Top 5 Small Kitchen Gadgets Worth Owning (& Giving)

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It’s always the bigger gadgets that get the kitchen glory (looking at you, stand mixer and air fryer). But in my opinion, it’s the little, inexpensive tools that make tedious small tasks easier that deserve the real love. Granted, they aren’t as “sexy” as a new set of knives or copper bowls. But people who cook a lot will value the utility of these gadgets. Looking to level-up your culinary game with some new equipment, or need a few holiday gifts? Check out these handy kitchen helpers.

Citrus and cheese zester

A classic favorite of dietitians and chefs, the zester is easy to use and can really affect how food tastes. There’s a primary brand of this tool that you’ll easily find in cooking stores and online. But other brands are certainly available too (and generally less expensive). Zesters are great stocking stuffers and adding lemon or lime zest to recipes adds brightness and a punch of flavor. And who wouldn’t welcome the opportunity to grate hard cheese over pasta or risotto with a dramatic flourish? 

Silicone folding splatter screen 

Less mess in the kitchen is always a good thing. But in all my years of cooking, I never had a splatter screen. Call me late to the party, but I think it’s because we didn’t have one when I was growing up. (Maybe that’s because our family had a lot of kids to clean up the kitchen every night!) In any case, last year I finally gave in and found a reasonably priced silicone one online. Mine has a folding handle so the screen doesn’t take up more space than the skillet you’re using it for. (I just set it on top of the skillet to store it.) There are also types that fold in half, taking up even less space. And since it’s silicone, it cleans up easily and can also go in the dishwasher. 

Jar opener “key”

Is it me or are jars so much harder to open these days? Ok, maybe it’s me. In any case, my physical therapist introduced me to this simple and inexpensive tool, and it’s made a huge difference. Granted, I don’t use it every day, but when I need it, I’m glad I have it. Do you have arthritis like I do, or know someone who does? If so, this jar opening key saves a lot of frustration and pain. You use it like a bottle opener—just secure it under the lid edge and pull up. You’ll hear the vacuum suction release with a pop and then the lid will twist off easily. Best of all, it will last forever and can be found online for around $7. 

Magnetic, double-sided measuring spoon set

I don’t know why it took so long for someone to think of this! Measuring spoons that stay nested using the power of magnets stay organized in the drawer. Many sets are color-coded too. If you’d rather know your ¼ teaspoon is purple and not have to read the tiny numbers—that’s a bonus! Even better, double-sided spoons mean you can get them into any spice jar. One side is rectangular (or oval) and one side is the typical round, which doubles their usefulness! If you, like me, want to remove frustrating tasks from your life, consider a set of these spoons.  

Electric mini food processor

Ok, this one pushes the limit of the “small kitchen gadget” category. But it’s such a useful tool that I had to include it. I’ve had one of these little choppers since I was 24 (a gift I never thanked my sister enough for). I use it frequently for chopping 1 to 2-ish cups of ingredients. More than you feel like doing by hand, but not enough to warrant dragging out the big, heavy food processor. (The small ones can typically handle up to 2 or 3 cups of ingredients.) In fact, during the holidays I use it so often that I usually just leave it out on the counter. The chopper I have has two settings: “grind” and “chop.” That’s all you need to make quick work of meal prep. Chopping onions and other veggies. Finely chopping nuts. Grinding cooked foods into purees. Even making hummus, spreads, and small amounts of pesto. There are several brands of these mighty minis to choose from, and most top out at around $50.