The holiday season is officially here, and chances are you’ve still got a few folks on your gift-giving list. I know I do! I ransacked my own kitchen and asked some of my RD and foodies friends to weigh in on their favorite cooking tools. When it comes to kitchen tools, sometimes those little basics are what really make the experience of cooking pleasurable. Never underestimate the power of a good knife or what perfect whisk. Even just having a set of both dry and wet measuring cups and spoons can make all the difference.
*A Good Knife. Several people said you can’t beat a good knife. Totally agree! One budget-friendly option I love is this ZYLISS Chef Santoku Knife . I actually received one from the company several years ago for review and I still use it almost every day. I’ve since bought several for friends and family members who were moving into new homes and wanted new kitchen stuff. The cheerful color makes me happy too.
I also dig their Paring Knife Set . After buying myself one, I bought several as gifts. Love these. Dietitian Judy Barbe, author of LiveBest, considers a serated paring knife an essential kitchen tool. Great for someone who’s just getting set with the basics!
*Kitchen Scissors. Dietitian Katie Ann Heddleston says, “I think everyone should own a pair of good kitchen scissors! It’s a convenience accessory that people underutilize!” These KitchenAid Shears are a great basic to have on hand and even come with a little cover so you don’t have to worry about damage (or getting cut) if they need to be stored in a drawer instead of in one of those nifty knife blocks!
*A Microplane. Several people raved about this one. I was given one of these by my mother many years ago and it’s one of my essentials. I’ve had my classic Microplane Zester/Grater for years, and it’s one of those desert-island items. Okay, maybe I’m being slightly hyperbolic—I mean, I don’t know what the heck I could want to grate or zest on a desert island—but it’s one of those “what did I do without this thing” tools. RD Jessica Fishman Levinson of Nutritioulicious raves, “I couldn’t live without my Microplane zester and hand juicer. Fresh citrus zest and juice adds so much flavor without adding sodium, fat, or a lot of calories. I also love grating ginger and garlic on the microplane—adds intense and delicious flavor to dishes!”
*Vitamix. Basically the Cadillac of blenders. The Vitamix is not cheap, but worth every penny. I have a hand-me-down that’s good as new and perfect for blended soups, homemade nut butters, and, of course, smoothies. Something else I love about the company is that they offer a 25% discount for customers purchasing it for a medical reason.
*Ninja Blender. Another powerful blender, the Ninja is popular for everything from soups to smoothies to salsa, and more. On Thanksgiving, we used my mom’s to make a signature ginger-honey cocktail.
*Immersion Blender. Sharon Palmer of the Plant-Powered Dietitian loves her immersion blender. “A great option if you don’t want to purchase and store a blender.” She loves how easy it is to clean, too. Charlene Pors, RD, of Euphoria Nutrition agrees. “I absolutely love my Cuisinart Smart Stick 2 Speed Hand Blender. It’s the perfect multitasking kitchen tool! The immersion blender is perfect for soups, pancakes, etc., and it also comes with a well functioning whisk and measuring beaker. I also use the chopper/grinder attachment to blend pretty much all of my small recipes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my large food processor, but this chopper does the trick for salad dressings, chopping nuts etc. with far less dishes and counter space.”
*Cuisinart Food Processor. The Cuisinart Food Processor has been one of my go-to kitchen tools since I got my first one with a gift card back in 2008. After I busted it in a move, I asked for one the following Christmas because the lack was just too much. Lauren Leedy, RD, of Eating with a Purpose says it’s “indispensable for crafting healthy sauces and chopping lots of veggies.”
*Veggie Spiralizer. Got a friend or family member who keeps saying they want to try out “that zoodle thing everyone is talking about?” Dietitian Ilene Cohen of PranaSpirit Nutrition & Wellness recommends a vegetable spiralizer. You can keep it simple or upgrade to something more elaborate like this 5 Blade Spiralizer .
I have a knock-off version that I use whenever I’ve got a craving for cappuccino but don’t want to brave the crowds at Starbucks. I used it for my homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte (yes, it’s still pumpkin spice season!). For an old-school option, a small wire whisk can’t be beat, either! And let’s pretend it only took me one try to write “whisk” instead of “whiskey.”
*Mortar and Pestle. Christy Brisette, MS, RD of 80 Twenty Nutrition uses hers to make guacamole and to crush garlic and herbs other spices. “Can I emphasize the garlic-crushing part? No big bits, you get a perfect paste to use in dips,” she says. “Plus, it’s pretty to serve in.” This Le Creuset Stoneware mortar and pestle adds a sophisticated touch to any kitchen.
*A Garlic Press. For folks with less storage space, a garlic press is invaluable. I love this OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Garlic Press.
Got a pal who wants to start experimenting more with cooking or loves trying new flavors? Rawspice will send a different set of spice blends every month, plus easy recipes to make using them as easy as possible. Added bonus—you’ll get free shipping if you order before the end of the year. Love that! This also makes a great gift for yourself ; )
Check out the RawSpiceBar: 3, 6, & 12 month spice gift plans for something a little healthier than a Bacon of the Month club.
*Calaphon Nonstick Grill Pan
I’m a little bit obsessed with this grill pan . It was easily one of my favorite purchases all year! I actually first spotted it on a friend’s wedding registry and ordered one for myself. After years of feeling left out of the grill party, I can finally participate!
After thinking about it for a few months, I finally ordered myself this foldable 16″ Tabletop LimoStudio Photography Photo Studio as an early birthday present last month, and I love it. Why didn’t I do this before? For less than $50, I can play around with different backdrops and lighting options. For someone like me who has limited space and even less patience (or okay, time) for learning complex photo techniques, I love that I can just set this up in five minutes and start shooting. It even has a little tripod that fits a phone or camera. This would be perfect for that food blogger friend or family member or anyone who wants to take better food photos.
What are some of your favorite kitchen tools? Best gift you ever got?
**Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through them. I only post these types of links for products and services I love and would recommend anyway, but I always want to make sure I’m being upfront & honest with you guys!