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9 Kitchen Tools That Are Completely Useless (or Totally Useful?)

How valuable is a garlic press? Or an asparagus steamer? We look at these single-use items to see whether they're worth the expense.
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When it comes to kitchen tools, one cook's necessity is another's waste of money and space. In fact, as we put together this list of potentially unnecessary gadgets, we were surprised by the fervent disagreements that cropped up in our office.

Here, we make the case for (and against) purchasing controversial kitchen tools. See if you agree!


Garlic Press

This unitasker does exactly what it sounds like — it presses garlic. You insert a clove, squeeze it, and out comes smashed garlic. And that's all it does.

Buy It: If your knife skills aren't chef-level, you might find mincing garlic to be a chore. Plus, you can put it right into the press, skin and all, which eliminates the peeling step.

Don't Buy It: If space is an issue, the less single-use items you can buy, the better. Plus, Anthony Bourdain thinks garlic presses are "abominations" because of how they alter the quality of the garlic, and we tend to agree with much of his kitchen wisdom. And if you really hate mincing garlic, you can use a zester to grate it instead; it's almost as easy.

Room Essentials Garlic Press ($1.99 with in-store pickup)


Salad Spinner

Ah, the power of centrifugal force! This gadget dries washed lettuce, heartier greens, and much, much more.

Buy It: The salad spinner isn't just for spinning salad. It's an easy way to (mostly) de-seed chopped tomatoes, dry off washed veggies for a stir-fry, and you can even use a sturdy one to drain pasta, thus eliminating the need for a colander.

Don't Buy It: If you don't eat a lot of greens, you probably won't get a ton of use out of a salad spinner. But you should really eat more greens. So maybe get one?

Norpro Salad Spinner ($15.63 with free shipping on $35, low by $3)

SEE ALSO: 9 Times Fast Food Went Healthy ... And We Hated It!


Avocado Slicer

This gadget slices and pits avocados, and that's it.

Buy It: We're going to be honest: As cost-conscious consumers, it's hard to make the case for shelling out for an avocado slicer. People who love them point to the ease of pitting and the uniform slices, so there's that.

Don't Buy It: You probably have spoons and a knife already.

3-in-1 Avocado Slicer ($3.09 with free shipping via Prime, low by $2)


Egg Separator

Egg Separator

This tool separates egg whites from yolks, and vice versa.

Buy It: If you have an egg white omelet for breakfast every morning or make a lot of soufflés, this might be a useful gadget. Plus, they're generally inexpensive and don't take up much room in the drawer.

Don't Buy It: You can separate eggs with a slotted spoon or a funnel, and both of those tools have other uses. You could also use your hands and the egg shell itself.

OXO Good Grips 3-in-1 Egg Separator ($4.99 with in-store pickup, a $5 low)

SEE ALSO: 3 Kinds of Ice Cream Makers: Which Is Best for You?


Asparagus Steamer

This pot is tall and thin, with a steamer basket inside. It's designed to steam asparagus upright to ensure even cooking from end to end.

Buy It: If you haven't figured it out yet, we're skeptical of kitchen items with only one use. But Food52 has a nice round-up of other applications for an asparagus steamer.

Don't Buy It: Asparagus is only in season for a short period every spring, and there are several ways to cook it. Plus, asparagus steamers aren't cheap.

RSVP Stainless Steel Asparagus/Vegetables Steamer ($22.95 with free shipping on $35, low by $2)


Rice Cooker

One of the more controversial kitchen gadgets, the rice cooker delivers perfectly cooked rice, every time.

Buy It: Cooking rice on the stovetop is something many home cooks struggle with. If you eat a lot of rice and haven't had much success with other cooking methods, a rice cooker is probably worth the investment. Plus, you can also use it to steam vegetables, and it frees up a burner if you're cooking a big feast.

Don't Buy It: We'll let you in on a little secret: The reason stovetop rice doesn't always come out perfect is that the amount of water listed in the package directions is usually wrong. Use a 2:1 ratio of water to rice for perfectly cooked grains, and you'll never have to buy a rice cooker.

Black & Decker 16-Cup Rice Cooker ($14.97 with in-store pickup, a $10 low)


Immersion Blender

This gadget is a handheld blender used mainly to puree hot soups right in the pot.

Buy It: If you make a lot of silky soups, you'll find using this tool much easier than pouring hot liquid into a blender or food processor. Plus, clean-up is a breeze. You can also use it to make whipped cream and smoothies, and it's great for beating a large amount of eggs.

Don't Buy It: Using a blender, food processor, or hand mixer might mean extra clean-up, but they'll do the job just fine.

Cuisinart CSB-33 Hand Blender ($29.99 with in-store pickup, a $10 low)

SEE ALSO: These 13 Foods Aren't What You Think They Are


Flavor Injector

This gadget is a large syringe used to inject marinades and other flavorings directly into meat and poultry.

Buy It: Flavor injector devotees claim that using the tool allows them to get flavors deeper into the meat and keep it moist during cooking.

Don't Buy It: Brining and marinating also get flavor and moisture into meat, and the only costs incurred with those preparations are those of the ingredients used.

Room Essentials Flavor Injector ($3.99 with in-store pickup)


Wine Aerators

Pour wine through this gadget to render it drinkable in much less time than decanting, which can take an hour or more.

Buy It: If you find decanting to be a necessary step in enjoying wine and lack patience, this gadget was made for you.

Don't Buy It: If you're the kind of person who finds it necessary to aerate wine before drinking it, then you likely already own a decanter. Or a wine glass, which will also do the trick. Plus, many oenophiles claim that aerators negatively impact the taste of the wine.

Rabbit Super Aerator ($14.95 with in-store pickup)

Readers, do you think any of these gadgets are useful? What else would you add to the list? Share your favorite controversial kitchen gadgets in the comments below!


Contributing Writer

Jessica Hulett is a freelance writer, editor and obsessive seeker of online promo codes. She's been writing professionally for more than 15 years, and was most recently the managing editor of coupon and lifestyle site extrasforme.com.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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8 comments
chadley25
Salad spinner, rice cooker, and wine aerator are definitely not totally useless. I can make rice perfectly on the stovetop thanks to a trick I picked up from Indonesian cooks, but rice cookers are great, many people use them religiously, and you can also steam veggies or meats while your rice cooks, too. As for a salad spinner, I make salads for lunch several times a week, so they're fantastic for having nice, crisp, fresh greens on hand. I don't use my wine aerator all the time, but I've certainly used it plenty enough over the many years I've had it to justify its purchase.

However, the one I'm personally most in disagreement with is the immersion blender. Mine is part of a system (this one: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...ion-hr1617-review), so I can use it as the handheld motor for a food processor, or attach the immersion blender part, or even a whisk. I use this thing constantly.
Ardbeg
Really don't get the avocado slicer, and I eat a lot of avocados. Get a paring knife, slice around the seed, pop the knife into the seed and twist to lift it out, hold half of an an avocado and slice it IN THE PEEL (you'll feel the resistance of the skin, add crosscuts for dice), then use a large metal spoon to scoop it all out in one pass.

nematoda, I love my rice cooker (and my imersion blender, I even use my salad spinner, though more for rinsing basil for pesto than salad), but it's a bit much to call the author "ethnocentric" for listing it as something you could do without. This list for people who are trying to decide if they need items they might not use very often; if they already have one and love it, they'll ignore it, no biggie. I suppose if the author had listed a tagine you'd think Moroccans should get upset...
hotrodx10
There's only one of the items I have, the immersion blender and I would never want to be without it. When my previous one died, I thought I could get along without one, but I didn't make it even a week before I was going to Walmart to get one. From mixing spices into sauces to mixing pancake batter, it's my go-to mixer. Between it and our big Kitchenaid, the hand mixer has barely been out of the drawer.
nematoda
Arghh ... no way to correct typos.

correction: " ... including it on this list ...".
nematoda
Okay, the writer is a white woman who probably eats (or cooks) rice infrequently, if at all. But there are millions of Asians (and others) in the US--and billions around the world-- for whom a rice cooker is a near-necessity (I would guess only a small percentage cook rice on a stove). Including on this list of "9 Kitchen Tools That Are Completely Useless ..." is, shall I say, just a tad ethnocentric.

And, seriously, pointing to a $15 Black & Decker rice cooker?
kellmeister
I think it depends on what kind of cooking you do. We eat rice quite often, and a rice cooker is an essential part of our kitchen equipment. It isn't that it's that difficult to cook rice on the stove, but it gets it right consistently and also uses a lot less energy than heating up the stove. Any of these items could be indespensible, but I guess that's the point. Keep what you use regularly and downsize the rest.
netwolf
how do you incorporate these tools in to ordering fast food, I am scratching my head on this
CinciShopper
I don't see the controversy in any of these things if you know how to cook or bake. I don't consider myself a great cook but I can hold my own and own about half of the things on the list and use them on a weekly basis. Some of them are used daily. I think the salad spinner is pretty much necessary to get the dirt out off of produce and some fruits. I use the immersion blender on a daily basis to whip the cream for my morning coffee.
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