Cooking, just like skiing or conflict resolution, is a skill. It’s something you learn, and if you’ve found yourself behind in this department, there’s no shame in that. Depending on your level of expertise, however, you might want to take certain precautions. Have a fire extinguisher on hand, for example, or pick up a stab-proof pair of gloves. You’ll find both of those things on this guide, in addition to a bunch of other tools — from silicone splash guards to the world’s most user-friendly air fryer — that any well-known klutz or kitchen newcomer should find indispensable.
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A Non-Slip Mat
When chopping, slicing, or mincing, you would think a sharp knife would be your only safety concern. Unfortunately, the world is more devious than that — and you should know that most cutting boards (aside from super heavy ones) are prone to slippage. In restaurants, cooks will often place a wet towel under their boards to solve this problem, but if you want an even easier solution, grab this non-slip mat. It slides right under your cutting surface, and holds it firmly in place.
An Assistant For Your Eggs
For something that feels like a pre-packed meal compliments of nature, an egg can be surprisingly hard to cook. Poaching is often a hassle, and even scrambling can go wrong if you lack the proper equipment and/or willpower. So when you get tired of burnt, undercooked, or malformed eggs, try this rapid cooker. It’s a cheat code, but it isn’t cheating.
The Most Comprehensive Oven Mitts
Oven mitts are great. But they’re also essentially oversized mittens, and this doesn’t give you a lot of dexterity when handling hot objects. For full use of your fingers, go the Ove Glove route. Are these nerdy? Yes. And do they take a fraction of a minute longer to put on than regular oven mitts? Of course. But this isn’t the time to cut corners.
Your Boiling Companion
You know when you put some noodles on the stove then go sit on your couch just as your pot begins to boil over? Here’s a tool to prevent that. It’s a silicone lid from the people who make our favorite vegetable peeler, and it has a concave shape with a release in the center to trap any foam or water that would otherwise end up all over your counter.
The Easiest Strainer
Pouring noodles or veggies into a colander isn’t exactly a complicated act, but it does require some preparation and hand-eye coordination. If you’d rather take an easier route (and have no qualms about owning something from a brand called Kitchen Gizmo), grab this snap-on strainer.
Protect Yourself From Splatter
Continuing the trend of silicone devices designed for people who don’t know what they’re doing in the kitchen, we’d like to introduce you to the Frywall. (You might recognize it from Shark Tank.) When frying with copious amounts of oil, this dog cone-esque device will keep hot droplets away from your arms and shirt.
Some Slice-Resistant Gloves
Within the realm of cooking, there’s a sub-discipline known as knife skills. These skills are essential, but the path to acquiring them is treacherous and full of minor wounds. So to be extra safe, get some cut-proof gloves. They’re especially handy for any microplane or mandolin action (more on that below).
Get The Perfect Slices
This is a complicated one. A microplane can actually be one of the most dangerous tools for a kitchen klutz (due to the blade that wants nothing more than to take part of your finger). But — and this is an important but — if you have cut-proof gloves, you can safely get some quick, professional-looking results with this tool. It’ll give you ultra-thin slices of veggies, for example, and it can julienne as well.
An Everyday Essential
You’ve probably heard people sing the praises of stainless steel, cast-iron, and maybe even copper cookware. And, yes, those materials are nice. But non-stick is also a perfectly viable option, especially if you’re just starting out in the kitchen. This ceramic-coated pan from Caraway has served us well, and the ultra-nonstick surface is especially user-friendly. Just remember: don’t use non-stick pans over high heat. (It isn’t good for the coating.)
A Cheaper Alternative
If you want something a little less expensive but still useful for kitchen novices, here’s a well-reviewed non-stick from Tramontina. The coating isn’t ceramic, but that won’t make too big of difference in terms of cooking experience. (You don’t want to use this over high heat either.)
A Pot That Can Do It All
Instant Pots aren’t just for amateurs. Sure, inexperienced and lazy people (we’ve been both) will appreciate them, but so will anyone who doesn’t enjoy waiting several hours for a good braise. Grab this pot, and make some easy soups, stews, and slow-cooked meats in here. No stovetop required.
A Super Simple Fryer
Is an Instant Pot too advanced for you? That’s alright. This is a judgement-free zone. Try an air fryer. Just set the time and temperature, drop your food in the basket, then eat some crispy wings or potatoes.
For The Absolute Beginner
To be clear, this set is meant for kids. But maybe you want to feel like a kid, or maybe you’re teaching a young person how to chop an onion. If so, these safety-oriented tools are ideal. They’ll help you keep your fingers safe and learn proper technique while doing so.
The Last Resort
You know what this is for. Hopefully you won’t ever need it, but it’s something you should absolutely have near your kitchen (whether you’re a fledgling cook or not).
The Human Repair Kit
Finally: the ultimate contingency plan. Should your knife or peeler slip, this kit will get you all patched up. It comes with bandages, tape, butterfly strips, cleansing wipes, and more.