If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen, it's not hard to start accumulating all types of cooking gadgets and gizmos. But as you're making space in your already-too-crowded cabinets for that pizza oven you've used once, you may start to think, "Did I really need this?" As you venture into the land of single-use appliances like pasta makers and ice creamers, you should first consider your own personal cooking habits and cravings to see if they're fully necessary. But, second, you should consult the reviews — which is why we did that for you. We scoured the web and polled at-home chef extraordinaires to see which appliances (and which brands) they swear by. Here are 12 kitchen gadgets that are actually worth the investment.
A good scale makes it easy to confidently provision the exact proportions for any recipe or to weigh out single-serving snacks when you're sticking to a diet. You could make do with one of those paper-thin $10 scales, but you'd be missing out. This has a massive capacity of over 17 pounds and a resolution as fine as .05 ounces. Plus, it has a convenient clear cover to protect the buttons and display from food spills.
There was a time when few people except Italian families living in Brooklyn had pasta makers in their kitchen, but times have changed. Now it's hard to say no to fresh, homemade pasta, and the Ampia from Marcato is an online favorite. The base model is hand-operated, though it's compatible with a number of attachments and accessories, including a motor (which adds $170 to the price).
The Ampia looks gorgeous in chrome with anodized aluminum rollers, and makes pasta like lasagna, fettuccine, and tagliolini in 10 thicknesses from paper-thin to 5 mm thick. And the handle is adjustable with one hand, so you can change settings without putting down the pasta in your other hand.
As you might surmise from the name, this blender packs a lot of power thanks to its 1,000-watt motor in the base — and users confirm that it can chop or pulverize ice, and even turn it to "snow." The Ninja also has a somewhat oversized jar, clocking in at 72 ounces (many other blenders top out at 60 ounces). It's simple to operate, with just a handful of controls on the front console: power, pulse, and three speed settings of low, medium, and high. Plus, all the parts are BPA-free plastic.
A meat thermometer is essential whether you're grilling in the backyard or making a Thanksgiving turkey in the oven and, these days, they're super high-tech. This system has a large, well-lit temperature display and four probes for temperature tracking different items and areas, is compatible with an iPhone and Android app so you can monitor from up to about 30 feet away, and includes temperature alarms, so you can be alerted automatically as the various dishes reach their target temperature.
A hand blender — aka immersion or wand blender — is a multi-function tool that rewards you with convenience and easy clean-up more often than you'd ever think possible. Whether you need to puree, whip, blend, or mix, reach for a hand blender like this one from OXA Smart (and leave the stand mixer, food processor, or upright blender in the cabinet).
This 4-in-1 blender also includes a whisk attachment, food chopper, and a mixing beaker — an impressive value for under $50.
We wanted to surprise you with a different choice, but let's be honest: KitchenAids's Artisan is the gold standard when it comes to stand mixers — and no other mixer comes close to being reviewers' favorite on any site. This model has a slider to control the 10-speed motor and includes a flat beater, dough hook, and wire whip, plus a pouring shield. And, if you're feeling really fancy, the Artisan is compatible with more than a dozen attachments, including a food grinder, pasta maker, ice cream maker, and more.
Cuisinart's stainless steel food processor is powered by a beefy 720-watt motor and is equipped for all manner of food prep, thanks to blades for mixing, chopping, slicing, shredding, pureeing, and more. You operate it via large "single touch" control paddles to select on, off, and pulse operation, and it has a quiet motor, so it can pull duty without interrupting conversations in the kitchen. And unlike many food processors, all the parts are dishwasher safe.
Of course, the gadget that broke the internet a few years ago makes this list. While you can use any model as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sautéer, and even a yogurt maker, we love this model for its convenient Wi-Fi connectivity. With Wi-Fi, you can combine with an Amazon Echo for Alexa-guided recipes, make grocery lists, and more, plus use the Instant Pot smartphone app to control the cooker and monitor its progress from anywhere.
When it comes to heating up leftovers, toasting bread, and even roasting a full meal for one or two, you really can't do better than the Breville Smart Oven. It has a library of pre-set cooking modes for food like toast, bagels, pizza, cookies, and slow cooking, plus is spacious enough to accommodate six slices of toast or a 13-inch personal pizza.
Despite the name, an air fryer does no actual frying — it uses no oil but instead cooks food by hot-air convection — but the result is so close to traditionally deep-fried foods, but way healthier, that we have to add it to this list. This model has a 4-quart basket for holding your food, can bake up to 400 degrees, and includes four cooking modes, including air dry, roast, reheat, and dehydrator.
There's no question that ice cream makers run the risk of being the sort of "single use" kitchen toy that you use once a year and otherwise forget you own. But if the gadget is easy enough to use — and easy enough to clean afterwards — you're more likely to use it a lot. And that's exactly what the Cusinart model offers. It requires no extensive prepping or overnight freezing. Instead, you just pour in your ingredients, turn it on, and enjoy your ice cream after 30 quick minutes.
This countertop pizza maker heats its integrated ceramic pizza stone to 660 degrees, which — while not quite the 800 degrees you'll find in some pizzerias — is enough to make wonderfully textured crusts with bubbly cheese on top. It can make pizzas up to 11 inches in diameter and also has controls for a variety of crust thicknesses.