17 Kitchen Gadgets I Can’t Live Without (Mother’s Day Gift Ideas!)

…Just in time for last minute Mother’s Day shopping! It’s no secret that I am obsessed with food. Well, with eating. Okay, and restaurants. And cooking. The thing is, it’s all intertwined with my love for travel. As my friend Blake once said, “Travel for me is basically about killing time between meals.” Know what I mean? Okay, so anyway, I’ve mentioned before how we have a ridiculous amount of stuff in our kitchen, and over time I’ve discovered some really great gadgets, and wanted to share them with my fellow foodies, even though I just did a food post…I guess I am on a roll! 🙂







#1:  Mini Spatulas

  • Buy at:  Williams Sonoma
  • Use For:  These itty bitty guys are perfect getting stuff out of small jars, smoothing icing, scraping small bowls, etc.
  • Why I love them: Pieces separate for easy cleaning

#2:  Traditional Fish Spatula

  • Buy at: Williams Sonoma
  • Use for: Turning fish or other delicate foods in a pan
  • Why I love it: It’s flexible, which helps prevent breakage and helps you get underneath the fish before flipping it in a smaller pan. The slots drain sauce and other garnishes from the fish before flipping so you don’t splatter everywhere.

#3:  Le Creuset Classic Saucier (Pictured Above)

  • Buy at: Williams Sonoma
  • Use for: Homemade sauces and risotto 
  • Why I love it: The rounded bottom makes it easy to scrape, and it’s surprisingly easy to clean. The heavy lid seals tightly to avoid splatters, but also has a small vent to release steam. I absolutely LOVE all things Le Creuset. Worth every penny; we’ll have them forever. We use the Dutch Oven and braiser a lot, too (use the braiser to make fish with the Fish Spatula, and the oven for slow-cooking chili and stew).

#4:  All-Clad Butter Warmer

  • Buy at: Online dealers like Amazon, etc. (it can be hard to find in stores)
  • Use for: Gently melting then pouring butter, small portion of soup, chocolate, etc. 
  • Why I love it: The pour spout prevents drippage down the sides of the pan when pouring. It’s the perfect size for small jobs, and is easy to clean. Like Le Creuset, the sturdiness of All-Clad means it will last forever. All-Clad is the standard for serious cooks. If you can make the investment, you won’t regret it. A-MAZ-ING.

#5:  Great White Coupe Soup Bowls (Pictured Above)

  • Buy at: Pottery Barn
  • Use for: Salads, Soups, Stews, Saucy Entrees
  • Why I love it:  They are super-sturdy and die hard, match anything since they are white, and their shallow-ness makes them perfect to serve just about anything. You can carry them around without fear of breaking them. They look pretty on top of white dinner plates, too, since they are so wide.

#6:  Great White Cappuccino Mugs

  • Buy at:  Pottery Barn
  • Use for:  Cappuccinos, Lattes, Cereal, Chili
  • Why I love it:  Like the Coupe bowls, they are super sturdy and match everything. These mugs are also the perfect size for serving food – not just coffee. The handle makes them easy to carry around and protect your hand from heat. Great bowl for eating cereal in front of Saturday morning cartoons or chili in front of a football game.

#7:  Tomato Knife (Pictured Above)

  • Buy at:  Anywhere that sells knives. 
  • Use for:  Cutting tomatoes or any other easily-crushed item. 
  • Why I love it:  I can’t say enough about the importance of having a good tomato knife. If you find yourself cussing while cutting a tomato, squirting yourself in the eyes with tomato juice, or only buying Romas because those are the only ones you can cut, then get yourself a tomato knife. It will change your life. They are so sharp and thin, they cut easily through that skin without ruining the whole tomato. Just keep these away from the kiddos. Like I said, SHARP! 

#8:  Rounded Cheese Knife 

  • Buy at:  Anywhere. 
  • Use for:  Spreading stuff. 
  • Why I love it:  I use this knife for just about everything except cutting cheese (which I prefer to do with the long-slotted side of a box grater). It’s perfect for spreading clotted cream on a scone, mayo on a sandwich, tapenade on a cracker, butter on pancakes, hummus on pita bread…

#9:  Epicurean Natural 8″ x 6″ Cutting Board

  • Buy at:  Bed, Bath and Beyond
  • Use for:  Quick jobs, like cutting an apple
  • Why I love it:  It’s small, light, fits on any surface, easy to pick up and carry around (unlike super-heavy/thick cutting boards), is easy to clean, and dries quickly. I use it multiple times a day. I also love the little cutout circle thingie – makes it easy to grab from inside the cabinet. I recommend the other sizes, too; we have several of these boards. My second favorite is the largest size (pictured above), which is big enough to chop everything I need for a meal, make neat little piles of each ingredient, and still light enough to carry to the stove and scrape one thing at a time into the pan as needed. 

#10:  Cuisinart Burr Coffee Grinder

  • Buy at: Bed Bath and Beyond (and probably other home stores)
  • Use for:  Grinding coffee, IF you have a good home-brew coffee machine, and you care about good coffee. 
  • Why I love it:  According to the coffee gurus like my husband, burr grinders are better because the process of grinding doesn’t generate a lot of heat like traditional grinders do, which apparently, is bad. This grinder tightly seals beans in a reservoir so you can add enough for a few days, and not worry about it going stale. Gives you full control over the coarseness, strength, and volume according to exactly how many cups of coffee you plan to brew.  

#11:  The Original Dish Drying Mat

  • Buy at:  Bed, Bath and Beyond
  • Use for:  Overflow dish drying space,especially china and crystal
  • Why I love it:  We keep a little dish drying rack in the right side of our sink and use that all day long. But sometimes, we run out of room and I just pull this out of the drawer next to the sink. It’s super-absorbent, so water doesn’t run all over your counter, and it has a non-slip surface, so you don’t have to worry about breakables falling over. When it gets dirty, just throw it in the laundry. Oh, and it’s only like $5. Hurray!

#12:  Ramekins

  • Buy at:  Anywhere. I got mine at IKEA. Look for ones with rounded bottoms to make scraping (for example, with a mini-spatula!) easier.
  • Use for:  Catching the egg white when separating from the yoke, prepping ingredients before cooking, melting butter in the microwave, serving side dishes…etc.
  • Why I love them: We have a whole bunch of these and I go through them quickly. I can’t imagine cooking without them. When making a recipe with lots of herbs and spices, (like curries), I always measure out the spices before I start cooking, and put them into a ramekin to toss into the dish when needed. That way I am not fumbling with measuring spoons and spice jars while the onions burn, or accidentally spilling half the jar into the pan. Prepping like this also helps me stay organized – I just line stuff up in the order that they’re added to the dish. We use them often to serve side dishes that need to stay separate (like when the main dish is really saucy and you don’t want them running together). Just sit the ramekin right on top of your dinner plate.
  • Buy at: Williams Sonoma
  • Use for: Whisking salad dressing and other small volume liquids; hand-beating a few eggs
  • Why I love it: I always make my own salad dressing, so I use this whisk often inside small bowls. It’s the perfect size for small amounts, when a large whisk would be overkill.
  • Buy at:  Anywhere that sells silverware.
  • Use for:  Stirring sugar into coffee or tea, as a serving utensil for tapanade and crackers (with the tapanade in a ramekin!), etc.
  • Why I love them:  They are so small, they aren’t top heavy, and don’t fall out of glasses or small bowls and make a mess.
  • Buy at:  Target (Calphalon) or Williams Sonoma (All-Clad)
  • Use for:  Bacon! Also, Chicken Breasts, Fish, Burgers, etc. when you don’t want to go outside and grill, but want the “grill lines”
  • Why I love it:  Super easy to clean! We use this at least once a week for something. I don’t recommend the round ones; bacon doesn’t fit in those as well, which in our house is a priority item! 🙂
  • Buy at:  Anywhere that sells stemware
  • Use for:  Daily use.
  • Why I love it:  I can carry them around the house without worrying about breaking them. The link above is for the ones we have. At first, I was nervous about washing them, but they are surprising sturdy. Also, my husband put them in the dishwasher once, and I freaked out…then realized they were FINE. Ever since then, I put them in the dishwasher every time. And it works! Hurray!
  • Buy at:  Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Use for:  Peeling sausage or removing the fatty layer from ribs
  • Why I love it:  This is actually one of my husband’s favorites, since I try not to touch raw meat if at all possible. Yuck. But he loves it for prepping ribs for the grill! 
What are your favorite kitchen tools? Let me know so I can get one, too! 🙂

– HBA


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About Holly Baumann Photography

I am Holly Baumann Ambuehl, a commercial and portrait photographer based in Central Illinois. My blog posts feature client work, but I just love to write, so I also write about owning a business, food and drink, travel, and my personal life! I am always honored when clients trust me to capture their vision, and equally so when my readers converse with me about what I've photographed or expressed here. I hope we'll have an opportunity to collaborate professionally and/or become friends. I'd love to hear what you think! - Holly
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