Cooking does not require an arsenal’s worth of equipment, contrary to what QVC or Williams-Sonoma would have you believe. In the words of Chef Hugh Acheson: “You should be able to cook something good with just a fork and a cast-iron skillet.” While you might imagine our editors having Container Store catalog-worthy drawers full of organized tools from mango slicers to popsicle molds, it actually takes a very convincing case for us to dedicate limited counter and cabinet space to a new acquisition.
If you’re embarking on or in the midst of Spring cleaning, now is the best time to take stock of the kitchen gadgets and gizmos you do have, and for better or worse, channel your inner Marie Kondo. For items worth filling that newfound space, we’ve compiled a list of tools that are not only worth the investment, but will save you time and effort too.
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Misen Knife Set: Started as a Kickstarter project, these knives aim to take the middleman out of the blade trade. The result is two high quality knives without any frills, like chestnut handles or blade etching, at a low price. Do you want to replace the big box-store set you’ve been using since the Clinton administration? Are you serious about a take-out detox and want to start cooking for real? This is the set you need, and the only two styles of knives you really need for nearly any task or recipe. Bonus: the photogenic blue handles will look great in all your overhead Instagrams.
Smithey Ironware No. 10 Cast Iron Skillet: There has been a flurry of new-wave cast-iron skillets as of late, but we haven’t been impressed enough to add one to our collection until now. With an air hockey table-smooth finish and a no-nonsense design, this Charleston-forged skillet has become our new go-to for everything from one-dish dinners to cornbread with a crazy crispy exterior. While the 10-inch has served us well, we’re eyeing the 12-inch for extra surface space to sear chicken thighs and cowboy steaks.
Smeg Citrus Juicer: Yes, you can get by with that dinky, wooden citrus reamer, but with this juicer opens up a whole new world of fresh-squeezed limeades, margaritas for a crowd on the porch, or a big batch of lemon juice ready to go for anything from icebox pies to hummus. It’s rare we find a kitchen appliance adorable, but this one is so much so that you will want to put it in a place of prominence on your kitchen counter.
Epicurean Big Game Cutting Board: We love Epicurean’s cutting boards here in the Southern Living Test Kitchen, but this oversized cutting board might seemed like a stretch. Do you really need one as big as a fifth grader? We thought so too, and then we saw how it easily shifts between understated meat and cheese board for an open house to tailgate prep command central. You can even put it on the tailgate of a truck to clean fish and game. Plus it’s made with Epicurean’s eco-friendly, lighter-weight wood composite (fun fact: originally intended for skate parks) so it’s highly portable. Take it to your beach rental or a backyard get together.
OXO On Cordless Glass Electric Kettle: If you’re still boiling water on the stovetop for anything other than pasta or eggs, treat yourself to this cordless electric kettle. While most previous kettle models look akin to boiling water in a spouted orthopedic shoe, this one is so sleek that you won’t mind it sitting outside of a cabinet. Making a cup of sleepytime tea before bed or brewing a quick cup of coffee in an aeropress takes no time at all with this kettle, but it also comes in handy for adding smaller amounts of boiling water to other recipes.