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Best gifts, gizmos, and tech tools for kitchen nerds

The kitchen can be an intimidating place, especially at this time of year. Whether you’re an old hand or you’re cooking your first Thanksgiving dinner, there’s a lot to do and a lot to keep track of. The good news is that there are a lot of gadgets and gizmos out there that can streamline the cooking process and help you make delicious meals with a minimal amount of experience.

Most importantly, though, these gadgets make cooking much more convenient. One of the most difficult parts of putting a meal together is the prep work. Some ingredients need more preparation than others; in fact, some — like beans — may need to soak for six to eight hours before they’re ready to cook. Pressure cookers, air fryers, and other devices can save the day when you forget to do this work ahead of time.

Whether you’re looking for a way to speed up your prep time this holiday season or you need a gift for someone trying to navigate the murky waters of risotto for the first time, these are some of the best gadgets on the market today.

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Meater Plus WiFi Meat Thermometer

Meater+ smart thermometer used for cooking.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

New cooks always worry their meat isn’t heated all the way through. After all, not cooking meat the right way can be dangerous and spread a whole lot of different kinds of disease.

The Meater Plus WiFi Meat Thermometer is a smart thermometer that lets you keep an eye on the internal temperature of whatever you’re cooking without the need for wires. Just insert it into your turkey breast or pork roast and monitor the heat from your phone. This means no need to open the oven (something which increases cook time and reduces food quality) and lets you focus on your other dishes.

Smart thermometers can even notify you when your meat has reached the proper temperature so you know to take it out of the oven. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of cooking and ensures you will never again overcook your chicken.

Instant Pot

Someone removing pot from Instant Pot cooker.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Instant Pot is sort of like Kleenex; it’s both a brand and a type of product. Typically, it refers to a pressure cooker that is able to reduce the cooking time of certain foods by a dramatic amount. Take beans, for instance. Many varieties of beans need to cook for an hour or more on a traditional stove but can be ready in 20 to 30 minutes in an Instant Pot.

Instant Pots do more than just speed up cook times, though. They also take the place of other home appliances and can help reduce the clutter in your kitchen. Many Instant Pots work as a slow cooker, a rice cooker, and a pressure cooker in one. You can use them to do everything from steaming vegetables to making perfect sushi rice.

Since the machines are so hands-off, they’re perfect for someone that’s busy most of the time and can’t always set aside time to cook. Just throw the ingredients into the Instant Pot and come back in an hour (but probably less) to find a perfectly-cooked meal. There are numerous models of Instant Pots on the market, so take the time to figure out which size is best for you.

Home cocktail maker

Bartesian Home Bar at a party.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When you’re running around the kitchen trying to prepare Thanksgiving dinner, you don’t have time to tend bar, but you might have family members that need a drink or two just to be in the same room with each other. If this is the case, let a home cocktail maker do the work for you.

An appliance like the Bartesian Home Bar or the Keuring Drinkworks takes the work out of crafting a mojito for demanding family members. These appliances use pods to make cocktails. Just insert the correct pod, choose the drink from the menu, and you’ll have your favorite cocktail with the press of a button.

Just imagine: No more muddling and straining mint leaves to make mojitos. No more slicing orange zest for an Old Fashioned. A smart home bar is a do-it-yourself bartender, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave a tip jar out to compensate for the cost of the pods.

Ninja Foodi Air Fryer

Removing pizza from Ninja Foodie Air Fryer oven.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Let’s face it: We all eat a bit more fat than we should, typically in the form of fried foods. Your french fries might be the best, but how much oil do you have to fry them in? Air fryers can deliver that same delicious flavor without all that oil, resulting in a healthier — but still tasty — meal.

The Ninja Foodie Air Fryer is one of the best on the market. This appliance can be used to cook up everything from frozen vegetables to an entire chicken. Because it uses so little oil, you don’t have to worry about the consuming a full days’ worth of calories in one meal.

If you like to fry or roast a lot of foods, the Ninja Foodi Air Fryer is an excellent addition to your home kitchen.

Amazon Echo Show

Echo Show 15 mounted on wall.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Amazon Echo Show is one of the most effective all-around kitchen devices. While not strictly for use in the kitchen, the ability to set and name multiple timers, browse recipes, and even take video calls through the device make it a great addition.

When you’re cooking, the last thing you want to do is touch a kitchen timer when your hands are dirty. Just ask Alexa to set a timer and name it for a specific dish. You can also look for recipes and navigate through each step of it with your voice. If you find you’re missing an ingredient, just ask Alexa to add it to your shopping list.

A smart assistant gives you a hands-free way to control many aspects of your home. The Echo Show takes that a step farther and allows you to manage your home, your timers, and even your cooking soundtrack with nothing but your voice.

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Patrick Hearn
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Patrick Hearn writes about smart home technology like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, smart light bulbs, and more. If it's a…
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