Much as I see myself as a MasterChef pundit, before accumulating my useful kitchen gadgets, my skills were a bit, well... blunt. My butter knife was as cheffy as it got, and any ceramic or plastic platter sufficed as a plate.
Thankfully, I've grown out of those college-type habits and my curated collection is much more sophisticated than my younger self cared for. Rather than frivolously spend money on marked-up martinis and meals, I prefer to host in my home; knowing what's in my food and how much liquor is in my cocktails.
It turns out, that's the case with the Real Homes team too, so we put together a list of culinary essentials you absolutely must get your hands on to start 2023 off right. Last year saw the best air fryers fly off the shelves, but you'll want these accessories to achieve amateur chef status. These tools won't get jammed in a drawer. Reason being is that a) many of them are super compact and b) you'll be using them on an almost-daily basis.
15 actually useful kitchen gadgets to buy in 2023
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If you're the type to look at the amount of garlic a recipe requires, and multiply it by two (or three), we can totally relate. But chopping clove after clove can feel like a chore. So if you love adding too many crushed cloves to your food, but want to avoid a garlic mani in the process, Editor-in-chief Melissa Epifano swears by this ReneeChef Store garlic press that you can get on Amazon.
"Garlic is my one true love and a press makes it so easy to cook with since I'm slow at chopping and mincing," says Epifano.
With this garlic-crushing gadget, you don't even need to bother about pre-peeling or smelly hands. Plus, to clean all you need to do is run it under your faucet, or pop it in the dishwasher.
While Epifano likes to crush it with a crusher, Christina Chrysostomou, eCommerce editor, swears by her Microplane as this little kitchen helper goes a long way. From grating parmesan cheese all over pasta, grating garlic, and tag teaming with her milk frother to make a Barista-style hot chocolate, this gourmet grater is super versatile and slim enough to fit into her kitchen drawer.
Let's not forget that this lightweight tool can also zest citrus fruits or nutmeg which are the perfect garnishes if you have a sweet tooth.
Look like you've watched The Notebook mid-way through chopping onions? You need this. I've tried all the tricks in the book. Holding a metal spoon in my mouth? Check. Running a tap — done that. While this food processor isn't guaranteed to be tear-free, it gets the job done so much quicker.
And, you'll end up with uniform pieces of onion. All you need to do is chop your red or brown bulb down to fit into the container, replace the lid and tug at the ring-pull a few times. The blade will slice and dice your culinary kryptonite without the need to splash the cash.
If you're sick of salad veg shriveling up in the crisper drawer after only a few days, invest in this pick to keep food fresh for up to five times longer. While it might seem a little pricey initially, it keeps fruit and veg fresh for weeks so you can get your vitamins in before your produce goes a little furry.
Fresh food often comes at a premium. So this gadget essentially prevents it from spoiling by sucking out all of the air. There's even an app you can download which will tell you when your food might go bad. And, if you fancy cooking fork-tender meat, use the plastic bags to cook your cuts sous vide in a water bath. Yep, it's a residentially-friendly version of restaurant equipment and one of the most eco-friendly kitchen products you can buy.
"I will die on my Aeropress hill," says Epifano. And, if you aren't quite ready to invest in one of the best coffee machines, but can't stand instant — consider joining her on this coffee-shaped mount too.
To make a cup of joe without a coffee maker, all you need to do is add ground coffee, and hot water and you can have perfectly-brewed java (without grit) in under a minute. This popular portable model makes one regular cup of coffee or 1-3 espresso-sized shots so you can have your usual homebrew on the go without having to gulp down substandard sludge.
"If you're wanting a way to make your meals that little bit extra, I'd recommend getting some cute dipping bowls like these," says Louise Oliphant, eCommerce editor.
"I have the IKEA equivalent, which as you can guess, are super cheap for a set of four. I love how expensive and timeless they look, as if they'll last a lifetime (if they don't it's okay). I have had them for at least three years now, mind and get them out with whatever dinner I'm having."
"I might put my parmesan cheese in one, use another for sauce, or any other add-on. You may think it's a waste or something else to wash up but they're dishwasher friendly too, so no harm there. Trust me: it'll make you enjoy mealtime much more. Totally extra, but totally worth it!"
This milk frother is our editor-in-chief’s most used kitchen gadget. Anyone who isn’t a fan of black coffee needs a sturdy frother in their arsenal. The Aeroccino is one of two that we strongly recommend. After two years of near-daily use, this frother still looks and works like new. It can whip up hot or cold milk in under a minute (without scalding or burning it), which makes at-home lattes, matchas, and hot chocolates a breeze during any season. The nonstick inside takes seconds to clean — just a quick rinse and wipe-down with a sponge — and the small machine takes up hardly any counter space.
Fans of hot and cold drinks need a milk frother that can do both. Breville’s automatic model makes it possible to craft top-notch iced lattes and hot cappuccinos from the comfort of your own kitchen. Set it and forget it with the easy dial and focus on making the second portion of your morning drink of choice. We’re big fans of the handle and subtle spout, which makes for simple, concise pouring. Because it's automatic and compact, it’s the best of both worlds: It’s better than a handheld that can’t heat or cool, and it’s smaller than a hunky coffee maker with a built-in frother.
Head of eCommerce Annie Collyer's kitchen hero is a potato ricer — and I can vouch for this too. If you love mash, then make way for the smoothest and silkiest pomme puree you've ever prepared. Yes, "it's a bit of a diva to clean" she admits, but we can see past that.
Alternatively, there are a few ricer hacks. You can squish avocados for guacamole, use the ricer to make homemade gnocchi, and even use it for hummus! Of course, there's also that TikTok trend of making aligot (because who doesn't like mashed potatoes that look and taste like string cheese?)
Whatever time of year it is, getting your hands on one of the best blenders is always going to be a good idea. From pasta sauces to protein shakes, there's so much you can whizz up with this gadget. They are fairly compact too so worth keeping even on tiny counters.
"My NutriBullet is still my fave thing," says Camille Dubuis-Welch, Deputy Editor of realhomes.com. "It does everything, it even doubles up as a cocktail shaker in times of need."
You don't even need to pulverize everything to a puree or paste. If you need to coarsely chop cilantro, for example, this handy tool can help hack at your soft herbs (without having to salvage every last slither of green off your chopping board.
From nutty pesto and aromatic curry pastes, try creating fresh and fragrant bases to blitz your herbs and spices. There are some truly beautiful marble sets on the market but our favorite is the ChefSofi pestle and mortar set. The unpolished granite is as classic as it gets and this one comes with an anti-scratch mat to protect your countertop.
All in all, it's a smashing small kitchen appliance if you'll pardon the pun!
Whether you like cooking with a neutral fat, or drizzling salads with an infused oil, there are no two ways about it: a plastic bottle isn't cute. Plus, if you've ever accidentally not closed the lid properly, it's a slippery mess that can make you, spill a few swear words let's say.
Upgrade your gourmet game with these glass oil dispensers. Just like your favorite perfumes, you can display your savory flavorings (and coffee syrups) in a fashionable way. We love the waterproof, oil-resistant, pre-printed labels and of course, those aesthetically-pleasing gold pourers are dreamy! They're available in two sizes: 350ml and 500ml.
Forget what you've heard about scales — they're not just for food-weighing-fad-diet-followers. If anything, it's a chef's top secret for consistent results when cooking a recipe. These mirror-finish kitchen scales aren't just for measuring ingredients, however.
They also function as a stable chopping board, and you can even measure liquids too with the Aquatronic function. Wherever you're based in the world, you can perfect your meals in metric or imperial increments.
If your current blades aren't cutting it — you need a new set of knives. Ideally, when cutting meat or veg, your cutting tool should be doing the work, not you. And so, if you're finding yourself sawing at a steak, working up a sweat with sweet potatoes, or hacking away at a half-loaf of bread, you need to accept fate and invest in some new equipment.
Rather than taking a stab in the dark and picking up a random collection, consider this Robert Welch six-piece knife set housed in a sustainable oak wooden block. Yes, they're a little pricey, but Millie Fender, Head of Reviews swears that this is one of the best knife sets on the market — so what are you waiting for: chop, chop!
"This one-pan wonder is an absolute kitchen essential because it's so versatile. First and foremost, it's an amazing non-stick frying pan that gives an exceptionally even cook to your food. But the goodness doesn't stop there: it's also great for steaming, is deep enough to boil pasta in (a personal must-have), and has draining spouts on either side. I love that it's both well-designed and beautiful, with gorgeous pastel, earthy, or bright colors that will complement any kitchen countertop."
"There's something so enjoyable about cooking when your vessel is this gorgeous. And another perk? It comes with a spatula and built-in spoon rest, so your kitchen cleanup duties will be at an absolute minimum with this pan."
Up next: you're going to need somewhere to store all of these new gadgets, so see our guide on super handy small kitchen organizers