Technology in the kitchen is a double-edged sword. Many ill-conceived, gimmicky products are often more complicated than they’re worth and offer minimal benefit. But the best kitchen gadgets, of which there are a handful, can save you time and free up your mental energy for more demanding tasks. (They also ensure you don’t end up with a case of salmonella poisoning.)
In many cases, the formalists are right when they say that newfangled kitchen gadgets are no replacement for the tried-and-true methods that cooks have been using for centuries. While they’re not wrong, there are some new techniques open up doors not possible via old-school cooking techniques, and for those, you need modern equipment. Which is why, for this list, we sought to avoid novelty kitchen products and poorly designed contraptions, and sought out the products which complement those traditional ways of cooking instead of replacing them.
Whether you want to make sure your ingredients are mixed to proper ratios, your food is cooked to the perfect temperature, or you need some entertainment while you throw down in the kitchen, these 12 kitchen gadgets are sure to help you raise your game.
1. Escali Primo Food Scale
BEST OVERALL KITCHEN GADGET
A good digital food scale is perhaps the single most essential gadget you can have around the kitchen, full stop. Whether you’re cooking, baking, pickling or fermenting, adding precision to your repertoire is one of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your cooking skills. The Escali Primo food scale is a tried and true option that is as durable as it is accurate. You might think you’d be better served by a scale with a bunch of fancy features, but the truth is that the simplicity of the Escali Primo is what makes it so good. On top of that, it’s one of the most affordable options on this list as well. If you only buy one kitchen gadget from this list, make it the Escali.
Buy: Escali Primo Food Scale $24.95
2. ThermoWorks ThermoPop Food Thermometer
BEST FOR AVOIDING FOOD POISONING
We’ve all been there before: You’re making dinner for friends, and you find yourself, not wanting to give your guests food poisoning, trying to decide if the chicken is fully cooked or not. Or maybe you’re searing a ribeye steak, and you’re in search of that perfect medium-rare level of doneness, knowing that a minute too long will leave you with an overcooked slab of meat. In either scenario, a food thermometer is one of the best kitchen gadgets for the job.
A go-to for many a home cook, ThermoWorks’ Thermopop is cheap, accurate and easy to use, able to quickly register the temperature of your food in Celsius or Fahrenheit. In addition to having a fun design, the probe’s sheath also has a clip, so you can always have it on you while cooking, and won’t have to waste precious seconds hunting through your kitchen.
3. Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 10-in-One Multicooker
BEST FOR BUSY CHEFS
Advanced home cooks may turn their nose up at the mere mention of an Instant Pot, but there’s no denying the ease of use and versatility of the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus. This 10-in-one multicooker can make rice, steam vegetables, cook pasta, boil eggs, braise meats, slow cook a stew and more. While some features, such as the Sous Vide function, are better left to a stand-alone device, it’s hard to argue against a single gadget that can replace a rice cooker, dutch oven, crockpot, pressure cooker, bread maker and steamer. This is even more true for those who live in a home where shelf and counter space are limited. TL;DR: Don’t listen to the cooking snobs on this one. Instant Pots are chill.
Buy: Instapot Duo Evo Plus $119.95
4. Anova Precision Cooker Nano Sous Vide Machine
BEST FOR PERFECTLY COOKED MEATS
If you have a tendency to overcook meats, or are just ready to kick your cooking up a notch, The Anova Precision Cooker Nano is the first kitchen gadget you should be reaching for. This wand-shaped device is a sous vide cooker, which means that it heats a bath of water to the precise temperature you want your food cooked at, and then slow cooks your meat (or eggs, or vegetables) to perfection. The best part is that you don’t have to worry about overcooking your food, because no matter how long you leave your food in the sous vide bath, it will remain at whatever temperature you set the Anova Precision Cooker Nano to.
Once dinner time rolls around, just give your meat a quick sear in a pan and enjoy a restaurant-quality meal.
Buy: Anova Precision Cooker Nano $129.00
5. Google Nest Hub
BEST DIGITAL SOUS CHEF
Once upon a time, small TVs and radios used to be a fixture in kitchens everywhere. But in the age of the connected home, smart hubs have stepped in, taking up less counter space and adding a ton of functionality in the process. Setting a quick timer is as easy as a voice command. Getting a measurement conversion is as simple as asking Google Assistant. All of your recipes and cooking videos that you need can be viewed on the 7-inch screen via the Chrome browser or YouTube app. And there’s a solid speaker packed in this thing as well, because who doesn’t listen to music while cheffing? And it comes in at under $100, so you won’t be quite as concerned about handling this thing with hands covered in flour and oil.
6. Amazon Echo Dot
BEST FOR WHOLE FOODS SHOPPERS
For those who swear by cookbooks and have no use for a screen in the kitchen, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t connected kitchen gadgets that won’t be of use to you. The Amazon Echo Dot will still let you set timers, ask Alexa questions and load up your favorite Spotify playlist. But if you do any of your shopping through Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh or Amazon Pantry, you can tell Alexa things you need to buy (eggs, bread, milk, etc.) and it will add those to your cart. If you’ve bought them before, it will even add the specific brands and quantities without you having to ask. This is one of those scenarios that make smart home devices feel like magic.
Buy: Amazon Echo Dot $49.99
7. Stump Stand
BEST TABLET STAND
If you have an old iPad laying around, or just aren’t at all concerned about exposing your new iPad Air to the kitchen elements, all you need to get that smart hub experience is a good tablet stand (and maybe a good wireless speaker, such as the Echo Dot). The Stump Stand is a perfect kitchen warrior thanks to its durable silicon exterior which houses a metal weight, ensuring it cleans up easily and won’t tip over as you’re in the middle of a complex recipe. But we also love that you can prop up your tablet at different angles, allowing you to place it in whatever space is most optimal as you cook.
Buy: Stump Stand $24.95
8. Bonavita Connoisseur Automatic Coffee Maker
BEST REPLACEMENT FOR POUR OVER COFFEE
There’s nothing quite like a perfectly made pour-over cup of coffee, but getting your daily fix at home isn’t the most convenient, as it requires more time and effort than most people are willing to put forth first thing in the morning. With the Bonavita Connoisseur automatic coffee maker, you get the convenience of your typical coffee maker, but with a well-balanced quality that rivals that barista-made cup you paid $5 for at the cafe.
The secret is precision. As long as you load it up with the right amount of coffee (protip: get yourself a good coffee scale), the Bonavita Connoisseur will take care of the rest, delivering the right amount of water at the exact temperature needed for a well-balanced cup of joe. But the real secret is in how it delivers that water: After allowing the coffee to pre-infuse in a small amount of water, a showerhead above the coffee grounds evenly and uniformly distributes the water, ensuring a consistent extraction, which ensures — you guessed it — a smoother, more flavorful cup of coffee. Take one sip from this thing and you may never want to go back to your Mr. Coffee.
9. ThermoWorks TimeStick Trio Kitchen Timer
BEST FOR THOSE WAY-TOO-COMPLICATED MEALS
If you’ve gotten yourself into an advanced cooking adventure where you’re cooking three courses at once and every second counts, using your voice assistant as a timer may not be the best option. In this case, the ThermoWorks TimeStick Trio is the best way to make sure you don’t dry out that steak, under-roast your vegetables and burn the rolls. Yes, you will absolutely look like a nerd with this thing strapped around your neck, but your friends won’t be roasting you after they take one bite of your perfectly prepared meal.
10. Duxtop 9600LS Portable Induction Cooktop
BEST FOR PRECISION-MINDED COOKS
If you have an electric stove, or an extremely basic gas range, you may have noticed that it’s hard to get your skillet to cook evenly or dial in the exact temperature you want. This is not great for searing chicken and steaks or cooking delicate foods, such as fish. The solution is to grab yourself an affordable induction burner, such as the Duxtop 9600LS Portable Induction Cooktop. As long as you have the right cookware, an induction cooktop will use magnetic currents to evenly heat the entire cooking surface to the temperature you set it to, giving you a degree of control you’ve never experienced before. (Any cookware that sits flat and doesn’t have an aluminum bottom will do, but cast iron and stainless steel pieces are especially great in this scenario.)
On top of all this, an induction cooktop can heat things quicker since the surface remains cool to the touch when there’s nothing on it and you don’t have a gas-powered flame to contend with.
Buy: Duxtop 9600LS Induction Cooktop $116.96
11. Simple Human Touch-Free Soap Dispenser
BEST FOR KEEPING YOUR KITCHEN PATHOGEN-FREE
So you just finished dry brining some chicken, working that combination of salt, pepper and herbs into every nook and cranny of the bird. Naturally, you need to wash your salmonella-covered hands, but grabbing the soap bottle will (ironically) contaminate it. It’s a conundrum we’ve all faced, and while we all have some workarounds, a very convenient one is to get a Simple Human Soap Dispenser, which has a motion-activated sensor that will drop soap into your hands without you having to touch anything. After giving your hands a good scrub, you will likely have killed any harmful germs and can feel comfortable flipping on the sink faucet.
Buy: Simple Human Touch-Free Soap Dispenser $49.99
12. AeroGarden Harvest Indoor Garden
BEST FOR ALWAYS HAVING THE HERBS YOU NEED
One of the worst feelings ever is picking up a handful of fresh herbs for a recipe, using a quarter of each package and then not figuring out what to do with the rest before they go bad. Aside from food waste, those things aren’t cheap. But what if you could regularly grow your own. With the AeroGarden Harvest, you can have a whole selection of herbs and greens year-round that water themselves and are ready to use whenever you actually need them. The magic of this indoor gardening system is the LED light array and auto-watering system, along with the seed pods which are custom designed for the AeroGarden.
Buy: AeroGarden Harvest $99.99