Go, Go Gadget

By Sharon Naylor

September 7, 2017 6 min read

Food Network celebrity chefs swear by their favorite kitchen gadgets. During the busy holiday months, when you find yourself hosting dinners, baking for holiday parties and going out of your comfort zone with more challenging recipes, comfort and ease make all the difference. These standout kitchen gadgets and small appliances will save you time and money, allow your kids to get involved in food prep and bring a little fun into the mix.

*Microplane Zester

Celebrity chef Ina Garten has raved about this tool on her show, "Barefoot Contessa." You can grate citrus zest, spices, hard cheeses, coconut, ginger or chocolate right onto a dish for an extra zing or onto a serving platter for presentation. The handheld tool is easy to grip and hit the perfect angle. And it can be easily cleaned and dried. As an added perk, zesting citrus releases a wonderful aroma into the air.

*Spiralizer

Few kitchen gadgets cut grocery costs and labor time and allow you to enjoy healthy twists on your favorite meals. A spiralizer is an inexpensive tool that peels vegetables in a spiral to create faux noodles. Rochelle Bilow writes in Bon Appetit magazine online that most spiralizers function like a giant pencil sharpener: A firm veggie is held in place over a grinder with a clamp, and you simply use a hand crank to turn it.

You not only can save money by not buying precut vegetables but also can quickly run veggies through and free yourself up for other tasks. Amanda Cohen, chef and owner of Dirt Candy restaurant in New York City, explains that this tool "made some boring jobs a lot easier." This holiday season, save the heavy carbs for dessert and throw some zucchini, beets, heirloom carrots or squash into the spiralizer. It's a simple task your little ones might even enjoy.

*Mandoline

A good-quality mandoline makes quick work of many kitchen prep tasks that are normally performed with a chef's knife, like slicing potatoes and french fries. A mandoline is a flat surface with a stationary blade on the end. When running an item across the surface, it produces even slices, a feat that is usually a challenge for less experienced chefs.

The biggest caution with this tool: It is extremely sharp. In a Chicago Tribune article, writer James P. DeWan breaks down the three common mandoline blades. The main blade runs across the flat plate, and the thickness of the cut is determined by the distance between the blade and flat plate. A corrugated blade is used for waffle fries. And a stick blade can either be attached or moved into place for cutting sticks or juliennes.

This tool is most certainly for use by the careful adult cook only. It'll get the job done quickly and create a pretty dish.

*Immersion Blender

Ever try to pour a steaming-hot soup into a blender, only to send the top flying and the contents all over your kitchen? And the alternative of pouring batches of soup into the blender bit by bit to avoid the splatter is meticulous and time-consuming. You need an immersion blender, a hand-held blender that can puree soup, make homemade pesto, pulse a Bolognese sauce, whip up cream for dessert and more.

This powerful tool is lightweight, easy to clean, compact and oftentimes two or three times faster than most hand blenders. Bon Appetit magazine online tested multiple brands. It recommends the Cuisinart Smart Stick 2-Speed Hand Blender for $60 if you're "blending on a budget," the All Clad Immersion Blender for $100 as a workhorse and the Electrolux Masterpiece Collection Immersion Blender for $230 as the top choice.

*Instant Pot

A home-cooked meal, especially one shared with loved ones during the holidays, is a simple pleasure. But it can be tough to find time to labor over a recipe. Enter the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Cooker. This pressure cooker has been stealing hearts all over the country since it went on the market. It replaces seven kitchen appliances: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute, yogurt maker and warmer. Most amazingly, it speeds up cooking by two to six times and uses 70 percent less energy.

Want to make grandma's holiday roast recipe in a flash? No problem. Running low on counter space, pots and pans? Stick a meatloaf and potatoes in the pot together, and the meal will be ready in 30 minutes. Even bake a molten lava cake. The best part is arguably how heavenly your home will smell while it's cooking.

The Duo comes in three sizes: 8-quart, 6-quart and mini.

Every holiday cooking experience is more enjoyable when your life is made easier. And your guests will appreciate that your dishes are as gorgeous as they are tasty and inventive. If you fall in love with any of these products in the lead up to holiday gift exchange, buy one for a family member or friend and it will be a gift that keeps on giving.

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