Best kitchen tools and gadgets for wanna-be chefs

Nov 6, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Lucky for you if you have a wanna-be chef or even a legit chef to shop for. There is no shortage of tools, gadgets and fun kitchen accessories that would make any chef smile. From practical to novelty items, we’ve rounded up the best cooking items to give to your food-loving friends.

Panini pan |

Panini pan

Even novice chefs can make gourmet sandwiches with a panini maker. The electric options are great but we have a feeling a true chef would appreciate this cast iron version. The cast iron pan comes complete with a press so your favorite chef can make all sorts of delicious paninis but they’ll also be able to use the pan without the press for other recipes or cooking needs. (Amazon, $90)

Mandolin |


This helpful tool opens up a world of possibilities for new dishes and better presentation. It grates, shreds, juliennes and thinly slices just about anything: Homemade potato chips, julienne veggies for salads or pasta dishes. The best part is, it’s easy to use and makes quick work out of otherwise time-consuming tasks making the chef more efficient in the kitchen. (Amazon, $20)

Immersion blender

Immersion blender

Every home chef should have an immersion blender. It comes in handy for soups, sauces and salsa. Just think, the chef will never have to pour hot soup contents into a blender again! This tool goes right in the pot which creates far less mess. Many immersion blenders also come in kits with other attachments such as a tool for chopping, making this tool even more practical. (Amazon, $60)

Food processor |

Food processor

Food processors are one of the most versatile kitchen tools allowing you to make everything from salsa to purees to sauces. They are handy for fresh pesto, for making flavored butters or even for making pie dough. Many come with different attachments so you can also shred or slice veggies, cheese or other food items too. (Amazon, $40)

Mortar and pestle |

Mortar and pestle

This simple tool may seem antiquated to some but true chefs know that nothing brings out the flavor of herbs and spices like a mortar and pestle. Crush herbs for sauces or muddle fruits and herbs to make cocktails; either way the intense flavor produced will make this gift the go-to item in the kitchen. (Amazon, $14)

Electric salt and pepper grinders |

Electric salt and pepper grinders

Most recipes call for salt and pepper and most chefs swear by using only freshly ground salt and pepper. However when you are in the midst of cooking and your hands are dirty, it can be a pain to grab the grinders and twist multiple times until you get as much as you need. These electronic grinders give you freshly ground salt and pepper at one touch and they will look sleek on the countertop too. (Amazon, $19)

Silicone cooking tools

Silicone is quickly making its way into kitchens as a must-have tool. From baking pans to utensils, silicone is perfect because it is heat-resistant and easy to clean. Metal utensils can scratch pans while plastic tools can often melt. This 5-piece set comes complete with a cute crock and the heads pop off their handles for easy washing. This is the gift that keeps on giving. (Williams-Sonoma, $80)

Silicone cooking tools |

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