There’s always a new kitchen tool, appliance or gadget, often showcased on a TV commercial with ‘Buy one, get one free!’ or chasing you around on instagram, but which ones are really worthwhile?
Here we break down some of the trendiest kitchen accessories, with our rating on which ones are worth it and which ones are a fad!
Egg Separator Fish
$19.95 from Catch.com.au
We all seem to accumulate all sorts of kitchen gadgets. Some great, some great for five minutes then just taking up space in a draw. In my opinion, any kind of egg separator is definitely one of those items! Why make another dish to clean, when it’s perfectly easy (and probably faster) to separate an egg with its own shell? While the 2019 upgrade of a fish that sucks up the yolk is novel, it’s probably going to end up sitting in the draw too.
Boiled Egg Makers
Whilst a boiled egg maker might take the minor stress out of your egg cooking by guaranteeing they will be perfect each time, we’re pretty against dropping $50 on an appliance with one function (toaster, you’re excused). When it comes to boiled eggs, the name says it all - you’re buying a machine to do exactly what a pot of water already does. We know boiling eggs can be tricky, there are lots of variables to get the perfect egg, but a little bit of research and practice to know exactly how much time it takes for eggs in your kitchen, just how you like them, is all you need. Everyone from Gordon Ramsay to Jamie Oliver have done tutorials, and here’s a great guide fromMasterclass. There are also heaps of tips and tricks that will improve your egg cooking and reduce the chance of errors, from putting them in an ice bath afterwards, adding vinegar to the water and putting a little hole in the shell. Check out our article on kitchen hacks for deatils!
Hand Held Lemon Squeezer
$13.95 from Everteen
These handy little lemon squeezers have become a mainstay at markets and homeware stores, and for good reason! They make it easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy to juice any citrus, and considering lemons are used in so many recipes, are an exception to my ‘no single function gadgets’ rule. Super cheap and easy to find, they are a worthwhile investment!
Hanging Rubbish bag holder
Have you ever been carrying food scraps from one side of the kitchen to the bin on the other, and messing up your benches and floors in between? Or perhaps your kitchen just doesn’t quite have a good spot for a rubbish bin to sit. The solution is here! A hanging rubbish bag holder. This bag holder clips onto your cupboard, meaning you can have your rubbish bag anywhere in the kitchen. It’s ideal for managing scraps in the kitchen, by having the bag right next to your chopping board. However, the downside is you usually only want it out when you’re cooking - not as a permanent fixture, and using a larger bag can feel wasteful.
Verdict: Handy but not a necessity
$12 from Kmart
If you’re looking for ways to add more vegetables into your meals, a GREAT addition to the kitchen is a vegetable spiralizer so you can make vegetable noodles. Zucchini noodles (or zoodles) are one of our favourites, and I can confirm it’s not a passing fad! Even though they are a one-use tool, the range of ways you can incorporate spiralized vegetables, and the amount you’ll use it (especially if you’re adding them to all your pasta dishes) make a spiralizer a great investment.
However, it’s important to remember that there are different types, at different price points. The cheapest ones are handheld, look like an hourglass and require you to hold your vegetable while twisting the spiralizer. These are our least favourite as they are totally RSI inducing and won’t encourage you to use them regularly. The next level up is a clunkier size, but is much more comfortable to use - pop your vegetable in and turn a handle. These models used to be more expensive, but with popularity comes price reductions, and Kmart has an excellent version.
Finally there are the electric models. I recommend the mid level Kmart model, it does just as good a job and you don’t have to pay a huge amount.
Verdict:Worth it at the right price point, if you love a hidden vegetable!
Le Creuset Dutch Oven
$375 at Kitchen Warehouse
Is it a kitchen necessity, or is it a status symbol?! The Le Creuset Dutch Oven is a much coveted kitchen accessory, and looks great on the kitchen shelf, but comes with the hefty price tag of a popular brand. But first, do you even need a dutch oven? If you love cooking hearty stews, braised meats, casseroles and roasts, a dutch oven is a great accessory. Many people also rely on them for baking great sourdough bread.
Not just any old pot, typically made from stone or cast iron, a dutch oven is heavy and thick enough to conduct and retain heat and deep enough to handle large cuts of meat and quarts of cooking liquid. What separates the pricing, is the material they are made of. The higher the quality of iron the pot is made from, the higher the price tag. When it comes to Le Creuset (and, to be fair, many of their competitors), they are coated in enamel, which gives it non stick properties, helps it last longer, are easier to maintain (no seasoning required) and much easier to clean (see our hack on Magic Erasers below).
A good quality dutch oven will last a lifetime, lower quality might only last a few years. All in all, it comes down to how much you’re willing to pay and how long you want it to last for.
Verdict: A dutch oven is a great kitchen accessory, but find the right price point for you.
$19 from Kmart
A mandoline is a nifty little slicer that helps quickly slice vegetables and control the width - to get super thin slices or simply make sure they are all even. They used to have a really high minimum price tag, but more and more cheaper alternatives are popping up that do a pretty fine job. I love making home made vege chips in the oven, or using it to rapidly slice onions.
Verdict: Worth it!
$59 from Kmart
Until recently, a pressure cooker seemed like something only professional chefs in commercial kitchens would need. However, with more and more affordable options appearing on the market, they’ve become a more common kitchen appliance. Pressure cookers work by letting steam build up inside a sealed pot, thus increasing the pressure. This then means the temperature can get up to 121℃ and the hot steam infuses into the food. What this means is food can be cooked up to 10 times faster, with comparable results to a slow cooker.
I’ve found that slow cooked meats can be done in less than 1 hour which means you could be cooking amazing curries, stews or ragus on a weeknight after work! However, the downside is that cooking liquids and sauces don’t reduce, so you may still need some time with a pot on the stove to boil down your liquids and really get your flavours infusing. All in all, it’s still an enormous improvement on 6+ hours in the oven or slow cooker!
Verdict: Worth it!
Ice Cream Machine
$129 from Ebay (Cuisinart)
If you’ve ever watched My Kitchen Rules, you might be wondering if you’re the only person in Australia that doesn’t own an Ice Cream Maker. Don’t worry, you’re not! This is another expensive appliance that falls into the one-use category. But, if you or your family regularly eat ice cream but would like to make your own, healthier version (without sugar, or for a dairy-intolerant family member), then an ice cream maker could be for you. However, I still think you have to be really committed to making ice cream, and sure it’s not going to end up gathering dust on the shelf when the novelty wears out.
The other thing to consider is that ice cream is usually an impulse decision, so having to make it in advance might mean you end up going and buying it anyway!
This is a controversial one! The super-expensive, do-it-all machine called a Thermomix was all the rage a few years ago. But is it worth it? Is it a clue that people aren’t talking about them as much as they used to?
From yoghurt to spice grinding, pizza bases to lasagna, ice cream to meatballs, the promise of a Thermomix is to be able to throw in any ingredients and it can heat, cool, chop, grind and stir to make a complete meal. Program in your recipe, use the built in scales so you don’t have to measure ingredients, and away you go. Sounds like a dream, but is it worth a $2000+ price tag?
Some users love it for convenience, but the big hang up I have is that not all of the meals turn out like they would if you cooked them conventionally, or save you time. A great example is meatballs, which are poached first then cooked in the sauce, so not caramelized and come out a little bland. Or a lasagna, where the machine really only helps with preparing some parts of it, so doesn’t save you much time at all. Overall, the Thermomix is replacing a lot of kitchen accessories you probably already have or can buy for much cheaper - like a food processor (or just chopping knives), and pots on the stove. On top of that, many users report the blades inside the machine can be really hard to clean - not such a time or money saver!
Verdict:Unnecessary! Think how many meals you could get delivered for $2000!
One of the latest handy gadgets appearing everywhere is an avocado slicer. This once again seems like a single use gadget that’s going to end up at the bottom of the drawer… until you learn just how many people injure themselves on avocados! It’s so common there’s even a name - Avocado Hand. The NZ Government tallied up that avocado related injuries were costing more than $800,000 a year, and many countries report them to be on the rise. So maybe it isn’t such a bad idea if you’re a regular avocado eater!
KitchenAid Stand Mixer
The KitchenAid Mixer is a similar case to a Le Creuset dutch oven. Those who own them absolutely love them, those who don’t often covet them, but the price tag is pretty scary. Not just a mixer, you can buy attachments to grind meat, mill spices, make pasta, spiralize, process food, chop, slice, weigh, juice and more. For many, it might be the only way a DIY meat grinder is a reasonable kitchen addition, and the turbo-powered engine helps do all of those things super fast.
There’s no doubt the KitchenAid mixer is top of the line, and super useful, but the price tag makes it out of reach for many. We recommend a KitchenAid mixer for those who are really wanting to take their cooking to the next level - making their own burgers, sausages or pasta. For the average home cook? Most of those functions might just be more affordable to do by hand. The KitchenAid brand is synonymous with quality and long life, but there are also plenty of other stand mixers on the market, like Kenwood, which also has a great range of attachments that cover the same functions, and is known for great quality.
Verdict: Great if you want to level up your kitchen repertoire but not an essential
If you like the idea of making your on bread, but not all the laborious kneading, a bread maker might appeal. Simply add the ingredients, and the machine will mix, knead, proof and bake for you. Many buy bread makers in the hopes the bread will be cheaper, but given how cheap bread at the supermarket can be, they don’t necessarily pay off in that regard. If you love an artisan loaf, however, the cost of the machine may well be justified.
Taste is the real test with a breadmaker, and despite innovations over the years, the bread is still made in a vertical shape, has a hole in the bottom, and the taste is quite different to bread cooked in the oven. Our recommendation? Use the machine for dough, then use the oven to cook, giving you a variety of types of bread you can make - from loaves to focaccia style.
Verdict: Handy if you make LOTS of bread, and best used for the dough
$149 from The Good Guys
Finally, a kitchen classic is the food processor. The standard food processor rapidly chops, grinds and blends, and the modern one has special attachments that allow you to beat eggs, grate vegetables, thinly slice, grind nuts to a paste, blend and puree just about anything.
A food processor doesn’t just save you time chopping, but actually allows you to do a whole lot of things you really can’t do by hand. I used mine very regularly, and my favourites include whizzing up cauliflower mash or grinding up my own nut butters - neither of those things could be done without a food processor or similar alternative appliance.
I think a food processor is an absolute kitchen essential, that opens up a lot meals and recipes I couldn’t do without one. But if you’re on a budget, I suggest starting with a cheap stick blender, as a great way to achieve a lot of those missing functions. Food processors are also super affordable compared to some of the other gadgets like a Thermomix or KitchenAid Stand Mixer, and cover a lot of their functions.
Dreamfarm Garlic Press
$42.95 from Everten
Garlic peeling has to be one of those tasks that every cook dreads. The skin is sticky and flaky and depending on the freshness of the garlic it can be very frustrating. Not to mention your fingers smelling garlicky for hours! The Dreamfarm garlic press has to be the one gadget we’ve found totally invaluable. Simply place a garlic clove inside the press - skin and all - then squeeze and lo and behold you have crushed garlic minus the fiddling around. At the end simply place the press in the wash for next time.
Verdict: Worth it! Or there are bargain versions, like this $5 one.
The first time I saw one of our cooks wearing these I had to know if it really worked. And the answer is yes! They are quite amusing to look at but very helpful at reducing the mascara runs when cooking. Pick your favourite design, place on and chop onions to your heart’s content. Very useful if you chop a lot of onions and probably just another item to take up drawer space if you don’t.
Verdict:Worth it if you chop lots of onions!
Magic Eraser Sponge
You might think the name is an exaggeration, but I think it truly is deserved! My Dad bought a whole bag of these and gave me a few to try. They really do work like magic at removing tough, burnt on pot stains and you can put them to use anywhere else you have stubborn stains to clean! These sponges are inexpensive, effective and magical. Save your elbow grease for something else and give these sponges a try!
What do you think of our ratings? What gadgets do you love or loathe that aren’t on the list? Let us know!