22 Overlooked Kitchen Tools That Deserve Your Attention

Don't forget about the little guys.

A couple weeks ago, while I was at home cooking dinner with a friend, I reached for a pair of kitchen shears to cut up bacon. We were making some kind of salad with bacon bits in it, and rather than using a knife—which can be difficult because bacon is slippery and gummy—I decided kitchen shears were the better tool for the job. Sure, it looked kind of funny, but it made the whole process way easier.

My friend, however, was in complete shock as she saw me take the shears to the bacon like a preschooler cutting up construction paper. She’d only ever used them to cut open packages or plastic containers, things you’d conventionally use scissors on. She’d never used them to prep food, but she swore that was about to change.

The whole incident got me wondering: How many other fabulous kitchen tools are being overlooked? While I’m cooking, I lean heavily on appliances that beginner cooks might not know to prioritize or even know about at all. When Instant Pots and spiralizers get all the media attention, it’s easy to forget about things like tongs, sieves, lemon squeezers, potato mashers, and, yes, kitchen shears, all of which are way more essential (in my humble opinion). These 22 products may not seem so important, but they’ll make your days in the kitchen way, way easier.

1. Vremi Lemon Squeezer Press, $10

As a nail and cuticle biter, I greatly appreciate any tool that prevents lemon juice from dripping into the tiny cuts I always have on my fingers. Sure, there are other lemon-juicing tools out there, but this one is superior to all the rest. Not only does it save you from sticky hands (and burning wounds), it gets every last drop of juice out of the lemon in about five seconds. Bonus: You can use it on limes, too!

Buy it: $10, amazon.com

2. ChicChic Stainless Steel Mesh Strainers, $9

I use strainers (or sieves as they’re also known) all the damn time. I use them to finish pastries with a dusting of powdered sugar, to sift flour, to get the lumps out of gravy, and (if my colander is dirty) to strain pasta. And it’s nice to have them in a few different sizes for whatever your needs may be.

Buy it: $9, amazon.com

3. Kota Japan Granite Mortar and Pestle, $27

If you buy whole spices, you need a mortar and pestle—there’s just no better way to grind them up! I recently switched from using a pepper mill to grinding my peppercorns in one of these and it has made all the difference, because it gives you the ability to grind however coarse or fine you like. You can also use it to make fancy things like aioli, romesco sauce, homemade mayonnaise and more.

Buy it: $27, amazon.com

4. Cuisinart 2 Speed Hand Blender, $26

If you don’t have the counter space for a standing blender, you need one of these immersion blenders. They’re worth investing in, because you can use them to blend soups straight in the pot, without having to dirty a whole other appliance.

Buy it: $26, amazon.com

5. OXO Good Grips Soft-Handled Garlic Press, $16

I used to dread cooking with garlic: Having to cut it up always meant I’d have stinky, garlic hands for hours afterwards. Thanks to my garlic press, I now relish in the task. This tool is technically only good for one thing, but it’s worth the purchase if you use garlic as often as I do (a lot).

Buy it: $16, amazon.com

6. Wilton Perfect Results Premium Non-Stick Bakeware Muffin and Cupcake Pan, $9

Muffin tins are great for so much more than just regular muffins: You can use them to make all sorts of meal prep favorites, like egg muffins, mini lasagnas, or even tiny meatloaves.

Buy it: $9, amazon.com

7. Kota Japan 12 in. Diamond Carbon Steel Professional Knife Sharpener Rod, $17

Without one of these, keeping your nice knives nice will be almost impossible. Learn how to use it here, and your knives will always be on point.

Buy it: $17, amazon.com

8. PowerLix Electric Foam Maker, $15

If you’re a big cappuccino drinker, I highly recommend investing in an at-home milk frother like this one. In the end, you’ll save money on a coffee drink that would usually cost upwards of $3. Plus, you can also use it to make foamy cocktails.

Buy it: $15, amazon.com

9. Gobam Wood Rolling Pin, $8

Even if you’re not much of a baker, a rolling pin is still a worthwhile investment. Sure, you can just use a wine bottle in a pinch, but rolling pins are easier to hold onto and control—think of them as a third arm. Beyond rolling out dough, you can use them to tenderize meat, crush garlic, or even smash ice.

Buy it: $8, amazon.com

10. OXO Good Grips 3-Piece Secure Fit Funnel, $8

For all those times you accidentally poured out too much olive oil and wondered how you were going to get it back in the bottle, a funnel would probably solve a lot of your problems. Whether you’re pouring homemade jam into a jar or pancake batter into a skillet, a funnel will make the process a whole lot more tidy.

Buy it: $8, amazon.com

11. Zeppoli Electric Kettle, $33

When you don’t feel like getting a pot out just to boil some water, this gadget is a lifesaver. It’s especially great if you don’t have a microwave, or another low-maintenance way to heat up water. Odds are levels of tea consumed will go up if you buy one.

Buy it: $33, amazon.com

12. KitchenAid Stainless Steel Kitchen Shears, $11

The nice thing is, a lot of knife box sets come with a set of shears. So, if you have one of those, you probably already have a set of these. Use them to cut everything from bacon to herbs to pizza.

Buy it: $11, amazon.com

13. Microplane Classic Zester, $13

This zester is great for grating all sorts of things, including garlic, ginger, citrus zest, nutmeg, and even small portions of cheese. And since it’s small and lean, it doesn’t take up a ton of space like a cheese grater would.

Buy it: $13, amazon.com

14. PriorityChef Potato Ricer and Masher, $20

To make the fluffiest mashed potatoes of your life, you’ll need one of these. You can also use it to squeeze out the water from frozen spinach or make an extra-fluffy egg salad.

Buy it: $20, amazon.com

15. OXO Good Grips 12-Inch Stainless-Steel Locking Tongs, $13

When you need to flip something fresh out of the oven, but don’t want to burn your hands, or turn a sizzling steak without accidentally getting scalded by your skillet, tongs will be your best friend.

Buy it: $13, amazon.com

16. Happy Sales Stainless Steel Chopsticks, $10

Like tongs, chopsticks are great for safely flipping things from a distance while you’re cooking, but they’re also perfect for scrambling eggs—and, of course, eating with!

Buy it: $10, amazon.com

17. FixBody Digital Kitchen Scale, $9

Ever since I moved to Europe, I’ve become a kitchen scale convert. My favorite thing about it is that, when I’m baking, I can place a single bowl on it, fill the bowl with an ingredient, tare the scale so everything zeros out, and then add my next ingredient—that way I only have to dirty one bowl rather than a bunch of measuring cups!

Buy it: $9, amazon.com

18. M Kitchen World Heat Resistant Silicone Spatulas, $10

When you’re cooking something like eggs or baking a cake, using one of these is the only way to guarantee that you don’t leave ingredients behind in your mixing bowl or pan. The silicone will wipe it up in one fell swoop, so nothing gets forgotten.

Buy it: $10, amazon.com

19. KitchenAid Gourmet Stainless Steel Wire Masher, $10

While a ricer is definitely the best tool to make mashed potatoes with, this potato masher is great for a bunch of other things. Use it to mash tomatoes for tomato sauce, crush nuts, and make guacamole. Basically, it can be used anywhere mashing is required.

Buy it: $10, amazon.com

20. Harbor Instant Read Thermometer, $10

Having an instant read thermometer on hand is a great way to make sure your meat is safe to eat, which is especially good for any newbie cooks who are afraid to cook with meat. You can also use it to make homemade yogurt or even candy, once you get more advanced.

Buy it: $10, amazon.com

21. OMorc Cherry Pitter, $9

Sure, you can use a straw and a bottle to pit cherries if you don’t have one of these, but this (which is specifically designed to pit cherries) will make the process go a whole lot faster. Use it to pit olives, too.

Buy it: $9, amazon.com

22. 12 Ball Mason Jars, $17

As far as food storage goes, nothing beats a good, old Mason jar. They’re easy to stack, which is great whether you’re filling them with nuts and sticking them in the pantry or packing them with pickles and putting them in the fridge. Fun fact: You can also make whip cream in a Mason jar by filling it with cream and a bit of sugar, sealing it tightly, and shaking it vigorously until the cream thickens.

Buy it: $17, amazon.com

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