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Our Favorite Space-Saving Kitchen Tools

We went through our reviews to find the best tested-and-recommend equipment that minimizes spaces and maximizes utility.

a miniature whisks beats three eggs in a bowl
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

When it comes to kitchen tools, bigger isn’t always better—at least when you live in a home with a tiny kitchen. If you have limited real estate, every inch of a countertop, drawer, and shelf is precious, which is why you don’t want to fill it up with tools that get little use. This dilemma has, of course, led brands to spin up a host of space-saving alternatives, some of which are truly useful and others that are more fit for the junk drawer.

Rather than buying something that’s purely marketed as space-saving or compact, we recommend looking for the best-but-smaller version of a tool. There are plenty of compact-but-mighty kitchen tools from our extensive reviews that are worth investing in, and that we promise will get plenty of use.

Mini Whisk

There are plenty of times when a full-sized whisk is essential: to mix thick batters, reach deep into the corners of a pot, or properly aerate cream, for example. But there’s nothing more exasperating than having to break out a giant whisk and a matching-sized bowl for everyday tasks like whisking a single egg or mixing together a quick dipping sauce or spice blend. This is where the mini whisk comes in. Clocking in at under six-and-a-half inches, these whisks are compact, but still long enough to hold comfortably. The best ones will have loops that are thin enough to avoid splattering in smaller bowls, yet still strong enough to thoroughly mix and blend.

eight different miniature whisks on a marble background
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Y Peeler

Not only is Kuhn Rikon’s original Swiss peeler hands down our favorite peeler, but it’s also one of the most compact options. Measuring just four inches tall and two-and-a-half inches wide, the pint-sized peeler is far more versatile than it looks. In addition to taking the skin off an array of fruits and vegetables, the trusty Y-peeler easily—and cleanly—takes the rind off of citrus, shaves Parmesan, and scoops out blemishes from potatoes. Another space-saving bonus for those in multi-handed households: unlike a swivel peeler, a Y-peeler works for both righties and lefties, so you’ll only need one.

A green y-peeler on a green cutting board surrounded by potato skins and a peeled potato to the side of it
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Mini Measuring Cup

The very best compact tools are not only good at saving space, but also find a way to do the jobs of multiple products. Mini measuring cups are a prime example of such a tool. This one from OXO measures (of course), serving as a neater, less drip-prone replacement to spoons, while also taking the place of a full-sized cup for little amounts of liquids. It can double as a jigger or as a cup for espresso pulls. We also like to use them as prep bowls for spices and herbs.

an oxo mini measuring cup being used to pour liquid into a pot of cooking stew
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Offset Spatula

If you’re a baker, then there’s probably already an offset spatula in your drawer. They come in several sizes and can go as long as 12 inches, but Ateco makes a mini 4.5-inch version that’s very versatile. We’ve already pulled together an exhaustive list of all the ways an offset spatula comes in handy when it comes to baking, but it can go far beyond frosting cake and lifting cookies—its unique angled shape is also great for spreading things on toast, smoothing sauces on top of casseroles, flipping burgers or small pieces of fish, and creating swirls in dips. (In a pinch, you can even use it as a cheese knife.)

Eighth Sheet Pans

For food prep (toasting nuts, mise en place, salting meat, reheating food in a toaster oven), you'll be glad to have a stack of eighth-sheet pans around. They're so compact, you'll hardly know they're there! Except when you need them, of course, which will be all of the time.

Seasoning beef on an eight-sheet pan
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Single-Serve Coffee Maker

When you live alone or you’re the single coffee drinker in your household, getting a full-size coffee maker may feel like a commitment, both in terms of space and the amount of coffee it makes. And though they’re convenient, machines like the Keurig cost a lot and still take up a chunk of the kitchen counter (plus, they make mediocre coffee). A single-serve coffee maker like the Kalita Wave and Aeropress, on the other hand, can be tucked away when not in use, are easy to clean, and brew great coffee. For something a little larger, opt for a French press, which is still compact and easy to tuck away (although our favorite from Fellow is so stylish and sleek, you probably won’t want to hide it).

The Aeropress with Fellow Prismo Attachment mid-brew
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Handheld Coffee Grinder

If you don't have the countertop space for a burr grinder, a handheld coffee grinder's a good move. We wouldn't necessarily want to grind a full pot of coffee with one every morning, but for single-serve coffee makers or pourovers, it works great. After testing 11 of them, we recommend the 1Zpresso JX Manual. It's "easy to grind with and simple to adjust," as we said in our review.

a handheld grinder stands upright on a counter
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Petty Knife

Also known as a utility knife (but not to be confused with a utility box cutter), petty knives fall between a paring knife and chef’s knife. While both of those are essential to any knife collection, there’s also a place for a petty knife, especially if you’re short on space. With blades measuring somewhere between five-and-a-half and six inches long, you’ll find that these short, yet nimble knives can handle a host of kitchen tasks—including mincing aromatics, chopping vegetables, and even breaking down chickens.

a whole chicken cut up on a cutting board
The ultra-sharp, nimble triangular bladed knives were agile and good at slipping between joints when breaking down a whole chicken.Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

Bench Scraper

For a tool that can do a ton, there's the bench scraper. Its wide, rectangular, semi-sharp blade can easily handle transferring piles of ingredients from the cutting board to a prep bowl, clearing off countertops, and portioning doughs. After testing eight of them, we recommend the OXO Bench Scraper. It has a soft, grippy handle and even features measurements on the end of its blade.

using the oxo bench scraper to cut up pizza dough
Serious Eats / Eric King

Magnetic Knife Strip

Instead of a bulky knife block or even a cork drawer insert, a magnetic knife strip goes right on the wall, using space that wouldn't be of much utility anyways. After testing, we like this one from Jonathan Alden. It has strong magnets and a handsome design.

A closeup shot of a cleaver on a wooden knife strip
Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Mini Stainless Steel Bowl

There are certain tools that we recommend having two (or more) of and stainless steel prep bowls are one of them. Having an assortment of sizes on hand is absolutely essential, especially small ones like these 5-inch Blanda Blank bowls from Ikea. They’re the perfect size for mise en place work, tiny enough to hold minced garlic and herbs, but also big enough for a chopped shallot or an egg or two. They’re easy to wash and stack up neatly, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself reaching for them frequently.

Small Fine Mesh Strainer

Perhaps one of the most underrated kitchen tools, a small fine mesh strainer will come in handy more often than you’d imagine. If you make double-strained cocktails or tea frequently, it’s probably already part of your kitchen arsenal—if not, here are a few reasons to consider picking one up: to sift small amounts of flour, catch pulp and seeds when quickly squeezing a lemon, strain out bits from rendered fat, dust powdered sugar over baked goods, drain olives and other things packed in oil…you get the idea.

a gaiwan tea brewer pours tea through a small fine mesh strainer into a carafe
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Julep Strainer

For cocktail enthusiasts, there’s no doubt that a Julep strainer is an essential tool. The sturdy, usually stainless steel, disc boasts perforated holes that help strain out muddled ingredients and ice, while allowing the drink itself to flow through smoothly. Outside of cocktail making, a Julep strainer can be used to scoop ice and strain poached eggs out of boiling water.

a variety of julep strainers with two cocktails on a marble countertop
Serious Eats / Willa Van Nostrand

Small Rolling Pin

When it comes to a good rolling pin, length matters. We’ve found that the best option is both long and light, especially for rolling out pie crust. But there are times when pulling out a 17-inch rolling pin seems excessive and a smaller one actually offers more control. I discovered the versatility of a shorter, thinner Chinese rolling pin (also called a dumpling rolling pin) while watching my father-in-law roll out scallion pancakes and bought one for myself. It’s now my go-to for less hefty tasks such as flattening homemade dumpling skins and bao dough or rolling out crusts for hand pies and smaller personal-sized pizzas.

FAQs

What’s the best gear for a small kitchen?

The best kitchen gear is the things you’ll use often, and that applies no matter the size of your kitchen. But when it comes to smaller spaces, you may want to consider downsizing to more compact versions of certain essentials—say, a 4-quart Dutch oven instead of a 7-quart one, a single-serve coffee maker vs. a full-sized machine—or looking for tools that can do multiple jobs.

What’s the best way to store kitchen gadgets? 

Here at Serious Eats, we’re big fans of metro racks, which are strong enough to hold your heaviest kitchen equipment but can also keep smaller appliances and tools organized. They’re especially great at bringing additional storage space to tiny kitchens that don't typically have a ton of shelving or cabinetry to begin with.

If storage space is lacking, also consider optimizing your walls. For example, put up a magnetic knife strip for cutlery. Not only is it space efficient, but it also offers the most flexibility. Strips are sold at various lengths and, unlike an unwieldy knife block, you never have to worry that a knife won’t fit the slots. You can also opt for a hanging pot rack, which gives you easy access to cookware and saves you time from rummaging around looking for the right pot or pan.

The Best Knife Sharpening Serves to Get Your Blades in Tip-Top Shape

We reached out to experts and did our research to find the best mail-in knife sharpening services for keeping blades in tip-top shape.

a knife being sharpened on a lower grit whetstone
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Growing up in a Chinese American home, we had exactly two knives: a paring knife and a cleaver. My dad used the cleaver for nearly every cutting task: breaking down poultry, fileting fish, mincing garlic, julienning carrots, and so on. The knife saw a lot of daily wear and tear—I can still recall the loud thud of the cleaver hitting the wooden cutting board as he split apart a whole poached soy sauce chicken and the constant scraping to bring aromatics from prep surface to bowl.

As a professional cook, my dad knew that a dull knife is a dangerous one and was meticulous about keeping ours sharp. Every so often, he’d reach for the dark gray whetstone tucked underneath the sink and sharpen the cleaver, holding it at an angle while gently gliding its edge over the water-soaked stone.

I didn’t know it then, but I do know now that using a whetstone is by far the best way to keep knives sharp. It’s also a process that many home cooks find intimidating, which is why, if you don’t want to do it yourself, it’s best to seek out a trusted professional. (We also don’t recommend most electric and certainly not manual knife sharpeners, which shave off a lot of material and only provide a so-so edge.)

“Properly sharpening knives requires skill and attention to detail that is only gained through experience,” says fourth-generation knife grinder Michael Maestri, who runs both Carisolo Grinding Co., a Wisconsin-based sharpening company, and Post Knife, a knife subscription service. “It can be difficult to find a qualified knife sharpener and, on top of that, it can be difficult to find the time to drop off knives at a store and then pick them up.”

Thanks to the internet, professional sharpeners like Maestri now take orders online and knives by mail. If your knives are due for their biannual sharpening, you may want to consider trying a mail-in knife sharpening service—here’s how they work.

a knife next to a whetstone on a towel
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

When Mikael Soderlindh and Marc Lickfett started Knife Aid, their goal was simple—to make knife sharpening hassle free—and the company’s process is just that. Customers select one of Knife Aid’s preset packages—which start at four knives and go all the way up to 14—and they’ll get a specially-designed, insured envelope in the mail, along with protective knife sleeves. Once received, knives are hand-sharpened and air-cooled at a workshop led by knifesmith Magnus Pettersson. They handle knife repairs in addition to sharpening and accept a wide variety of cutting instruments, including scissors and serrated knives.

 Knife Aid is also the recommended mail-in sharpening service of choice for German knife maker Zwilling J.A. Henckels. “We wanted to provide our customers with an easy-to-use full service knife sharpening option, including knife repair. Knife Aid’s innovative service and high quality made it a perfect complement to our brands,” says CEO Guido Weishaupt.

Good to Know

  • Types of knives serviced: Both Western and Japanese-style kitchen knives (including single bevel ones), serrated knives, ceramic knives, and scissors
  • Price range: Starts at $49 for 4 knives; additional charges for extra services
  • Turnaround time: 4 to 7 days, depending on your location

Carisolo Grinding Service has been in the knife business for four generations. Named after the Italian town where the founding family came from, Carisolo is currently run by Michael and Peter Alex Maestri, who learned the craft of knife grinding from their father (who learned it from his father, you get the idea) and continue to do things the traditional way.

Life Knife Aid, Carisolo also operates on a package model, with rates starting at $72 for up to five kitchen knives and a maximum of 20. The price also covers packaging materials, which will arrive at your home, plus all shipping costs. Once received, the Maestris will look at each knife and repair any chips or broken tips. Knives are then hand-edged over a wet grindstone, before they’re honed and buffed.

Good to Know

  • Types of knives serviced: All kitchen knives
  • Price: Starts at $72 for up to 5 knives
  • Turnaround time: 10 days

Founded in 1982 by Saori Kawano, New York City specialty shop Korin has long been a favorite amongst chefs for its extensive collection of Japanese cutlery. Knife enthusiasts from around the world travel here, not just to shop, but also to get their knives serviced by Vincent Kazuhito Lau, Korin’s resident sharpener. 

For those who aren’t able to make the trek to Manhattan, Korin does accept knives via mail for sharpening. It handles both Western and Japanese-style knives, along with chip repair and rust cleaning for Western-style knives only. Unlike some other mail-in services, however, packaging isn’t provided, so customers are responsible for shipping costs and for taking extra precautions of their own when packing. To send a knife in for sharpening, print and fill out the form on Korin’s website, pack it up per its online instructions, and wait about a week for it to return sharper than ever.

Good to Know

  • Types of knives serviced: Both Western and Japanese-style kitchen knives
  • Price range: $25 per Western-style knife, $65 per Japanese-style knife
  • Turnaround time: 1 week

The idea for Knife Flight came to Jess and Kyle Miller at the start of the pandemic. The former restaurant owners saw that people were cooking more and, therefore, wearing down their knives more quickly. Everyone was stepping out less, which meant they were most definitely not bringing their knives to a local store for sharpening. 

Rates for Knife Flight start at $57 for four or fewer knives and go up to $157 for 15. They send out a shipping kit within 24 hours of your order time that includes a mailing envelope and adhesive sheaths. Once knives reach them, they’re photographed, sharpened, and mailed out again within a 24-hour time frame.

Unlike other mail-in knife sharpening services, Knife Flight offers loaner knives (for an additional charge), which is a reason why Sandy Liebowitz, a CIA-trained cooking instructor who runs an online knife skills course, recommends it to her students. “They are a family business and get the knives nice and sharp, but the best part is that they send you loaner knives while you wait. I thought that part was genius.”

Good to Know

  • Type of knives serviced: Both Western and Japanese-style kitchen knives, bread knives, ceramic knives, mandoline blades, scissors, garden shears
  • Price range: Starting at $57 for 4 knives
  • Turnaround time: 1 week

FAQs

Testing the sharpness of a knife by thinly slicing a tomato
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

How much do knife sharpening services cost? 

Knife sharpening costs will vary, especially when using a mail-in service. From what we found, most companies have a starting rate that covers up to a handful of knives, so it’s most worth it to send in that many rather than just one piece. Generally, the more you sharpen at a time, the lower the cost per knife will be.

Do any brands have their own knife sharpening service? 

Yes! Several cutlery brands provide knife sharpening services for their knives, including the following:

  • Shun offers a free lifetime sharpening service for its Kai knives (you’ll have to handle shipping and packaging costs).
  • Misen has a lifetime sharpening program—simply pay a $14 postage free and they’ll send your knife to a sharpening facility. 
  • MAC, the Japanese knife maker, provides mail-in sharpening for a fee and uses the same equipment and technique as its Seki City factory. They’ll also take non-MAC knives (for a higher fee), which is a bonus for home cooks who have several brands in their collection.