I consider myself an amateur foodie. I have always enjoyed cooking, and think of making good food as one of my “love languages.” Transitioning to cooking as a vegan wasn’t that difficult, but it’s helpful to have the right tools. Limiting my diet to only plant based foods, sometimes cooking with from scratch can be time consuming. Besides the obvious tools of quality pots, pans, and knives, here are some items in my kitchen that I can’t live without:
- Zyliss chopper
- This handy gadget is truly a godsend when chopping hot peppers like jalapeños for guacamole, fresh herbs, nuts, or mushrooms. It makes quick work of fine dicing! Plus, in the case of dicing hot peppers, eliminates the need for wearing gloves, etc. for this task to protect your skin from burning. This is easy to hand-wash, or you can take it apart and throw it in the top shelf of your dishwasher.
- Pastry blender
- Besides its obvious use for cutting fats into flour for making biscuits or scones (yes, you can make these with vegan butter!), I find this tool extremely helpful to chop chickpeas for mock chicken or tuna salads and for blending guacamole. It’s an inexpensive tool, too! This is the one I have. It’s from Crate and Barrel. I like the softer grip and the platform for your thumb.
- Immersion blender
- Instead of transferring hot soup to a food processor or blender, using this stick style tool to puree soups while still in the pot saves time. It makes black bean soup a super quick meal. Plus, using it is fun! I bought mine at Walmart for around $20. Nicer models can cost much more, but I’ve been happy with my inexpensive purchase.
- If you need to slice a lot of vegetables, using a mandoline can save a ton of time, and you can ensure that slices will be of uniform thickness. It’s great for prepping veggies for pickles, salads, and soups. Just watch your fingers! I use an Oxo brand mandoline that I found at Ross for around $10, which I now know was a steal!
- Enameled cast iron Dutch oven
- I love using these for baking artisan style loaves of bread in the oven and for cooking soups and stews on the stove. I have two, a larger Le Creuset that was a gift from my husband, and another smaller one that is a Target store brand that I found on clearance. One was in the $200 range, the other was $17. Honestly, they both perform well, proving that you don’t have to pay the big bucks for the name.
- High powered blender
- There’s absolutely nothing that will replace a good quality blender in your kitchen. Sure, it’s an investment, but you can almost replace your food processor with one of these. I’ve made hummus, pesto, and, of course, smoothies in mine. I have a Ninja 1000 blender that my husband bought me as a Christmas gift last year. Available at Costco.
- Air fryer
- For cooking crispy food, there’s nothing quite like one of these. And although I don’t always eat convenience foods, cooking things like fries, tater tots, or Gardein “fish” in the air fryer is so much better than a regular oven. It’s also amazing for making homemade veggie fries and cooking marinated tofu. The one I have is by Cuisinart, and it’s a multi-function oven. It’s frequently recommended in the vegan forums I visit. It’s wonderful for re-heating food and as a second oven as well. The model I have is available at Costco. Again, another investment, but it’s worth it.
- Stand mixer
- I love baking. I always have. And no tool is more valuable in this endeavor than a good stand mixer. I’m lucky enough to have a Kitchen Aid that I received as a wedding gift from my parents. It’s now almost 21 years old! Again, this is an investment, but well worth it. I use mine a few times a month for bread making, starting pizza dough, or to throw together a cake and icing.
Some of these gadgets are small investments, others large. All will save you time with prepping meals and treats, and we could all use a bit more of that in our lives, right? If you’ve been cooking at home a lot since the pandemic began, you are not alone. I’ve been spending a ton of time in the kitchen. That also means that the dishes NEVER END. I hope you find this info helpful!
What are some of your favorite kitchen tools? I’d love to hear about it! As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.