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13 January 2022

Amazingly Useful Cooking Gadgets Under £20

I love a good kitchen gadget which makes cooking easier and more fun. I could happily have twice as many cupboards and fill them with a gadget for every possible cooking need, but in reality space is limited so it's only the really useful ones that I have. I have versions of the items below in my house or plan to soon thanks to trying them out. If you don't remark to yourself "oh that's clever" at least once while reading through I will be disappointed.

a stock image from Canva of someone cooking to illustrate a post about clever gadgets for cooking
Clever kitchen gadgets make cooking more fun

(Products are widely available, but I have linked to them on Amazon. Amazon prices go up and down, but all products are available for under £20 at time of publishing. Links are affiliate so I will get a small commission at no cost to you if you make a purchase. Thank you if you choose to do so).

Clever Gadgets For Making Cooking Easier

Pot Watchers

You know when you are cooking pasta or something and you put the lid on to make the water boil faster and be more efficient, but the water starts to bubble up, so you take the lid off and the water cools down too much and stops boiling? I end up balancing the lid slightly off, but the easier way to do it is to use a pot watcher aka lid lifter or steam vent. These nifty pieces of silicone go on the edge of the pan so that the lid can be raised off slightly, making it less likely that the the liquid will boil over and make a mess everywhere. 

Leaf Stripper

Whether you are a big fan of making your own kale crisps or you love to sprinkle fresh herbs into your cooking you will love this leaf stripper. It's a small plastic tool which takes up hardly any space, but saves you plenty of time. Choose the right hole for the plant and pull it through stalk first so that it strips off all the tasty leaves you want to use in your cooking, leaving you with woody stalk to chuck in your compost. There are metal versions of this tool available, but the edges can be a bit sharp. We have a plastic one similar to the picture and you can even let children do the work without worrying they will get hurt.

Over Sink Rack

This is such a handy tool, especially in smaller kitchens. Unroll the rack over your sink and suddenly you have an extra surface. It's heat resistant so you can put hot things on it (as long as it's not too heavy) you can wash vegetables on there and leave them to drain, you can use it as a cooling rack. Lots of uses and it's one of my favourite gadgets.

Fat Separator

My Dad had a fat separator jug he used in cooking when I was growing up and it was brilliant, but I can't find a similar design anywhere. Most of the versions on the market are basically a jug with spout coming from near the bottom. When you have a liquid with lots of fat in (whether gravy or maybe a tomato sauce) the fat will quickly float to the top so if you pour from the bottom it means the fat will stay in the jug. The problem with most of the designs I have seen is that you get a lot of waste because when the level of the fat goes below the hole for the pout you end up pouring out oil as well as the sauce. There are a few versions though with a bottom release which allow you to cut down waste hugely. The Oxo Good Grips one looks best, but it's hard to find, this fat separator is similar. 

Runner Bean Slicer

Growing up I used to love runner beans, but when I cooked them after I left hope I found them a bit tough. The big difference was my nan used to cut them into thin strips using a slicer and this is difficult to do with a knife. With a bean slicer you feed one end of the runner bean through it and pull the rest through, quickly separating them into thin strips. I now love beans again.

Julienne Peeler

Easier than spiralising and the gadget takes up less space too, a julienne peeler helps you get thin pieces of vegetables perfect for salads, stir fries or bulking out noodles. I especially like to use it on carrots and courgettes. The cheap peelers tend to get bent out of shape quickly so go for one that is a decent quality.

Grape Cutter

Grapes make a handy snack for children, but it is recommended the grapes are cut in (at least) half long wise to prevent them being a choking hazard. It can take a while to cut up a portion of grapes, but this handy tool makes it quick and easy to cut grapes into 4, making them safer to eat. It can also be used for strawberries and tomatoes.

Adjustable Rolling Pin

Have you ever rolled out biscuit dough and found your biscuits are thinner on one side than the other? It's normal for us to push slightly harder with one hand than the other with a rolling pin so it's not all one thickness, but this rolling pin solves that. Choose the thickness you want and roll it all out, simple. The only downside is your maximum width can't be wider than the rolling pin, but that wont be an issue most of the time.

Herb Scissors

I use scissors instead of a knife for a lot of my cooking. Pizza: cut with scissors. Raw meat: cut with scissors. Herbs: cut with these scissors. It is easier and often means you don't need to use a chopping board. These herb scissors have multiple blades so you save time and can easily cut them up into fine pieces. They are also handy for cutting up sensitive information on letters before throwing away eg a mini shredder.

Asparagus Pan

Ok this one is a bit niche, particularly if you only buy asparagus in season, but I have long been jealous of my mum's one. This asparagus pan allows you to cook your asparagus standing up so the ends can be in water at the rest steamed so it's all cooked perfectly. 

Vegetable Chopper

Yes it's the 6th thing in this list that technically you could just do with a knife, but where is the fun in that? So I bought one of these at The Ideal Home Show years back and I tend to just use it a few times a year to make salsa, but it makes it so well I love it. Halve an onion or quarter a large tomato put it on the grid and close, and you have beautiful square chunks. You can use different inserts to make the squares chunks bigger or smaller. This one has spiraliser attachments too. They generally do require a bit of strength to squeeze closed and be vary careful when washing them, but the perfectly square cut vegetables are so satisfying.

Salad Spinner

If you like to eat lots of salad leaves and don't enjoy a puddle of water on your plate then a salad spinner is a handy gadget. Place the leaves in the sieve section and give them a good rinse then place inside the bowl, pop on the lid and spin to make the excess water to come off. I particularly like the OXO good grips version, but at half the price, this one does the job perfectly well.

Really clever kitchen gadgets to make cooking easier and more fun

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