my favorite tools

Here are twelve tools that I wouldn’t want to live without! They make cooking easier and the results better.

(My dishwasher is 20 years old; otherwise it would be number one on my list. I never want to live without that!)

Disclaimer: Most of the links on this page will take you to my Amazon shop, where I get a smidgen of the sales — without affecting your price! But I really do use and love all the tools mentioned here. (And I’m not afraid to call out things that don’t work. See the “Hall of Shame” at the bottom of the page.)

– js.

my kitchen must-haves

Meat Thermometer

This is no exaggeration: using a meat thermometer revolutionized my cooking skills! It is THE secret to making steak, chicken and pork that’s perfectly done.

For several years, we had a remote thermometer that worked like a charm. Then it went bad, and it’s been impossible since then to find a remote probe that doesn’t die in short order due to getting pinched in the grill lid or getting a bit of water in it during washing.

So I’ve been on the hunt for a new product to recommend. I’ve had these for several months, and I’m happy with both of them.

For cooking in an oven or grill under 360 F

polder-thermometerI’m actually just using the probe from this one with a base unit of another brand, but it’s the probe that’s the critical component. This one has a silicone cord and a silicone sleeve to protect the joint between the cord and the thermocouple, so I’m hopeful that this one will avoid the problems of pinching and water that killed our previous five probes.

Polder remote thermometer


For cooking at any temperature

cave-tools-thermometerI prefer a remote thermometer like the above, that you can set and walk away from, but I haven’t been able to find one with a pinch-proof cable that works at high temps. So the next-best thing is an instant-read thermometer.

I looked at numerous instant-read thermometers, and this one was the most highly-rated. So far, I’m extremely happy with it. The numbers are easy to read and it registers the correct temp in several seconds.

Cave Tools instant-read thermometer




USA Pans - best jelly roll pan!

USA Pans Jelly Roll Pan

LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS PAN!!! Bakes evenly, rinses off like brand-new teflon every time. Everyone else in my house has been threatened, lest they even think of co-opting this for some craft or house project!





Emeril non-stock frying pan

Emeril Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan

This could be the best $20 you ever spend in your kitchen! We have two three of these in the 8″ size, and they get used every. single. day. We’ve had them for several years, put them in the dishwasher daily, and the non-stick isn’t flaking at all. Love ’em!



handy gadget: spiral slicerMicroplane Spiral Slicer

Love this! I use it to add zucchini noodles to soup or marinara all the time. Easy to use; easy to wash up. Just rinse it with hot water right after you use it, then leave it to air out. During soup weather, this is in constant use!




Cusinart mini blender

Cuisinart Compact Blending/Chopping System

Makes awesome smoothies! Also good for salad dressings, grinding nuts, and lots more. This little thing takes up much less space than a traditional blender, and is easier to clean up. Plus, you can make a smoothie and take it on-the-go in the same cup!




Zojirushi bread machine

Zojirushi 2-Pound-Loaf Breadmaker

If you eat bread and want the healthiest you can get, this makes it easy! Put the ingredients in according to directions, push a couple buttons, and in a few hours, you’ll have hot, fresh, heavenly-smelling bread! Make it as healthy as you want, and be assured there’s no high-fructose corn syrup or trans fats in your bread.

Oh, and it also makes jam, but I haven’t tried that.



Cuisinart SmartStick immersion blender

Cuisinart Stick Blender With Attachments

It gets used all the time in our kitchen! Essential for making homemade mayo and the addictive stuff known as “Dump Ranch.”

It’s also great for a quick batch of whipped cream or salad dressing.






digital kitchen scale

Escali Digital Scale

A kitchen scale comes in so handy! My hubs uses it to weigh spices for dry rub; I use it to figure out how much meat I have left after trimming the fat and/or bone. It’s also handy when measuring honey — put your mixing bowl on the scale and pour the honey straight into the mixing bowl, without getting a measuring cup sticky!

Because this model is well-priced and made of plastic, I was a little worried about the quality, but it’s consistently well reviewed, and has worked great for us! We’ve had the same one for several years.




the perfect measuring spoons!
Stainless Steel Measuring Spoon Set

LOVE these! They fit in most spice bottles, and it’s easy to eyeball a half. We have two sets, so there’s always a clean one available in each size.




Microplane zester

Microplane Gourmet Series Hand Graters

Great (ha!) for zesting lemons and limes, as well as creating very finely shredded Parmesan.




Eggsact Egg timer

Eggsact Egg Timer

No more guessing on whether your eggs are hard boiled; no more squidgy centers or green rings. This little gadget tells you exactly when it’s the right time to pull the eggs out. Love it!

Great for deviled eggs or Cobb salad.



my kitchen must-haves


 The kitchen gadget “Hall of Shame”


useless kitchen gadgetMix N Chop

I hate to even admit I bought this thing. It’s supposed to “efficiently chop and crumble foods for even cooking and seasoning.” I thought it might work great on ground pork and sausage.

More blades than a spatula, more power, right?

Wrong! (As any physics teacher could have predicted.) You have the same amount of downward energy, but spread out across more surface area, so each blade actually has less power, and you have to work harder to chop the meat.

Save your money!