These must-have kitchen tools and gadgets will make healthy eating and food prep fun. Plus, they'll minimize time in the kitchen and help you save space.
Whether you're a cooking pro or are still learning your way around the kitchen, use this list for inspiration for your next home goods shopping spree. These kitchen tools and gadgets will make food prep fun and also minimize time in the kitchen and help you save space. They can also help you eat healthier and lose weight! Let's celebrate National Nutrition Month by eating healthier.
I'm a sucker for kitchen products! I already know what my favorites are (don't worry, I added some of them here!), so I turned to my registered dietitian nutritionist colleagues to see what kitchen tools and gadgets they consider essential in their kitchens. I hope you find this list of must-have kitchen tools very helpful!
FOR EASY, SPEEDY MEAL PREP
1. Save time chopping garlic.
“Since I put garlic in just about every dish I make, a garlic chopper is a great time saver,” says Janet Brancato, MS, RDN, owner of Nutopia Nutrition. “I use it daily, and it chops the garlic fine and evenly.”
Try it: Chef'n GarlicZoom
2. Spin your salad in seconds.
"We eat a large salad every night, so I use my salad spinner every day," says Elena Paravantes, RDN, healthy recipe blogger at OliveTomato.com. "I use the bowl to soak the greens—and then after a few spins, they are dry and ready to eat. It is also useful for drying herbs." Liv Lee, MS, RDN, a dietitian in Philadelphia, agrees. “It makes using fresh greens easy and fun, because wet lettuce and dressing don’t mix!" she says. "I eat salads more frequently after I bought this low-budget gadget.”
3. Cook without the need to stop and wash.
“It seems simple, but I have a collection of mini whisks and spatulas,” says Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a healthy recipe blogger at ChampagneNutrition.com. “When I’m cooking, I use them all! They’re so great for transferring and blending.”
4. Let your food processor do it all.
“My food processor is a very useful tool in my kitchen,” says Tracee Yablon Brenner, RDN, CHHC, co-author of Simple Foods for Busy Families and culinary director at Triad to Wellness. “It’s also great to make hummus, pesto, curry sauces, muffins, and baked goods. The interchangeable blades and discs makes it easy to grate and chop onions and other vegetables, as well as to chop nuts and make nut butter.” Yablon Brenner says she also uses the gadget to make nice cream and different types of snack bites containing nuts and dried fruit. Jennifer Hunt, RDN, healthy recipes blogger at Healthy-Inspiration.com, love her food processor, too, noting that she uses it to make mashed cauliflower.
5. Spiralize in minutes.
“I love to make low-carb alternatives of my favorite pasta dishes,” says Lara Clevenger, MSH, RD, CPT, author of Freezer-Friendly Family Dinner Recipes. “It's an easy and delicious way to get more veggies into your diet.”
6. Steam the simple way.
“My favorite gadget is my steamer pot,” says Kate Wilson McGowan, RD, a dietitian in New York City. “As a new mom, this has steamed my son’s first foods! Feeding your child food for the first time can seem very overwhelming, but steaming in this pot is so easy. And a bonus: You can boil pasta at the same time!”
7. Blend a soup without the mess.
“My favorite tool is my immersion blender,” says Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, owner of Kelly Jones Nutrition, who suggests using the gadget to prep a Creamy Dairy-Free Tomato Sauce. “It’s so much easier and safer to use it over the stovetop to make soups and sauces creamy, versus transferring hot liquid to a blender. It’s also quick and fun to use—and clean up is super easy.” Marie Dittmer, MA, RDN, a nutrition blogger at HealthyIdeasPlace.com, notes that you can also use an immersion blender to prep smoothies and vinaigrettes.
Try it: KitchenAid 3-Speed Hand Blender
8. Mince garlic in a flash.
“We are an Air Force family and recently rented a furnished house for a few months while doing some training in another state,” says Savannah Thaler, RDN, owner of Savvy Wellness and Health. “The kitchen had the necessities but not all my usual gadgets and tools. The thing I missed the very most was my garlic press! I love using fresh garlic and cook with it almost every night. Quickly mincing garlic with a garlic is so much more efficient than hand chopping each tiny clove. I will never travel without it again!”
Try it: Bokdy Garlic Press and Peeler
9. Easily prep poached eggs.
“I love using these egg poach pods,” says Tawnie Kroll, RDN, owner of Kroll’s Korner. Make poached eggs for an eggs Benedict recipe or to serve with fruit and whole-grain toast. “I love it for the ease and because they actually work really well!"
Try it: Fusion Brands PoachPod
10. Whip up a healthy smoothie.
11. Let the microwave do the work.
“Along with our salad spinner, the microwave is a completely useful and practical tool in my kitchen,” says Zach Cordell, RDN, owner of Cordell Nutrition. “Being a box, it's not as sexy as other gadgets but can do the job of reducing time serving up meals for the family.”
FOR LOW-CALORIE FLAVOR
12. Crush up some aromatics.
“I like my good old mortar and pestle,” says Lisa Bruno, RD, a dietitian in Union City, NJ. “I use it to crush together olive oil, garlic, and herbs. It makes everything so much more fragrant.”
13. Use a zester.
"My favorite gadget is my Microplane," says Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN, co-author of Born to Eat. "Even when I do cooking shows on the road, my zester goes with me. I love a pop of lemon, lime, or orange." Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RD, author of Nutrition & You and clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University, uses her zester in a different way. “I use it to put a fine dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano on everything. Chicken, fish, veggies, rice, and of course pasta all get a light coating of this flavorful cheese.” Rachel Begun, MS, RDN, a culinary nutritionist at RachelBegun.com, uses hers to grate ginger, turmeric, chocolate, and mushrooms.
Try it: Microplane
14. Reduce the need for oil.
“I love my Actifry for roasting veggies and making all sorts of ‘fries’ like sweet potato, parsnip, and butternut squash ones with only one Tablespoon of oil for two pounds of produce,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDN, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club. “The moving arm inside allows you to set it and forget it without having to stir or turn your veggies during cooking.”
15. Juice your citrus.
“In addition to sauces and salad dressings, I use fresh-squeezed citrus juices in a variety of dishes,” says Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, co-author of We Can Cook and nutrition blogger at JessicaLevinson.com. “Citrus adds so much flavor without bumping up the sodium and fat content of recipes. And unlike an electric juicer, the hand juicer is quick and easy to clean!"
Try it: Cucisina
16. Steam your milk.
Here's a kitchen gadget that I'm rather obsessed with at the moment. I've stopped making so many runs to the coffee shop for steamed and foamed milk, since this appliance allows me to easily do the job myself. The best part? Steamed milk feels like a treat, yet it contains no added sugar.
17. Froth your milk.
If an electric milk steamer isn't in your current budget, opt for a handheld milk foamer. You'll have to steam the milk first (you can do this over the stovetop), but the gadget is a lot more economical.
Try it: PowerLix Milk Frother
18. Sous vide for extra flavor with less calories.
“I'm obsessed with the sous vide,” says Bruno. “It is an amazing way to cook fish and meat, and it has so many other uses. You just need the time.”
19. Pack in the flavor of coffee.
“I always buy whole coffee beans because they stay fresher longer,” says Natalie Rizzo, MS, RDN, a dietitian in New York City. “I grind about one cup at a time. That way, I can adjust the coarseness of the bean based on the type of coffee maker I’m using.”
FOR PORTION CONTROL
20. Use an oil mister.
“I use an olive-oil sprayer in place of non-stick spray on popcorn and when toasting bread or croutons,” says Laura Rutledge, MA, RDN, CSO, nutrition blogger at NourishingPlate.com. “It helps disperse the oil evenly without dousing the item with oil!”
Try it: Misto Olive Oil Sprayer
21. Pour less olive oil.
"I can’t live without my olive oil pourer, which I transfer to a new bottle each time I start one," says Sharon Palmer, RD, author of Plant-Powered for Life and a plant-based blogger at SharonPalmer.com. "It helps control the amount of olive oil you pour over foods."
22. Get creative with measuring cups.
"My favorite kitchen gadget is the measuring cup—and not only for measuring food," says Jessica Spiro, RD, owner of Jessica Spiro Nutrition. "I use a measuring cup as a scoop when I make cookies or veggie burgers for consistently manageable sizes. Also, measuring cups are great tools for toddlers! I love to have my 1-year-old daughter help in the kitchen, and I've found that the handles on measuring cups make it easy for her to put ingredients into the blender, pot, pan, or bowl."
FOR CREATIVE FOOD PREP
23. Make sandwich art.
“My family loves to have fun with our food,” says Lacy Ngo, MS, RDN, nutrition blogger at MindfulnessinFaithandFood.com. “One way we do this is to collect cookie cutters. We use them to cut out shapes in our whole-wheat bread when we make fun sandwiches or whole-wheat tortillas when we make quesadillas.” Ngo says her kids love yoga-inspired cookie cutters, nicknaming them “exercise sandwich cutters.”
Try it: Yoga Pose Cookie Cutters
24. Press designs onto cookies.
I'm a little obsessed with this product, which allows you to imprint designs like flowers, owls, and the word "love" onto cookies.
Try it: OXO Good Grips Cookie Press
25. Prep apple "doughnuts."
“I’ve been loving my apple corer,” says Stephanie Langdon, RD, creator of WhatRDsDo.com. “It makes prep work quicker and less messy but also makes snack time fun for my toddler. We core apples, slice them into rounds, and decorate them with peanut butter, yogurt, granola, and dried fruit.”
FOR SPACE SAVING
26. Make use of a couple of good knives.
“I use a chef’s knife and a paring knife for everything,” says Rebecca Livingstone, RD, nutrition blogger at FoodsandThoughts.com. Use a chef’s knife to slice vegetables and mince herbs—and a paring knife to peel produce or remove seeds from jalapenos. She says she loves multi-tasking items because she has limited space. Judy Barbe, RD, author of Your 6-Week Guide to LiveBest, notes that she takes her knives with her even when she camps!
27. Let a vegetable peeler do your spiralizing.
“I love my veggie peeler,” says Therese Bonanni, MS, RDN, a dietitian at Navesink Wellness Center in Rumson, NJ. “I often use it to make zoodles, without having to store a large spiralizer. I also use it to grate hard cheeses like Parmesan to add a little bit of extra flavor on top of soups and salads without breaking the calorie bank!”
28. Give chopsticks another purpose.
“I love using chopsticks for all kinds of things in the kitchen,” says Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RDN, CSSD co-owner of My Menu Pal. “They’re my go-to before tongs or even wooden spoons. They’re great for flipping foods in a pan, either on the stovetop or when roasting vegetables in the oven.”
29. Get your own multi-use blender.
“I own a Vitamix but use my NutriBullet every single day,” says Melissa Groves, RDN, nutrition blogger at AvocadoGroveNutrition.com. “It handles smoothies, even greens ones, beautifully and cleans up quickly! I also use it for quick dressings and sauces like peanut sauce and homemade mayo.”
Try it: NutriBullet Pro
30. Use a multi-use cooker for everything.
“I finally caved and bought a multi-use cooker, aka Instant Pot,” says Jessica Cording, RD, owner of Jessica Cording Nutrition. “It can slow cook, pressure cook, sauté, and steam.” The Instant Pot can also make rice, risotto, and yogurt (see many more recipes ideas here)! “I’ve been having a great time playing around with my new kitchen toy, and already it’s become a valuable tool that doesn’t take up a ton of space—key for New York City apartment living.” Kelli Shallal, RD, author of Make Ahead High Protein Breakfast Recipes and healthy living blogger at adds, "I'm pretty obsessed with my Instant Pot for food prep."
Try it: Instant Pot 7-in-1 Multi Use
31. Cook grains and lentils in a rice cooker.
“I love my three-cup rice cooker,” says Darla Balthaser, RDN, nutrition blogger at ecoRDN.com. “It is great for tiny kitchens. I make all kinds of rice, grains, and lentils in it—but it is actually used most to make cake!”
Try it: Aroma 3-Cup Rice Cooker
32. Cool cookies on stackable racks.
When Diana Dugan Richards, RD, owner of Namaste Nutrition, saw stackable cooking racks at a friend's house, she knew she had to own her own set and that they'd top her list of must-have kitchen tools. “They’re sturdy, stackable, and great for small kitchens. They’re also easy to clean and very long lasting—think decades!” Bonus: Richards say her cookies cool evenly with the racks.
FOR FOOD SAFETY & FAST CLEAN-UP
33. Color code your food prep.
Cutting boards in multiple colors and styles are a staple in the kitchen of Amy Reed, RD, owner of Amy Reed Nutrition. “I line them up when making a big meal or when my kids are prepping their lunches. I can never have too many.” Using separate cutting boards for meat and produce prep is essential for food safety.
34. Sharpen knives for a safer kitchen.
35. Take the guesswork out of temperatures.
“An oven-safe meat thermometer ensures perfectly cooked food and preserves food safety,” says Jenna Braddock, RD, a sports dietitian at MakeHealthyEasy.com “I have one with two thermometers so you can always know the temp of two individual items in the oven. Buying a high-quality one that can withstand temps up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit is crucial. I use this tool all the time. It helps anyone be an expert cook.”
MINIMIZE THE MESS
36. Prevent spills.
Evelyn Gezo, MS, RDN, professor emerita at Fordham University in Bronx, New York says she swears by her Kuhn Rikon Kochblume Spill Stopper when boiling pasta or cooking beans. “The water never spills over,” she notes.
37. Display your recipes.
Gone are the days when you need to wipe off your smartphone or tablet after you cook. Prevent spills and splatters with a tablet holder. “Keeping my tablet in the kitchen helps me explore new flavors, techniques, foods, and trends,” says Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN, senior nutritionist at Price Chopper Supermarkets in Schenectady, NY.
38. Make clean-up easy.
“One of my favorite kitchen gadgets is a soap-dispensing dish wand,” says Shaylyn Lynch, MS, RDN, a cystic fibrosis dietitian at Drexel College of Medicine in Philadelphia. “Having a sponge with a handle makes clean up easy and quick—without getting your hands dirty."
FOR FOOD STORAGE
39. Hug your food.
"I just got a set of these food huggers for Christmas and love them so much!" says Rebecca Clyde, MS, RDN, a healthy food blogger a NourishNutritionBlog.com. "You slip them on half-used round foods like onions, citrus, apples, and even canned goods if you're too lazy to transfer leftovers into sealed containers. I've been trying to reduce food waste and spoilage, and this has been a great way to do so."
40. Display your dry goods.
I have several sets of these in my kitchen, and they display everything from pasta to nuts and seeds. The air-tight container helps items stay good for the long haul, definitely ranking it high on my list for must-have kitchen tools!
41. Easily pack up food.