Our Favorite Kitchen Tools + Appliances
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Everybody is spending more time in the kitchen these days. If you’re like the rest of us, that familiarity has created some contempt for the kitchen tools that are not quite up to snuff. (We would never say that about any of the people hanging around the kitchen.)
So we asked some of our favorite cooks and kitchen designers: what are your favorite kitchen tools you’d take on a deserted island? And yes, this desert island has electricity (long story.) Just in time for Mother’s Day, here’s what they said are their favorite kitchen tools and appliances that every well-equipped kitchen needs.
Straight Swivel Peeler
Shannon Ggem Design Co.
Her sunny personality and winning design skills make Shannon Ggem one of the most sought-after interior designers in the Los Angeles area. She says: “I’ve been using my Straight Swivel Peeler from Williams-Sonoma a lot. I peel, I zest and because it’s very sharp, I use it for cheese. And it’s got a comfy handle.” Other reviewers love the comfortable grip, the nice weight it has, and the ergonomic curve that makes it easier to use. It’s also great for shaving a carrot, cucumber, or asparagus spear into wide ribbons. The swivel peeler also comes in a serrated version that’s good for thicker-skinned things.
– Straight Swivel Peeler, about $17 from Williams-Sonoma
Ninja Master Prep
Kelly Ladwig of @homeonanashvillehill
This marketer and home design influencer in Tennessee is busy, so she loves tools that let her get the job done in a hurry. ”If there were a Swiss Army Knife for the kitchen, the Ninja would be it. Need to make a smoothie? It can do it. Need to chop onions? it does that too. Crushed nuts for a pecan crust? Yep. Purée vegetables for a sauce. No problem–the Ninja can handle it.’’
”Space is limited in my kitchen, so I’m always looking for appliances that can do double or triple duty. This definitely does that, and it takes up so little space. The Ninja comes with three different canisters and blades, plus it can all be thrown into the dishwasher for easy cleanup.’’
— Ninja Master Prep Pulsating Food Processor and Blender, about $50 from Overstock.com
KitchenAid Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
Kalisa Wells of @kalisa_wells
Kalisa is an extraordinary cook and entertainer. She’s catered for American presidents, makes spun sugar cages for her dessert display, or might decide to whip up a Mexican or Italian feast just because. Her kitchen in Oaxaca, Mexico is more simple, but it still includes a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a tilt head.
“From perfect frostings and batters to all of the attachments Kitchen Aid offers, such as pasta stretching and cutting, for instance, Kitchen Aid makes everything easy for everyday cooks,” she says. Plus, they last forever. She’s about to celebrate her 23rd anniversary with her original white mixer.
Kalisa’s mixer in Mexico is cobalt blue, but we’re so in love with new colors like Milkshake and Matte Dried Rose (above) right now. It was out of stock on Kitchen Aid’s website, but Appliances Connection is offering it along with free shipping.
– Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer in Matte Dried Rose, about $380 from AppliancesConnection.com
Franke Stainless Steel Drying Mat
Sarah Robertson of @studiodearborn
This award-winning kitchen designer in Westchester County has always hated seeing dish racks cluttering up the counter. So she was pretty excited to discover this Franke stainless steel rack. “I like it because it seems sanitary, easy to clean, and easy to roll out over the sink, where you can use it for dishes, watering plants, etc,” Robertson says. “And then when you’re done, it rolls up into a pretty tight roll for storage.” She keeps it in a drawer with other pans and then pulls it out as needed.
The original Franke steel dish mat can be used as a trivet or a place to wash veggies. It’s a fine piece of Swiss engineering, with a price to match. But there are others that will likely do the job for a fraction of the price.
– Franke Universal Kitchen Roller Mat, about $125 from Build.com
Chef Isabel Cruz of @isabelfoodgirl
As a mom and chef of two busy San Diego restaurants (The Coffee Cup and Isabel’s) Chef Isabel Cruz has tried out a bunch of kitchen appliances and gadgets. Her book The Latin Table reveals that her healthy cuisine depends on taking lean proteins and jazzing them up with flavorful sauces and salsas made with fruits and veggies along with chilies, garlic, onions, and lime. Heading off for a desert island, she’d be packing her VitaMix Blender A2500, because it does everything. “You can do so much with it and on the island I’m thinking there will be tropical fruits for smoothies,” she says. “And you can make sauces for meat and fish, plus, just like you said, you can make soup with it.” It also has a digital display and timed settings so you can multitask.
Maria Hunt of @thebubblygirl
I love cooking, but I’m so not a gadget person. But a VitaMix would be my desert island pick too because it makes it so easy to whip up hot soups or frozen desserts. My Dad was having trouble swallowing after a January surgery, so his doctor put him on an all-purée diet. By early March, he was down to 160 lbs, which is not good if you’re 6’1”. So I flew back to Chicago and spent eight days tossing Asian short ribs, sweet potatoes, and buttery ricotta polenta into my parents’ VitaMix to get him to eat. He loved the deep dish pizza soup, but my best creation was a velvety green soup with roasted chicken, avocado, lime, and cilantro. By the end of my visit, he gained nine pounds. I’d take the self-cleaning A3500 to a desert island, since who has time for dishes!
J.A. Henckels Knives
Susannah Watts of @swattsandco
Susannah Watts is pretty busy designing beautiful homes and taking care of her two young daughters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So she doesn’t get to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. But she’s gotta have good sharp knives and cutting tools.
“I lived overseas and had terrible knives and remember that all I wanted was one of those peelers,” she says. Now she’s very happy with her set from J.A. Henckels. “They cut my food, not my fingers, and are pretty to look at–all the important things!”
– Henckels 12-Piece Knife Block Set, about $90 from Overstock.com
Cuisinart Air Fryer/Toaster Oven
Christine Kohut of @christinekohutinteriors
Despite her busy design practice on the San Francisco Peninsula, Christine Kohut makes time for entertaining and enjoying the good things in life. Asked about her desert island appliance, she answered, “My Cuisinart Air Fryer/Toaster hands down! You can cook everything with it. Bacon with no splatters, roasted meats, and veggies (my Brussels sprouts with bacon and onions are amazing.)
“It’s large enough to cook family-sized portions and it’s all metal vs. plastic (so bad) and you can see inside while it’s cooking, things you can’t do with a typical air fryer.” Plus, it can toast, broil, and convection bake–all without heating up the entire kitchen. You’d think all that would cost a lot, but it’s under $200!
– Cuisinart Air Fryer/Toaster, about $150 from Overstock.com