perhaps unsurprisingly, i have strong opinions on what i let into my kitchen (and nearby coat closet and bathroom linen closet… small kitchen problems). i love appliances and tools that make cooking and baking tasty food a treat and cookbooks that inspire me to get up and head to the kitchen. i want you to enjoy spending time in your kitchen too, not fighting with an old can opener that doesn’t open cans or a blender that doesn’t blend (true stories; thankfully both have been replaced).
i also know that you may have a bit more shopping to do this time of year so, with that in mind, here is the official tasty seasons holiday gift guide 2016! yay! whether you’re looking to find a gift idea for a foodie friend, stock a brand new kitchen, or start 2017 off on the right foot by replacing that mixer you’ve never liked, i hope the information below is useful. i’m working on putting together a shop page on the site so that you’ll have one place to go to find all of my favorites but, for now, here are my top 12 kitchen machines and tools.
to get more information about anything i list below, click the photo for details. the amazon links are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase after clicking from here, i will earn a small commission from amazon at no additional charge to you. thank you for supporting tasty seasons!
this knife is basically an extension of my hand. i use it for 97% of my chopping, slicing, mincing, etc. the only time i don’t use it is when i’m using a little knife to slice cheese for cheese and crackers while using this knife to prep dinner or when slicing bread/tomatoes (see below for my bread knife suggestion). it’s very affordable and stays sharp for a long time. thank you, cook’s illustrated, for the recommendation!
this is the mixer i have and love. it’s also cook’s illustrated’s best buy pick. once i converted from a hand mixer to a stand mixer, it was one of those, “what have i been doing all this time?!?” moments. this guy is a total champ, getting down to work while i’m free to roam the kitchen, consulting the next step of the recipe and stealing more chocolate chips. (one caveat though, if you’re going to want to mix huge quantities of really stiff dough on a regular basis, you’ll probably want one of the beefier/pricier bowl-lift models. if you’re not sure if that’s you, it’s probably not. this guy can easily handle a double batch of my chocolate chip cookies and that dough is no joke.)
to go with the mixer above, i highly recommend this beater blade that has rubber edges that scrape the bowl as it turns so that you don’t have to stop the mixer to scrape the bowl with a spatula. i basically never use the beater blade that came with the mixer; i just use this one.
i’ve mentioned this guy before: this splash guard is really helpful when you’re mixing, well, anything. throwing this guy in the dishwasher is way easier than sponging off the counter, walls, and everything else within a two foot radius of the mixer.
so, i will admit, i am a relative newcomer to cast iron, but i’m definitely becoming a convert, in no small part thanks to this skillet pizza. besides pizza, cast iron is great for anything where you want the pan to retain heat when you add food to it (aka, every recipe ever, basically). it’s also nice to know that the pan’s non-stick surface will get better over time, rather than scratch off and possibly make you sick.
ok, this thermometer. this thermometer is responsible for completely changing my chicken cooking game. rather than cooking chicken for a somewhat arbitrary amount of time, worrying that it’s not done yet and going to poison us, and then realizing that it’s actually waaaay overcooked and dry, now i just set the alarm for 165° F and take the chicken out when it’s done. the end.
i use this microplane zester/grater almost every day. it’s my go-to tool for grating hard cheese over pasta, zesting citrus fruits, and grating frozen ginger (it’s soooo much easier when it’s frozen!). i’ve had mine for years and years and it’s still super sharp.
not surprisingly then, i also love this coarse grater for shredding softer cheese such as cheddar or mozzarella for pizza. it’s also great for shredding veggies or frozen butter for biscuits. like the zester above, i’ve had this for years and it’s still very sharp.
speaking of pizza, we eat a fair amount of it around here and this pizza cutter makes it easy to serve. the grip is comfortable and keeps my hand far away from the sharp blade, which slices through pizza easily. win.
i used to have this terrible little “clever” lemon juicer that my husband had to pry apart with a butter knife to clean it every time i foolishly used it. now we have this one, and it’s awesome. easy to squeeze lemons or limes (load them in cut side down – it’s counterintuitive at first but that’s the way to do it) and easy to clean. yes please.
alright, a confession: i don’t own this knife… yet. i’m putting it on my christmas list though, because our existing bread knives are both worn out (anyone want a mangled slice of no-knead overnight rosemary bread?) and bread knives can’t be sharpened. given that, i refuse to spend a lot of money on one so i’m excited about this very affordable option that cook’s illustrated recommended. update december 2017: i’ve had this knife for a year and love it!
and last but so totally not least… things i hate: not being able to find a particular size measuring spoon running loose by his onesies in the gadget drawer. things i hate even more than that: WASHING 4 MEASURING SPOONS EVEN THOUGH I ONLY USED ONE BECAUSE THEY ARE TIED TOGETHER ON A STUPID RING. ahem. i have strong feelings about measuring spoons on rings. things i LOVE: *these* measuring spoons. not only are they magnetic so they nest together neatly in the drawer and you can always find the one you need, but also they come apart easily, so you only dirty the one(s) you need. cue the choir of angels! AND! they are flat on the bottom so you can set them down on the counter and they stay level (this is huge. one of those things you didn’t realize how useful it was until you use these for a while then go back to tippy-over measuring spoons in someone else’s kitchen). but wait, there’s more! the narrow end of the spoons actually fits in a narrow spice jar! imagine that! and then the other end is a more traditional circular shape, because sometimes that’s easier. and what that really means is that you have two clean measuring spoons in each size at your disposal, which is nice when you have a recipe with with lots of spices to measure out. as you can tell from this little
diatribe dissertation, i seriously heart these guys.
alright friends, i hope this gift guide was helpful! more of my
ranting favorites to come; once i get the shop page all set up i will of course let you know. until then, remember, friends don’t let friends navigate shopping mall parking lots in december.
happy cooking and baking and happy holidays!
please note this page contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase after clicking from here, i will earn a small commission from amazon at no additional charge to you. i only link to products that i use and love. thank you for supporting tasty seasons!
Just ordered the measuring spoons. I had no idea there was a way to solve both the “all the spoons are now dirty” and the “where the heck is the x spoon?” problems at the same time. Thanks for the tip!
tasty seasons says
YES! i <3 these spoons. once you have them, you will wonder why they aren't all like this. 🙂
I also just ordered the spoons! brilliant! you could have a post on just all kitchen things magnetic and it would be very much appreciated.
tasty seasons says
i’m glad you like them – i was so happy when i discovered them a few years ago! 🙂 i shall keep your magnet-themed suggestion in mind… in the meantime, i will mention that the thermometer i included does have a magnet on the back of it. i wouldn’t use it to store the thermometer on the fridge door that’s always moving and slamming shut but it would totally hold the thermometer to the side of the fridge or the stove.