The Kitchen Gadgets We Finally Bought During Quarantine
If you could use some help in the kitchen, add these to your cart.
These days, most of us have been spending extra time in the kitchen – learning how to whip up our cravings from scratch, getting our meal prep skills down pat and occupying our weekends with the next involved yet satisfying baking project.
But the more time we spend cooking, the more we realize we could use a little help. We asked Food Network staffers which gadgets they finally decided to invest in to make mealtimes easier – and which gadgets you might want to add to your cart, too.
I think we all know that quarantine has meant washing triple the dishes than before. Frustrated with cleaning large sheet pans every time I needed to accomplish a small kitchen task like toasting some nuts, roasting a small serving of veggies or even just heating up leftovers, I bought a couple 1/8-size sheet pans. Yes, they’re pretty tiny! But they’re just the perfect thing for small jobs, and double as handy containers for prep tasks like seasoning meat, dredging food for frying or holding some chopped veggies or herbs. Even further, they serve as a great landing spot for utensils while cooking. And I’m not mad to see a couple of them pile up in my sink.
— Lauren Piro, Director, Editorial
I finally invested in a vegetable brush during quarantine — it’s long overdue. Scrubbing potatoes with a sponge or multiple paper towels just doesn’t get the job done. I’ve been making so much potato hash, French fries and more, this is sure to come in handy now and even after quarantine is over.
— T.K. Brady, Senior Editor
I’ve tried every recommended trick to avoid my eyes crying – wetting my knife, freezing my onion, etc. I finally bought these goggles and they do the trick! I can cut onions, shallots and more, tear free! I try not to buy too many little gadgets that are for one cooking method/ingredient, but these are now a staple in my kitchen!
— Stephanie Gershowitz, Senior Production Manager
By now you’ve seen Ina Garten’s quarantine cocktail hour post on Instagram. (If you haven’t yet, pleaseeeeee watch now. It’s wonderful and I love her.) Though Ina uses a (large) pitcher to make a (large) Cosmopolitan, I went with something a bit more small-scale to make my cocktails: a classic stainless-steel shaker. My old one had a loose lid, so I used quarantine as the time to upgrade. This one is petite but still roomy enough for a round of drinks. So far I’ve used it to make a Cosmo, a martini and a Paper Plane — and I have no plans to stop soon!
— Maria Russo, Senior Editor
I can’t believe it took a global pandemic to buy such a simple but valuable kitchen tool. I picked up a digital kitchen timer and am never looking back. This slim model can count up or down and is magnetized so it lives stuck to the side of my microwave. I used to use my cell phone or the oven timer but neither were very user-friendly. My phone would go to sleep and with often dirty hands I couldn’t check in on it frequently (plus I might be watching a show or listening to music while cooking and don’t like to have to switch back and forth). My oven is an old clunky thing and setting the timer was usually more annoying than it was worth.
— Melissa Gaman, Recipe Developer, Food Network Test Kitchen
I’ve spent a fair amount of quarantine reorganizing different parts of my house and have done more purging than purchasing, but one thing I rediscovered was my Microplane. Not only is it perfect for citrus, cheese and fresh spices like nutmeg, but on those nights when the idea of chopping a clove of garlic feels overwhelming (the cooking burnout is real, friends) this one tool makes dinnertime feel like a little less work.
— Julie Hines, Managing Editor, Food Network Kitchen App
I finally purchased a butane torch for my kitchen, specifically the Chef’s Torch by Messermeister. Its compact size makes storing it a breeze, plus it’s incredibly powerful (supposedly it lasts around 200 minutes on nine ounces of butane alone!). I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of this torch, as it easily and quickly toasted a meringue-topped pie I recently made. I would definitely recommend purchasing this gadget for all your meringue, creme brulee and other baking needs.
It’s important to note that this model does not come filled with butane, and you must buy a canister of butane separately (they’re typically around $5 and available where most butane torches are sold).
— Amanda Neal, Recipe Developer
Instead of making impromptu trips to the corner store just for a bottle of sparkling water, I finally splurged on a SodaStream. It’s easy to use and definitely worth the precious real estate it takes up on my tiny kitchen counter. Lately I’m loving mixing the fizzy water with homemade fruit shrubs.
— Frances Kim, Digital Programming Manager
Like many in quarantine, a couple months ago, I set out to make sourdough bread. I was given some starter from a friend, and decided to make do with the measuring cups and spoons I had to feed it the proper ratio of water and flour. But, as I soon learned, it’s all about precision when it comes to bread making. After a week or two of disappointing growth, I decided to bite the bullet and just order a digital kitchen scale. I was so surprised to find that you can get a good one for not too much – some start as low as $16 – and once I got one, realized how easy they are to use.
Since then, I’ve been using it for way more than sourdough – from weighing meat portions to measuring all my ingredients for other baking projects. It’s helped me churn out better dishes, seamlessly. I can’t believe it took me this long to get one.
— Maggie Wong, Editor