Top Kitchen Tools Celebrity Chefs Can’t Live Without

kitchen tools
Disclosure: We receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

If you have a chef on your holiday shopping list, they already have drawers and cabinets full of kitchen tools. Unless they provide you with a detailed list of exactly what they want this year (who does that?), you’re probably searching for just the perfect gift.

Without a clue, what do you get for the person who has everything? Watch any cooking channel on cable TV or the internet, and you will see a variety of kitchen tools highlighted by celebrity chefs. Informercials play at 4:00 a.m., professing the greatest thing since Betty White (she came before sliced bread, you know). They make it look so easy.

The truth of the matter is that not all kitchen “helpers” actually help a chef in the kitchen. Since you can’t try out everything on the market, we did that for you on several new and some older kitchen tools.

Gadgets, Gizmos, and All the Best Kitchen Tools

Chef in Kitchen

Gadgets and gizmos are useless to the person that doesn’t need them. If your chef can slice and dice with a knife faster than a manual food chopper, you can leave that off your shopping list. Although these tappy choppers can be very efficient for a novice, they may slow down a more experienced cook.

How do you know which gadgets and gizmos might be great and which ones will flop? You could always ask them for a list, but that may be a futile gesture as they say, “Surprise me.”

Watch them when they are not in the kitchen. Take a walk in the kitchen section of a department store. See where they stop to gaze longingly. What items are making them drool? Do they want an Instant Pot? Did that new French Press grab their attention?

What cooking shows do they watch? The celebrity chefs always have a favorite tool they use on almost every show. That new set of spoonulas might make them smile with joy.

Rachael Ray Silicone Spoonula, Red

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The best gadget may not even be for cooking. With no sous chef running behind them to clean up, every chef needs products to make cleaning up easier. You may want to consider stocking stuffers to make clean up easier:

As you can see, kitchen gadgets aren’t always related to food prep. Check with your chef. If they aren’t helpful in providing you a gift list, watch them for a bit. They will reveal their “perfect gift” to you.

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Pots, Pans, and All the Basics

Pots and pans are available in sets or as individual pieces. The price difference is going to be a big point. Sets are designed to create a larger ticket-item and provide the convenience of easy selection. For most day-to-day kitchen enthusiasts, they are a great solution.

Unfortunately, for more advanced cooks, standard sets are often lacking in versatility. Some people like T-Fal cookware sets, some people prefer OrGreenic cookware. While these contain a classic selection of popular sizes and configurations, many advanced chefs are dissatisfied with sets.

The best way to find out is to ask your cook if they have a preferred manufacturer. Otherwise, you may be filling up their cabinet with items they will never use. Some of the more popular brands include Calphalon, Cuisinart, and Paderno.

While each brand has its sales pitch, they range from inexpensive to requiring a second mortgage. Some are stainless steel, and others have non-stick ceramic surfaces. Hammered Copper is yet another choice.

Gotham Steel Hammered Copper Collection – 15 Piece Premium Cookware...

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Because of the differences, we recommend asking your chef a few basic questions:

  1. Do you have a favorite finish (stainless, non-stick, copper, cast iron)?
  2. What sizes and styles of pots and/or pans do you want?
  3. Is there a particular brand that you prefer?
  4. Would a gift card be better so you can choose your own?
  5. If a gift card, do you have a preferred store or online outlet?

Once you get your chef talking, making your gift list should become more manageable.

Chefs and Their Favorite Kitchen Tools

Kitchen Tools

For essential tools, culinary schools recommend starting with three knives: the paring knife for small jobs, a chef’s knife for chopping, and a bread knife for sawing. Although many chefs will have 10 or more knives in their sets, you can accomplish all kitchen tasks with the 3 essential knives.

Other non-negotiable items, according to most chefs, include:

  • Cutting boards
  • Non-stick pans in a variety of sizes
  • Cast iron pans and Dutch ovens
  • Stainless steel pots and pans in various sizes
  • A blender and an immersion blender
  • Food processor
  • Wooden cooking utensils
  • Wire whisks (or silicone whisks)
  • Silicone spatulas
  • Vegetable peeler

Honorable mention goes to the Salad Spinner, Instant Pot (pressure cooker), digital thermometer, and a Microplane (very fine grater). While you can live without many of these items in the kitchen, having them does make the job of meal preparation much more effortless.

When it comes to working chefs, simple items reign, as the three items Chef Katie Button cannot do without, are all manual. She likes the KORIN Japanese Can Opener (Ganji Kankiri) to open any shape can. Her other go-to items are Joyce Chen Scissors and the Atlas Pepper Mill.

KORIN Japanese Can Opener (Ganji Kankiri)

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If you ask TV chef Rachel Ray, she will always say that the one must-have item in her kitchen is a large cutting board. The bigger, the better.

GREENER CHEF Extra Large Bamboo Cutting Board - Lifetime Replacement...

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Italian chef Giada De Laurentiis swears by her OXO Good Grips Wooden Corner Spoon & Scraper. Several chefs require a good mortar and pestle in their kitchen.

Stocking up your chef’s kitchen doesn’t mean grabbing the biggest, most expensive gadget on the shelf. Depending on their needs, it might just mean a stocking full of handy little items that make the overall chore of meal preparation easier.

Back to the Future or Already Gone

When it comes to electric gadgets and gizmos, there is a vast array that promises everything to the moon and back. So the question becomes, should you strap yourself into the DeLorean with Biff’s millions and go to the future in search of a nitrogen bath for instantly freezing your ice cream?

In most cases, the answer will be no. Your favorite home chef probably has much simpler desires. Unless your home has a commercial-grade kitchen with almost unlimited storage and prep area, you probably want to pare your list down to items that will fit in drawers or cabinets when not in use.

Although futuristic gadgets make good viewing on timed kitchen shows, they aren’t always practical around the home. A shortcut gadget that is used once a year is nothing more than a dust collector. To assist with kitchen cleaning duties, avoid things that won’t receive frequent use.

Sticking to everyday items will also allow you to gift more than one huge, expensive item. You can stuff a stocking and also make your chef open 52 gifts from under the tree while you laugh at their frustration.

Breaking Down the Kitchen Tools

Because there are so many products out there, we couldn’t possibly review or list them all. We looked at a wide array of products in price ranges from five dollars and up. Professional and celebrity chefs have recommended the products as their go-to kitchen items. While some serve a specific purpose, others are universal and have a variety of different applications.

We split our choices into four primary groups:

  • Slicers, dicers, and choppers
  • Garnishing tools for a decorative touch
  • Slow cookers, crock pots, and Dutch ovens
  • Instant Pots, air fryers, and other speed cookers

We’ve already covered the importance of knives, pots, and pans. Since those are often a more personal choice, we left them out of our final discussion of handy kitchen tools.

Dicing, slicing, and keeping your fingers

Knives, peeling gadgets, slicers, and dicers are among the kitchen’s most dangerous tools. Their first hazard is that they are, of necessity, very sharp. Secondly, they are often used in a manner they weren’t designed for. Who hasn’t tried to speed peel 15 potatoes using their mandolin slicer?

If your cook is a shortcut taker, investing in a chain mail glove to help with slicing and dicing chores might be a wise choice. They may never use it, but your conscience will be clear as you sit in the emergency room with them awaiting stitches. Additionally, it will offer you a lifetime of “I told you so” argument-winning one-liners.

Stainless Steel Mesh Hand Glove - Cut Resistant (XS)

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The more straightforward way, though, is to invest in safer tools for your chef. Rather than that old plane-style mandoline slicer, get them one with a safety guide, adjustable cutting depths, blade storage, and versatility. Many mandoline slicers offer slice, dice, and shred features, making it one of the most used items in the cabinet.

Mueller Austria Premium Quality V-Pro Multi Blade Adjustable Mandoline...

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If electric is your chef’s go-to rather than using manual kitchen tools, consider an excellent all-purpose food processor. Many have features that perform the same tasks as mandoline slicers and are much quicker with a skilled user. They are heavier on the clean-up task list, though, so remember this warning if you do the dishes.

Breville BFP660SIL Sous Chef 12 Cup Food Processor, Silver

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The largest of the kitchen problems is often not how sharp a tool is, but how dull. If your chef prefers to do the chopping, slicing, and dicing with a knife, consider a knife sharpening kit or tool. Available in electric or manual models, these will keep your chef’s knives sharp and accurate all year.

Chef'sChoice Professional Electric Knife Sharpening Station for...

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Garage and Home

Oooooo — Fancy art or just a carrot?

Lavish food creations can decorate a festive table or frustrate a perfectionist chef. While it does take some time, patience, and lots of carrots, a garnishing tool kit might be the right item for your kitchen artist.

For the simple embellishments, a small stocking-stuffer set of utensils. Kits are available from small to mid-grade, will they ever will they ever use all those things. For the more advanced artist, a multi-tool all-purpose kit with everything to make a beautiful table display.

If your artist wants to try their hand at ice sculpture carving, standard tools are usually available in the hardware department rather than kitchenware. But you can protect their hands with some super grippy insulated gloves.

Whether your kitchen artist does pumpkins, watermelons, carrots, or cucumbers, having the right tools for their passion is a big plus. Use care in selecting tools and make sure they come with adequate directions or add a book to the package. Exploring techniques and cool little slices that magically turn into a rose is a fantastic way to display food.

The Decorative Art of Japanese Food Carving: Elegant Garnishes for All...

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Dump it in and walk away

We’re not going to delve deeply into this category. Most chefs already have an idea of what they want here, including a favorite brand or style. Crockpots and Dutch ovens are easy to use. If you want something to dump an entire meal into and walk away, then a crockpot is the way to go.

Dutch ovens are a little trickier but are suitable for use on the stovetop, in the oven, or even on an open fire. That allows for more versatility than a crockpot (which requires electricity). Dutch ovens are traditionally cast iron, but some are heavy-duty ceramics. They can be an excellent addition to a kitchen.

Crock Pot Artisan 5 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Round Dutch Oven, Slate...

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Does it really cook that fast?

This is another category where a cook normally has a specific brand in mind. If they gave you a make and model number on their list, stick to that. The features can vary from one to another, and this category is not one to scrimp and save a few dollars for the cheaper version.

Yes, Instant Pots and air fryers really do cook food that quickly. The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, meaning that trapped steam’s stored energy aids in the cooking process. The air fryer uses forced air to circulate through the cooking area. Both methods significantly speed cooking times.

Instant Pot Smart WiFi 8-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer,...

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Wrapping It Up with a Purty Bow


After researching, exploring professional chefs’ favorites, and checking all the kitchen gadgets out there, we arrived at one startling conclusion. Most professional chefs do have a go-to gadget or utensil. The surprising part was that many of them swear by the items that fall in lower price ranges.

Our parting bit of advice to gift shoppers looking to enhance a chef’s collection of tools is to keep it simple. Look at the types of foods your cook prepares and get tools and equipment that will make their tasks easier. If a potato peeler is needed, a fancy air fryer won’t help complete the task.

If you enjoyed this discussion about kitchen gadgets, drop us a line in the comments. What is your kitchen go-to?

Last update on 2021-01-17 at 09:38 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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