The Best Kitchen Gadgets, According to Our Many Years of Reviewing Equipment

We went through our kitchen reviews to find the best kitchen gadgets for many tasks, including making coffee and seasoning a steak.

Person testing temperature of water in a bucket with the Breville Joule Sous Vide
Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Few spaces illustrate the whole “work smarter, not harder” principle quite like the kitchen. Even the most casual culinary endeavors take time. Meals of all varieties require lots of prep—garlic peeled, lemons juiced, fish fileted, chicken brined—before you’ve even preheated the oven. Not to mention the grocery shopping, the constant stirring and simmering, the clean-up. Fortunately, however, there is time (and fury) to be salvaged using a good gadget. What if your pepper mill out-ground all the others? If your grater out-grated? Your blender out-blended?

The truth is, for busy cooks in hectic kitchens, great gear equals easier (and better) cooking. Think: the food processor pureeing your sauce to its optimal viscosity, the meat thermometer cautioning you against overcooking, the humble food storage container preserving the freshness of your ingredients. So, in the interest of saving your time and, well, your dinner, here’s a list of some of our most beloved, tried-and-tested kitchen gadgets and tools to keep on hand. 

Our Favorite Kitchen Gadgets

Plenty of espresso machines come with exorbitant price tags and an absurdly complicated array of bells and whistles. We assure you, however, that this particular Breville model, which clocks in at under $500 (reasonable, frankly, in the grand scheme of espresso machines) is plenty user-friendly. In fact, it makes it difficult to pull a bad espresso shot, even for folks who refuse to consult their instruction manuals. 

Hand using steam wand grip on Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine next to glass mug and measuring cup
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

Ranked as our #1, failsafe instant-read thermometer (when put to the test against a whopping 17 other options), the Thermapen ONE proved itself the meat thermometer to end all meat thermometers. Thanks to its one-second response time (we can attest it’s true to its name), this thing will indeed give you an instant read. Plus, it has a 360-degree auto-rotating screen with a backlight for visibility. 

A person using a thermometer to take the temperature of chicken thighs roasting in the oven
Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

When you’re shopping for a manual pasta maker, you’re only in the market for two things: ease and functionality. And as far as manually operated machines go, you’ll find few models more capable of producing brilliantly thin dough, with perfect, pristine, clean-cut edges. Plus, our team found this Marcato machine notably smooth, steady, and simple to use. 

Pasta dough is fed through the Marcato Atlas 150 Pasta Machine with Motor
Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Yes, it’s a bit of a steep price for your drip coffee maker, but here’s the thing: It makes really good coffee. And frankly, if you start brewing at home rather than purchasing a daily drip at your local cafe, it’ll pay for itself in no time. This thing has precision temperature settings, fast brew times, a built-in bloom cycle, and comes with a 5-year warranty. But just to reiterate…the prime reason we’re championing this machine is its brewing abilities.

The Ratio Six Coffee Maker on a counter next to coffee and cereal.
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Our favorite coffee grinder for most people (read: not super techy) is a perennial Serious Eats favorite. It has a twist top that allows one to easily change the settings, grinds consistently, and is reasonably priced at under $100. 

Person turning the dial on the OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

An Instant Pot is a jack-of-all-trades. It can pressure cook, slow cook, and sauté. It can cook rice, make yogurt, steam, and bake cakes. Per our tests, this model sautéed and browned better (and faster) than its competitors. It has a pressure release switch and silicone handles designed to stay cool, so you won’t burn yourself even when moving the pot.

Instant Pot Duo Pro on countertop
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

As far as our blender research goes (and it goes quite far), the Vitamix 5200 simply has no competition. A true workhorse, the thing is designed to last—and there’s no food too fibrous or dense to deter its blades. Producing reliably creamy results with easy-to-use settings, the thing will easily replace any and all blending or food processing tools in your kitchen. Plus, it stays cool and quiet, no matter the task at hand. 

Hands putting the lid on a Vitamix 5200 Professional-Grade Blender filled with fruit and vegetables
Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Our favorite sous vide machine is exceedingly accurate, which is the name of the immersion circulator game. It heats up a water bath quickly, too, and has an app that’s packed with recipes and helpful videos (including how to clean it). 

Joule in operation with app
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

The storage container cabinet can be a scary place, rife with mismatched lids and chaotic stacks of takeout containers. That being said, when it comes to dry good storage, keeping your grains, pastas, flours, and the like dry and safe from pests is essential. These Rubbermaid vessels have super secure, tight lids—and the narrow containers are easy to Tetris efficiently into any pantry setup. 

three rubbermaid containers on a gray surface
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

For those unfamiliar with the world of food mills, these hand-cranked contraptions are used for puréeing and straining soft produce. Not only can they produce optimally fluffy mashed potatoes (with limited time and effort), but they can also separate out skins and seeds (a boon for tomato sauce prep).

a food mill with boiled potatoes in a steamer basket on a white tile surface
Serious Eats / Taylor Murray

If you use garlic in the kitchen as much as we do, a reliable garlic press can be helpful. Throughout our testing, this Dreamfarm model proved endlessly low-effort to use and produced garlic that was comparable in texture to hand-minced cloves. Plus, in the interest of avoiding messy hands and sticky, difficult-to-clean utensils, it also has a scrape, loosen, and eject system built into the hinges.

a mashed garlic clove popping out of a garlic press
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

You’re either a rice cooker person, or you’re not—and for the latter folks, it’s likely that you just haven’t been converted yet. Yes, you can cook rice on a stovetop…but for low-effort, perfect rice, you simply can’t beat a rice cooker. Our favorite is this Hamilton Beach model, which punches far above its weight when it comes to price.

Rice cooked in a rice cooker.
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

For sous vide or food prep (or even preventing freezer burn), a vacuum sealer is worth having around. Our favorite one has wet and dry settings and no refractory period. That’s the time between sealings, people!

A person using a vacuum sealer to seal a bag of rainbow carrots.
Serious Eats / Nick Simpson

A full-size food processor can be a hassle if you’re short on storage space. But this mini chopper—which still offers a generous four-cup bowl—is perfect for mincing olives for tapenade, processing garlic cloves, or chopping nuts without encroaching on all of your counter space. Plus, this machine offers chop and grind options, both of which are as speedy as they are effective. Also, the bowl and blade are detachable and easy to clean. 

Pesto in the bowl of a mini food processor.
Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

As the old adage goes: When life gives you lemons (or produce of any kind), purchase a juicer. This centrifugal countertop juicer is compact, but still strong enough to instantly liquify whole fruits and vegetables, all while separating and collecting pulp, skins, and seeds. 

Breville Juice Fountain Compact on a counter with oranges and orange juice
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

Hear us out: This strainer-meets-colander may look a little silly, but it’s multipurpose. It’s large enough to replace both your colander and slotted spoon, it’ll ensure that pasta can be transferred quickly (and evenly) from place to place while keeping your precious pasta water safe, and it can also be used to boil dumplings, poach eggs, blanch vegetables, or skim foam.

A person using a colander spoon to scoop pasta out of a Dutch oven
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Whether the wine is meant for cooking, the chef, or forthcoming dinner guests, a wine fridge will do wonders to keep your bottles in prime condition for drinking or aging, all while freeing up plenty of space in your actual fridge for items with shorter shelf lives. Designed to be super compact (we don’t all have space for a second refrigerator), this thing will store up to 18 bottles—a proper case and a half. 

collage of Wine Enthusiast 32-Bottle Dual Zone MAX Compressor Wine Cooler
Serious Eats / Kristin Kempa

It’s objectively fun to watch this can electric opener spin around, opening a can as it goes. It creates a safe, dull edge and works with a variety of cans, including squat tuna and 28-ounce whole, peeled tomatoes.

The Kitchen Mama Electric Can Opener on a small can on a marble countertop
Serious Eats / Eric King

FAQs

What are the best utensils to cook with? 

We recommend that every cook have a good pair of tongs, a fish spatula, a wooden spoon, a Microplane, a whisk, and kitchen shears, among other things. You can find more of our favorite utensils here.

How do I choose kitchen equipment? 

What a question! Given the wide, wide world of kitchen equipment, we recommend reading reviews from a trusted source that tests kitchen gear side by side to find the best products (like, ahem, Serious Eats). For some tools, like chef’s knives, it could be helpful to go to a store and pick them up to see how they feel in hand. 

Why We’re the Experts

  • Eliza Dumais is a freelance writer who covers food, drink, and travel. She previously worked at Vice. 
  • Serious Eats has been testing gear for more than a decade, so we know a thing or two about the best kitchen gadgets.