- In most cases, if a product seems too good to be true, it probably is and will underperform when used in real life.
- But sometimes a given gadget really can simplify your life; when it comes to cooking products, that can mean meal prep that’s quicker, cleaner, and safer, too.
- From an avocado slicer to non-stick pans, these ten cooking products might seem like gimmicks that over-promise results, but try them yourself and you’ll see they really are a cut above.
Certain pieces of kitchen accouterment are indispensable. No kitchen is complete without a few great knives and a good set of pots and pans, for example, and there’s really no way to improve upon a sharp knife and a large pan.
Still other kitchen tools are basically useless, adding layers of complexity to the culinary process for no appreciable reason. (Banana slicer, I’m looking at you. Also garlic presses make a wretched mess – just use your knife and slice away.)
There are, however, a plethora of kitchen gadgets that might seem like gimmicks but really do work, making cooking and meal prep faster, cleaner, and safer, too. Some can even help you cook healthier foods without sacrificing flavour.
If you love preparing food at home but wouldn’t mind a few hacks to make your time in the kitchen more efficient, then treat yourself to a few of these kitchen products that actually work.
1. Air fryers
When you fry food in oil, it’s simply delicious – it’s crispy, it’s greasy, it’s a delight. But frying food not only breaks down some of its nutritional value, it also adds a lot of fat from the cooking oil.
So-called air fryers are actually just compact convection ovens that circulate superheated air all around the food in their cooking chambers, thereby creating the same crisp, tasty foods without the use of oils. An air fryer can cook significantly faster than a regular oven, produce a food that tastes almost as though it were fried, and requires only a quick and easy cleanup of its removable basket.
2. Immersion blenders
Also called hand blenders, immersion blenders are one of those devices that will become indispensable to you the first time you use one. Think about it like this: a traditional blender has rotating blades at the bottom of a large pitcher toward which your foods are hopefully drawn during the blending process.
A hand blender, on the other hand, lets you move those whirling blades wherever you need, whether you’re blending up the contents of a single bowl or a large stockpot. I’ve perfectly pureed soups prepared to serve twelve people in about 20 seconds using my immersion blender, and I have a feeling the last 10 seconds weren’t even necessary.
3. Vegetable choppers
I’m pretty handy in the kitchen, but I’d still say it takes me about two minutes to dice an onion. With a vegetable chopper, it takes about three seconds.
OK, actually it takes about 30 seconds, but 27 of those are spent peeling the onion, slicing off the top and bottom, and then halving it, with the last few seconds devoted to pushing the top of the chopped down onto a half of the onion, forcing it through the grid pattern of blades. The chopped onion pieces fall into a large plastic chamber from which they can be immediately retrieved or stored for later use.
4. Greens strippers
We eat a fair amount of kale in our house (just like everyone else these days), so I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time pulling those dark crinkly leaves off of their thick stubborn stalks. A better way to do it? Just thread the stalk of a kale, chard, or collard green leaf into one of the holes of a greens stripper and then give it a solid pull. The stalk will come through the hole while the leafy goodness you want falls away completely.
5. Egg cracker
Yes, this device is borderline superfluous, but it sure does work. An egg cracker can quickly break open an egg and drop the yolk and whites into a bowl or pan, keeping your hands clean and speeding up the process at the same time. And with an attachment, it can even catch the yolk, separating it from the whites and removing yet another step required for some recipes. If you cook with eggs often enough, get an egg cracker. If you rarely cook using eggs … don’t.
6. Oven gloves
If you’re still using a traditional oven mitt, you’re doing it wrong. These days, there are multiple types of heat-resistant gloves that offer your hands better protection against burns whether you’re reaching into the oven, holding a pot, or flipping burgers on a flaming grill.
And of course being gloves, not mittens, they afford you a much better grip. Some use weaves of heat-resistant fabric, some are made of silicone, and many use both.
7. Strainer lid pasta pots
If you cook pasta more than once or twice a month, treat yourself to a pot with a built-in strainer lid. It will save you time, minimise messes, and reduce the chance of burns, too. Pretty simple stuff, really: the lid locks in place and features perforations on one side through which you can pour out the water once the linguine, farfalle, or rigatoni is ready, eliminating the need for the use of a separate strainer and helping keep your hands farther from that boiling hot water.
8. Granite Rock non-stick pans
I still recommend using cooking spray or oil when you prepare food in a Granite Rock pan, but they really are some of the best nonstick cookware out there. Will you be able to blow a fried egg out of the pan like the guy does in the TV commercial? I don’t know; I’ve never tried to blow on my cooked breakfast foodstuffs before. But I will tell you that, if kept clean and not scratched, these pans do have remarkably easy food release.
9. Bavarian Edge knife sharpeners
A sharp knife is essential for efficient meal prep and, in fact, safer than a dull knife, as it will make more precise cuts and won’t slip out of place during the slicing and dicing. Getting that sharp edge is genuinely easy with a Bavarian Edge sharpener, which can be used on all sorts of kitchen blades, from cleavers to pairing knives to serrated knives to single bevels. And most of the time, the sharpening process will take all of a single minute.
10. Avocado slicer
If you eat a lot of avocados, then you know they are notoriously hard to handle. Once sliced open and with the pit removed, only the most careful, even graceful motions will produce intact, handsome slices of that fatty green goodness.
You can have that or a single quick pass of an avocado slicer, which can lift the flesh out of the skin while simultaneously slicing it into a several cleanly cut pieces that are perfect for sandwiches or salads or easy to dice further or of course to mas
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