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People across the nation have been turning to cooking and baking as ways to pass the time while they’re quarantined. Some are learning these skills for the first time, some find themselves having a house full of people they need to feed multiple times a day, and some are baking everything under the sun because now they simply have the time.
Whatever your situation may be, there are products that can make cooking and baking so much easier. Not to mention, they’ll make your food taste restaurant-quality. Here are 21 products that will transform your meals:
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1. An air fryer to make healthier crispy food
If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon of air frying, you’re seriously missing out. These bad boys can fry up mouth-watering chicken wings or the crispiest french fries you’ve ever tasted. And even better, it cooks without oil so you can indulge guilt-free. After testing, our favorite air fryer was the Philips Airfryer XXL, but if you’re not looking to break the bank, the Cuisinart AFR-25 is pretty great too, and much more affordable.
2. A pressure cooker to cut down on cook time
Everyone talks about pressure cookers because they are arguably the most convenient appliance in the kitchen. They cook food in a fraction of the time, they’re easy to clean, and you can cook large meals in a single pot. The iconic Instant Pot Ultra is the best pressure cooker we've tested, but you can’t go wrong with the Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker if you’re balling on a budget.
3. A slow cooker to set and forget
There’s nothing better than throwing everything into a pot and just leaving it to cook in its own juices. That’s the beauty of a slow cooker. Set it and forget it. We love the Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker because it's easy to use and easy to clean—and since it’s technically a multi-cooker, you can use it to sauté and steam foods. For something more basic and affordable, we prefer the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610.
4. A cast iron skillet to deepen the flavor
The beauty of cast iron skillets is that they get better over time. With each use, the layer of seasoning gets stronger and stronger, bringing more flavor to your food. Not to mention, they’re super affordable. We put some of the best skillets to the test and found the Lodge 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet to be our favorite.
5. Meal prep containers to keep your food fresh
There’s a shortage of certain food supplies nowadays, so getting your hands on the food that you actually want is a big deal. But if you buy the wrong storage containers, you may have trouble keeping your precious food fresh. The Pyrex Ultimate 10-piece set is the best set of storage containers we've tested. For a cheaper option, we prefer the Glad Food Storage Containers Variety Pack.
6. A nonstick cookware set for easy cleaning
Nonstick cookware sets are great for two things: using less oil in your meals and spending less time cleaning. When we tested various sets, we found the T-fal C561SC Titanium Advanced Nonstick 12-Piece Cookware Set to work the best, but it's on the pricier side. For a set that’s half the cost, try the T-fal C530SC Signature Nonstick Dishwasher Safe Cookware Set—though we haven’t tested it, this particular set is highly rated by reviewers.
7. The famous egg cooker
The world can’t seem to say enough positive things about the famous Dash egg cooker. It can handle 6 to 12 eggs at once, depending on the model—scrambling, poaching, or even making an omelette. We tried it ourselves and it definitely lives up to the hype.
8. An onion chopper to minimize the tears
If you’re like me and need to leave the room if someone is chopping onions because the tears are blinding, you need the Vidalia Chop Wizard. It’s inexpensive, easy to clean, and cuts chopping time down significantly. Plus, it can be used for more than just onions, too. I have this bad boy myself and it is a true game-changer.
9. An efficient coffee maker for a strong brew
You’re spending a lot of time at home and your favorite cup o’ joe is unavailable. Let’s face it, you need to get a great coffee maker to brew your own cup. Out of all of the coffee makers that we tested, we ultimately fell in love with the Technivorm Moccamaster KB after doing a taste test. It brews a smooth pot and does it fast. The downside is that it’s expensive. For a budget coffee maker, we prefer the Black & Decker CM1100B.
10. A Dutch oven that can do just about anything
The Staub Round Cocette, our favorite Dutch oven is not cheap, but it is worth it—it even beat out the beloved Le Creuset. For a more affordable option, try the Lodge 4.6-Quart Round Dutch Oven.
11. A quality blender to upgrade your drinks
Whether you’re making morning smoothies or you’re looking to step up your cocktail game while you’re stuck at home, you need a good blender. When we tested the best blenders on the market, the Breville Super Q Blender became our favorite because it blends with ease, and it does so quietly. Another excellent blender that we tested, with a lower price tag, is the KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender.
12. A popcorn maker to make you feel like you’re at the movies
There’s something about freshly popped popcorn that is so much better when it doesn’t come out of a bag. To get that theater-quality popcorn, you need the Cuisinart Pop and Serve. It pops the best popcorn in the least amount of time. Plus, it’s collapsible for easy storage, dishwasher-safe, and it works as the serving bowl, too.
13. A waffle maker to enjoy brunch at home
You might not be able to go out for brunch these days, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make gourmet waffles from the comfort of your own home. For the best fluffy waffle, we prefer the Breville BWM520XL No-Mess Waffle Maker. It’s pricey, but the results are unmatched. A great inexpensive waffle maker is the Cuisinart WMR-CA Round Classic Waffle Maker.
14. An avocado slicer for the passionate avo-toast eater
The OXO 3-in-1 Avocado Slicer is an absolute game-changer for avocado lovers. People love this tool because it halves, pits, and slices ripe avocados without bruising. Plus, it’s dishwasher- safe.
15. An electric griddle to cook for the whole family
With everyone quarantined at home, chances are that your family is eating breakfast together every single day. To cook for the whole crew with ease, you should get an electric griddle. Our favorite is the Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill and Griddle. It’s easy to use, heats consistently, and its removable nonstick plates can go in the dishwasher.
16. A cookie sheet to fill your home with treats
Many people are turning to baking in their free time. If you’re in the market for some warm, gooey treats, you should use the Nordic Ware Baker’s Half Sheet. In our tests, it stood up to high temperatures and distributed heat evenly. It’s big enough to handle a large batch, but still lightweight enough to handle easily.
17. A clip-on strainer to cook all of your pasta
You’ve stocked up on pasta, and now you need to cook it all. It’s never been easier with this clip-on strainer. Say goodbye to standard strainers that you need to put in the sink, this clips onto whatever pot you’re already using. Plus, its small size makes it easy to store.
18. A stand mixer to make baking a breeze
The iconic KitchenAid stand mixer has been a staple in homes across the country for over 100 years. We understand why—the Artisan came out on top when we tested it against other top-rated stand mixers. But if you’re looking for a less expensive option, we like the Kenmore Elite 5-Quart.
19. Measuring cups to perfect your baking
Some recipes you can certainly eye-ball, but others require precise ingredient measurements. When we tested measuring cups, we found the Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Glass Measuring Cup is the best for liquids, and the Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Set is tops for dry ingredients. Both are accurate, durable, and easy to read.
20. A double mezzaluna to make it easier to eat your greens
If you’re missing your favorite takeout lunchtime salad, try making it at home using this highly rated double mezzaluna, which makes it easy to chop greens, vegetables, nuts, herbs—even garlic and onion for a DIY dressing.
21. A loaf pan for all that banana bread you’re baking
Everyone seems to be baking bread during this quarantine. If you’re looking to hop on the bandwagon, you need this top-rated loaf pan. We tested several loaf pans and the Rachael Ray Yum-o! Oven Lovin' Loaf Pan turned out to be our favorite because of its high heat tolerance, effective nonstick coating, and the silicone inserts that make it easier to hold.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed.com: Kitchen tools that make cooking easier while quarantined during the coronavirus pandemic