During the holidays, it's especially tempting to stock up on gadgets promising to make prepping for your family shin-digs a breeze, only to have them collect dust for the other 11 months of the year.
To help you avoid accumulating more clutter, and to clue you in on the real must-have tools that'll make your food taste delish and your life easier, we tapped Carla Contreras, professional chef and founder of Cook+Chop to share what she always has in her kitchen during the holidays. From a chef's knife to a peeler to a dutch oven—get ready to finally stock up on the useful stuff.
Keep reading for the kitchen gadgets this professional chef swears by over the holidays.
Contreras doesn't play around when it comes to her knife set—and neither should you. She advises stocking up on three knives to start: a chef's knife (like above), a serrated knife, and a paring knife. Her ultimate fave is a chef's knife, so she recommends starting there if you have to pick just one, and then growing your collection slowly.
"I love Epicurean because of their grip, and they're built to last—I've had mine for 10 years," Contreras says. Okay, that means you need one (or three) of these cutting boards, stat. Made of recycled wood composite material, you're helping out the environment and your soon-to-be exceptional cooking skills.
OXO Salad Spinner, $30
Salad isn't exactly top-of-mind during the holidays (hello, mashed potatoes and casseroled everything), but this spinner will make you want to add in a giant serving of greens to your feast. Contreras agrees and suggests washing and storing additional veggies within the spinner, too.
A peeler is one of those kitchen gadgets you never really think about until you're sitting face-to-face with a giant stack of sweet potatoes that need to be peeled. This underrated kitchen tool is actually a total game-changer, and this stainless steel, Y-shaped one provides a secure grip while you peel your veggies, fruit, or any other peel-able foods you're into.
The worst part of holiday cooking is the clean-up, hands down. Avoid getting stuck on dish-washing duty this year by opting for this non-slip baking mat that can replace parchment or wax paper to eliminate waste and time spent scrubbing bare pans.
"I got this for a gift six years ago and I love using it for everything," Contreras says. "I sauté in it, make soups, stews, or braises—it’s a workhorse in my kitchen and lives on my stove." Trust the chef here: This enameled iron classic will come in clutch for food prep as a host, and it'll become a staple in your everyday cooking long after the holidays are over.
Whether you need to drain pasta, wash off fruits and veggies, or prepare a homemade salad, a large strainer is a must-have pretty much all year long. Contreras also suggests opting for a small strainer (like this one) for soaking quinoa, beans, or lentils—all simple bases to throw onto your holiday menu.
Use this ladle to dole out (generous) portions of gravy during your Friendsgiving, and give it a job year-round serving up broths, soups, and sauces, making your scoop-to-bowl experience extra efficient (without any spills). "I’m not about having all the kitchen gadgets in the world," Contreras says. "I want things that are functional, and I want them to work for me year round."
Store all the leftovers from your smorgasbord in these mason jars that use SureTight lids to seal in all yum, so nothing goes bad before you're ready for round two. And once you finally do finish your thirds or fourths, you can wash and reuse the jars for decor purposes. That's a two-for-one deal if we ever saw one.
While it isn't in the kitchen gadgets category per se, this apron is an easy way to keep the holidays festive—and to keep all splatters off your party clothes. Made of soft-yet-sturdy cotton with red embroidery for a pop of festive fun, you'll be set for the remainder of holiday dinners you host.
Sponsored by Target
Top photo: Getty Images/filadendron
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