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13 Smart Kitchen Tools You Never Knew You Needed

We’re always looking for ways to make our lives a little bit easier every day. Sometimes though, we just deal with a challenge or annoyance out of habit or because we don’t know there’s another way.

When it comes to cooking, something that we spend much of our lives thinking about, talking about, and doing, we often settle for what we have to work with in our kitchens. Most kitchens are stocked with essentials: pots, pans, good knives, mixing bowls, sturdy sheet pans, measuring cups, casserole dishes, to name a few. But what about everyday cooking tools you never knew existed, or needed, the ones that just might be the difference between making dinner or not?

Our kitchen experts put together a list of 13 smart kitchen tools that fix common kitchen problems in easy, innovative ways. You’ll wonder what you ever did without them!

With the Cup Slicer, you can slice up strawberries, bananas, grape tomatoes, mushrooms, or hard-boiled eggs for a quick snack. Just put your food on a cutting board and place the Cup Slicer, which features five stainless steel serrated blades, above the food. Then, push it down until all your food is sliced. Pour your freshly sliced food into your cereal or a bowl. And when you’re done using it, run it through the dishwasher and place the blade cover on it for safe storage.

With the right microwave cookware, you won’t have to soak and scrub rice and other foods off the inside of pots and pans and your stovetop. A Micro-Cooker® can quickly and easily steam veggies, make perfectly cooked rice, poach chicken, melt chocolate, heat soup, and more in the microwave. You can even make a healthy veggie and rice dinner in less than 20 minutes. The frosted lid has holes that let steam escape and the lid locks into place to drain liquid before serving. We recommend using the 3-qt. Micro-Cooker® Plus for starchy side dishes like rice, quinoa, pasta, polenta, and potatoes. It includes a boil-over guard so your microwave stays clean and free of spills.

When you grab the can opener out of the drawer, do you quietly whisper, “please work” only to have to use all your might to crank every turn of the wheel? Have you ever had a dusty lid fall into the can after opening? There’s a better way. We recommend a smooth-edge can opener. This clever cutting mechanism pries under the lid’s outer lip so the entire top lifts up and off and leaves a smooth edge on both the lid and can so there’s no sharp edges, no worries about cutting yourself. The claw removes the lid with a push of the button to keep your hands clean. Because the wheel never touches the contents in the can, there’s no gunky wheels or risk of cross contamination. It’s a different motion than using a standard can opener, but once you’ve done it, it becomes routine.

Cutting small food in half is such a tedious task, especially if you’re making something for a large group or party. The Close & Cut lets you to cut batches of up to 1 cup of food like grape or cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella balls, seedless grapes, and pitted olives, all at once. It’s also great for cutting bagels, halving or butterflying chicken breasts (which can be expensive to buy), or creating pockets in food for stuffing. The angled design stabilizes food and holds it in place, whether you’re cutting a big batch or just a few pieces. For safety, there’s a finger guard to protect your hands, a knife stop, and non-skid feet.

Avoid the tears from chopping onions with this popular tool. It safely dices meat, nuts, veggies, and other produce in just a few seconds. Every time you press the plunger—which is made of soft material, comfortable for pressing—stainless steel blades rotate and chop your food! Everything stays contained inside the clear walls of the tool, which you can use with the flexible cap or on a cutting board, so you don’t make a mess, either. 

If you’re tired of scrubbing oil and grease off the stovetop or have just accepted that cooking bacon will cause a few sizzle burns, a hinged splatter screen is the way to go. In addition to keeping oil inside the pan and off your stove and body, the screen perforations let steam escape so your food gets nicely seared instead of soggy. The hinges and silicone-covered handles let you check cooking progress and turn food without removing the screen (just be sure to use a mitt). Plus, it’s dishwasher-safe and folds in half for easy storage.

After slicing, dicing, and chopping food on a cutting board, do you pick up the board, walk over to the stove, do a little balancing act, and then push the prepped food into a pot or pan with your hand or knife? Lightweight, flexible cutting mats are thick enough to protect your countertop and table, but flexible enough to bend any way needed to funnel ingredients right into your recipe. This set includes three mats so you can do all your prep without cross-contamination, and features helpful information like knife techniques, measure marks, and portion sizes. Silicone backing grips counters to keep firmly in place. And when you are done, you can wipe down or pop in the dishwasher. Need a great gift idea for college students, new cooks, and first-time homeowners? This basic kitchen tool set includes cutting mats, multicolor coated knives, and more.

Does it seem like your favorite spatula or turning tool is somehow always at the bottom of the utensil drawer? With a rotating utensil holder, you’ll always have the right tool at your fingertips, ready when you are. We like how this one rotates easily, fits a bunch of utensils, has a handy spoon rest that stores in the holder when not in use, and looks great with any kitchen décor.

Pitting cherries or olives can be a messy and slow process with a single pitter. With this handy tool you can pit four cherries at once, quickly and effortlessly. The clear bottom tray catches the juice and pits, keeping your hands and kitchen counters clean. The large tray is perfect for cherries or larger round olives, while the small tray is just right for narrow olives, like Kalamatas.

When it’s time to tenderize meat or flatten chicken breasts, instead of grabbing a rolling pin, empty wine bottle, cast iron skillet, or a can of vegetables, use a heavy-duty meat tenderizer. This one has a toothed side to tenderize tougher, less-expensive cuts of meat like chuck steak, and a flat size to flatten chicken breasts, pork, or beef. You can also use the flat side to easily crush cookies, crackers, or cereal. Not only will it save time and money, once you see how great it works, you’ll wonder what you did without it.

Some cooks swear by using plastic bags to bread chicken and other meats, but we find it makes a gummy mess. With this three-piece coating trays & tool set, you’ll have an “Aha” moment. These large, handy trays are microwave-safe, so you can also use them for chocolate-dipped truffles, fruit, and pretzels. The trays overlap, which helps keep your counters clean while the nonskid feet keep them in place. Now you can feel confident giving a gentle shake to the breading for evenly breaded foods. Use the tongs to securely hold the food you’re breading or dipping to keep your hands clean. Plus, they are dishwasher-safe and nest for easy storage.

A colander is indispensable in a kitchen. Instead of your run-of-the-mill inexpensive plastic colander that can melt if gets too hot and has large holes not suitable for rice, quinoa, or angel hair pasta, use a sturdy stainless steel mesh colander. This set has raised bottoms that quickly rinse and drain everything from fruits to pastas, potatoes, grains, and more. Flat rims make them easy to lift, they are dishwasher-safe, nest for easy storage, and great looking.

If you avoid cooking with fresh garlic because you don’t like garlic-scented hands, this tool lets you slice, dice, and paste garlic without touching the raw garlic. Roll your garlic clove in the helpful peeler to get rid of its skin, then slice, dice, or paste all with the same tool. Clean the blades easily with the included brush and cleaning plates perfect for removing leftover garlic bits—and the whole tool is dishwasher-safe!

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