How to Be a Pro with All Your Kitchen Gadgets

Forget kitchen drawers overflowing with unitasker gadgets, you only need a few classics to cook like a chef.

Better Basics

Slicing an avocado? There’s a gadget for that. Need to quickly cut and core pineapple? There’s a gadget for that too. Hulling tomatoes? Gadget. There are so many specialty gadgets out there it can be hard to sort the diamonds from the coal. That’s why the pros tend to stick with the basics to bring their food to life — whether or not you need that unitasker to complete your morning avo toast routine is really up to you (no judgment here).

But, today, we’re here to teach you how to turn your favorite kitchen stalwarts — your tongs, blenders, rubber spatulas and the like — into the gadget stars you always knew they could be. With some basic tools and a few pro moves up your sleeve, your dinner table will start to look a whole lot more like a chef’s table.

Tongs Are Key for Perfect Pasta Swirls

Even with the best cacio e pepe recipe, those noodles can end up looking lifeless if haphazardly piled on a plate. If you want to achieve that perfect pro-style pasta nest, all you need is a dinner plate and a pair of tongs. First, grab one portion of pasta with the tongs. Hold the pasta over the plate and slowly lower the pasta onto the plate while slowly turning the plate (not the tongs — that's needlessly more difficult). Work from the outside in and you’ll end up with a picture-perfect nest with a slight peak in the center.

Roll Out (Then Roll up!) Pie Dough Wiith a Rolling Pin

You might be thinking, duh, rolling pins were meant to roll out dough. But the trick here is really how a rolling pin can help you move soft, delicate doughs from your work surface to your tart pan or pie plate without a single crease or crack. Once you’ve got your dough rolled out to the right thickness, lightly dust the top with flour to prevent sticking, and then roll the dough around the pin, lift and unroll onto your pie plate. Brush off the extra flour, and voila, a no-fuss pie crust.

Rubber Spatulas Are Essential for Light, Fluffy Batters

A rubber spatula is in every pastry cook's tool belt — you can’t fold a delicate meringue into batter for sponge cake or whipped cream into chocolate for mousse without it. To keep airy ingredients, like meringues and whipped cream, well, full of air you must fold the lighter ingredients into the heavier batter by dragging the tip of your rubber spatula down the center of the bowl, while scooping batter onto the flat side of the spatula. Lift the spatula up, rotate the bowl a quarter turn and repeat until the batter is completely mixed without becoming deflated.

Offset Spatulas Make Swirly Patterns a Cinch

Want to up your cake decorating game? All you need is a small offset spatula. Once you’ve smoothed your frosting on your cake simply place the tip of the offset in the center of your cake, slowly spin the turntable and gently work from the inside out to create a spiral pattern in the frosting. It's simple and elegant.

Mandolines Make Quick Work of Veg Prep

Do you dread seeing the words “thinly sliced” in a recipe? Does it drive you mad that your radish slices are never paper-thin like at your favorite restaurant? Fear not. That’s where mandolines shine. Simply set your thickness and slice even shapes in no time. Just protect your fingers with a kitchen towel — so you slice the carrots, not your knuckles.

Bench Scrapers Are Great for Transferring

After you’ve finished chopping all those vegetables for dinner, how do you get them off your board without creating a mess? It may be tempting to drag the blade of your knife across the board to scoop up the fruits of your labor. That’s also a good way to dull your knife blade. Instead, keep a bench scraper handy to scoop up whatever is on your board and easily transfer it to your mixing bowl or pan.

Paring Knives Supreme Like a Dream

The humble paring knife may get overshadowed by the chef’s knife, but there are some things a smaller, more delicate knife can handle that a chef’s knife can’t — like supreming an orange. To serve these delicate bites of citrus in salads and fruit tarts, first trim the ends of the citrus, then carefully slice off the skin and pith following the curve of the fruit. Finally, use your little knife to make delicate, angled cuts between the citrus membrane to release the juicy wedges of orange, grapefruit, lemon or lime.

Balloon Whisks Create Voluminous Whipped Cream and Meringues

You’ve already learned the importance of folding to maintain the volume of your meringues and whipped creams, but how do you achieve that volume to begin with? A balloon whisk. It’s the larger, more bulbous whisk with lots of wires, and it’s ideal for whipping air into cream, egg whites or sauces. The best trick of all for whipping up cream? Chill everything. Whisk included. Cold fat stabilizes faster than warm fat. The opposite can be said for eggs whites, which are protein-based. In this case, warm everything because warm egg whites will whip up better than cold.

Blenders for Creamy Soups and Purees

Blenders make things smooth, we know. But are you making the most of your blender's power? Whether you are using the same old $20 blender from college or a turbocharged one, the same rules apply. To achieve the smoothest purees, add the liquid to the carafe first and never fill beyond the half way line. The liquid first will keep the motor happy and free from overheating. And by not overfilling your carafe, the blade actually has a chance of producing a smooth evenly blended soup or puree.