and into the head attachment and then I’m left with a mess to clean up afterwards. I’ve always wanted a bigger one for that reason but now I don’t know.
    I love my rice cooker! I use it all the time and recommend it to friends. I have an instant pot but don’t feel like it’s a replacement for my rice cooker but rather a happy companion. Main course in the insta and the rice in the cooker!
    Garlic presses are lame, I’ll give you that. They don’t do a good job of getting all of the garlic out and into the pan and are a huge pain to clean. I just buy the jars of minced garlic that they sell at the grocery store. SO much easier!
    I own a crepe pan and love it! We love crepes and it’s so much easier to have one nice pan that has a perfectly coated finish and will make a perfect crepe every time. My everyday pans are getting older and their coated finish isn’t great anymore. It would be a praying/guessing game every time as to whether or not a crepe would come out of them each time.
    I DO love my immersion blender and have been wanting a Thermopop though so I guess we don’t disagree on EVERYTHING! 😉

  16. I love my garlic press! Probably because I stink at mincing it with a knife though, haha. Maybe sometime you could post a tutorial? 😉

  17. I completely agree about the rice cooker. Now, I don’t have an instant pot or whatever they’re called. I cook my rice on the stove. In a saucepan. *gasp* I’ve never seen the need for a rice cooker.

  18. Things I must have: Pampered Chef hand chopper. This nifty can/bottle lid opener I won at a Pampered Chef party. And this totally neat gravy whisk (we call it the boinger) — no lumps in our gravy, ever. Things I do without: the electric frying pan my mom insisted I get when I got married. And I owned one garlic press from IKEA (bad, bad idea). It broke the first time I used it, so now I just wimp out and buy the pre-minced garlic in a 55 gallon barrel.

  19. My must haves:
    Bosch mixer, crock pot, panini press, huge griddle and double ovens.
    Is it weird that I LOVE cutting fresh pineapple 🍍?
    Favorite fun item? Waffle cone maker.

  20. I agree with you mostly, but I do still use my rice cooker when I’m making something else (meat, beans, etc.) in my InstantPot. Amen on the parchment, especially now that Reynolds makes cookie sheet sized sheets. I’m also in agreement on the Kitchen Aid. My mom gave me a Bosch for my wedding and my MIL gave me a professional series Kitchen Aid, and I’m always wishing my Kitchen Aid were smaller.

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