ISSUE 44  |  Holiday Prep

Editors’ Picks: 13 Essential Kitchen Gadgets, Holiday Edition

November 06, 2014 4:00 PM

BY Janet Hall

We all have a kitchen tool (or two) that we lean on, particularly at this time of year when we’re in full chef mode. Here, our die-hard cooking gadgets that we can’t live without.

What’s yours? 

Above: I’m in charge of the turkey every Thanksgiving. Sadly, that means having to skip my group’s annual cider pressing because I’m tethered to the oven, monitoring the thermometer every 15 to 30 minutes. This year might be different. Enter the Range Smart iPhone/iPad Thermometer that can (as long as you have Internet connection) send digital alerts to any iOS device when your ideal temperature is reached. It comes in three versions, each geared to different ingredients; the Ember three-inch sharp tip for meat is $70 at Provisions by Food52.

Above: Margot loves lab equipment in the kitchen: “My old-fashioned fat separator feels like a science experiment–you pour in turkey drippings and the fat rises to the top,” she says. “If I’m really on my game, I roast a turkey wing a few days in advance and make stock, so I have it ready for basting and gravy making on Thanksgiving.” The Borosilicate Glass Fat Separator is $39 at Kaufmann Mercantile.

Above: Julie relies on her hand blender to make gravy. The two-speed Cuisinart QuikPrep Hand Blender is $23.99 from Amazon.

Above: The “it” tool in Sarah’s kitchen is the Microplane Classic Zester Grater. “I sprinkle lemon zest on almost everything,” she says. The Microplane is equally ideal for grating Parmesan cheese; $12.49 from Amazon.

Above: “My ceramic grater is one of my favorite kitchen tools”, says Alexa. “It gets the most use during the winter months, when garlic and ginger are essential for health. I sneak both into holiday dishes and cold-weather teas.” The Kyocera Ceramic Ginger Grater is $14.95 at Crate and Barrel; it’s shown here with grated cardamom.

Above: Christine swears by “wooden spoons, wooden spoons, wooden spoons–I even have my mother’s old ones.” At Thanksgiving, she uses them for “making stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy, serving the salad–pretty much everything except the turkey.” The Baker’s Dozen Beechwood Spoon Set is $165 for 13 at Good. Read about the collection in The Wooden Spoon and Other Staples from Sir/Madam.

Above: Here’s a gadget that doubles as old-fashioned entertainment. Starting each September, Justine’s kids ask her to make a pie a week. A smart parent, she sets them to work with her Victorio Apple Peeler; $30 from Provisions. “It’s so easy and fun, they don’t even realize they’re helping.”

Above: For Margot, the classic vegetable peeler is indispensable. “I think I like peeling potatoes because it was the first thing I learned to do in the kitchen, and, to me, the peeler is one of the all-time most satisfying inventions,” she says. “I make mashed potatoes with celery root every Thanksgiving, and celery root is so gnarly, you need a good peeler.” The Contemporary Japanese Peeler is $52 at Provisions by Food52.

Above: Another essential in my own kit is an in-oven thermometer. I’ve moved three times in the past 12 years and each of my ovens has heated differently. I now rely on an in-oven thermometer to keep my ovens honest and get the best results, especially on high-volume cooking days where the oven door is open more than closed. Consider the Taylor Connoisseur In-Oven Thermometer Set, which includes an in-oven and a classic meat thermometer; $40 at Provisions by Food52.

Above: The Norpro 5898 Stainless Steel Baster, $9.20 from Amazon, is an essential in Gardenista editor Cheryl’s kitchen, especially around the holidays. A baster also comes in handy to water hanging plants, she notes, and to extract old water from flower arrangements and replenish with new. Photograph via Chow.

Above: Honestly, who can live without a KitchenAid standing mixer? Not Michelle. “We use it to mix the batter for Laurie Colwin’s flourless chocolate cake, which we make every Thanksgiving, and for whatever other 17 desserts we decide to make in any given year.” Note: We are all heading to Michelle’s. The KitchenAid Artisan Series Five-Quart Mixer is $279.99 from Amazon.

Above: We’ve posted about using or, more importantly, protecting tablets in the kitchen. We’ve found what we think might be the best solution: the Speck Handy Shell for the iPad. It’s not only a protective case but also features a handle that can act either as a hanger to keep your device (and that amazing recipe) off the counter or as a stand to keep it upright and easy to read; $54.95 via Amazon.

Above: To cook for a crowd in a small-apartment kitchen, Meredith uses an All-Clad Slow Cooker ($129.95 at Amazon). “I quickly fill up the range and oven space. It’s so useful to have an extra cooking vessel that you can store away when not in use.”

In a kitchen state of mind? See our earlier posts: