The Best Gear from Our Equipment Reviews, According to Serious Eats Staffers

A Thermapen one taking the temperature of a sous vide water bath set to 134 degrees
Serious Eats / Irvin Lin

Product reviews are incredible for detailed insights, but there’s just something about a good personal recommendation. This list is the best of both worlds, rounding up our staff’s favorite gear from our equipment reviews.

If you have any questions about a featured item, we’ve also included links to the full reviews. There, you can read about how we tested and why we selected our winners over the competition.

I was lucky to get my hands on a Thermapen ONE in 2021 when it was first released (and subsequently replaced the Mk4). I have used it very frequently ever since and felt validated when it won our instant-read thermometer review. It’s lightning fast and pretty close to its stated ONE second (get it?) response time. It also has an auto-rotating screen and auto-backlight and can be recalibrated (not as common for thermometers as you might think). If you’re still unconvinced why you need an instant-read thermometer, this might help. — Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm, senior commerce editor

I got my hands on this pan pretty quickly after Daniel recommended it, and it’s probably one of my favorite pieces of gear in my kitchen. Despite its low price tag, it feels quite expensive, and excels at the task Daniel recommends it for: finishing pasta. It has a width and depth that make it perfect for holding your pasta, your sauce, and some starchy pasta water when tossing and stirring to finish. Thanks to the aluminum, the pan is also an excellent conductor of heat, making it great for stir-frying (which is what it was technically designed for) as well. — Yasmine Maggio, associate editor

Tomato sauce simmering in the Winco stir-fry pan
Serious Eats / Daniel Gritzer

As a petite-framed person with near child-sized hands, sometimes an 8-inch chef’s knife just feels too big. Which is why I love (and pretty much solely use) this petite petty knife from Tojiro for slicing and dicing. It’s not only the perfect size for my tiny hands, but it’s also incredibly sharp and nimble, making it adept at boning tricky cuts like chicken thighs as well as coring peppers. And it’s still worth buying even if you don’t have small digits, since it’s so dang sharp. — Grace Kelly, associate commerce editor

There’s something truly magical about countertop-sized outdoor pizza ovens and, based on how often my friends ask me to make pizza for them, I’m not the only one who feels this way. The pizzas I’ve made in my Karu 16 have been truly fantastic, and because of the oven’s ability to reach incredibly high temps, I’m able to crank out beautiful pies in mere minutes. The Karu 16 is also one of Ooni’s more feature-laden models and lets you cook using either gas, wood, or charcoal, has a built-in thermometer that measures air temperature, and comes with a glass door and a chimney to help you control temperature and airflow. — Jacob Dean, updates editor

A closeup look at a pizza cooking in the Ooni Koda 16
Serious Eats / Stacy K. Allen

The Baratza Virtuoso+ has been our top recommended grinder for a long time, but also, I’ve personally used the Virutoso+ (and its predecessor, the Virtuoso) as my daily home grinder for more than 13 years. Baratza revolutionized home grinding by prioritizing grinding burr design, ensuring that home coffee fanatics could get precision grind consistency at home that matched expensive commercial grinders. Not only that, but every Baratza grinder is designed to be repairable. I’ve personally rescued over six Virtuosos from near death with a handful of $10 parts you can order on their website. It’s one of the best investments out of any gear we’ve ever tested, and your tastebuds will thank you for the upgrade as well. — Jesse Raub, commerce writer

When I reviewed air fryers, I became rather enamored with our winner from Instant Pot. Many months later, that love is still going strong. It crisps food exceptionally well and quicker than any other air fryer I tried and has loads of helpful usability features, like a touchscreen and dial for easily toggling the time and temperature. I use mine all the time: for air-frying tofu, Brussels sprouts, frozen foods, fries, and more. It’s easy to clean, too (with a dishwasher-safe basket). — Riddley

cooked fries in an air fryer basket with a hand pulling the basket out midway
Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperelin-Schirm

I’ve reviewed a lot of gear over the years, so picking a favorite is difficult. But the Tojiro serrated bread knife stands out in my mind, offering the rare combination of absolutely exceptional performance at a totally reasonable price. I remember the Tojiro beating the pants off knives several times more expensive, and I can say that my own continues to perform well even after many years of use. It’s not a hefty knife, yet it manages to be just as good at delicate work like slicing a tomato paper thin and trimming tender cake layers as it is whizzing through a thick and crusty loaf of sourdough. As far as I’m concerned, it is the only serrated knife I’ll ever need. — Daniel Gritzer, senior culinary director

If you don’t have a good kitchen scale, you’re missing out: on accurately weighing ingredients and avoiding any baking mishaps, on perfectly portioned meatballs, on actually getting the correct ratio of coffee to water for your auto-drip machine, and on so much more. And the best kitchen scale is our favorite from OXO. It’s incredibly accurate, features a pull-out display (helpful for reading when a large mixing bowl’s atop it), and easily switches between ounces, pounds, grams, and kilograms. — Riddley

This Vitamix blender has been a longtime Serious Eats recommendation for good reason: it works incredibly well and couldn’t be easier to use. I love its tapered blending jar (most blenders have wide jars), which effectively pulls ingredients down and creates a vortex. It blends! It purees! It pulverizes! It does it all perfectly! Plus, it just has a speed dial and a couple of switches. It’s no frills, all power. — Riddley

a smoothie being blended in the Vitamix 5200 blender
Serious Eats / Tamara Staples

Swedish dishcloths are a bit of a sleeper hit. While they’re often emblazoned with cute designs, (and aren’t very expensive) if you’ve never used one before it’s easy to pass them over. But take one home and get it wet and (much like with a Mogwai) you’re in for a huge surprise. The thin, odd, almost cardboard-y sheets of fabric transform into durable, washable, ecologically-responsible replacements for paper towels that are perfect for a great many cleaning tasks all across your home. I’ve loved them since the first time I saw them while traveling for work in Sweden, and I think you will too. — Jacob

We’re big fans of a variety of cast iron bread pans, but the Challenger Bread Pan is truly the best-designed and easiest to use. It features thick cast iron walls that retain heat well and a tight-sealing lid that traps steam, allowing your sourdough to perfectly rise. The offset handles on the top of the lid make it easy to remove for the second half of your bake, and the overall shape is perfect for accommodating small boules, batards, and even two demi-baguettes side-by-side. I personally own an array of these bread pans that I’ve collected over the years, and the Challenger Bread Pan takes the cake. If the price point is a little steep and you’re just starting out in sourdough, the Lodge Double Dutch is also a great, more affordable option. — Jesse

A loaf of bread in the Challenger bread oven
Serious Eats / Andrew Janjigian

A really good bench scraper is one of those things you’ll use all of the time: for cleaning off your cutting board, transferring prepped ingredients, portioning gnocchi, cutting biscuits, etc, etc, etc. And the OXO Bench Scraper is just really perfect: it has a grippy, silicone handle, a large blade, and plentiful measurements near the bottom edge. Plus, it’s just $12. — Riddley

Vegetable peelers are nearly impossible to sharpen, so I’m extremely grateful that we finally ditched our dull old standby for two new Kuhn Rikon peelers. They’re sharp as all get out, have a really comfortable handle, and, best of all, they’re cheap! I love using them for cocktail garnishes and prepping sweet potatoes, and their smaller size makes them great for peeling ginger, too—something our old peeler couldn’t manage. — Jesse

A y-peeler peeling an apple
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik

Okay—at nine inches, this whisk isn’t technically “mini,” even though it was included in our mini whisk round-up. At the same time, I can palm a basketball, and truly tiny whisks were hard for me to handle. With its narrow French whisk loops, this whisk works great for precision whipping but is long enough to handle most medium-sized jobs as well. I’ve owned one for over ten years (now I have two of them), and really love how it’s the only sized whisk I need. However, if you’re looking for something truly mini, the Tovolo mini whisk has wide loops that make it great for beating just one egg or two. — Jesse

My husband bought me a WokMon for my birthday last year and, no kidding, it’s changed my life. This little gadget redirects the flow of gas and creates a powerful flame that evenly heats up your wok, making it possible to achieve wok hei at home. — Genevieve Yam, culinary editor

A Dutch oven is an essential piece of cookware that you’ll have pretty much forever (at least by cookware standards). It’s an incredibly versatile pot: capable of boiling, braising, searing, simmering, deep-frying, and baking. And this Dutch oven from Le Creuset is one of our top recommendations (we tested 20 of ’em). I love its wide, looped handles and light interior that allows me to easily monitor fond development. I have 5 1/2-quart and 7 1/4-quart pots and use them both, but recommend the former for most home cooks. — Riddley

The one piece of equipment I’ll always keep on my counter is a Breville Smart Oven (our recommended toaster oven). I’ve had one in near-daily use since 2009, and use it for everything: reheating pizza, roasting potatoes, making croutons, baking cookies, frozen pizzas, toasting bread—you name it. It’s quick to heat up, more accurate than my large gas oven, and the convection fan makes it a decent stand-in for an air fryer (though we still think air fryers do a better job at those tasks). When it gets hot in the summer, its heat output is minimal and we switch to the Breville Smart Oven full time to avoid turning our kitchen into a sweatbox. If you want to splurge a bit, there are also newer models with more features. — Jesse

taking toast out of the breville smart oven
Serious Eats / Will Dickey


What should I look for when buying kitchen equipment?

If you’re looking to stock up your kitchen gear, the important things to look for are performance, usability, and how easy each item is to clean. And while it’s easy to recommend looking out for trusted brands, it’s better to find thoroughly tested reviews for each individual product, like in our equipment section. We test all of our recommended products to make sure they truly deliver, and detail our findings so you can see exactly why we chose our top picks.

What is the most useful kitchen equipment? 

The most useful kitchen equipment does its intended job well, whether it’s cookware, knives, or electric appliances. We thoroughly test every product we review, so we can make sure no matter what you’re looking for, we have a solid recommendation.