11 One-Task Kitchen Tools Home Cooks Say Are Totally Worth the Extra Space

updated Mar 16, 2021
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Single-task kitchen tools can take up a lot of precious drawer, cupboard, and counter space very quickly, but there’s a reason they exist: they fulfill a very specific purpose. While some may seem gimmicky at first glance, there are others that have stood the test of time and developed a cult following due to how easy they make kitchen life, from prep work to cooking to pouring a cup of cold brew coffee. There are even tools to help you make toast without burning your fingers — and almost every one-task tool is bound to make life that much easier for someone in the world, and shouldn’t that be reason enough for them to exist?

We asked real life cooking enthusiasts to share which single-use tools they can’t live without, and it turns out that if you have any special kitchen-related need, from prepping tofu like a champ to slicing grapes for your little ones, there’s a tool for that.

A Garlic Press

The garlic press is an excellent choice for a number of reasons, whether you want to avoid potentially cutting yourself with a too-sharp knife or want to cut down on prep time. Rebecca Atwood of Providence, Rhode Island, is now a convert. “After years of snobbish resistance, my garlic press is MVP of the pandemic. It shaves off a neat five minutes of annoying prep time and keeps my hands from smelling like garlic. I was a fool to resist,” she says.

An Egg Cooker

If you eat a lot of eggs for breakfast or in salads, you know how much of a pain boiling them can be. Is the water too hot? Have they sat long enough? How long do they really need to boil? An egg cooker takes the guesswork away. “My egg cooker makes perfect soft- to hard-boiled eggs every time without fail,” shares Whitney Valentine-Wafer of Alameda, California, who counts it as her favorite tool.

A Cheese Knife

A good cheese knife is worth its weight in gold… or shall we say Gruyere? “It’s the best product I’ve found for neatly slicing cheese! The ridges make it so the slices don’t stick to the knife, and it’s plastic so it doesn’t damage my wood serving trays,” says cheeseboard enthusiast Stef Hornung of Seattle, Washington. “Pre-pandemic, when I would bring a cheese board to parties, I could just throw it in my cooler and didn’t have to worry about it since it’s not sharp. It feels flimsy at first glance but it’s really held up!”

A Rice Cooker

“I am a fairly accomplished home cook, but I have never once cooked rice on the stove. I have no intent to because my rice cooker is never leaving my side,” says reader Catherine McElroy. “My trick is to only use 1.25 cups water for every one cup of rice and let it sit for five minutes after the button pops before fluffing. When I lived in an apartment with only one burner, I used my rice cooker to make tomato sauces and beans.”

A Microplane Zester

Microplanes aren’t just useful for adding a vibrant burst of lemon to your dish; they can be used for any grating and shredding your meal may require. “My microplane is my answer to every tool I wanted for super annoying tasks and I find myself using it every day,” says Erin Harper of Seattle. She uses hers most frequently for zesting citrus and ginger and shredding Parmesan and garlic.

A Measuring Shot Glass

Yes, you can make the perfect margarita or Cosmopolitan with the help of a measuring shot glass, but Folu Akinkuoto of Boston, Massachusetts, also reaches for it in the kitchen. “It is often the easiest way to measure liquids, not just for mixing drinks but for cooking and baking,” she says.

A Grape Slicer

Meghan Conbeer Dean of Michigan’s tool of choice is perfect for parents of small children. “This is VERY specific to the needs of parents of toddlers, but OXO makes a grape [slicer.] It is truly antithetical to my philosophy to have a single-use tool, but this thing is SO damn useful when you have kids who love fruit but could also choke” on bigger pieces.

A Tofu Press

“My tofu press is my world,” shares reader Mackenzie Cole. “If you are a frequent tofu maker, it is a game-changer. It presses extra liquid out so quickly, and then you can use the container and pop on the lid to use for marinating after pressing. It takes the place of multiple dishes!”

Toast Tongs

Karuna Tirumala of New York, New York’s favorite tool, toast tongs, helps ensure perfect toast — and no burnt fingers! “I’m the queen of toasting bread that’s too small for the toaster and now I don’t panic when I need to retrieve toast,” she explains.

An Electric Kettle

Your electric kettle can do so much more than just heat up water for the perfect cup of tea. Alexandra Jones of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania uses hers to heat water for all sorts of things, in record time. “It does just one thing but makes so many things possible and easy: pour-over coffee, topping off a pot of beans, stretching mozzarella…” she says. Try a programmable option for even more convenience.

A Cold Brew Pitcher

If you can’t live without your daily cold brew, skip the coffee shop and make it at home! Andy Heger from Texas gets his fix with the KitchenAid Cold Brew Coffee Maker. “It’s simplified my life,” he says. “It’s easy to use and clean and great to leave in the fridge.” Delicious caffeine at your fingertips — what more could you ask for?