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22 kitchen gadgets that will transform how you cook

Fancy yourself the next Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood, or just on the hunt for tools to minimise effort and potential disaster when you're in the kitchen?
mary berryEvery cook – good and 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.

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 guide plus tips on how to save more cash.

22 kitchen gadgets

  1. Spiralizer

    spiralizerCourgetti 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 no one can deny how much fun they are to use, right?

    Generally, you can expect to pay around £15 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 about £8, and for the super lazy/ flush with cash amongst you, an electric spiralizer will set you back £25.

  2. Silicone tongs

    Silicone TongsIt'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 avenue to Burn Central (too much?).

    Fiddling about with standard cutlery is likely to end the same way, with the added bonus 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 (£3.00 from Wilko).

    They're the best value we can find!

  3. Food processor

    foodprocessorWe'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 £24.50, this Kenwood compact food processor from Tesco is a real steal. Just think – you can bake an entire cake thats GBBO-worthy just by chucking in the ingredients and letting the machine do the hard work.

    Oh, and now you can actually complete one of Jamie's 30 minute meals in under an hour…

  4. Aeropress coffee maker

    Aeropress Coffee MakerIf you like and value your morning coffee, it's time to stop drinking that instant stuff.

    At under £25, the Aeropress coffee maker is a bit of an investment, but one that every coffee lover should consider as the coffee this nifty little gadget churns out is the BEST.

    It's easy to use, easy 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. 3-tier steamer

    3-tier steamerIf you're keen to at least try to stay on a healthy tip at uni, we'd seriously recommend grabbing yourself one of these 3-tier steamers from Tesco.

    Not only are they a total steal at just £15, but you can basically cook an entire meal in a oner 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 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

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

    Guessing liquids for recipes using cups can be complicated territory, and certainly isn't a fool proof method! Allow us to present to you the wonders of the Pyrex 0.5 litre measuring jug (just £3.30 from Tesco).

    Made from heat-resistant glass, you can shove this jug in the microwave or oven to heat things up without it melting or the number markings fading away (as tends to happen with plastic jugs).

  7. Defrosting tray

    defrost trayIt's hard to find a flat board that could pass as a kitchen gadget, but this thing is made of some sort of magic material that it would be rude not to recognise its gadgety status.

    We all know how annoying it is to come home to make dinner only to realise you forgot to defrost your chicken. Waste cash on last minute takeaways no longer! This baby by VonChef will set you back around £8 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

    spinnerYeah, 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… sorry, how nice it is to eat crisp, clean leaves, you'll never doubt us again.

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

  9. Pizza scissors

    pizza scissorsThere'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 – specially 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! Splash out a couple of quid on some super simple scissors, making sure you label them as pizza scissors so everyone knows their one and only purpose.

    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

    knivesIf 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 around £25. While this might sound like a lot, think of these knives as an investment! Grab yourself a cheap as chips knife sharpener and they should last you years, too.

  11. Digital meat thermometer

    Meat ThermometerDry chicken and overcooked beef are both up there with 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.

    Not anymore!

    A digital meat thermometer from Amazon costs around £3.50 and will transform your cooking habits forever.

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

  12. Speciell soup ladle

    ladleSoups, 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 (50p!) comes in, with a non-stick coating that means you won't end up destroying all your pans.

    It's also bright green, which feels extra special (Speciell).

  13. Philips Airfryer

    Philips Airfryer

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

    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 don't like kitchen fires.)

    This Airfryer from Philips (£69) effortlessly produces incredible chips with 80% less 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, we recommend getting this stainless steel potato chipper (£15) too. Finally, remember to add some seasoning (eg. salt/pepper/paprika/chicken salt).

  14. Pyrex dish set

    pyrexSo 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. Breville sandwich toaster

    It may at first sound like a frivolous expense, but if you can spare £22 we know you definitely will not regret investing in this Breville sandwich toaster. It looks like it's walked straight out of a fancy café, and the toasties it'll be producing will be just as fancy.

    Spice up boring lunches with more adventurous combinations such as paninis or ciabattas. And thanks to its flat surface, this toaster doubles as an extra place to fry stuff!

    A lot better than the plastic fire hazzard-y ones that everyone brings to uni halls when they first arrive anyway…

  16. Toastie bags

    toastie bags
    …or, if you don't have the cash to splash out on the above, 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 for less than £2 on Amazon.

  17. Tefal Uno blender

    liquidFeeling healthy? Feeling lazy? Either mood can be easily satisfied if you arm yourself with a liquidiser. 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 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. Slow cooker

    crock-pot 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 a thing 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 meaning you have absolutely no washing up to do!!

    We like this Crock-pot 2 person slow cooker (for less than £20 at John Lewis), as it has loads of different settings so you can cook whatever you fancy and the glass lid lets you check for any mishaps!

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

  19. Non-stick frying pan

    non-stick frying pan
    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 less than £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

    foodfreezeIn 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 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. Weighing scales

    scalesWe all like to think we can sail through our culinary lives without having to rely on kitchen scales, but we would be wrong there. Luckily, these nifty lil Red Salter Orb Scales cost as little as £8.99 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?

  22. Double-handed oven gloves

    ovengloveWith burn avoidance in mind, we present you with this delightful double oven glove from John Lewis (£5).

    Everything, and we mean everything, in the kitchen is out to get you at various times, 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!

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