There have been kitchen gadgets as long as there have been kitchens. And now those gadgets are benefiting from technology, to the point where smartphones and apps are helping us cook our food.
But lots of us have kitchen cabinets full of stuff we barely use.
These gifts, on the other hand, will be used all the time. I have four of these in my own kitchen (and back yard), and they all get a workout.
THERMOWORKS THERMAPEN MK4
What is it? Every kitchen needs a good probe thermometer, and the Thermapen MK4 from Thermoworks is the absolute best. Extend the probe to turn it on, stick it in whatever you want to monitor and you’ll get a deadly accurate temperature reading in 2 to 3 seconds. The digital display rotates so that it’s always readable, and it’s backlit and waterproof.
Who is it for? Every kitchen needs a good thermometer to tell you when your steak is done.
What does it cost? $99
Where can I get it? Online at thermoworks.com
What is it? These are four wireless temperature probes that you stick in a steak or any meat you want to cook. The probes use Wi-Fi to connect to an app on your phone to let you remotely monitor the temperature of all four probes at once. Perfect for the oven or grill.
Who is it for? Anyone who cooks meat.
What does it cost? $269
Where can I get it? Meater.com and Amazon
What is it? A portable cooking system that includes an induction burner and your choice of a frying pan or chef’s pot (or both). The cookware is Bluetooth-enabled and talks to a smartphone app that also controls the burner. You can cook in manual mode with exact temperature control, or try a recipe from the app that you can follow step by step, letting the app control the cooking.
Who is it for? This is for serious cooks who want total and instant temperature control over their cookware.
What does it cost? Kits start at $499.95 for the frying pan and burner.
Where can I get it? Hestancue.com
BREVILLE BAMBINO PLUS
What is it? An espresso machine that has a small footprint but produces coffee with big flavor. My favorite tech review site, The Wirecutter, made this its choice as best espresso machine for beginners. It’s easy to set up, has clear directions and the steam wand creates uniform milk froth very quickly.
Who is it for? Coffee lovers who want to make high-quality espresso drinks at home.
What does it cost? $499.95
Where can I get it? Breville.com, Amazon and Williams-Sonoma
ANOVA PRECISION COOKER NANO
What is it? A sous vide cooker that cooks by immersing food in hot water to a very precise temperature. The Nano can be set manually or via Bluetooth from your phone. Food is usually cooked in vacuum-sealed bags. The Nano is small enough to stick in your kitchen drawer when you’re not using it, but powerful enough to keep a water bath at a very precise temperature all day long.
Who is it for? Cooks who like to have precise control over their food temperature. People who use sous vide swear by it for the convenience.
What does it cost? $99
Where can I get it? Anovaculinary.com, Amazon and Best Buy
WORK SHARP CULINARY E2
What is it? An electric knife sharpener with one speed and one set angle guide for sharpening your kitchen knives. There are sharpeners with more speed and grinding angles, but for home use, the E2 should be all the sharpener you need. It uses flexible abrasives that are gentle on your knives.
Who is it for? Everyone needs sharp knives, even if you only use them a few times per year.
What does it cost? $49.95
Where can I get it? Worksharptools.com and Amazon
TRAEGER PRO 575
What is it? This is the best outdoor kitchen gadget I reviewed this year. The Traeger Pro 575 is a pellet smoker that uses hardwood pellets to smoke your meat. It also has Wi-Fire technology to allow you to monitor and control the temperature of the smoker and see the current temperature of your meat, as well as set alarms. This is the easiest smoker I’ve ever tried. Set your temperature, fill it with pellets and it’ll hold steady temperature all day and all night. The internet connectivity means you don’t have to babysit the smoker if you don’t want to.
Who is it for? This is a great first smoker for beginners, but it’s also perfect for the experienced pitmaster who wants a more control with fewer hassles.
What does it cost? $799.99 (look for holiday sales)
Where can I get it? Traegergrills.com, Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Jackson’s Home and Garden
SODASTREAM FIZZI SPARKLING
What is it? The SodaStream Fizzi is a countertop appliance that lets you turn plain water into carbonated water in seconds. It doesn’t need batteries or electricity, and you can add your own flavoring and adjust the fizziness to your own taste. You’ll need to use SodaStream’s bottles, and you get one with the Fizzi kit along with a CO2 cartridge that can carbonate 60 liters of water. Extra bottles of varying size are available.
Who is it for? If you know someone who buys sparkling water by the case, this is a great gift for them. It can be a huge money saver, and reusing bottles is great for the environment.
What does it cost? It starts at $89.99, but there are more expensive kits with more bottles and flavorings included.
Where can I get it? Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and SodaStream.com