Healthy fresh produce blitzed into a tasty drink? It’s no wonder you splurged on that juicer. Or maybe you saw a demo for a fancy Belgian waffle maker at the store and bought one because, really, who doesn’t love Belgian waffles? But then you get your new purchase home and realize that the super cool cooking gadget you were sure you needed is really just a big, expensive dust-catcher.Hey, we’ve all been dazzled by shiny kitchen appliances with big promises, even cooking pros. With countertop real estate at a premium, you need to know what gadgets are worth the splurge and which ones to skip. So we asked 19 of the biggest names in the food world to confess their biggest kitchen regret, and what they recommend you buy instead.
Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, and author of What to Eat
WASTE: A spiralizer. Beloved by food bloggers for making grain-free “pasta” out of humble veggies, the spiralizer has definitely been a trendy food gadget in recent years. Nestle, however, is not a fan. “I’m not even sure what it’s called but it cuts vegetables into long thin curly strips,” she says. “I used it once and then decided it was way too much trouble to use and clean!”
WORTH IT: A vegetable peeler. Instead, this humble tool gets Nestle’s vote. “Buy a really good vegetable peeler,” she advises, because not only can you use it to make zucchini noodles similar to the spiralizer, but it’s also good for everything from peeling potatoes to slicing cheese to making chocolate curls.
Author of The Food Babe Way and creator of FoodBabe.com
WASTE: Food processors. Chopping food by hand can be one of the most time-consuming parts of cooking. But you don’t need to buy a food processor if other appliances are up to the task, Hari says. Instead, look at other tools in your kitchen that could do the same thing. “Now that I have a high speed blender, I rarely use my food processor. It just sits in the pantry collecting dust.”
WORTH IT: A high-powered blender. Hari likes both the Vitamix and Blendtec brands, even swearing they’ve saved her life. “I make green smoothies, hummus, soups, dressing in a matter of minutes. I use it almost everyday and have never regretted spending the extra money on it.”
Managing editor of Food52
WASTE: A garlic press. According to Wilbur, it’s all about multitasking. “I hope I don't make enemies here, but I just don't think a garlic press can do anything that my microplane can't, and the latter is so much more multi-use,” Wilbur says. “Actually, I think garlic cloves have inspired many a useless kitchen tool; I was once gifted a contraption that was supposed to help facilitate peeling cloves, as though whacking them on the counter with the back of a knife wasn't sufficient.”
WORTH IT: A cast-iron skillet. “You can cook everything from eggs to biscuits to roasted chicken,” she says. Plus, with proper care, it gets better with age. Not to mention it can help you meet your daily quota of iron!
National nutrition expert and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen
WASTE: An apple slicer. As a kitchen pro, Amidor was surprised to be schooled by her seven-year-old daughter who pointed out that her apple slicer was a waste of money. “You can slice apples better on your own!” her daughter told her. (From the mouths of babes...) Not to mention, it wasn’t effective. “Every time I tried slicing apples for my girls, the slices never came out evenly!” Amidor says.
WORTH IT: A good chef’s knife. “It’s multifunctional and can last many years if you take care of it properly.”
Co-founder of Meal Makeover Moms’ Kitchen blog and author of No Whine with Dinner
WASTE: A vacuum sealing system. Don’t let the infomercials suck you in! You don’t need a pricey or elaborate way to store food safely, according to Bissex. “I rarely take my vacuum sealer out of the closet and rely instead on plain old zip-top freezer bags to seal my foods before freezing,” she says.
WORTH IT: A microplane. This tiny little grater is perfect for shredding or dusting smaller items like spices. “It makes it simple to zest lemons, limes, and oranges, and grate fresh ginger root or Parmesan cheese to add a boost of flavor to my food.”
Founder of Broke Ass Gourmet, cookbook author, and producer of Young & Hungry
WASTE: A garlic press. Mincing garlic can be messy and time consuming. The solution, however, isn’t buying a garlic press tool but rather learning the proper cutting technique Moskowitz says. “This is a one-job gadget and the same results can be gleaned with less waste by using a sharp chef's knife, which has many uses,” she explains. “The garlic press takes up space, is hard to clean, and leaves garlic behind after you press it, which is wasteful.”
WORTH IT: A professional chef's knife. “And don’t forget to keep it sharpened!” she adds.
Chef and nutritionist for The Biggest Loser, award-winning chef, and author of A Small Guide to Losing Big
WASTE: An electric pasta maker. For pasta fans, nothing is as delicious as fresh noodles but Forberg says this is one task where handiwork trumps machine-made. And for being a pricey piece of machinery, the pasta maker wasn’t particularly durable and would be difficult to repair.
WORTH IT: Manual pasta roller. When it comes to flattening and cutting the dough to make your own noodles, not only is a manual roller much cheaper—think $25 compared to $250—but it takes up less space, it’s easier to use, and clean-up is a snap. “Plus, it's a fun and great way to interact with family and friends while making dinner together,” she adds.
Formerly the Executive Chef of Mile End Deli and author of The Best Cookbook Ever
WASTE: An ice cream maker. Like many of us, Sussman has a kitchen appliance haunting his home. “I have an ice cream maker that I have yet to use. I took it out of the box once. I read the instructions once. And then I put it back in the box,” Sussman confesses. “I often see it in the closet and say ‘today is the day I'm going to use it!’ but then it doesn’t happen.”
WORTH IT: A Vitamix blender. “Everyone should get a Vitamix blender if they are really serious about cooking. Yes, it’s extremely expensive, but the cost-to-use ratio makes it completely worth it.”
Owner of the Dominique Ansel Bakery and inventor of the Cronut
WASTE: Melon ballers. Maybe you spotted an elegant fruit salad or spheres of skewered fruit on Pinterest, but according to Ansel, there’s a downside to that adorableness. “Melon ballers are the worst because almost everything gets stuck in there and you can't get it out,” Ansel says.
WORTH IT: A solid kitchen knife. “A good knife isn’t just a good idea, it’s a good investment,” he adds.
Owner of Everyday Healthy Eating
WASTE: A Kitchen Aid mixer. Here’s proof that one home chef’s holy grail is another’s countertop clutter. “I most regret letting my big, heavy—albeit gorgeous—Kitchen Aid mixer take up real estate on my kitchen counter. I never use it. Never!” she says. “Its main job is collecting dust. Maybe it's because I cook a whole lot more than I bake, but I just don't have a practical use for it.”
WORTH IT: An immersion blender. While regular blenders have to stay put (and plugged in), an immersion blender can go anywhere your food is, including in liquids. “It makes it so easy to puree soup right in the pot. There are no more steam burns from precariously pouring hot soup into the blender,” Moon explains. Plus it’s versatile. “Mine has different attachments for whisking, chopping, and blending,” she says, adding that clean-up is super easy.
Health and nutrition expert for the TODAY Show and founder of Nourish Snacks
WASTE: A lemon squeezer. In theory, a lemon squeezer would be great for any citrus-loving chef but, as Bauer points out, you don’t need to get a tool involved for this task. “I can never find it in my already packed drawers, so I always end up squeezing by hand anyway,” she confesses.
WORTH IT: A re-fillable oil mister. This little gadget allows you to turn your oil of choice into a chemical-free spray for salad dressings, marinades and non-stick sprays. “You’ll not only save a ton of calories, but you’ll also save money on your favorite oils since you end up using much less to coat the pan,” Bauer explains. “And, it’s way more environmentally friendly than getting the usual aerosol oil sprays.”
Creator of Bulletproof Coffee and author of the The Bulletproof Diet
WASTE: A microwave. Even though microwaves are considered a staple by most people, Asprey says he never uses one to cook as he’s concerned that they emit EMFs. “And they super heat and damage your food,” he explains. “There are other ways of cooking that leave you feeling super amazing.”
WORTH IT: A convection oven with steam. Convection ovens have heating elements on the top and bottom along with a fan to circulate air, so foods cook faster and more evenly. “With this method you can have really good meals cooked in fat that is less damaged,” Asprey says. He recommends the CUISINART Combo Steam plus Convection Oven.
Author of LeBootCamp Diet
WASTE: A bread machine. Proving that even health pros get sucked in by slick ads, Orsoni says she bought a bread machine on a whim, thinking it would save her time. “However, the process is not so seamless,” she says. Then one day her bread machine took a three-foot dive off her counter and died. But Orsoni didn’t mourn the loss. “Now I’m back to making bread using my hands and enjoying the feeling of being connected to the food I’m making,” she says.
WORTH IT: Cooking classes. Orsoni recommends everyone take five cooking classes from a professional to learn the basics: baking, bread making, grilling, and cooking meat, preparing vegetables, and DIY basics like mustard and butter. Not only will you skip over the usual rookie mistakes, you’ll also “feel more comfortable in your kitchen, thereby taking more culinary risks that, in general, are quite rewarding,” Orsoni says.
Author of The Art of Eating In and The Food of Taiwan and founder of Not Eating Out in New York
WASTE: A garlic press. Here’s another vote against garlic gadgets. “They don’t get you the most out of your clove, and if you’re looking to achieve a uniform pulp from garlic, a microplane or other fine grater is quick and much more effective at this,” she says.
WORTH IT: A good chef’s knife. Not only can you use it for normal chopping and cutting, but Erway says you can mince and smash the side of the knife against your garlic until it’s crushed to a fine, translucent pulp. Worried? Don’t be: “It’s fun to try mastering a new technique!”
Author of The Primal Blueprint and publisher of Mark’s Daily Apple
WASTE: An expensive juicer. Sisson is all about eating his fruits and veggies whole so it didn’t take long for him to realize the error of his ways after purchasing a pricey juicer. “I realized that I can ‘juice’ most things by hand if I absolutely need to or by using a blender,” he says, adding that cleaning up after the produce massacre was a nightmare.
WORTH IT: Quality kitchen cutlery. There’s a reason everyone that spends time in a kitchen vouches for this. With a good set of knives and other standard utensils, the world is your cutting board.
Host of Sick Kitchens and Bite This
WASTE: Cheap knives. While that $20 set of neon colored “chef’s” knives may look adorable, there is nothing cute about how they handle in the kitchen. They don’t stay sharp which can lead to injuries as well as mangled food. “They're a hassle and you end up spending a ton of money buying replacements,” Giosia says.
WORTH IT: Good quality knives. “Buy a decent set of knives and set yourself up once and for all. They'll last a lifetime and make prep so much easier,” she says, adding she recommends the Kasumi brand.
Executive Editor of The Kitchn
WASTE: A juicer. Durand isn’t a juice-hater, she’s just not a fan of large space-hogging juicing machines. “I once bought a large juicer that was fun at first but then just cluttered up the countertop,” Durand explains.
WORTH IT: A handheld juicer. Here’s how to get your juice fix and free up your countertop: Opt for a handheld juicer. Durands says there are models that are still powerful enough to mulch even the toughest veggies, but they can hide away in a drawer, like a good kitchen gadget should. She recommends the Chef’n’s FreshForce Citrus Juicer.
Host of Korean Food Made Simple and owner of Jinjuu restaurant
WASTE: A toaster. Surprised? Toasters are so ubiquitous in homes, they’re often seen as kitchen fixtures. But have you ever wondered why? “A plain toaster only toasts bread,” Joo points out. “And how often do you really just want toasted bread?”
WORTH IT: A toaster oven. It may take up a little more space on your counter, but Joo explains it’s worth the extra inches because not only can you use it to make toast but you can also toast bagels, cook pizzas, roast veggies, bake sweet potatoes, and so much more.
Nutritionist, TV host, and author of Weeknight Wonders
WASTE: Single-serving coffee pod machines. Krieger bought one of these machines for her office thinking it would be a fun treat, but instead it turned out to be more of a trick. “The coffee itself was not as good as the beans I bought from my local roaster, and they cost me nearly double the price,” she says. “Not to mention there was so much packaging waste involved.”
WORTH IT: A single-cup pour-over coffee maker. Instead of a fancy machine, now Krieger uses a simple pour-over apparatus that sits right on top of her coffee mug. It’s makes brewing a single cup of java as easy as making tea, according to Krieger. “All you do is boil water, place the filter and coffee in and then pour. I get better coffee for cheaper and with less environmental impact,” she explains.