This was the year for quality time at home (so very much quality time at home), and we spent that extra time honing our skills in the kitchen. From old-fashioned sourdough starters to collectible Pyrex to the newest gadgets on the culinary scene, we found plenty of excuses to peruse the web for our new favorite tools, dishware, and cookware that make even the most complicated recipes an absolute breeze.
We’ve put plenty of miles on our stand mixers this year as we stress-baked the days away, and our favorite KitchenAid Classic Plus Stand Mixer stood up to the challenge. Featuring a lockable tilt-head, 4.5-quart stainless steel mixing bowl, and three mixing attachments, the KitchenAid Stand Mixer is the Cadillac of Mixers. It’s also the same model they use in the Great British Baking Show, so you can really feel like you’re in the tent stress-baking with the best of them.
iSpring RCC7 High Capacity Under Sink 5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Drinking Filtration System and Ultimate Water Softener, 75 GPD, Brushed Nickel Faucet, NSF Certifiedamazon.com Check Price
Of all the fancy gadgets and gizmos to buy for the kitchen, perhaps the most overlooked are tools for clean, filtered water. Staying hydrated helps keep skin and hair healthy, improves immunity, speeds up the metabolism, and keeps your cellular functions in tip-top condition. So why wouldn’t you find the best way to purify this essential liquid? To put it briefly, wading through filter options is confusing. Luckily, we cleared up some of the muck by finding our personal favorite: iSpring’s High Capacity Under Sink filtration system for clean water straight from the faucet.
The need for filtration doesn’t stop at the sink, either. If you regularly use the water and ice dispenser in your refrigerator, don’t forget to get a filter for that system as well.
Out of all of the convenient, easy-to-use, and unique kitchen gadgets, we found this year, this LEVO infuser might just be our favorite. Offered in several eye-catching colors, a LEVO infuser allows you to take your desserts, teas, bath bombs, cosmetics, and more to the next level by effortlessly infusing oil and butter with botanicals of your choice. (Yes, even CBD and cannabis infusions! Check out this recipe for flower-infused No-Bake Star Crunch Cookies that taste as amazing as they’ll make you feel.)
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, and Warmer, 6 Quart, 14 One-Touch Programsamazon.com Check Latest Price
Instant Pots have been on the market for a while, but they’ve recently gained a cult-like following due to their incredible versatility. These handy countertop machines can be used as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, and more. Instant Pots can also double as an excellent rice cooker, but if you’re more of a rice traditionalist, we found plenty of straight-up rice cookers this year that we loved.
While they might look like a toy, Instant Pots are appliances that can cause burns if handled improperly. We recommend snagging a pair of these Instant Pot silicone mitts, one of several amazing Amazon finds that have made our lives easier in a year that was everything but.
Because sometimes, the only thing getting us through endless WFH days was a steady stream of hot coffee. After scouring the internet for a versatile but not overly-complicated coffee maker, we found our Goldilocks favorite in Hamilton Beach’s 2-Way Brewer that makes brewing single-serve cups, pre-programming for early mornings, and cup-specific adjustments easy-peasy.
For java aficionados who prefer their brews made from freshly ground whole beans, we tested out several coffee bean grinders and settled on KRUPS’ F203 grinder that can be used for flavorful coffee in the morning and yummy spices at dinnertime.
Cooking at home means cleaning dishes at home, and while putting a little elbow grease into a caked-on skillet can be a great stress reliever, it’s usually the last thing we feel like doing after cooking and eating a big meal. Luckily, viciously scrubbing pots and pans became a relic of the past once we tried NuWave’s Aluminum and Stainless Steel cookware set.
Out of all of the cookware sets we tried, including some note-worthy non-stick competitors, NuWave stayed a step ahead of the rest with its lightweight and durable design, induction- and stove-top-ready stainless steel base, and titanium-infused topcoat for even heating.
Even with our new cookware sets tucked away in the cupboard, we couldn’t get rid of our trusty Lodge cast-iron skillet. Pre-seasoned and durable enough to use at home, over a campfire, or while traveling, cast-iron skillets are a lifelong investment that can be passed down through several generations of foodies.
Speaking of several generations, we also found our go-to for the next post-COVID family gathering: the electric skillet. We’ve been using this dishwasher-safe Elite Gourmet 1500W electric skillet to make fluffy pancakes, veggie stir-fries, and more, and we're eagerly awaiting the opportunity to test out this skillet's extra-large capacity for feeding large crowds.
Another cult-favorite kitchen accessory, air fryers have taken the culinary world by storm with its ability to fry foods to beautifully crispy perfection sans oil. We fell in love with the Ninja Air Fryer due to its roomy 4-quart basket, crisper plate, and low-temperature dehydrating setting. (Because why waste money on bags of unhealthy cheese balls when you can make your own great-tasting dehydrated vegetables and fruits at home?)
After years of eating disappointingly limp microwaved foods, we treated ourselves to the unsung hero of the kitchen: the toaster oven. Toaster ovens like this one from Oster help warm, bake, toast, and reheat foods of all kinds. Leftover pizza is especially delightful hot and crispy from the toaster oven. We were able to ditch the microwave (which really only ever made foods soggy anyway) and our toasters for this all-in-one appliance.
If there were ever a perfect time for a delicious, frozen, and stiff drink, it would be the entire year of 2020. We researched the best margarita makers (it was a tough job, but someone had to do it) and landed on the marg masters: Margaritaville. This bad boy makes margaritas, daiquiris, pina coladas, mudslides, and hangover-zapping smoothies for the morning after.
Toiling away over a cutting board is so last year. This year, we opted for convenience when it came to food prep, and we found all that and more in Fullstar’s mandoline slicer. This is an absolute must-have for veggie lovers to make effortless zucchini noodles, homemade coleslaw, vegetable chips, scalloped potatoes, and more.
Money was tight this year, and pennies needed to be pinched anywhere they could — food storage being no exception. Between bountiful backyard gardens and a surplus of Instacart groceries, we looked for ways to store meat, veggies, fruits, and more and set our sights on FoodSaver’s V2244 Vacuum Sealer. We wasted not and wanted not this year and saved hundreds of dollars on food that would have had to have been tossed without this handy kitchen tool.
One of the worst parts about making dinner is that you have to get the stuff out, prep the food, make the food, clean the dishes, and put everything back every single night. What’s up with that, anyway? We found a solution for our lazy-bone selves by meal prepping at the beginning of the week, and we found the best meal prep containers to be this set of two-compartment glass containers from M MCIRCO. These eco-friendly containers helped preserve the food we made while capitalizing on the rare bouts of productivity that popped up throughout quarantine.
Forget spring cleaning - we did sheltering in place cleaning this year, and all that extra time at home gave us plenty of opportunities to organize, declutter, and rearrange our living spaces. We used durable storage bins to stow away old clothes, memorabilia, and other important items that weren’t quite ready to be Marie Kondo’d yet. These Stack & Pull boxes from IRIS USA, Inc. helped us free up much-needed space in our kitchen cupboards, garages, closets, and attics.