2021 Kitchen Gift Guide – Ultimate List of the Best Kitchen Tools, Appliances, and Gadgets
Those who cook at home know the importance of having the right tools for the job. However a lot of kitchen gadgets are just that… gadgets. You don’t want to waste your money and (often limited) kitchen storage on things that aren’t highly useful or simply don’t work.
Never fear. This former prep cook is about to share some gems.
Over the years, I’ve tried many kitchen products and have identified a few tried-and-trusted tools that will truly save you time, make cooking easier, and bring more joy to your cooking game.
Don’t care to read the full article? No problem! Here’s my list for the best kitchen gifts for 2021.
- Chef’s Knife: Victorinox Fibrox 8” Chef’s Knife
- Collapsible Colander: Nanateer Silicon Collapsible Colander Set
- Air Fryer: Phillips Air Fryer XXL
- Flexible Cutting Boards: Imeko TPU Cutting Boards
- Silicone Oven Mitt: Gorilla Grip Silicone Oven Mitt
- Set of Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls: Wildone Stainless Steel Nesting Bowls with Airtight Lids
- Avocado Tool: OXO Good Grips 3-in-1 Avocado Slicer
- Gravy Separator: OXO Good Grips Good Gravy Fat Separator
Kitchen Gift No. 1: Chef’s Knife
My pick: Victorinox Fibrox 8” Chef’s Knife
- High quality
- Holds a great edge
- Easy to sharpen
- Stainless steel
- NSF approved, dishwasher safe
- Makes you feel like a pro chef
Any chef will tell you, a good knife is the most important tool in the kitchen. Cooking should be fun, a chance to bring the family together, a time to learn and grow your culinary skills.
It should not be a chore. But a dull knife is the quickest way to turn the ultimate labor of love into a plain old labor of…labor.
In my kitchen, I have two chef knives: An expensive Wusthof Classic and the budget-friendly Victorinox Fibrox.
On paper, the Wusthof should be the superior knife. It is made by a storied knifemaker and forged from a single piece of high-strength stainless steel. It is every bit the pro chef’s knife. So why do I catch myself grabbing for the Victorinox instead?
Three main reasons why I reach for the Victorinox chef knife:
- The two knives both cut the same. This really shouldn’t be much of a surprise, since the Victorinox is also made by a storied knifemaker, from high-strength stainless steel. Both knives are able to do everything I ask of them, and despite what the marketing might tell you, I haven’t noticed any benefit from the Wusthof’s forged blade when compared to the Victorinox’s stamped blade. Both knives are able to hold a razor sharp edge, and both are comfortable to use when chopping, slicing, or boning.
- The Victorinox is 1/4 the price. I have no problem paying for quality items, but when these knives are so similar, it’s hard to justify spending tons of money for the Wusthof. The Victorinox has all of the features you could want in a chef’s knife. For the price, it is a downright steal.
- Dishwasher safe! (But it’s still better to hand wash if you can.) I have to be honest, this one is huge for me. Most cooks would agree that dishwashing your knives is a big no-no. The abrasive detergent will degrade the edge on the knife, while abusing, fading, and ultimately cracking the handle. Even with proper care, and only hand washing, the handle on my Wusthof has developed a series of cracks which will ultimately lead to replacement. The rubberized handle of the Victorinox is much more robust, and allows the knife to be labeled as dishwasher safe.I don’t throw the Victorinox in the dishwasher every time I use it, but I do like the option.It’s true, dishwashing will damage the knife’s edge, but for the Victorinox, it’s nothing that a few quick swipes on a knife sharpener won’t resolve. And due to the cost difference, I am much more willing to use the Victorinox and throw it in the dishwasher without guilt. This is something I would never allow with the more expensive and fragile Wusthof.
If I was starting over, I would skip the Wusthof altogether and only buy the Victorinox Fibrox. It is the best deal in kitchen gear I’ve found.
Kitchen Gift No. 2: Collapsible Colander
- Space saving and easy to store
- Silicone and BPA-free plastic design
- Handle doesn’t heat up like metal
- Dishwasher safe
- Long lasting
Colanders are the enemy of a small kitchen. Large, awkward and unwieldy, they get used often enough to deserve a prominent place in a prime cupboard, but take up so much room that you’d rather banish them to storage room purgatory.
Enter the Squish collapsible colander, an invention so good it makes me wonder how it wasn’t thought of sooner.
Three main selling points for me:
- Space saving: Collapses down to around 1” height. I store mine in a shallow drawer with my cutting boards, no wasted space!
- Silicone basket and BPA-free design: Boiling water is no match for this colander. The long handle is great at keeping water and steam away from your fingers. Holding the colander means I never need to risk dirty sink water infiltrating my clean pasta.
- Dishwasher safe: Isn’t this a must for the kitchen by now?
This colander is also available in larger over-the-sink sizes for extra large batches of pasta.
Kitchen Gift No. 3: Air Fryer
My pick: Phillips Air Fryer XXL
- Fries food without the odor from typical oil frying
- Healthier option for making for typical fried foods (sweet potato fries, buffalo chicken wings, egg rolls)
- Great for roasting (brussels sprouts, chicken, bacon) and baking (especially cinnamon rolls!)
- Cooks faster than a conventional oven
- Easy to clean
- Main pieces are dishwasher safe
I could have titled this section “confessions of an air fryer holdout.” I mean, how could you not jump to buy an appliance that makes all of your favorite fried foods at home with significantly less fat?
Well, like most, I’ve seen enough Ron Popeil infomercials to have at least a healthy dose of skepticism towards electronic kitchen gadgets.
But let me tell you, the air fryer is one of those kitchen items that transcends the “gadget” tag and moves into the same hallowed ground as the coffee maker, crock pot, and the food processor. These are devices that, once you have them, you will never allow yourself to be without. And the Philips Air Fryer XXL is the cream of the crop. Yes, it really is that good.
Some of the main selling points of this model:
- Extra large basket: The name “XXL” says it all, but there is a very good reason to get the largest air fryer basket you can. Air fryers work by using convection heat along with a powerful fan to evenly circulate hot air. The large size of the Philips XXL basket allows the proper airflow needed for even cooking.
- “Fried” foods with minimal oil: I know it sounds too good to be true, but just adding a quick spray of any cooking oil is enough to get the crispy fried taste that usually only comes out of a deep fryer (and without any of the deep fryer oil smell, which lingers in the air forever).
- Not just for fried foods! The Philips XXL is multifunctional, and is great at making a variety of foods. Burgers come out juicy and flavorful. Brussels sprouts are crisp and tender. The basket is large enough to roast a whole chicken, and my favorite surprise is being able to make cinnamon rolls in 6 minutes. Breakfast will never be the same!
There are lesser air fryers out there (both in price and quality), but in this instance, I believe it is worth paying a bit more and getting the best. To me, the best air fryer is the Philips Air Fryer XXL. The XXL model’s large basket and Philips technology can’t be beat.
Kitchen Gift No. 4: Flexible Cutting Boards
My pick: Imeko TPU Cutting Boards
- TPU material is BPA free
- Will not damage knife blades like glass or granite
- Less prone to bacteria growth than wood cutting board
- Dishwasher safe
- Thin and stackable, which means they don’t take up much room
I’ve got to admit, I love a clean cutting board. Nothing beats a fresh cutting board! In the past, I worked as a prep cook, and I’ve never gotten over the convenience of the seemingly unlimited cutting board space of a professional kitchen.
Unfortunately for my dishwasher, it isn’t uncommon for me to use multiple cutting boards per meal: One for meats, others for different prepared veggies, lettuce, chopped nuts, etc.
The Imeko cutting board has several things working in its favor:
- Durable TPU material: TPU plastic is dishwasher safe, lightweight, and highly scratch resistant.
- Flexible: I prefer using flexible cutting boards, because it is much easier to transfer chopped meats and produce to the pan.
- Thin: I use a lot of cutting boards, so I need a lot of cutting boards! The thin design of these boards allows for stacking multiple boards in a small drawer, a great space saver for a small kitchen.
Kitchen Gift No. 5: Silicone Oven Mitt
My pick: Gorilla Grip Silicone Oven Mitt
- Washable exterior
- Grease/oil proof
- Won’t melt or burn and is rated for heat more than 450 degrees
Truth be told, most oven mitts are just plain gross. Stains and food debris soak into the exterior of the glove, and washing an oven mitt isn’t typically at the top of anyone’s chore list.
Enter the silicone oven mitt. Silicone is naturally grease and stain proof, non-slip, and is rated for heats of up to 450 degrees.
My Gorilla Grip Silicone Oven Mitt mitt is almost 7 years old and still looks practically brand new.
Kitchen Gift No. 6: Set of Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls
- Highly versatile, will get a lot of use in your kitchen
- Includes cheese shredder insert and lids
- Non-slip bottoms mean they won’t slip around on your counter
- Stackable design means they are easy to store and don’t take up a lot of space
- Dishwasher safe
These bowls have been a sleeper hit in my kitchen. The stackable design and multi-function lids mean they get used on a daily basis. The bowls themselves are made of high strength stainless steel and have held up to all the repeated abuse of whisking, blending, and stirring I can throw at them.
Main selling points:
- Thoughtful design: The dishwasher safe bowls are designed to stack on each other, and have a silicone pad at the bottom to prevent damage to countertops and keep the bowl in place while stirring. Graduation markings inside the bowl allow you to measure without dirtying a measuring cup.
- Multifunction lids: Lids on the larger bowls have a cutout for two different sizes of cheese grater and a slicer. Slicing/grating directly into the bowl is much cleaner, and allowed me to donate our old cheese grater to free up some cupboard space.
- Robust and versatile: I have really put these bowls through the paces and they have held up great.
These bowls are near and dear to my heart.
Kitchen Gift No. 7: Avocado Tool
My pick: OXO Good Grips Avocado knife
- All in one tool for avocados
- Cuts, removes pit, slices
- Slices avocado into uniform pieces (good for presentation or food photography)
- Dishwasher safe
I’d be hard pressed not to define the OXO Avocado Knife as a “kitchen gadget” and it may seem like an unusual inclusion on this list. It is a one-trick pony, but boy, does it do its one trick well!
This single tool has a knife blade to slice the avocado in half, a tool to easily remove the pit, and a scoop to simultaneously scoop and slice the avocado from the skin. It is great to bring to lunch at work, is dishwasher safe, and avoids dirtying multiple utensils.
If you like avocados, this little tool is really worth a look. Trust me.
Kitchen Gift No. 8: Gravy Fat Separator
My pick: OXO Good Grips Good Gravy
- Separates fat from gravy with a built-in strainer
- 4 cup size
- Can also be used as a measuring cup
- Easy to clean
- Dishwasher safe
It’s hard to beat homemade soup. It’s also hard to beat slow cooker pot roast with gravy made from the drippings.
But the act of separating the fat from the stock or the drippings is something I could do without. It’s a chore. In fact, separating the fat used to be such a chore that I would actively avoid cooking foods that required it.That’s where the Good Gravy comes in.
By pouring the fat and drippings into the good gravy, the fat will naturally separate to the top. A trigger mechanism inside the handle allows the liquid to drain through the special valve at the bottom, leaving only the fat remaining. Cleans up in the dishwasher too. Genius!
The OXO Good Gravy works so well for its task. It has earned its place in my kitchen.