Some people have culinary school–level skills, others categorically refuse to cook, but the majority of us fall somewhere in between. That is, we’ve spent most of our lives relying on a handful of tried-and-true recipes and a smattering of Postmates orders. Now that we’re eating most, if not all, of our meals at home, variety is more important than ever. No matter how great your trusted spaghetti Bolognese, having it once a week, every week, is a surefire way to never crave it again.
The best way to expand your gastronomic universe? Get yourself a fancy new kitchen tool. Suddenly, that daunting homemade pesto is one quick blend away, your cakes can be iced with confidence, and your scrambled eggs will reach Michelin starred–restaurant status. We asked seven chefs to share the gadgets that completely changed their cooking game. From a holy grail mixer to the best veggie slicer out there, these are the must-haves to add to your arsenal.
The Multitasking Blender
The Vitamix is an investment, but I use mine every day. I make pancake mix in it using whole grains; I blend soups and sauces; I grind spices from whole form to powder—I’ve even ground dried chickpeas into flour. It’s worth every penny. —Julia Sherman, author and founder of Salad for President
The Baker’s Secret Weapon
Mini offset spatulas are a godsend. Not only do they offer the greatest control when it comes to spreading, frosting, or coating, but they have tons of other uses: as butter knives, cake testers, or even door jams! I find new purposes for them each day. —Greg Rales, founder of Red Gate Bakery
The Pro Slicer
From regular breakfasts to dinner parties, my mandoline makes my life easier and helps me look like a badass in the kitchen. I use it to cut up fennel bulbs, carrots, and radishes evenly and consistently. It’s great for salads and garnishes because you can slice very thinly, so the ingredients are delicate and uniform. I also love it to julienne root vegetables. —Eden Grinshpan, host of Top Chef Canada and founder of Eden Eats
The Perfectionist’s Best Friend
I’m obsessed with my OXO cookie scoop. It’s great for portioning dough, but I’ve also started using it to spoon savory items, such as meatballs (I dip it in water in between each so it doesn’t get gunked up) or ricotta for stuffed shells. I also submerge it in hot water for ice cream, so I can slide right into the frozen carton and get perfectly round little balls for my sundae. —Farideh Sadeghin, culinary director of Munchies
The Handheld Miracle Worker
Hands down, my favorite kitchen gadget is the immersion blender. I love how versatile it is. You can mix anything in large batches: soups, sauces, marinades, vinaigrettes, homemade aiolis. It gives things an incredibly fluffy texture—I use it to make whipped cream or scrambled eggs for groups. —Dan Jackson, director of culinary at Fields Good Chicken
The Big-Batch Must-Have
Most people have skillets ranging from 6 to 10 inches, but bumping up to 14 is a total game changer. Suddenly there is room to cook dinner for eight with nothing ever getting close to spilling over the edge. Cooking with it is like sleeping in a king-size bed. I also use it to one-pot meal prep for the whole week; I can make a giant batch of stew or stir-fry and either store it in the refrigerator or portion it out and freeze it. —Chloe Coscarelli, chef
The Spicy-Food Essential
I love my Preethi mixer. It can blend and grind anything, from spices and pesto greens to tomatoes and onions for Indian food. Plus, it’s a great juicer and a super-easy, quick way to whip up hummus (with a drizzle of Brightland olive oil of course!). —Aishwarya Iyer, founder of Brightland