When it comes to cooking tools, we’re fans of the basics. There’s a lot you can do with some well-made essentials, and if you’re going to keep some gadgets on hand, they better pull double, triple, or quadruple duty. Space is a premium commodity in most kitchens, and we want everything we own to pull its weight.
And yet. Maybe it’s something we inherited from grandma or picked up on a trip and it only does one thing and we don’t use it much and its corner position in the back of a cabinet makes stacking the tupperware in a neat column impossible and…we can’t bear to get rid of it. Because sometimes a single-purpose gadget that just does one job—and does it well—really is worth it. Here is the case for our 12 favorites.
Cole & Mason Professional Nutmeg Spice Grinder
As spices go, nutmeg’s a surprisingly versatile one—at least, once you freshly grate shavings off a whole nutmeg for a fragrant, complex accent for sweet and savory dishes. A microplane grater does the job, but nothing beats this cute dedicated nutmeg mill, which doubles as a storage device so you always have some extra nuts handy.
Test kitchen director Stacy Adimando loves this tiny whisk, which costs just a few bucks and is the perfect tool for mixing cornstarch slurries in small bowls, smoothing out jars of condiments with a layer of oil pooled on top, whipping up small batters in containers with tight corners, and then some. Bonus: it doubles as a piece of jewelry at a fraction of the cost. Amazon
OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup
Why stock up on measuring cups that top out at 2 ounces? For one: cocktails. These cuties are far more accurate and reliable than jiggers. For another: They’re ideal for small amounts of sticky and viscous ingredients like honey or tahini that need a little help getting shlooped into a mix; the cups provide ample access for a spoon or thin spatula to scrape every last bit out. Amazon
Freshly grated coconut, one that you crack and grate yourself, is a revelation for those that have only tried prepared products. And while we can’t say we’re cooking with coconut on the daily, having one of these grinders on hand means we do grind up coconuts a lot more frequently, both for homemade coconut milk and fresh coconut chutney. Amazon
This heat-resistant silicone gadget latches onto the side of your saucepan to create an impromptu pour spout. Perfect for transferring sauces and soups to containers or handling hot liquids with care without worrying about backing up a funnel precariously balanced on your counter. Amazon
Cherry Pit Remover
We’re big cherry fans here, and try as we might, there’s really no better solution to pitting cherries cleanly than a cherry pitter, especially if you want to keep them whole for pretty presentations. Make sure you get one with a shield to keep cherry juice from splashing up at you, as this model has. Amazon
It may say it’s for pizza, but we use this wheel for neatly trimming all kinds of doughs: biscuits, pasta, bread, and then some. Amazon
Whether you’re making your own tortillas from scratch or heating up storebought ones, you’ll want a way to keep them warm, otherwise your first few will dry out and cool off by the time you’ve made your way through the stack. Kitchen towels work, sorta, but then need to head into the laundry bin, and they don’t retain heat all that well. This plastic warmer does; it keeps tortillas nice and fresh for upwards of half an hour. Amazon
If you have a good knife, kitchen shears aren’t exactly a necessity, but our test kitchen associate Kristy Mucci loves these from Joyce Chen. Comfortable to use, ambidextrous, and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning, these shears work great for all kinds of small kitchen tasks. Amazon
For most jobs, we’d much rather stick with a proper high speed blender, but both blenders and food processors don’t do a good job with small volumes of ingredients. Enter the mini blender, perfect for bits of purées, salad dressings, and salsas. Amazon
And speaking of pour spouts, we can’t get enough of these bottle pour spouts for spirits, olive oil, vinegar, and then some. A hidden tube allows for fast-but-accurate glug-free pouring while the valves create tight seals. Amazon