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Food & Drink

22 of the best kitchen gadgets that will transform your cooking

Fancy yourself as the next Heston, or just on the hunt for tools to minimise effort (and disaster) in the kitchen? We've listed the best gadgets, all of which should be affordable on a student budget.

best kitchen gadgets

Every cook (good or not-so-good) needs the right tools and gadgets to make the magic happen in the kitchen. They don't have to be costly or complicated, but you'll flounder like a dead fish without them.

Although you'll have to stump up some cash to buy these gadgets, they'll almost certainly save you money in the long run. After all, cooking from scratch is far cheaper than buying pre-prepared meals!

This list reveals some of the best-kept kitchen secrets – we're all about making your life easier so you remember to feed yourself properly (and no, your mum didn't put us up to this).

Gadget budget running a bit low this month? Check out our extensive money-making guides plus tips on how to save more cash.

22 kitchen gadgets

  1. Spiralizer

    cheap spiralizer
    Courgetti bolognese, anyone? Or how about some stir-fried boodles (butternut squash noodles, apparently)?

    Our beloved spiralizer gets first shout in this list, just because we're still so happy someone invented it. Not only do these contraptions make avoiding carbs a walk in the park, but they're also undeniably fun to use.

    Generally, you can expect to pay around £15 (or less!) for a spiralizer, like this one by this one by Dexam from Tesco.

    If budget's an issue, you can get a smaller handheld spiralizer for under £10, and for the super lazy/blessed with cash amongst you, an electric spiralizer will set you back £30–40.

  2. Silicone tongs

    cheap silicone kitchen tongs

    It's pretty obvious when you think about it, but cooking does make your food kinda hot, and picking it up with your fingers is a surefire way to Burn Central (too much?).

    Fiddling about with standard cutlery is likely to end the same way, with the added risk of dropping your delights onto the floor AND scraping the surface of your favourite frying pan. Stop the problems before they start with these silicone kitchen tongs (cheap as chips from Wilko).

  3. Food processor

    cheap food processor
    We're in the 21st century people! So why sweat over chopping a carrot when you can get a machine to do it for you? And why would you want to make pastry by hand when all it takes is the whizz of a button? And no, it doesn't count as cheating.

    At under £20, this compact food processor from Ninja is a real steal. Plus, it's called Ninja, so that's pretty cool.

    Just think – you can bake an entire cake that's GBBO-worthy just by chucking in the ingredients and letting the machine do the hard work. And you could actually complete one of Jamie's 30 minute meals in under an hour...

  4. Aeropress coffee maker

    aeorpress cheap coffee maker
    If you like and value your morning coffee, it's time to stop drinking that instant stuff.

    At under £30, the Aeropress coffee maker is a bit of an investment, but one that every coffee lover should consider as the stuff this nifty little gadget churns out is the BEST.

    It's easy to use, even easier to clean and the result is just as good as coffee from a £5,000 coffee machine – every time.

    Check out the outstanding reviews on Amazon if you're still not sold!

  5. Three tier steamer

    cheap food steamer

    If you're keen to at least try to stay healthy at uni, we'd seriously recommend grabbing yourself one of these three tier steamers from Tesco.

    Not only are they a total steal at just £15, but you can basically cook an entire meal in one by chucking different components into the different compartments of the steamer and fixing the settings so they all cook exactly the way you like em. And the best thing about it is that you'll never burn your dinner!

    As well as cooking your veg to perfection, you can also use it to steam fish, and the above model comes with a rice steaming bowl to boot.

  6. Pyrex measuring jug

    Cheap pyrex jugs

    It's all very well knowing how much everything weighs when you're following instructions, but sadly the same rules don't apply to liquids.

    Using cups to guess quantities of liquids can be complicated territory, and it certainly isn't a fool proof method! Allow us to present to you the wonders of the Pyrex measuring jug (available in loads of different sizes at Wilko, and all reasonably priced).

    Unlike plastic jugs, you can shove a Pyrex in the microwave or oven to heat things up without it melting or the number markings fading away.

  7. Defrosting tray

    cheap defrost tray kitchen gadget

    You might be surprised to see a flat board in our list of kitchen gadgets, but this thing is made of some sort of magic material and is arguably the most mindbogglingly amazing step forward in kitchenware since... well, ever.

    We all know how annoying it is to come home to make dinner only to realise you forgot to defrost your chicken. Well waste cash on last minute takeaways no longer! Defrost trays will set you back less than £15 and will last a lifetime.

    Leave your meat to chill (or un-chill, rather) on this tray and it'll be defrosted in a matter of minutes. Thanks, science!

  8. Salad spinner

    cheap salad spinner

    Yeah, we know. This sounds like the most boring and ridiculous thing ever invented, but you've clearly not experienced the abomination that is soggy lettuce.

    Once you start using one of these babies and realise how fun it is to spin how nice it is to eat crisp, clean leaves, you'll never doubt us again.

    And you can snap one up for around £4 from IKEA! We love you, IKEA.

  9. Pizza scissors

    cheap pizza scissors gadget

    There's nothing more frustrating than cooking the perfect pizza, then having to maul it into submission with a blunt knife or novelty pizza slicer that's all style and no substance – especially if you've gone to the effort of making the pizza from scratch.

    The cheap and genius solution is to invest in some pizza scissors instead! These bad boys are angled to suit your pizza-cutting needs, and if you're feeling fancy, these ones from Amazon even have a pizza slice-disher included! That's totally useful... we guess?

  10. Five piece knife block

    cheap knife block

    If ever there's an invention just crying out to be made, it's a one-knife-for-every-task-in-the-kitchen knife.

    Sadly, the multi-purpose knife has yet to materialise (read: get on it and cash in) so it's up to us to tell you that you can't cut bread with a vegetable knife.

    No, really, you can't. The type of blade a knife has, serrated or smooth for example, makes a big difference when you're chopping up various food types.

    This five piece knife set can be bagged from Tesco for a shade over £15, and includes an additional pair of scissors. While this might sound like a lot, think of these knives as an investment! Grab yourself a knife sharpener for less than a tenner and they should last you years, too.

  11. Digital meat thermometer

    cheap meat thermometer

    Dry chicken and overcooked beef are both among the many serious atrocities in the world. But to be honest, if you're anything like us, overcooking meat is sometimes the only way to make sure you don't catch a nasty bout of food poisoning. Well not anymore!

    A digital meat thermometer from Ikea costs around £7.50 and will transform your cooking habits forever.

    If you don't know what the optimum temperature for whatever you're cooking is, a quick Google will help you out.

  12. Speciell soup ladle

    Speciell soup ladle cheap

    Soups, sauces and other liquidy type food can be very tricky to get from pan to bowl without some serious spillages.

    That's where this nifty Speciell soup ladle from IKEA (60p!) comes in, with a non-stick coating that means you won't end up destroying all your pans.

    So many great gadgets at such low prices. IKEA, you really are Speciell.

  13. An airfryer

    Cheap air fryer

    Everyone loves chips, right? There are, however, three problems:

    1. They're well overpriced at the chippy
    2. They're really hard to make at home
    3. They're pretty unhealthy.

    (By the way, please don't buy a standard deep fat fryer if you or your housemates happen to dislike kitchen fires)

    This airfryer from NETTA comes in at under £50 – well below the price point of some of the bigger name rivals, but with equally good (if not better!) reviews.

    It effortlessly produces incredible chips with a fraction of the fat and without oil. And trust us (since we have one), the chips taste just as good as better than the ones from the local kebab joint.

    To ease the pain of cutting up potatoes into chip shapes, we recommend getting picking up a potato chipper from Amazon for under £15. Finally, remember to add some seasoning (e.g. salt/pepper/paprika/chicken salt).

  14. Pyrex dish set

    cheap pyrex dishes

    So you've got the Pyrex jug, but why stop there? Keep making your life easier with these special dishes that can handle extreme heat. They're perfect for things like lasagnes, pasta dishes, casseroles and most importantly, reheating leftovers!

    We like this Pyrex 3 piece dish set (around £15 from Argos), which includes a range of sizes and lids (which also double as dishes for smaller culinary exploits!).

  15. A George Foreman compact grill

    cheap george foreman grill

    It may at first sound like a frivolous expense, but if you can spare about £15, you won't regret investing in this George Foreman compact grill.

    Aside from being an easy (and healthy) way to grill meat, a George Foreman can double up as a sandwich press too. This means you can spice up boring lunches with more adventurous combinations, such as paninis or ciabattas.

    Just remember that a grill/sandwich press isn't something that's worth scrimping on. Cheaper models carry a greater fire risk, and you'll have to deal with a faint plastic-y taste tainting everything you cook in it.

  16. Toastie bags

    toastie bags cheap
    ...or, if you don't have the cash to splash out on a full-blown grill, grab yourself a pack of these ingenious reusable toaster bags instead!

    These bags let you transform your sandwich into a toastie by just popping it in the bag, and the bag straight into your toaster.

    Once you give this a bash, you'll probably never eat a normal sandwich at home again, and that's ok cause these things are cheap as anything! You can grab a 4 pack of reusable bags for less than £4 on Amazon.

  17. A blender

    cheap food blender

    Feeling healthy? Feeling lazy? Either mood can be easily satisfied if you arm yourself with a blender. Whether you want to whip up some soup or a smoothie, all you need to do is chuck some ingredients in and press the 'on' button.

    Blenders also make an amazing addition to house parties, where you can magic up some truly show-stopping cocktails and firmly cement your position as party ruler supreme.

    Durable and easy to clean, we like this Tefal Uno Blender which you can pick up from Amazon for around £20. It also comes with a removable cap for adding things mid-way through that you totally forgot were supposed to go in. Handy!

  18. A slow cooker

    cheap slow cooker

    How many times have you got home from a long day – or a short one for that matter – and thought that you just couldn't be bothered to cook despite being hungry?

    Whilst, again, the option of grabbing a takeaway might seem like a tempting offer, with a slow cooker you can just throw raw ingredients in a pot in the morning, leave it for the day and enjoy a yummy, healthy and cheap meal on your return.

    Minimal effort guaranteed – particularly if you're willing to fork out an extra quid for some of these slow cooker liners that mean you have absolutely no washing up to do!

    We like this Andrew James Premium slow cooker as it comes in a range of sizes (with the smallest costing less than £20), has a glass lid that lets you check on the progress of your meal, and most importantly, is red.

    For lots of great slow cooker recipes, check out this cookbook which contains 200 for a penny (plus p&p).

  19. Non-stick frying pans

    cheap non stick frying pans

    If we're making a list of essentials to have in a student kitchen, which it appears we kind of are, it simply wouldn't be complete without a decent frying pan in the mix.

    Whether you're cooking a slap up meal, or just a hangover fry up, this twin set of Tefal non-stick frying pans are sure to do the trick at around £20.

    Once you experience the joy of frying something in a non-sticker (and how easy it is to clean afterwards), you'll never look back!

  20. Freezable containers

    cheap tupperware

    In the spirit of efficiency, saving money and being healthy, it's well worth picking up some of these reusable food containers which you can pick up from Wilko for a little over a quid!

    Double up on your portions to save some dollar and whack the rest in the fridge/freezer for a day when you just can't be bothered to cook anything. Easy peasy.

  21. Digital scales

    cheap kitchen scales

    We all like to think we can sail through our culinary lives without having to rely on kitchen scales, but that's a huge mistake to make. Luckily, this set of digital scales is less than a tenner on Amazon!

    No more wild guessing as to what 5 ounces of flour looks like! This bit of kit gives you a much better chance of producing something magical... or even just edible?

    The cherry on top? Unlike other scales, this set is just a flat slab, making it a million times easier to store.

  22. Double-handed oven gloves

    cheap oven gloves

    And last but not least, we present you with an absolute staple of any good kitchen: double-handed oven gloves.

    Everything, and we mean everything, in the kitchen is out to get you at some point or another, so make sure to take precautions and cover up your mitts.

    You can stop using tea towels to remove things from the oven now.

There are literally hundreds of awesome items that could have made this list, but we chose our top picks based on previous experience in terms of what most student kitchens are missing, great value and general usefulness in making life easier. But please do share with us any of your own suggestions in the comments below!

You'll probably get a microwave (the greatest kitchen gadget of all) provided when you rent a property, so check out this list of surprising foods you can cook in the microwave.