Usually I like to steer people away from kitchen gadgets because what they tend to do is either take up valuable space in your kitchen/pantry and/or make the task of whatever you need to do harder than it would have been had you just done it the old fashioned way. However, once in a blue moon, there comes along a few helpful gadgets that really do make some sort of difference, and here are my recent 5.
1. Veggie/Fruit Dicer Slicer
I bought this for one specific reason (well, two actually). The first was because I had a giftcard so I figured if it didn't work, no harm no foul, and second, because I make a lot of stews and gumbos and fruit salads which require endless chopping and dicing. I also have a bit of OCD, so when I'm chopping and you get those irregular pieces, its kind of annoying (to me, literally no one else cares). So I got this to try with making a gumbo that I needed to make for 10 people which means a lot of veg. I needed to get through 4 bell pepper, 4 onions, a ton of celery stalks, a few jalapeno, etc. This was so ridiculously satisfying to do because you put the veg in and send the guillotine down, and you end up with perfectly diced veg all the same size (which makes cooking them evenly easier), and there are no tears with the onions, or the fire of hell on your fingertips from the jalapeno. What would have taken me probably at least 30 minutes to get through all of that, was done in a quarter of the time. Amazing. Love it, love it love it.
2. Iceball maker
This just flat out makes a drink a bit sexy. It's a great conversation starter oddly enough (look at that ball of ice huh, how did you make that?) and it reminds me of a 007 movie for some reason. I don't even drink, but I have friends who do, and this just seems to elevate it. I know, I know, I said useful gadgets, and I know no one like needs this to make ice, a standard square tray or the fridge dropper will do, but there is something so beautiful about a giant ball of hail in your drink. Also great for adding additional things to the ice and drink like edible flowers, fruit, additional flavoring, color, etc.
3. A cookie scoop
I wish someone had told me these things exist when I used to make treats for the kids at a summer program I worked once, because it would have saved me a hell of a lot of time. Again, this one is great for the OCD person because unlike just hand scooping cookie dough with a spoon or something else, this allows all your cookies to be shaped and sized and bake up the same exact size. I typically will scoop up the balls of dough, put them on a tray to freeze for an hour, and then drop them into a gallon size freezer bag, and I've got cookies on tap whenever I need them for parties, friends, a treat, etc. The great thing about this scoop vs. say a regular ice cream scoop is that little lever on the inside that sweeps the dough or whatever out of the scoop for you so you don't have to dig it on out of there. Also great for making same sized meatballs, scooping out batter into muffin tins without mess, making doughnut holes the same size, making hush puppies from scoop straight to the fryer. They come in a variety of sizes, from mini to huge, so having a couple on hand, will do you wonders.
4. Water Filter
My little inner environmentalist says why didn't I listen to people sooner when they told me, get the a water filter asap. I have been going to the big box stores and lugging out those huge pallets of water for years now, and yes recycling the bottles, but even that requires a lot of impact on the environment. My tap water let's just say has a little hue to it, so I'm not keen to drink the "free stuff." Now I have 2 huge bottles, and they get refilled via filter every day. This baby has saved me soooooo much time and money and has helped the environment. A definite must have for any kitchen.
5. Folding Cutting Board
This seems rather self explanatory. You chop all your food stuffs which fall off the sides and then you usually have to scrape to get it all off the board or the counter, but here, you lift, and pour, and keep on cooking.